Wisconsin Democrats announced their timeline for recalling Gov. Scott Walker yesterday. (More)

Wisconsin Democratic Party state chairman Mike Tate broke the news on the Wisconsin Democrats website yesterday before making the formal announcement last night on MSNBC’s Ed Schultz show. Democrats will begin circulating recall petitions on November 15, and will have 60 days to gather signatures. Based on 2010 election results, they will need at least 540,206 valid signatures. Adding a margin for the inevitable challenges, they’ll have to gather at least 10,000 signatures per day over the 60-day period. The signatures would be turned in and the certification process begun on January 15, 2012. If they gather enough, and depending on how long certification takes, the recall election could come as early as late-March.

There were two schools of thought on when to begin the recall proceedings. Under Wisconsin law, elected officials cannot be recalled until they have served one year, and Gov. Walker took office on January 3, 2011. Some Democratic strategists suggested beginning the process in April 2012, so the recall would be on the November 2012 general election ballot. President Obama carried Wisconsin in 2008 with over 56% of the vote, and the “go for the general” strategists argued it would be wiser to take advantage of his coattails and the higher turnout of a presidential election.

Other Democratic strategists argued that President Obama may not have coattails in Wisconsin in 2012, and/or that those might not carry over into a gubernatorial recall. What’s more, Wisconsites are feeling the bite of Gov. Walker’s new budget right now – including reduced school funding – and the shock and outrage may have dimmed by next spring. The “strike while the iron is hot” argument carried the day.

A poll last month by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a conservative think tank, showed Wisconsinites sharply divided over Gov. Walker and his policies. While 53% of respondents supported restricting public employee unions, 52% opposed Gov. Walker’s union-busting law. Governor Walker’s approval-disapproval numbers were 50-49, and only 44% support recalling him while 50% oppose it. However, the poll’s sample was so small and margin of error so high that it’s difficult to read any real conclusions. Almost all of the findings were within the 5% margin of error.

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