A new poll from Marquette University Law School finds that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) starts out with the lead against his potential Democratic rivals, in the upcoming recall election later in the year.
Last week, Democrats turned in over a million signatures — nearly twice the 540,208, or 25 percent of the total votes in the previous election for governor, needed to trigger a new election. However, recalls in Wisconsin do not feature any direct up-or-down vote on the incumbent, but instead effectively take the form of a special election with the incumbent and a challenger fighting it out to serve the rest of the term.
Walker leads his 2010 opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, by 50%-44%. He leads former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk by 49%-42%, leads former Congressman Dave Obey by 49%-43%, and leads state Sen. Tim Cullen by 50%-40%. The survey of registered voters was conducted from January 19-22, and has a ±3.8% margin of error.
From the pollster’s analysis, by Professor Charles Franklin: “The old line ‘you don’t beat somebody with nobody’ is true. Other polls have asked only if Governor Walker should be recalled and have found closer races. But in the end, some specific Democrat will face Governor 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 Governor Walker starts with an advantage.”
Falk is the first candidate to have declared after the petitions were dropped off last week. Cullen declared in December that he would run, and reaffirmed last week, but is not yet officially launching a campaign.
For his own part, Walker has been raising and spending millions of dollars in the race. He has been aided by a key aspect of the state fundraising law for recalls: Until the election is officially triggered, the targeted incumbent can bring in unlimited donations.