Walker Leads Barrett in Wisconsin Recall Poll

Walker Leads Barrett in Wisconsin Recall Poll

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - May 16, 2012

With his recall election just three weeks away, Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker leads Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett by six points among likely voters, according to a new Marquette Law School poll.

Walker -- whose law curbing collective bargaining rights for public workers in Wisconsin triggered weeks of protests last year and led to the recall effort -- attracts 50 percent of the support to Barrett’s 44 percent.

Walker has widened his lead since last month, when he held a one-point edge in another Marquette poll. Barrett won a competitive Democratic primary last week for a chance to unseat Walker. Just 3 percent of likely voters say they are undecided.

It is rare to recall a governor in any state, and it has been done successfully only twice before. Unions will be particularly active in this election, given that labor issues led to the recall and Democratic operatives in Wisconsin are jumping at the chance to make history. But Republicans appear to be more enthusiastic about voting on June 5: According to the poll, 91 percent of GOPers say they are “absolutely certain” they will do so, while 83 percent of Democrats and 83 percent of independents say the same. However, Democrats -- at 83 percent -- are more likely to have been contacted by a campaign than Republicans (78 percent) or independents (76 percent).

“In a close election with so few undecided voters, enthusiasm, turnout and campaign contact with voters may make the difference,” said poll Director Charles Franklin in a statement accompanying the poll.

Notably, 50 percent of likely voters approve of the job Walker is doing, while 46 percent disapprove. Voters, however, are split between whether they like what he has done as governor.

Since April, however, there appears to be an increase in support for Walker's collective bargaining law. By a 50 percent to 43 percent margin, voters want to keep it in place. Not surprisingly, 78 percent of Democrats want to restore the bargaining rights while 81 percent of Republicans are opposed. But among independents, 53 percent favor keeping the law in place, while 38 percent do not.

The Republican Governors Association has been going to bat for Walker in a series of ads hitting his Democratic opposition. The group released a television spot on Wednesday accusing Barrett of raising taxes during his tenure as mayor, and attacking him for increased unemployment in Milwaukee.

The Democratic Governors Association circulated a Journal Sentinel article showing that Wisconsin has lost more private-sector jobs that any other state over the past six months.

The poll was conducted May 9-12 among 704 registered voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. The sample of 600 likely voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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