The respected Marquette University Law School poll is out with a new survey, and they find things as close as ever. Among registered voters, Republican Gov. Scott Walker has a small 48-44 lead over Democratic foe Mary Burke. However, among likely voters, it's Burke who's up, by 49-47. In Marquette's July poll, Walker led 46-45 among registered voters, with Burke up 47-46 among likely voters. Other pollsters have shown a very close race, but Marquette is the only one to show any Burke lead.
Suffice to say, it's a bit surprising that a Democrat is doing better among likely voters than registered voters, especially when conventional wisdom says that midterm turnout will disproportionately favor the Republicans. That said, Scott Walker is a very uniquely polarizing figure who seems to attract about as much devotion from one side as utter hatred from the other. It's not unreasonable that Democrats are enthusiastic enough about the idea of ousting Walker that the usual turnout gap could have disappeared.
Indeed, Walker sits on a 47-47 approval rating. Walker's approvals have barely budged during his tenure: In each Marquette poll since early 2012, Walker has never had an approval rating higher than 51 percent or lower than 46. The ongoing allegations about Walker's ethics don't seem to have changed anything. Most voters appear to have decided whether they love or hate Walker long ago. In 2012 Democrats ran into trouble when they tried to recall Walker from voters who didn't like the governor, but felt that a recall was a step too far. However, many of those voters don't seem to have the same qualms against voting against the governor in a regular election.
Marquette has polled exclusively in its home state and had a solid track record in 2012:
• WI-Gov: Marquette: Walker (R) 52-45; Actual: Walker (R) 53-46; error: +0While that's not a huge sample size, Marquette absolutely nailed three critical races, giving them a record any pollster would kill for. Additionally, Marquette is headed by Charles Franklin, one of the most respected names in polling.
• WI-Pres: Marquette: Obama (D) 51-43; Actual: Obama (D) 53-46; error: +1 D
• WI-Sen: Marquette: Baldwin (D) 47-43; Actual: Baldwin (D) 51-46; error: +1 R
At the beginning of the cycle it looked like Democrats were too dispirited by the failed recall to mount a serious challenge, but that has not been the case. This race is incredibly close, and it's expected to remain so. Walker has tons of money at his disposal and this race is likely to be decided by a small group of persuadable voters. Walker and his allies are going to do whatever it takes to hold this seat, and Democrats are going to need to keep working very hard here.