With less than one week to go until the Democratic primary for governor in the recall election, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett leads the field by wide margins among voters who will cast ballots in the primary, according to the latest poll numbers from Marquette University.
His closest rival, former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, trails by 17 points; 38 percent to 21 percent. Secretary of State Doug La Follette pulls in 8 percent, state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout comes in at 6 percent, while 19 percent of those polled were undecided.
The margins are wider than they were just a month ago, when Barrett led Falk, 36 to 29 percent. Vinehout and La Follette each were at 8 percent in March.
Against Republican Gov. Scott Walker in a potential June showdown, Barrett leads among all registered voters polled, 47 to 46 percent. Among likely voters, however, Walker gets the nod by a point, 48 to 47.
The other Democratic primary candidates all trail in a contest with Walker among registered voters: Walker leads Falk 49 to 42 percent; and he leads both La Follette and Vinehout at by a 49 to 40 percent. Walker also leads in polls of likely voters by almost identical margins.
Results were released Wednesday at Marquette University during a session of "On the Issues" with Mike Gousha and professor Charles Franklin. The poll was conducted from April 26 to 29 of of 705 registered voters by both landline and cell phone.
A lot has been made recently of the "protest" candidates, Franklin pointed out.
"The numbers show an interesting point about the gap between what political strategists think is a good idea and how voters really feel about it," he said.
Among all voters, a full 59 percent disagree with running "protest" candidates. Those numbers break down to 72 percent Democratic; 54 independent; and 53 Republican.
Barrett leads Falk 40 to 21 percent among men and 36 to 20 percent among women.
Overall, Barrett does better than Falk in just about every demographic. Falk is strongest with a lead or a smaller margin of deficit among public sector workers in labor unions.
Gousha asked how recall has touched voters' lives, and Franklin had a slide for that question, too.
Since January 2011, pollsters asked, have you done a variety of things? The results are :
- Talk to family & friends (58);
- Persuade others (50);
- Talk w/coworkers (39);
- Sign petition – including last summer, too (38);
- Put up a yard sign/bumper sticker (26);
- Give money (20); and/or
- Attend rally (18)
What's funny, Franklin added, is that almost one-third of those polled said they've experienced some negative feedback from talking about politics so those conversations have stopped.
An important point he wants people to remember is that these polls are really a snapshot of how voters feel at the time the questions are asked.
"Polling doesn't determine voters' opinions and their votes, it's the voters' opinions and votes that determine the polls," Franklin said. "There's no question this is too close to call and why both sides need to be concerned about voter turnout."