Talking Points Memo: GOP War on Unions Could Boost President Obama in 2012

March 14, 2011- Scott Walker may have won the legislative battle over collective bargaining, but the political damage from the Wisconsin standoff as well as similar battles in other states could follow Republicans all the way to 2012.

Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana are each embroiled in battles with unions, each are considered battleground presidential states, and each swung hard right in the midterm elections after going for Obama in 2008. Political observers suggest that a newly re-energized union vote could have a profound impact in all three states the next time around — and perhaps across the country.

"Given the intensity of emotion that Wisconsin has generated, supplemented by actions in other states, it's very possible that there will be ripple effects all the way to November 2012," Larry Sabato, Director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, told TPM. "Unions see this struggle as life-or-death, so they are bound to put extra resources into the swing states that are the epicenter of this controversy."

Sabato cautioned that Democratic gains might be offset by Republicans getting fired up as well, but given the significant "enthusiasm gap" between the two last November, any boost in turnout is likely a net gain for Democrats.

"It could be that higher turnout all around in 2012 will be the main result, though Democrats tend to gain more when turnout goes up since it means that more minorities and young people are participating," he said.


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