A poll conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has found that Gov. Jim Doyle holds an 11 percent lead over his challenger, U.S. Rep. Mark Green, R-Wis, according to a report released Thursday.
The survey, conducted by trained students, also questioned 471 Wisconsin residents about issues such as abortion, gun control and the proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions.
Respondents were chosen by a random-digit dial of Wisconsin residents 18 years of age or older, according to Tom Holbrook, professor of political science at UWM, who directed the study.
Under the method Holbrook and the UWM students used, if one of the respondents does not answer the phone, that person is called back to retain the randomness of the sample.
"If there is no answer, the phone number is recycled every three or four minutes until we get an answer," Holbrook said.
Results of the survey show 44 percent of respondents would vote for Doyle, while 33 percent said they would vote for Green.
"I'd say that it's not surprising that Green is behind by 11 points at this time because he is relatively unknown statewide," said Charles Franklin, professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "On the other hand, as an incumbent, Doyle would feel a lot better if he was 20 points ahead instead of 11."
Franklin said he expects the gubernatorial race to be close, especially because Doyle's approval numbers remain under 50 percent.
According to Holbrook, he expects this 11-point gap to narrow once the Green campaign "kicks into high gear." He added that Doyle should also be concerned about the reported 21 percent of undecided respondents.
"The undecided could wipe [Doyle's lead] out, but I would not expect them to all go for Green," Holbrook said.
According to Mark Graul, Green's campaign spokesperson, he is pleased with the results of the survey.
"[This survey] shows that Wisconsinites are not happy with Gov. Doyle and they do not think he has the state headed in the right direction," he said.
Graul added that the Green campaign hopes to narrow that margin once they start a larger advertising scheme.
However, Melanie Fonder, Doyle's campaign press secretary, said she has a positive outlook for Doyle.
"We are certainly pleased to be ahead, but it is very early in the process and there are going to be many, many polls between then and now," Fonder said.
Fonder expects Doyle to take a more dramatic lead once Wisconsin families become focused on the November election.
Additionally, the survey had key findings about public support of gay marriage, student vouchers and gun control.
According to the survey results, more than half of Wisconsin residents support a gay marriage and civil unions ban. Fifty-six percent oppose school vouchers and 69 percent oppose the concealed-carry law.
The survey tried to keep questions regarding contentious issues, such as gay marriage, as unbiased as possible.
Respondents were asked two questions about the potential gay marriage ban. The first was a general question that measured whether they supported gay marriage. The second question specifically referenced the amendment.
"We [also] didn't want to ask these questions right next to each other. The first was six or seven questions before the second, so it did not influence their response," Holbrook said.