Taking Wisconsin’s business pulse

Michael Bina is looking for a few good executives – actually, several hundred.

Bina runs the quarterly Business Pulse survey for Nicolet Bank in Green Bay, but it’s spreading its wings beyond Packerland.

For 12 years, The Nicolet Bank Business Pulse has been gathering proprietary business information from CEOs, business owners, and entrepreneurs in 18 northeastern Wisconsin counties.

At the request of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., Bina is taking this show on the statewide road, and he’s looking to add business executives from every corner of the state to his quarterly mailing list.

Partnering with St. Norbert College, the Pulse has researched just about every business- related topic: health care, benefits, compensation, taxes, regulation, and politics. Each quarter, it also has measured and tracked CEO confidence.

“It’s strictly about business in Wisconsin, the economy, and more topical stuff,” Bina noted.

As CEO and secretary of the WEDC and former mayor of Green Bay, Paul Jadin is very familiar with the Pulse.

Jadin is inviting Wisconsin business execs to take part, and be part, of the survey. Interested businesses can click this link to privately register:

http://stnorbert.us2.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_5q1oWxytxh7j55O.

Those who do will receive a quarterly questionnaire by e-mail, and Bina swears it will only take five or six minutes to complete and that your information will remain confidential.

The moment all surveys are received and analyzed, participating chief execs will receive an Executive Summary of the results by email.

As Jadin notes in a letter to C-suite leaders, “this is data you can share with your staff, your advisors, investors, legislators, customers … anyone in your circle” of professional acquaintances.

Bina certainly would not object if you forwarded the registration link to your fellow Wisconsin business executives. The object is to obtain as much statewide input as possible and therefore make the survey more valuable.

The first survey has yet to be developed, but based on Jadin’s stated priorities, Bina believes it could very well be dominated by questions about capital access.

Stay tuned.

Poll cats

In an election year, American voters will be bombarded with the occasional results of public opinion polls. The polls, which are basically snapshots in time of public opinion, are of wildly varying quality, but the one I pay the most attention to is Rasmussen Reports.

The reason? Quite simply, it is the most consistently accurate poll. In 2008, Rasmussen’s final poll of the presidential election had Barack Obama defeating John McCain by six percentage points in the popular vote, while other polls had Obama up by margins of 10% or even 12%. Obama defeated McCain by six percentage points.

In the 2010 midterm election, Rasmussen projected that Republicans would pick up 62 seats in the House of Representatives. The GOP gained 63 seats.

That same year, Rasmussen consistently had Republican Scott Walker leading Democrat Tom Barrett by five percentage points in the Wisconsin gubernatorial election. Walker won 52% to 47%.

While some recent polls have Gov. Walker in a virtual dead heat with several potential Democratic recall challengers, Rasmussen’s most recent polling has the Governor on more solid ground. In that poll, 54% of Wisconsinites said they oppose the recall of Walker, even though it appears Walker’s opponents have more than enough valid signatures to force a recall.

Not 1 million valid signatures, mind you, but probably enough to force a recall.

Also in that Rasmussen poll, a phone survey of 500 likely voters, 52% at least somewhat approve of Walker’s job performance to date, while 46% at least somewhat disapprove. The findings include 40% who strongly approve and 40% who strongly disapprove.

By party, the poll revealed that 78% of Republican voters strongly approve of Walker’s performance and 73% of Democrats strongly disapprove.

Among voters not affiliated with either major party, 58% at least somewhat approve of Walker’s performance, including 36% who strongly approve.

Forty-three percent say they would vote to recall Walker and remove him from office, but 54% would vote against recall; 80% of the state’s Democratic voters would vote to remove Walker, but 89% of Republicans and 58% of unaffiliated voters would oppose that recall.

Obviously, anything can happen, but if Gov. Walker is in danger of losing a recall election, the most accurate public opinion poll does not show it. Not yet.

While Rasmussen has the reputation of being a “Republican poll,” President Obama also can take solace in the most recent results. In hypothetical presidential matchups, the President would get 48% of the national popular vote, while Mitt Romney would get 42%. The President leads Rick Santorum by a small margin, 46% to 43%.

As was reinforced in 2000, the presidential race is a state-by-state contest. In Wisconsin, the most recent Rasmussen poll has President Obama leading Romney 47% to 42%, with 5% preferring another candidate and 5% undecided; the President leads Santorum by a margin of 46% to 41%, with 5% preferring another candidate and 5% undecided.

I’ve long suspected that some polls are either right- or left-leaning and will have either Republicans, Democrats, or independents under-represented in their sample in order to achieve the result they want. I have no evidence of this, mind you, but polling has become sophisticated enough to smooth out the large variances we’ve seen in recent years.

Until I have a compelling reason to change, the opinion poll this publication will give the most credence to is Rasmussen Reports.

Calling all gentlemen

Rush Limbaugh has apologized for disparaging remarks he made about Sandra Fluke, a 30-year-old graduate college student who spoke before Congress on the subject of contraception. No matter what you think about the merits of her presentation, Limbaugh went too far in his critique, and several of his radio sponsors are dropping him like a hot rock.

Now it’s time for a certain comedian on HBO to apologize for the vile remarks he’s made about various conservative women, especially Sarah Palin. That comedian would be Bill Maher, who recently donated $1 million to President Obama’s Super PAC. If Maher refuses to apologize and cease and desist with his misogynistic remarks, the President, who correctly called Limbaugh’s remarks “reprehensible,” should return the money. It’s time others on the political left, if they truly care about the demeaning of women in politics and public debate, start policing their own.

The same is true of conservatives this fall when it comes to Tammy Baldwin, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Herb Kohl. I disagree with Baldwin on a range of issues, especially financial and fiscal ones, but she has always impressed me as a conscientious public servant. Disagreements can and should be kept on an impersonal basis so that the respective campaigns provide the voters of Wisconsin with the issues-related discourse they deserve.