Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke continue to navigate Wisconsin's gubernatorial race locked in a dead heat, according to the latest statewide poll.
The Marquette University Law School poll released Aug. 27 shows Burke leading, 49 percent to 47 percent, among likely voters, while Walker led, 48 percent to 44 percent, among registered voters.
The poll sampled 815 registered voters by cell phone and landline, 609 of whom considered themselves likely to vote on Nov. 4.
Independent voters have shifted slightly since July, when they were nearly split between the candidates. Walker now holds a 9-point lead among registered independents.
The division between candidates is most evenly and predictably pronounced by party identification and gender.
Among likely voters, women prefer Burke by an 18-point margin, 56-38. Among registered voters, the gap is 49-42, largely unchanged from July.
Men who are likely to vote prefer Walker by a 17-point margin, 57-40. His advantage among registered male voters has widened by about 5 points, from 54-39 last month.
The gubernatorial race tightened significantly in the spring and the candidates have been essentially deadlocked since. In July, Walker led Burke 46-45 percent among registered voters while Burke was ahead 47-46 percent among likely voters. In May, the candidates were tied at 46 percent each among registered voters but Walker led 48-46 percent among likely voters.
Burke has become more familiar to voters in the last month. In July, nearly half the state didn't know who she was or didn't know enough to form an opinion. That percentage is down to 35 percent in August.
Nearly all voters in Wisconsin have an opinion on the governor, but those opinions are deeply divided. His favorability rating is tied at 48 between positive and negative, while only 4 percent offered no opinion.
Half of voters said the phrase "cares about people like you" does not apply to Walker, compared to 35 percent who feel that way about Burke. The percentage of voters who think the governor does care about people like them has held steady at 45 since July, while Burke has made gains from 38 percent in July to 43 percent in August.
As November approaches, more voters indicate a likelihood to go to the polls. Three-quarters of respondents said they are "absolutely" certain to vote this fall, up from 68 percent last month. However, the level of enthusiasm about the election has held relatively steady, with just 53 percent of voters who are "very excited" about voting.
The poll also asked questions about the direction of the state, job growth, collective bargaining, the Medicaid expansion and several other campaign issues. It also, for the first time, provided insight into opinions on the attorney general's race.
Despite winning the Democratic primary in all 72 counties, Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ remains relatively unknown. Eighty-two percent of voters either don't know enough about Happ or don't know enough to form an opinion on her. Eighty-seven percent responded that way when asked about the Republican candidate, Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel. Schimel did not face a primary challenge.
Happ has commanded an early lead in the race, with the support of 40 percent of registered voters compared to Schimel's 33 percent. Likely voters favor Happ by 10 points, 42-32 percent. Both among registered and likely voters, there are slightly less than 25 percent of votes up for grabs.