A new Public Policy Polling survey suggests that Democrats are gaining ground in the election to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
According to the poll, Walker trails both of his likely opponents — former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and former Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett — by slim margins. Falk leads Walker 48 – 47 percent, while Barrett leads 49 – 46 percent. This represents a significant improvement for the Democrats; in PPP’s previous Wisconsin poll, Walker led Barrett by 2 points and Falk by 8 points.
Walker’s personal unpopularity also provides grounds for Democratic optimism. Only 47 percent of voters approve of Walker, compared to 52 percent who disapprove. Among independents, those numbers dip to 43 percent approval with 55 percent disapproval.
Despite their improving numbers, PPP warns that Democrats should not be overly optimistic about recalling Walker:
Those are tenuous leads for the Democratic hopefuls. In the State Senate recall elections last summer we generally found that sentiment moved away from recalling the incumbents as the election came closer. And Wisconsin voters aren’t exactly dying to remove Walker from office- 49% generally support a recall and 49% generally oppose one…it’s going to take a very strong Democratic campaign to knock Walker out.
One Democrat who could provide that very strong campaign is former Senator Russ Feingold. According to the poll, Feingold would hold a 52 – 45 percent advantage over Walker if he decided to run. Feingold has said that he won’t join the race, but these numbers make it clear that he would be the Democrats’ strongest candidate.
No matter who he faces, it looks like Walker will have a very tough time prevailing in the election that he considers to be a frivolous distraction.