Wow: Walker opens up seven point lead among likely voters in final Marquette poll

A month ago, Wisconsin’s most respected pollster showed Walker at 50 percent and leading by nearly six percentage points. Two weeks ago, the race tightened considerably, with Democrat Mary Burke pulling into a tie with the incumbent — thanks in large measure to some puzzling shifts in the internals. Marquette Law School’s final poll of the race shows dramatic movement back toward Walker. Boom:

He also edges Burke by one point among registered voters, 46/45. As the man says:

The MU poll’s trajectory since mid-September has been Walker +3, Walker +5, tie, and now Walker +7.  What accounts for Walker’s big eleventh-hour surge in this survey? Some significant demographic and turnout factors:

Walker’s personal favorability among likely voters is above water by five points.  Burke’s has tumbled to a disastrous (39/49).  Walker’s job approval rating stands at a decent (52/46), with the state’s right track/wrong track number at a robust (+12).  A majority of Wisconsin voters believe their state will be better off in the long run because of Walker’s controversial and successful budget reforms. And then there’s this:  

Needless to say, if Walker pulls this thing out, he’ll immediately enter the 2016 discussion, having beaten the Lefty circus three times in four years in a purple-blue-tinted state. And the whole Christie flap will recede into the background. (For what it’s worth, I’ve heard from people both to close governors that there’s nothing to the “sandbagging/feud” storyline — a claim that will be aggressively tested if Walker loses). On the other side of this race, an October surprise-style story from the Wisconsin Reporter quotes sources who say Mary Burke was fired from her family’s business for incompetence in the 1990’s:

In attempting to explain her two-year work hiatus in the early to mid-1990s, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke has said she was just burned out after an intense period of leading European operations for Trek Bicycle Corp., her family’s Waterloo-based global manufacturer. In fact, Burke apparently was fired by her own family following steep overseas financial losses and plummeting morale among Burke’s European sales staff, multiple former Trek executives and employees told Wisconsin Reporter. The sales team threatened to quit if Burke was not removed from her position as director of European Operations, according to Gary Ellerman, who served as Trek’s human resources director for 12 years. His account was confirmed by three other former employees. “She was not performing. She was (in) so far over her head. She didn’t understand the bike business,” said Ellerman, who started with Trek in 1992, at the tail end of Burke’s first stint as a manager at Trek. Ellerman said Richard Burke, Mary Burke’s father and founder of the family business, asked Tom Albers, Trek president and chief financial officer at the time, to fly to Amsterdam to evaluate Mary’s performance. It wasn’t a pretty picture. The European operations were in disarray, Ellerman said…A former employee with the company told Wisconsin Reporter that John Burke, Mary’s brother and current Trek president, had to let his sister go.

I’m slightly skeptical of a report that cites a Republican operative (Ellerman) and anonymous former employees as its primary sources, but given how unfairly Walker’s been treated by the local and national media throughout this campaign, I guess Burke is due for some negative press of possibly dubious provenance. Which is not to say the story’s bogus; I just think we’d be screaming bloody murder over sourcing if the shoe were on the other foot. Of course, if that were the case, this story would be plastered above-the-fold  in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.  I’ll leave you with two items, without further comment: