Scott Walker tops four potential Democratic rivals in new poll

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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – September 17, 2013

Gov. Scott Walker runs ahead of four potential Democrat rivals for governor but tops out at 48% support in those 2014 matchups, says a new survey by Public Policy Polling.

In the poll conducted Sept. 13-16, Walker led Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca 47%-43%, former Commerce Secretary Mary Burke 48%-42%, Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson 47%-40%, and State Senator Kathleen Vinehout 47%-41%.

Evidence of how little-known the potential Democratic field is at this point came in the poll’s favorability ratings: At least 60% of respondents has not formed an opinion of the Democrats.

Walker’s job approval rating again was split: 49% disapprove, 48% approve. President Barack Obama scored similarly: 49% negative, 47% positive.

The survey by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm, had a margin of error of 2.9%.

PPP called the poll “mixed news” for Walker, saying his job-performance rating was unchanged from February.

But, the polling firm noted, Walker leads by 5-10 points with independents in all four matchups, and takes an average of 12% of the Democratic vote while losing only 7% of Republicans.

The lack of name recognition for the Democrats tested in the poll means the eventual nominee “should have more room to grow” support, the firm said.

In the poll, PPP noted, an average of 14% of Democrats are undecided, compared to just 4% of Republicans.

An abortion question generated the poll’s clearest result: 47% said they opposed “the abortion law passed by the legislature” in 2013, while 20% said they supported it, with the rest undecided. The law, pushed by GOP lawmakers and signed by Walker, requires women seeking abortions to get ultrasounds, and seeks to require doctors who perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges.

The poll asked if protesters at the Solidarity Sing Alongs in the Capitol rotunda should have to get a permit. Respondents were split: 45% said no, 41% said yes. A judge recently ruled that groups of more than 20 protesters need a permit, but that smaller groups do not.

Of the poll’s 1,180 voters, 32% self-identified as Democrats, 28% as Republicans and 41% as independents or something else.

The poll drew this response from the state Democratic Party: ”History bears out that sitting below 50 percent traditionally spells bad news for incumbents. Outside special interests wouldn’t be spending half-a-million dollars with no announced challenger 14 months out from the election if they didn’t know Scott Walker was in trouble. But even with the support of that dishonest ad campaign, Scott Walker is crumbling under the weight of his own failure and is incredibly vulnerable.”

Walker’s campaign had this to say: “Governor Walker’s focus is on helping Wisconsin move forward. He has balanced a $3.6 billion deficit, cut income taxes, and Wisconsin has seen its best two year job growth in a decade under any governor.  We’re confident that voters want to continue moving forward, and have no desire to return to the failed policies of the past.”

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