By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter
Charles Franklin doesn’t see himself as a soothsayer.
But the pollster behind the Marquette University Law School Poll nailed the outcome of Wisconsin’s historic gubernatorial recall election in June. Franklin, a political science professor by trade at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, called the election by 7 percentage points for Republican Gov. Scott Walker over his Democrat challenger Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Walker won by 7.
Franklin missed it by 1 percent in the presidential contest, with the Marquette poll projecting an 8-point win for President Obama in Wisconsin. Obama won by 7.
With a record like that, Wisconsin Reporter felt obliged to ask the pollster for his picks on the top political stories of 2013. Here’s what he predicts:
1. Health care exchanges – With a majority of states turning over federal control of setting up the main mechanism for implementing Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the feds effectively control the game.
“On the one hand it’s a statement of these states (or their governors) not wanting to participate in the exchanges. On other hand it has created a de facto national health exchange program,” Franklin said. “I think how that develops over the year is a story, recognizing that the exchanges don’t go into effect until 2014.” The bottom line: federal control and uniformity of a controversial health care system, but abdicated input from the state and a limited ability to tailor the particular needs of individual states.
2. Fiscal cliff hangover – Deal or no deal, Franklin says 2013 politically will be marked by the devil in the details of some kind of a congressional plan to manage the federal budget and clean up the nation’s fiscal mess. “We’ll have to see at that point whether the parties can actually vote for something than can get through the House and the Senate, and something that the president will sign,” he said.
3. Immigration reform – More so how the GOP finds a path on reform, Franklin said. Given the trouncing that Republican a presidential candidate Mitt Romney took among Latino voters, will the party galvanize around workable reform?
“The party has been deeply divided on this issue,” Franklin said. “If there are those in the party who see a real need for a different approach, how does that happen when there is also a substantial group within the party reluctant to adopt comprehensive reform.”
4. Biennial battle – Wisconsin’s Legislature heads back to session in a few weeks charged with working out a new two-year budget. The next session picks up where 2011 began, with Republican control of the Legislature and the governor’s mansion. The volleying for fiscal priorities will dominate the debate, Franklin said. But Republicans have the upper hand, with a ways to go before the 2014 elections.
5. Gun control – The tragic mass shootings that have plagued Connecticut, Wisconsin, Colorado, Oregon and elsewhere will be a hot-button issue early in 2013, in Congress and in state Legislatures, Franklin says. But how to tackle such a nebulous problem as mass murder will be at the core of the tricky issue of gun control, Franklin foresees.
“The fact that these mass killings are rare but so terrible, that makes it so difficult to think about effective solutions,” he said.
Contact Kittle at [email protected]