In a short period of time, the Marquette Law School poll has become something of the "gold standard" poll in Wisconsin. And while their new poll (released Wednesday afternoon) bears a strong resemblance to their Spring poll in the Badger State, it nevertheless is likely to get a hell of a lot of attention.
That's because the new Marquette Law School poll has Democratic challenger Mary Burke locked in a dead heat with Walker. Among the larger universe of registered voters, Walker holds a 46-45 lead over Burke. But among the tighter screen of likely voters, it is Burke staked to the one-point edge (47-46).
Digging into the numbers, there are two things here that should strike a real cautionary note for Team Walker. For one thing, it looks like Wisconsin is not a state where the 2014 GOP playbook (Obama=bad) will play very well. President Obama actually has better favorability ratings (51/44) than Gov. Walker (45/47). This implies that if this election turns into a referendum, it will be on the guy in Madison, not the one in Washington.
A second cautionary note: the right track/wrong track metric in Wisconsin is actually pretty decent, with 55 percent saying the state is on the "right track." Given that stat, one would expect Walker to be doing much better than the mid-40s. Again, it is another sign that this might be more about dissatisfaction with Walker as an individual, rather than a simple retrospective voting pattern.
Burke, for her part, remains something of an unknown quantity. She remains unknown to half the voters in the state (sporting a middling 26/24 favorability spread). In her favor, however, are a few issue stances where she can throw Walker onto the defensive. Wisconsin voters are prepared to raise the minimum wage (56 percent support, versus 39 percent opposed), and are sharply in favor of an amendment which would permanently repeal the ban on same-sex marriage (37–56). In a talking point that has resonated some in the state, voters in the state feel quite strongly that the state is lagging behind others in job creation: 43 percent feel the state is doing worse than its peers, while only nine percent feel Wisconsin is doing better than its peers in job creation.
As for another potential Burke point of attack, the "John Doe" scandal doesn't seem to be a huge albatross for Walker ... yet. Only 42 percent think it is a sign of something "serious," whereas 54 percent say it is "just more politics."