Gov. Scott Walker is up by six points against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, according to a new Marquette University Law School poll of likely voters.
The results of the poll were released Wednesday during a segment of the on-going "On the Issues" series with Mike Gousha and Professor Charles Franklin. Polling of 704 registered voters took place between May 9-12, and the poll results include responses from 600 likely voters in the pool with a 3.8 percent margin of error.
Only 3 percent of those surveyed said they are undecided.
The voting sample was split at about 52 percent women, 48 percent men and 89 percent white and about five percent each for African Americans and Hispanics.
Before the primary, registered voters had Barrett leading by a point and likely voters wanted Walker by a point.
"This is a six point lead and that is clearly an advantage with a little more than two weeks to go," Franklin said. "There is still some room to shift, and no one should close down the campaigns."
He thinks turnout could be higher than for the November 2010 presidential election. The polling seems to support his stance. Among Republicans, 91 percent say they will absolutely vote on June 5 while both Democrats and Independents come in at 83 percent for voting in the general election.
As for the Lt. Governor's race, Rebecca Kleefisch leads 47 to 41 percent over Democratic challenger Mahlon Mitchell. Franklin said he believes there might some coattail riding at work.
"Neither are really well-known to voters across the state so I suspect there are some coattails at work here," he said. "It will be interesting to see how recognition grows over the next two-and-a-half weeks."
Do Voters Like Walker and Barrett?
When it comes to favorability ratings, Walker rates at 50 percent to the positive compared to 45 percent for unfavorability. Barrett comes in at 37 percent favorable and 45 unfavorable. Again, Franklin attributes the numbers to perhaps Barrett being less known throughout the state, though he also acknowledged that was changing and maybe not for the better.
"This is not where a candidate would want to be," he noted. "Perhaps this is where advertising plays a role."
Gousha said one of the goals of the survey was to find out whether or not voters approve of the job the governor is doing so far. The answer seems to come down to if the ends justify the means. The new poll asked respondents whether they agreed with these statements:
- I like what he's done as Governor;
- I like what he's done but not how he's done it; or
- I don't like what he's done as Governor.
A full 37 percent fully approve while 38 percent don't like what the governor has done, but 22 percent say they like what he's done but not how he's done it.
Franklin says that 22 percent should send a signal to the campaigns that there's a group of people who might be persuadable.
"When you have a group as large of 22 percent who are ambivalent it raises the question of whether or not they're persuadable because they like the ends but not the means," he said.
The Issue of Collective Bargaining
Which brings us to collective bargaining. Gousha asked how voters feel about the changes Walker introduced through Act 10, the budget repair bill.
Franklin said pollsters asked the question as starkly as possible: Would you like to see collective bargaining returned to where it was last year or kept as it is now?
According the survey results, 50 percent want to keep it where it is and 43 percent want to restore collective bargaining to where it was.
Comparitively, in April, the question was about limiting collective bargaining or not. The split then was 49 percent favor limits to 45 percent favoring no limits. In January the question was also asked a little differently with the focus on limiting collective bargaining over benefits and non-wage issues. The results were 48 percent favored limits while 47 opposed such limits.
At the end of April, were the most important issue facing the state while collective bargaining came in last place, behind "defeating Gov. Walker" and "healing the political divide."