Our final poll in the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election comes after an impressive debate performance by Democrat Tom Barrett — who may have saved his best for last. The highlight for many viewers was when Barrett took beleaguered Republican Gov. Scott Walker to the woodshed for airing a very tough ad that displays an image of a severely beaten child who later died of his injuries, suggesting that as Milwaukee mayor, Barrett’s police department “didn’t consider it a crime.” In reality, the person who beat the child was arrested but escaped prosecution through a bureaucratic blunder not of Barrett’s doing. Barrett’s outrage was punctuated with this zinger: “I have a police department that arrests felons. He [Walker] has a practice of hiring them.” That line, of course, refers to the ongoing “John Doe” investigation that has resulted in the arrest of a number of Walker’s former aides for their alleged role in embezzling funds raised to help veterans and their families. (You can read the details of that investigation here.)
So, as fireworks continue to explode over the political horizon in the Dairy State, we asked 1,570 likely voters who they support in the June 5 election. Here are the results.Poll type:: Automated Date: 6/3/2012 - Participants: 1,570 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.5%
Those surprising results would project at a 56-44 final win for Walker. HOWEVER, while Walker continues to lead Barrett, we once again caution readers that this is an extremely difficult election to predict. Turnout is king in all elections, and it may be even more important in this one. Wisconsin’s labor movement is keen to get as many of the anti-Walker voters to the polls as possible and have displayed the ability to rally their troops effectively. And Wisconsin regulations allow Election Day voter registration with a minimum of residency documentation–something that has both sides whispering of potential abuse from their opponents.
Too many polls have been conducted showing Walker in the lead (even Barrett’s own poll shows him trailing) to disbelieve the sentiments displayed in the results. But Walker’s continuing problem with the John Doe investigation and a bit of swagger among his supporters could–possibly–keep some of them home. Then again, Barrett’s aggression that he displayed in the final debate may have come too late.
At any rate, it may be appropriate to say that there could be no winner in this election–only a survivor.