A poll, released less than one week before the primaries, shows Gov. Scott Walker leading Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett by one percentage point in a recall election, while Barrett leads all other Democratic contenders in the recall.
A Marquette Law School poll released Wednesday shows Walker leads Barrett 48 percent to 47 percent of all likely voters and 47 to 46 percent of all registered voters, which falls within the margin of error.
Barrett leads former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk 38 to 21 percent, with eight percent for Secretary of State Doug La Follette and six percent for Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma.
According to the poll, the Democratic margins have widened since the last Marquette poll conducted in March, in which Barrett and Falk were found to be more closely ranked among voters. Numbers of undecided Democratic voters have also increased since the previous poll, but the majority of voters say they “lean” toward Barrett.
More Democratic voters ranked the issue of job creation as a higher priority than defeating Walker. Forty-eight percent of voters said they opposed a pledge to veto the state budget if it restored collective bargaining rights, while 37 percent supported the pledge.
Reactions to the results of the poll vary, with some Democratic candidates confident they still have a chance to defeat Walker.
Barrett spokesperson Phil Walzak said in a statement Barrett is in a “dead heat” with Walker in the race for governor despite being outspent in early fundraising.
Falk spokesperson Scot Ross also said in a statement even though Falk was not counted out as a candidate from the beginning of her campaign and the recall was never predicted by “the establishment,” the fight against Walker will continue.
La Follette said he was not surprised by the results of the poll.
“While I think the Walker election is going to be very close, I have always felt Barrett had a better chance than Falk,” he said.
The Vinehout and the Walker campaigns did not return requests for comment.
University of Wisconsin political science professor Barry Burden said in an email to The Badger Herald that it would be difficult for anyone other than Barrett to win the Democratic nomination and Barrett is doing what he needs to do in order to beat Walker.
“With less than a week until primary day, there isn’t much time left for Falk and the other Democrats to catch Barrett,” Burden said. “They might hope that early votes were going their way before Barrett moved so firmly into the lead or that the undecided voters will break their way.”
He also said the distinction between registered and likely voters in the poll was not important and Barrett and Walker are tied statistically either way. Turnout is likely to be high with most registrants voting, he added.
However, UW political science professor Dietram Scheufele said in an email to The Badger Herald likely voters are the “critical constituency” since Walker’s campaign strategy has focused on his work as governor rather than on convincing conservatives who might not have voted in the last election to turn out and support him.
“The recall effort on the Democratic side, in contrast, is all about mobilizing voters (and former non-voters) to reverse the outcome of the 2010 gubernatorial election,” Scheufele said. “In other words, polling numbers that focus on likely voters are really what is relevant here.”