RACINE, Wis. — Outside a Michelle Obama rally here on Friday, a conversation between Wisconsin voters Nancy Underwood and Barbara Ford quickly delved into an awkward back-and-forth.”You did what?” Ford said.
Underwood repeated the reason for Ford’s shock: She voted for Republican Gov. Scott Walker in the state’s gubernatorial recall election this June.
“Oh my God! I don’t even know you anymore!” Ford said, only half-joking. “He’s a fraud! How in God’s name can you vote for both?”
“Both” refers to Underwood’s preferred candidates of choice — Walker as governor and Barack Obama as president.
Underwood, a 65-year-old retired businesswoman, is one of the decisive voters that pushed Walker to stave off an ousting this June — and one of the decisive voters that could push Obama to victory this November.
Walker has become something of a conservative hero since his recall election, with his union reforms and budget-busting cuts becoming a national model.
Given the politically divisive climate in Wisconsin, Ford’s surprise is not surprising. So how can one voter support two of the most politically divergent different candidates in the nation?
“I like some of the things that he’s been able to do here,” Underwood said. “He hasn’t risen property taxes, and I do think that there need to be some reforms in the unions.”
Does that compound her support for Obama?
“I don’t think so,” she said. “I think you vote for different candidates for different reasons.”
Obama-Walker supporters are almost as hard to find as they sound. Most people we approached found it hard to believe that the types of voters are real.
“I think they’re just trying to mess with you guys,” one voter in Janesville, Wis., told Business Insider.
“I think you need to look at the Brown County mental-health centre,” another voter in Green Bay joked.
But they do exist.
June exit polls of the Wisconsin recall election found that about 18% of people who voted for Walker also planned to vote for Obama in 2012. By contrast, just 6% of people who voted for Walker’s Democratic challenger said they planned to vote for Mitt Romney. In the latest Marquette Law School poll, about 14% of respondents said they approved of both Obama and Walker.
Just like they propelled Walker to victory in June, these voters could be the ones that give Obama a victory this November.
In an interview with BI, Marquette Law School pollster Charles Franklin provided a breakdown of the Obama-Walker voters. On average, they are younger, lower-income voters that have less of a vested interest in party politics but tend to turn out to vote in reliable rates.
In Brookfield, a suburb of Milwaukee, I met a gift shop owner who fit Franklin’s profile. She declined to be named for this story, but she did provide an explanation for why she’s crossed party lines to support Walker and Obama.
“It’s a very shaky, scary time here, still,” she said. “But both the governor and the president are doing things that are working for them.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.