Republican Gov. Scott Walker has pulled ahead of Democratic challenger Mary Burke in Wisconsin’s contentious governor’s race, a poll released Wednesday found.
Walker leads Burke 50 percent to 43 percent among likely voters, the new Marquette Law School Poll reported.
It’s Marquette’s final poll before Tuesday’s election, and a major change from the poll earlier this month that found the race tied.
Poll director Charles Franklin said “shifting turnout intentions” have triggered many of the swings in polling for the governor’s race.
“More Walker supporters say they will vote than Burke voters,” he said.
About 93 percent of Republicans polled in the recent survey said they were certain to vote, compared to 82 percent of Democrats, Franklin said. That was a notable shift from the survey two weeks ago, when 82 percent of GOP voters and 80 percent of Democrats said they were certain to go to the polls.
Other shifts included the resurgence of a gender gap, with men backing Walker over Burke 58-36; Burke holds a 49-43 lead among women. Independent voters also backed Walker by a 52 to 37 margin, Franklin said.
The latest poll found the race tight — with Walker leading Burke 46 percent to 45 percent — among registered voters.
But as Election Day approaches, the poll has increasingly focused on likely voters, or voters who say they are certain to vote or already have .
At a Wednesday morning campaign stop before the poll results were released, Walker said he planned to “run hard to the finish line” and continue crisscrossing the state until the polls close on election night. At an early morning campaign stop in Prairie du Sac, the first-term governor repeated comments that he was being targeted by “out-of-state special interests” who are seeking political payback.
“My opponent and her allies from Washington are really focused on trying to convince people to be against something — against our reforms, against me personally,” Walker said. “And we’ve laid out a very clear message on the airwaves and here on our bus tour that we’re for something. We’re for a better state.”
Rep. Paul Ryan of Janesville, who joined Walker, urged voters to reward the governor with a second term so he can continue pushing for government overhauls.
“Political courage is on the ballot Tuesday,” Ryan said.
The duo — both potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates — made several stops Wednesday, and said they plan to appear together again before the Tuesday election.
During the campaign stop at Mid-State Equipment, a farming supply business, Ryan said Walker was being targeted for being a strong leader.
“All that Mary Burke is trying to do is get people to hate another person, and win an election by default,” Ryan said. “That’s not leadership, that’s just attacks.”
Another potential 2016 GOP presidential contender, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, is scheduled to head to Wisconsin on Friday to campaign with Walker.
National news reports in recent days quoted Walker complaining that he didn’t need visits from national figures, but rather financial assistance from the National Governors Association, which Christie leads.
Burke campaigned in Green Bay on Wednesday, where she met with a newspaper editorial board and visited UW-Green Bay.
Campaign spokesman Joe Zepecki said Burke was committed to ending the “kind of divisiveness that was on display at Walker’s campaign event this morning.”
“This is not who we are — we’re proud Wisconsinites first and foremost, not Democrats or Republicans,” Zepecki said. “It’s time to move past this divisiveness and go in a new direction with Mary Burke, who will make sure everyone willing to put in the hard work gets a fair shot, and who evaluates ideas based on their merits, not on which political party they come from.”
The latest Marquette poll was conducted between Thursday and Sunday, and interviewed 1,409 registered voters, including 1,164 likely voters by land line and cell phone. The margin of error was 2.7 percentage points among registered voters and 3 percentage points among likely voters.
Republicans made up 26 percent of the registered voter sample and 30 percent of the likely voter sample, while Democrats made up 32 percent of both the registered and likely voters. Independents made up 39 percent of registered voters and 36 percent of likely voters.
The poll also found that Republican candidate for attorney general Brad Schimel leads Democratic candidate Susan Happ by 43 percent to 39 percent among likely voters, with 14 percent saying they are undecided.