Wisconsin Democrats are firing back at the latest Marquette University Law School poll of the state recall election, which put Republican Gov. Scott Walker ahead of Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett by a 7-point margin — in an effort to tamp down negative public perception as they head into the election’s final week.
“Clearly this poll is out of step with everything else that is out there, and clearly with the political reality,” state Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate said Wednesday on a conference call with reporters. “There have been three polls out in the last few days that have shown a dead heat, clearly a competitive race.”
Tate was referring to three internal polls that have been released in the last few days from the Barrett campaign, the Democratic Governors Association and the liberal Greater Wisconsin Committee, which have ranged from a tie to a Walker lead of 3 points.
Tate responded to some reporters’ skepticism about the Democratic internal polls. “The Walker campaign is pretty quiet about their polling. And if they were ahead by 7 points, I don’t see why they wouldn’t shout it from the rooftops. Because theoretically, that would have a depressing effect on our efforts to get our voters out and raise money,” he said.
As for the complaints about the Marquette poll itself, Tate took issue with the poll’s demographic sampling, contending that conservative Milwaukee suburbs were over-represented and the Madison media market was under-represented, and with too few young voters.
Tate and state party spokesman Scot Ross also raised suspicions about who might be paying for the poll, and whether the state’s conservative think tanks were involved. They also sharply criticized professor Charles Franklin, who led the poll.
“It’s unfortunate that Marquette University associates itself with professor Franklin,” said Tate, “and as well puts this poll out there as if it’s an accurate reading of the electorate when clearly it’s not.”
Are the Democrats saying that Franklin is a dishonest man?
“No. I’m not saying that,” Tate told TPM. “I also had professor Franklin at the University of Wisconsin, and he was pretty clear with my class that he was a conservative. But I don’t think he’s a dishonest man.
“If he was a pollster, that’s what he would do for a living — he wouldn’t teach. I think we have to be careful about using professors instead of pollsters to see what people think.”
Franklin did not immediately respond to TPM’s requests for comment.
Editor’s note: Charles Franklin provides consulting services to TPM’s Polltracker application.