Against four Democratic challengers in a recall election, Gov. Scott Walker leads by anywhere from 6 to 10 percentage points, according to a new poll released this week.
The first in a series of polls by the Marquette University Law School asked registered voters whom they would vote for in head-to-head matchups between the challengers and Walker.
The poll found that, in the hypothetical matchups with possible Democratic candidates to challenge in a recall election, Walker:
- Leads his opponent in the 2010 state gubernatorial race, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, 50 percent to 44 percent;
- Leads former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk 49 percent to 42 percent;
- Leads former Congressman David Obey 49 percent to 43 percent;
- Leads state Sen. Tim Cullen (D-Janesville) 50 percent to 40 percent.
The poll comes on the heels of , the agency that oversees elections, along with 450,000 signatures against Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and another 80,000 in efforts against four state Republican lawmakers.
The poll was conducted by Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll and visiting professor of law and public policy at Marquette Law School, and surveyed 701 registered voters; the size of Walker's leads are within the poll’s margin of error for all but Cullen.
"The old line 'You don’t beat somebody with nobody' is true," Franklin said in a statement. "Other polls have asked only if Gov. Walker should be recalled and have found closer races. But in the end, some specific Democrat will face Gov. Walker.
"This poll is the first of the year to match specific potential Democratic challengers against the governor. The results show a competitive race, but one in which Gov. Walker starts with an advantage," he added.
A Public Policy poll released on Jan. 9 pegged Barrett as the top candidate in a Democratic primary for a recall election.
Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesperson Graeme Zielinski criticized the numbers, calling the poll and Franklin biased.
"It’s not a credible poll; he’s not a credible pollster," Zielinski told Patch. "He frequently blows big kisses to Scott Walker.
"The poll said that 35 percent of public employees support Scott Walker. Even if you believe these ridiculous numbers, Walker has been spending millions on the airwaves to get out his lies," he added.
Marquette also surveyed public opinion in the race for U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl’s soon-to-be vacant seat.
Among the candidates who have announced their candidacy, former Gov. Tommy Thompson leads the pack with a 49 percent favorable rating and a 31 percent unfavorable.
Darrin Schmitz, Thompson’s U.S. Senate campaign spokesperson, said in a statement that the polls show Thompson is a clear favorite to win both the primary and general election.
"The poll demonstrates Tommy Thompson and Gov. Scott Walker are the two most formidable political leaders in Wisconsin because they share a reform agenda and have the courage to enact it," Schmitz said.
Additionally, former Congressman Mark Neumann has 27 percent favorable to 18 percent unfavorable rating; Assembly speaker Jeff Fitzgerald is viewed favorably by 15 percent and unfavorably by 18 percent; and state Sen. Frank Lasee (R-De Pere) has a favorable rating of 5 percent and unfavorable of 9 percent.
Most candidates for the U.S. Senate seat remain unfamiliar to Wisconsin residents, but Thompson is the most widely known with 80 percent of the respondents having an opinion of him.
U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Madison remains the only Democrat to announce a run and had a 23 percent favorable to 21 percent unfavorable rating with 56 percent unable to rate her.