The latest Marquette Law School poll shows Governor Scott Walker’s numbers continue to reflect a closely divided state, and a potentially close election between Walker and a Democrat in 2014. Poll director Charles Franklin said Tuesday the Republican governor’s favorable versus unfavorable numbers of 50% to 46% are “pretty close to where we’ve seen the governor through really most of the year.”

A head-to-head comparison with Mary Burke, the only declared Democratic candidate for governor, shows Walker in the lead, 47% to 45%. “A little bit closer than what the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling had found in September, before Burke has declared,” Franklin noted.

Franklin said those and other recent polling results indicate it could be a close race between Walker and Burke next year, especially with a candidate who’s as little know as Burke is right now. The MU poll finds 70% of voters don’t know enough about the Madison School Board member and former Trek Bicycle executive to have an opinion good or bad.

The poll also looked at two other potential Democratic candidates, state Senator Kathleen Vinehout of Alma, and the Assembly minority leader, state Representative Peter Barca of Kenosha. Walker polled ahead of Vinehout, 47% to 44%, and led Barca 48% to 42%.

Franklin said those numbers are interesting, “in light of how few people say they’re familiar with any of these three Democrats, and yet they are getting in the mid forties of vote support, and there’s not much differentiation between the three Democrats, they’re all pretty close to the governor.”

“If we bring up that good word ‘polarization’ in the state, I think we see the evidence that the state remains evenly divided,” Franklin said. The poll also found Walker is more popular with men than with women in the state, leading among men 52% to 40%, while Burke has the edge among women, 49% to 42%.

The poll also found that, among Wisconsin Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, Walker is now the favorite potential nominee for president. He polled 29%, with Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan polling 25%. Florida Senator Marco Rubio and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie each were at 9% with and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul the choice of 8%.

The poll also found sharp partisan divisions in perception of job growth in the state, with 10% of Republicans, 42% of independents and 67% of Democrats thinking Wisconsin lags behind other states, while 78% of Republicans, 51% of independents and 29% see the state keeping pace or adding jobs faster than other states.


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