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Long Trek: Mary Burke Surging in WI Gov Polls, but Dems Shouldn’t Be too Excited (Yet)


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The latest polling from Marquette University Law School shows Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker virtually tied with his democratic challenger, Mary Burke, in the leadup to the November election.  Analysis shows that among registered voters Walker holds a 46-45 lead, but ‘voters most likely to participate in the election’ give Burke a one point lead.  

The numbers are too premature to guarantee a barn-burner in the Badger State, especially since the polling also reveals how little is known about Burke, the accomplished businesswoman and school board member.  Advertisements are sure to explain Burke to Wisconsinites, through both her campaign’s lens and Walker’s sure-to-be slanted frame.

The Marquette poll’s director, Charles Franklin, told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

“The bottom line is that nothing has statistically changed from May to July.  We’re seeing a dead heat in the race, well within the margin of error.”

“As the race really heats up with advertising and back and forth, I’d expect to see interesting developments over the next months,”

The polling shows that nearly half of voters do not know enough about Burke to form an opinion on her.  As Charles Franklin pointed out to the Washington Post, this means both sides will be hard at work trying to sway public opinion:

As both sides run ads, “that will drive up Burke’s recognition very rapidly,” he said. The question then is, “Who’s responsible for that? Is she driving that up, in which case it’s more likely to be positive.” If, however, Walker is raising awareness of Burke, it’s likely to be more negative — and her favorability wouldn’t get much better.

For the Burke campaign the polling numbers are not all positive.  A plurality of respondents believe the charges of campaign finance violations against Walker’s administration were “just more politics.” However, the polls also show that among independents Walker has slipped from a nine point lead to a one point lead.  If the alleged scandal resonates with this group it could help Burke gain momentum among a subset that has recently trended Republican.

Gender, marrital status and age are also telling demographics in the poll:

Women backed Burke by 48% to 41% while men backed Walker by 51% to 41%.

Married voters supported Walker by 54% to 38%. In a demographic breakdown, Walker’s strongest support came from those ages 45 to 59, where he led 51% to 42%.

Among those who never married, Burke held a 53% to 34% advantage. She led 53% to 38% among those widowed, divorced or separated. Her strongest demographic was among voters ages 18 to 29, where her lead was 48% to 35%.


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