State Of Emergency Declared For Three Southeast Wisconsin Counties Following Floods, Zebra Mussels, Neither Liberal Nor Conservative

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It’s said that we live in politically polarized times, but many Americans don’t classify themselves as liberal or conservative. We talk about those in between and how they impact our politics. We also get an update on the effort to curtail zebra mussels in Wisconsin’s lakes. Plus, Governor Walker declared a state of emergency in Racine, Kenosha, and Walworth Counties following flash flooding this week.

Featured in this Show

  • State Of Emergency Declared For Three Southeast Wisconsin Counties Following Floods

    Governor Scott Walker declared a state of emergency for Racine, Kenosha, and Walworth Counties this morning following damaging storms that tore through the area this week. We speak with Tod Pritchard of Wisconsin Emergency Management about the damage.

  • Zebra Mussels Are Still Winning

    We talk to an expert about the ongoing efforts to curtail the spread of Zebra mussels in Wisconsin lakes.

  • Expert: As Research Gets Creative, Prevention Still Key In Stopping Zebra Mussels

    Zebra mussels can be bad news for a lake.

    “They are unusual in their ability to transform the ecology of a lake,” said Jake Vander Zanden, a professor at the Center for Limnology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Any time a species comes in and transforms the system, there are winners and losers.”

    There’s no magic way to clear a lake of the small, D-shaped invasive clams, which first reached Wisconsin’s inland lakes in the 1990s, Vander Zanden said.

    The mussels act like tiny water filters, clearing the lake but excreting nutrients of their own. That can completely change the plants that grow on the lake floor, and threaten some species of fish, Vander Zanden said.

    But some researchers are getting creative to control local infestations.

    In Minnesota, researchers from the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District and the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center are testing a copper pesticide on a zebra mussel infestation in Lake Minnetonka.

    The goal is to reduce the survival of zebra mussel larvae, and therefore control the population before it becomes explosive.

    Vander Zanden is skeptical of techniques that claim to completely eradicate an infestation.

    “There’s a lot of research going on right now to try to figure out ways of controlling these, but those types of techniques are really only applicable at very small scales.” he said.

    But he said current research is encouraging, and has the potential to open more doors.

    For example, zebra mussels spread to Lake Mendota in 2015. With UW-Madison’s Center for Liminology on its banks, the lake is often called one of the most-studied. The lake has become a classroom.

    “I’ve sort of viewed the invasion of Lake Mendota as an opportunity to learn some of these vulnerabilities,” Vander Zanden said. “Maybe we can sort of figure out what are the factors that can keep their population down.”

    As researchers continue to figure out possible solutions, Vander Zanden said the first line of control is still prevention.

    Zebra mussels are about the size of a fingernail and will cling to boats. Their microscopic larvae can also travel when water does.

    “You could inadvertently spread zebra mussels and you wouldn’t even know you did it,” he said. “So this is something that’s really important to make sure we’re cleaning off our boats, and not moving water and other sorts of materials from one lake to another.”

    For more information on zebra mussels or tips for prevention, check the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website.

  • Many Americans Live Outside Of Liberal And Conservative Labels

    In the midst of a strong partisan political divide, many Americans don’t fit the labels of liberal and conservative. A political science expert looks at the people who can’t be classified on a left-right scale–and the influence they have on politics.

  • Author: People Are More Loyal To Party Than Party Ideologies

    Political communications professor Nathan Kalmoe’s recent research shows that Americans are just as tribal and partisan as ever. But for most people, that partisanship is shallow, expressed through simple party loyalty and not through allegiance to those parties’ underlying ideologies.

    People who identify with the political ideological identities — “liberal” or “conservative” — aren’t necessarily in line with those ideologies when you get down to asking them about specific issues, said Kalmoe, an assistant professor at Louisiana State University and author of “Neither Liberal Nor Conservative: Ideological Innocence in the American Public.”

    “People’s issue attitudes tend to be not particularly coherent. They tend to be unstable over time. About half of the public doesn’t even use ideological labels (like “liberal,” “conservative” and “moderate”) to describe themselves, and those that do, it’s only the most knowledgeable of them where that ideological label has any force in the choices that they’re making,” he said.

    What’s more important when it comes to political decision making for most people is party.

    And though you might expect those who call themselves moderate or independent to be more politically engaged, Kalmoe actually found the opposite is true.

    “People who call themselves ideological moderates, and likewise people who call themselves political independents, actually tend to be lower in political knowledge, lower in interest in politics, lower in attending to news, and lower in political participation,” Kalmoe said.

    Who is paying attention to ideology then? Political leaders are highly ideological in their approach to politics, said Kalmoe. But that’s just not true for most Americans, he said.

    “Maybe 10 or 20 percent of the public … is quite engaged in political affairs,” Kalmoe said. “They follow the news closely, and they’re very knowledgeable about politics. And for that group, they really do look more ideological, like leaders.”

    So that explains in part why people who might call themselves conservative didn’t have a problem with Trump’s unconventional approach.

    “For as unusual as the 2016 campaign and election looked, voters responded as if this was a generic Democrat and a generic Republican when we look at their actual electoral behavior,” Kamoe said.

    “If we had voters … who were strong ideologues, then you would expect that maybe the nominees would’ve been Ted Cruz on the Republican side and Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side. But instead you saw the partisan voters on each side choose a relatively more moderate candidate,” relative to other candidates in the race, he said.

    Kalmoe’s research crushes that idea of an American citizen who is not committed to a particular party yet, is very politically engaged and makes decisions based on substantive issues.

    “It’s a trade-off. You either have a public that’s disengaged and relatively not ideological, or a public that is more engaged and is more committed to one side or the other,” he said.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Kate Archer Kent Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • J. Carlisle Larsen Producer
  • Karl Christenson Producer
  • Rob Ferrett Producer
  • Tod Pritchard Guest
  • Jake Vander Zanden Guest
  • Nathan Kalmoe Guest

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