Poll shows Wisconsin governor's race a dead heat

Mary Burke (D), left, and Scott Walker (R)

The race for Wisconsin governor is even almost six months before Election Day, according to a Marquette University poll.

It says 46 percent of registered voters say they support Governor Walker while another 46 percent say they support Democrat Mary Burke. Those preferences closely follow political party lines. Six percent say they do not know yet who they would vote for.

Eight weeks ago, the poll had Walker leading Burke 48 to 41 percent.

"The state of Wisconsin remains pretty much divided down the middle," said Michael Kraft, a UW-Green Bay political science professor.

The new poll also says Burke is becoming more familiar to voters, but still has a ways to go. Forty-six percent of voters say they haven't heard enough about Burke to form an opinion about her. That's down from 53 percent in March and 64 percent in January.

Kraft says the numbers aren't surprising.

"Although she has toured the state since last fall, she's visible in some communities and to some of her early supporters, but really she doesn't have much of a statewide presence or visibility so far," he said.

The poll also says slightly more voters approve of Governor Walker's performance. In March, 47 percent approved. That number is up to 49 percent.

Both campaigns reacted to the poll in statements.

"We're confident voters want to continue moving Wisconsin forward and have no desire to return to the failed policies of the past," said Walker spokeswoman Alleigh Marre.

"It is clear that voters recognize that Walker's top down, trickle down approach that puts big corporations and special interests ahead of hard working Wisconsinites isn't working," said Burke spokesman Joe Zepecki.

Kraft says the election may come down to voter turnout, and which campaign can motivate more people to get out and vote. He also expects a quiet summer in the governor's race.

"It will be a low-key campaign until we get past Labor Day, and then things will heat up, I think, pretty dramatically," said Kraft. "This is going to be a contest followed around the country."

The poll of 805 randomly selected registered voters from across the state was conducted by landline and cellphone between May 15 and Sunday. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.