MADISON -- Democratic hopes for toppling Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in next month's recall election might hinge on a strong turnout from young voters, who came out in heavy numbers for President Barack Obama in 2008 but were less active when Walker was elected two years later.
Both sides of the June 5 recall pitting Walker against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett are focused on get-out-the-vote efforts because of a low number of undecided voters. But tapping into college-aged voters, traditionally a strong well of support for Democrats, is proving difficult because of a new law making it tougher for those students to cast ballots and the fact that many will have left college campuses for the summer by election time.
"It is a challenge," said Andrew Suchorski, a 20-year-old Marquette University student and chairman of the College Democrats of Wisconsin. "Anyone that would tell you it's not a challenge is lying to you. But that doesn't mean it isn't something that can't be overcome."
The recall against Walker, only the third of a governor in U.S. history, was spurred by the bill he pushed through the Legislature that effectively ended collective bargaining rights for most state workers. But his budget passed last year also cut funding to the University of Wisconsin System by $250 million, or 9 percent, and cut technical colleges by $72 million, or about 30 percent.
Those cuts targeting education, together with reductions he made for K-12 public schools, also fueled the recall effort.
Republicans also have an aggressive campaign to get necessary information to college voters, said Jeff Snow, chairman of the UW-Madison College Republicans.
"I think students are pretty aware and I think that Gov. Walker will do very well among student voters," said Snow, a
20-year-old entering his junior year. "This has been a pretty historic couple of years in the state of Wisconsin politically."