Less than three weeks before voters head to the polls, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker finds himself in a struggle for political survival, with a new survey from the state's most respected pollster finding that his lead over Democratic challenger Mary Burke has vanished.
The poll, from Marquette University Law School, shows a dead heat between Walker and Burke, with each candidate garnering 47 percent among likely voters. Two weeks ago, Marquette's survey had given Walker a five-point lead. RealClearPolitics' polling average now gives Walker just a 0.4 point edge over Burke.
Walker's decline in the polls comes as Wisconsinites express emphatic opposition to the Tea Party favorite's callous economic policies. By a 59 to 30 percent margin, likely voters in the Marquette poll favored expansion of the state's Medicaid program. Walker has rejected federal funds to expand Medicaid, denying health coverage to 87,000 Wisconsinites a month. Meanwhile, likely voters support raising the state's $7.25 an hour minimum wage by a margin of 61 to 35 percent. Walker has steadfastly opposed a wage increase, contending that the minimum wage "doesn't serve a purpose," even though the University of Wisconsin's Center on Wisconsin Strategy calculates that raising the state's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would boost the pay of 500,000 Wisconsin workers. Earlier this month, Walker's administration contended that the current $7.25 minimum is a "living wage."
Responding to the Marquette poll results, Joe Dinkin, Working Families national communications director, told Salon, "Every time Scott Walker opens his mouth about the minimum wage, more voters see him as someone who cares more about wealthy CEOs than every day Wisconsin families."