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Less than three weeks before Election Day, Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke are in a dead heat, the Marquette Law School Poll has found.

Walker and Burke are tied 47-47 among likely voters, with 4 percent undecided, according to poll data released Wednesday.

The poll also found attorney general candidates Republican Brad Schimel and Democrat Susan Happ are tied at 42 percent among likely voters, with 16 percent undecided.

The tight race between Walker and Burke — a Madison School Board member and former Trek Bicycle executive and state Commerce secretary — has gained national attention.

It has drawn two visits from first lady Michelle Obama campaigning for Burke, including one in Madison. And on Wednesday, the White House said President Barack Obama will appear in Milwaukee with Burke in the week before the Nov. 4 election.

Throughout the summer, the Marquette poll showed Walker and Burke separated by no more than five percentage points, the margin of the previous poll earlier this month.

The shift to a “dead tie” among likely voters highlights the importance of turnout, poll director Charles Franklin said.

Among registered voters, Walker received support of 48 percent of those polled and Burke 45 percent, with 5 percent undecided.

The latest poll was conducted between Thursday and Sunday, and interviewed 1,004 registered voters and 803 likely voters by land line and cell phone. The margin of error is 3.2 percentage points among registered voters, and 3.5 percentage points among likely voters.

Franklin said the poll is increasingly focusing on likely voters as the election draws nearer, because those who say they are committed to voting on Nov. 4 are more likely to make it to the polls to cast their ballots.

Republicans made up 28 percent of the registered voter sample and 29 percent of the likely voter sample in this latest poll, while Democrats made up 31 percent of both registered and likely voters. Independents made up 37 percent of both registered and likely voters.

Walker and Burke are set to meet Friday night in Milwaukee for their second debate.

Marquette is expected to release one more poll before Election Day, although it has not yet said when the poll will be conducted or released.

Competing claims

Burke quickly sent out a fundraising email with the poll results.

“The efforts of our phone bankers and door knockers are paying off, and victory is within our grasp,” she wrote to supporters. “The only poll that truly matters is on Election Day, and we are only 20 days away. That means our window of time to continue to move the needle is shrinking rapidly.”

Walker campaign manager Stephan Thompson said in a fundraising appeal that things “took on a new urgency” after Wednesday’s poll results.

“Scott is leading among registered voters which means this race will come down to turnout,” Thompson wrote. “Remember, the Democrats are dumping millions of dollars into this race and we need to be aggressive in these final weeks.”

In the attorney general’s race, both Schimel and Happ receive 39 percent support among registered voters, with 19 percent yet to choose a candidate.

“We’ve been saying for months that Wisconsin is very politically divided, and we have always expected this race to be close,” Happ campaign manager Josh Lease said. “Fortunately, Susan Happ has a proven track record of bringing people together and is the only candidate in the race with a record of earning votes from across the political spectrum.”

The Schimel campaign said it was confident voters would pick him as they learn more about the race. “As this race continues to come into focus, we’re confident voters are making the determination that Brad Schimel is not only law enforcement’s choice, but their choice,” Schimel campaign manager Johnny Koremenos said.

Other findings

The poll also found:

Among likely voters who consider themselves to be independent, Burke received 45 percent support compared to Walker’s 44 percent. In the previous poll, independents supported Walker 53-40.

Burke leads in Milwaukee and the Madison area, while Walker leads in the Milwaukee suburbs and in the Green Bay area. In the rest of the state, Walker leads 51-46.

The gender gap, which Franklin called “exceptionally large” in the previous poll, has essentially vanished. Men favor Walker by a 48-46 margin, while women favor Burke 48-47.

58 percent of likely voters told pollsters they support voter ID, which Walker backs, while 39 percent oppose it.

Only 25 percent of likely voters say they would like to see Walker run for president in 2016, compared to 40 percent who would like to see U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, run.

After the U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriage in Wisconsin, 63 percent of likely voters surveyed said they support legalizing it while 30 percent are opposed. Burke supports same-sex marriage while Walker opposes it.

Likely voters support an increase in the minimum wage, with 61 percent in favor and 35 percent opposed. Walker opposes the increase, while Burke supports increasing it over time to $10.10.

59 percent of likely voters would like the state to accept increased federal Medicaid money to help cover those just over the poverty line, while 30 percent say the state should reject it. Walker rejected the funding, while Burke says Wisconsin should accept the expansion.

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State Government Reporter for Wisconsin State Journal