New Wisconsin Poll: Scott Walker Maintains Lead Over Tom Barrett

WASHINGTON -- The latest independent poll in Wisconsin shows Republican Gov. Scott Walker maintaining his lead over his Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, in the gubernatorial recall election set for June 5.

The new poll of 600 likely voters, conducted by Marquette University Law School from May 23 to 26, shows Walker leading Barrett by seven percentage points (52 to 45 percent). Two weeks earlier, another Marquette Law School poll had Walker leading by six points (50 to 44 percent).

"Very little has changed," said Marquette pollster Charles Franklin via Twitter. Given the four-point margin of sampling error associated with each poll, the gap between the candidates is statistically unchanged.

Democrats have been encouraged, nonetheless, by three recently released internal polls showing a closer race. Specifically, polls sponsored by the Barrett campaign and the Democratic Governors Association showed narrower Walker leads of four and three percentage points, respectively. A third poll paid for by the pro-labor Greater Wisconsin Committee, conducted over the Memorial Day weekend using an automated, recorded-voice methodology, found the race to be dead even.

Barrett pollster Fred Yang told The Huffington Post that the internal polls differed from earlier surveys because the latter had been conducted before the Barrett campaign started running television advertising on May 14.

But the Marquette Law School poll shows no trend toward Barrett. Although it is just one poll, it also found candidate favorability ratings consistent with its voter preference results: The Marquette poll shows Walker's personal rating essentially unchanged at 51 percent favorable, 46 percent unfavorable (it was 48 percent favorable, 48 percent unfavorable two weeks earlier). Meanwhile, Barrett's name recognition has increased, leading his favorable rating to rise by four points (from 37 to 41 percent) and his unfavorable rating to rise by seven (from 39 to 46 percent).

Via Twitter, Franklin warned against focusing on "only one pollster" and noted that the larger "array" of polls show a "close race, with most giving Walker a lead." Twelve polls were released in May, including the Democrats' internal polls, and all but one found Walker ahead. None showed Barrett leading.

With the Democrats' internal polls included, the HuffPost Pollster chart of all available Wisconsin polls gives Walker a lead of just under one point (49.0 to 48.2 percent) and shows a trend to Barrett. With the internal polls removed, however, the trend is flat and shows roughly the same Walker margin (51.9 to 44.0 percent) as the Marquette Law School poll does.

Full disclosure: Professor Franklin and this reporter co-founded the site Pollster.com, the forerunner to HuffPost Pollster.