Poll: Wis. Gov. Walker in Tight Re-Election Battle

Image: Poll: Wis. Gov. Walker in Tight Re-Election Battle

Thursday, 24 Apr 2014 06:17 PM

By Jason Devaney

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Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker finds himself in a tight battle with his Democrat challenger as he campaigns for re-election in November — and eyes a 2016 presidential run.

According to a new Public Policy Polling report, Walker leads businesswoman Mary Burke by three percent of voters, 48 to 45. Support for Walker was the same in a poll last September, although Burke's number jumped up from 42 percent.

Public Policy Polling says the increased support for Burke is likely due to her name recognition, as the percentage of voters with an opinion of her went up from 39 to 71 percent in the last seven months. And 86 percent of the Democratic party now supports her, up from 75 percent in the fall. Burke's father started Trek Bicycle Corporation in 1976, which now employs nearly 1,000 Wisconsin residents, according to Burke's website.

Fifty percent of voters polled approve of the job Walker is doing, with 47 percent disapproving. Ninety-three percent of Republicans support him.

"This poll pretty much sums up the Wisconsin Governor's races over the last four years," said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. "It's always close, but Scott Walker always has the upper hand."

Walker became Wisconsin's governor in the 2010 election. In 2011, he introduced what became a controversial budget repair plan that included a requirement that public employees pay for part of their pension and healthcare plans. A recall election ensued, which he won, making him the only governor in U.S. history to survive a recall election.

The budget plan was passed and his favorability within the Republican party went up. The 46-year-old is considering running for president in 2016.

In February, Politico reported that the GOP is showing a lot of interest in Walker for a potential White House run. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was originally one of the leading men, but the controversy around the shutting down of lanes on the George Washington bridge  has hindered his chances.

"Chris Christie took a big fall after Bridgegate. It makes sense that Scott Walker’s stock would rise," GOP strategist and Wisconsin native Ron Bonjean told Politico. "I think he has as excellent a chance as anyone else in the GOP primary at this point."

In the Wisconsin Senate race, Republican Ron Johnson sports an approval rating of just 34 percent. The Public Policy Polling numbers show that 30 percent of voters do not know enough about Johnson to have an opinion of his job performance.

Democrat Russ Feingold, who served three terms as a Wisconsin senator, holds the advantage over Johnson in a hypothetical showdown should he decide to run in November.

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