Fresh numbers from Marquette University Law School’s respected pollster confirms that Wisconsin’s gubernatorial race remains extremely tight. The head-to-head match up sits within the margin of error, but this split is unusual:

Walker has improved his standing with registered voters since MU Law’s May and July surveys, but has fallen among respondents who are likely to vote.  Odd.  Typically, Republicans fare better among “likelies” than with “registereds.”  Not here:

A 19-point Walker lead among “less likely voters”?  As I say, unusual.  In the LV category, Walker is suffering from a pronounced gender gap, trailing among women by 18 points.  With RV’s, though, the split drops to a more manageable seven-point disparity.  Walker dominates male voters within both groups.  Overall, Dems enjoy a (+4) enthusiasm gap in this survey, which produces a (D+6) LV sample.  As a point of reference, the high-turnout 2012 recall electorate was (R+1).  Should these new stats hold up in November, Wisconsin will have bucked this year’s national trend of Republicans’ enthusiasm outpacing Democrats’.  How likely is that?  We’ll see, I guess.  If you’re an incurable Eeyore — cough — there’s ample pessimism-fueling material within this poll’s internals.  The media’s scandalously bad coverage of rejected ‘John Doe’ investigation allegations appears to have taken a toll on the governor.  His job approval and favorability ratings are split exactly evenly in his survey, down from previous thin majorities.  Walker also faces a (-5) empathy gap, with fewer voters believing he “cares about people” like them.  The Burke campaign’s attack that Wisconsin’s job growth is ‘lagging behind‘ other states has gained noticeable traction, too.  The two candidates are tied on job creation, even though Burke’s tenure as Commerce Secretary marked the only stretch over the last 25 years in which Wisconsin’s unemployment rate exceeded the national average.  On Walker’s watch, the state’s unemployment rate has dropped from 7.7 percent to 5.8 percent today, below the nationwide average.  On the positive side, Walker is widely viewed as an effective leader, more Wisconsinites would prefer to keep his successful budget reforms in place than reverse them, and these data points are good signs for any incumbent today — especially given the dismal national outlook:

Also, there are solid reasons why Mary Burke doesn’t want to be seen with President Obama:

Oh, and the state’s voter ID law, enacted under Walker, is wildly popular.  Scott Walker has been a transformational and successful governor in Wisconsin, striking blow after blow for fiscal sanity and responsible, limited government.  And yet his re-re-election is by no means assured.  He’s in a dogfight, and it looks like this race will come down to resources and turnout.  I’ll leave you with Walker’s latest TV ad — a positive, minute-long spot in which the governor personally reminds voters of Wisconsin’s tangible progress over the last four years: