The numbers are in... and the news is good for government workers. According to two new polls — one a nationwide survey by The New York Times/CBS News, the other a Wisconsin-specific poll from Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling — a plurality of Americans support public sector unions and oppose weakening collective bargaining rights, though in many cases, the divide is close. Here, a brief guide to the polls, by the numbers:
Share of Americans who view public sector unions favorably, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll
Share of Americans who view public sector unions unfavorably. The majority of Americans are undecided.
Percent of Americans who oppose weakening the bargaining rights of public employee unions
Percent of Americans who support weaking the bargaining rights of public employee unions. The "embattled public employee unions have the support of most Americans," say Michael Cooper and Megan Thee-Brenan in The New York Times.
Percent of Americans who oppose cutting pay or benefits for public employees in order to reduce the deficit
Percent of Americans who support cutting pay or benefits for public employees in order to reduce the deficit
Amount people earned, per year, in the income group that was most supportive of cutting public workers' pay and/or benefits. In this income group, 45 percent of those surveyed favored cuts, while 49 percent opposed them. In other income groups, the vast majority were opposed.
Percent of Americans who said they would increase taxes to reduce the deficit. "Tax increases were not as unpopular among those surveyed as they are among many governors, who have vowed to avoid them," say Cooper and Thee-Brenan.
Percent of Wisconsin voters who side with the public employee unions, according to a Public Policy Polling survey. "The state is very closely divided, but it leans slightly to the union side of things," says pollster Tom Jensen.
Percent of Wisconsin voters who believe workers should have the right to collectively bargain. "When it comes to broader questions about rights for public employees in Wisconsin the margins are less narrow," says Jensen.
Percent of Wisconsin voters who say they would support an election to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who is trying to gut collective bargaining rights
Percent of Wisconsin voters who would oppose a recall
Percent of Wisconsin voters who disapprove of Walker and say they would vote for his opponent, Democrat Tom Barrett, if they had the November elections to do over again. "My gut instinct was that Scott Walker's campaign would be popular, and resistance to it would be a minority sentiment," says Ezra Klein in The Washington Post. "My gut was very, very wrong. I wonder whether Scott Walker is beginning to get the creeping suspicion that his gut was wrong, too?"