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Badger State Showdown: Layoffs loom

NBC’s John Yang reports: From off-camera, background conversations with Senate Republicans and Assembly Democrats in Madison, it appears that the political forces at work on both sides in the budget standoff do not favor any sort of resolution much before April 4, when Gov. Scott Walker's (R) layoffs would take effect.

While there are indications that the resolve of some Senate Democrats -- who expected their foray into Illinois would last only a few days at the most -- may be wavering, they are under great political pressure from the unions to stay away as long as possible. They are also resolved to act as a unit, so that no one Democrat can be singled out as the 20th senator who provided the quorum that allowed passage of Walker's budget bill. At the same time, though, they don't want to cause any state worker to be laid off, so it's likely they'll return and face the inevitable before the layoffs take effect on April 4.

The Senate Republicans, meanwhile, appear to be set in stone because of internal bicameral politics. Senate Republicans have a history of compromising after their colleagues in the Assembly take tough, politically difficult votes -- like on Walker's budget bill. Before passing the budget bill, Assembly Republicans sought assurances from their Senate counterparts that they would pass the bill without amendments. And, so far, the Senate Republicans appear to be united. But some Senate Republicans are frustrated with the way Walker has sold the bill to the public, saying he hasn't done enough to make what they see as the link between collective bargaining and bloated public spending.

They also might be further frustrated by the results of this poll: By a 65%-33% margin, Wisconsin residents want Walker to compromise on the current standoff, according to a poll conducted by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, the Wisconsin State Journal reports. Walker’s approval rating is 43%-53%, with 45% strongly disapproving. (The poll was conducted Feb. 27 to March 1, the day Walker gave his budget address.) (Here’s the full poll.)

“The leader of the 14 Wisconsin Senate Democrats who left the state last month to block legislation that would curb public-employee union rights said yesterday the senators plan to return ‘in the relatively near future,’” the New York Post writes.

Filmmaker Michael Moore was protesting in Wisconsin. He said that the protesters "aroused a sleeping giant" in the national fight for workers' rights. “Police estimated the crowd at 30,000 to 40,000, less than the past two Saturdays,” the Wisconsin State Journal writes.