Rasmussen: Walker leads Barrett 50/45 in Wisconsin recall election

Rasmussen gets out of the gate first in post-primary polling for Wisconsin’s gubernatorial recall election, and the news is … mixed.  Scott Walker has a small but significant lead among likely voters against Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett, who sailed to victory over Big Labor candidate Kathleen Falk in the Democratic primary:

 Embattled Republican Governor Scott Walker holds a five-point lead over his newly nominated Democratic challenger Tom Barrett in Wisconsin’s special recall election.

A new Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey shows that 50% of the state’s Likely Voters prefer Walker while 45% choose Barrett. Two percent (2%) prefer some other candidate and another two percent (2%) are undecided.

That’s a slight improvement for Walker over last month’s poll, but not as much good news as in February:

In early April, 52% of voters in the state said they would vote to recall the governor and remove him from office. Forty-seven percent (47%) said they would vote against the recall. Those findings marked a shift from February, when 54% said they would vote against the recall. No Democratic challenger was mentioned in either survey.

There is better news for Walker in the demographics, primarily among independents.  Unaffiliated voters back Walker by eight points and a majority, 51/43, while affiliated voters almost entirely stick with their party.  Walker has an 18-point lead among men, while trailing by seven points among women.  However, a big key for Walker will be age demographics.  He leads by wide margins among 40-64YOs (57/41) and seniors (60/36), who tend to turn out more reliably, especially in ad-hoc elections.  Barrett’s lead comes from voters under 40, 52/40, but these tend to be less reliable at turning out.

Barrett has other problems in this poll, too.  His favorability is just a +1 at 48/47.  Walker has a +3 favorability rating at 51/48, but 44% overall find him very favorable, compared to just 21% for Barrett, which demonstrates a pretty big enthusiasm gap for the Democrat.  Among independents, Barrett’s favorability is almost the same at 47/47, but twice as many find Barrett very unfavorable (26%) than very favorable (13%). Walker’s actually underwater among independents at 48/51, even though they’re more inclined to vote for him than Barrett; 37% find him very favorable, while 44% very unfavorable.  Walker’s job approval rating stands at 49/47 in this poll, but it’s 46/51 among independents.

The key in this race will probably be the attitude towards public-employee unions, the issue that prompted the recall in the first place.  Voters disfavor PEUs 46/51; among independents, it’s a big gap at 41/58.  Small wonder that Barrett downplays his opposition to the PEU reforms, and wants to stick to traditional Democratic election issues instead.  It doesn’t look like Wisconsin voters will let him off the hook that easily.