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Tony Evers, Scott Walker Marquette poll

State Superintendent Tony Evers, left, is the Democratic nominee for governor facing Republican Gov. Scott Walker, right.

A new Marquette Law School Poll released Tuesday showed Democrat Tony Evers leading Republican Gov. Scott Walker by five points, the first time it has found Evers in front in the general election race.

Evers received 49 percent support among likely voters to Walker’s 44 percent support. It was the widest margin Walker has ever trailed an opponent in a Marquette poll and a wider margin than he trailed in any poll during his 2014 re-election campaign.

The poll also found Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin expanding her lead over Republican challenger Leah Vukmir to 53-42 among likely voters.

Both results show movement toward the Democratic candidates as the campaign ramps up. The poll surveyed 614 likely voters Sept. 12-16 and has an error margin of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

The governor’s race results come after more than a month of negative TV ads by Walker and his allies against Evers, the state schools chief.

For Walker, the poll contains a slew of red flags. Among independent voters, a demographic Walker has acknowledged he must win, he trails Evers 52 percent to 32 percent. Baldwin also is ahead with independents, 54-38 over Vukmir.

Walker’s favorability among likely voters also is significantly underwater, with 45 percent viewing him favorably and 52 percent unfavorably. For Evers it’s 40 percent favorable, 29 percent unfavorable.

And very few voters seem to be on the fence. Among likely voters, just 1 percent say they lack a preference or do not lean to a candidate. Another 6 percent support the Libertarian candidate, Phil Anderson.

The poor showing for Walker also comes after his campaign and its allies have launched a barrage of TV ads criticizing Evers, including for his handling of teacher discipline cases as state superintendent.

Evers campaign issued a statement saying “today’s poll results show voters aren’t buying Scott Walker’s false, desperate attacks and that Wisconsinites are excited about Tony’s positive vision for Wisconsin.”

The Walker campaign declined comment on the poll.

The results in the U.S. Senate race suggest Baldwin could be on track to win re-election. It finds the favorability/unfavorability numbers for Baldwin at 48-40. For Vukmir, they’re 26-38.

Schimel leads challenger

For the first time, the poll also surveyed the race for state attorney general, Wisconsin’s top law-enforcement official. It found Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel leading Democratic challenger Josh Kaul, 48-41, with 10 percent undecided.

Kaul, a Madison lawyer, former assistant federal prosecutor and son of former state Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, remains unknown to an overwhelming 87 percent of likely voters, the poll found.

The poll also found President Donald Trump’s job approval rating among registered voters ticking downward, with 42 percent approving and 54 percent disapproving.

It found that, among white voters, the electorate “has become increasingly segmented by gender and education level,” according to poll director Charles Franklin. White female voters with college degrees are more likely to support Democrats, supporting Evers and Baldwin by roughly 2-to-1 margins. White male voters without college degrees, meanwhile, are more likely to back Republicans, solidly favoring Walker and Vukmir.

The previous Marquette poll in August, the first conducted since the primary election, found both the governor and U.S. Senate races were close. It found Evers and Walker tied at 46 percent support among likely voters. Baldwin led Vukmir, 49-47. Trump’s approval/disapproval rating was at 45 percent/51 percent among registered voters.

Part of the shift in the latest poll’s results may be attributable to a different partisan makeup of poll respondents.

The partisan makeup of the August poll sample, including those who lean to a party, was 45 percent Republican, 43 percent Democratic and 11 percent independent.

For the September poll, it’s 45 percent Republican, 46 percent Democratic and 8 percent independent. That’s more in line with the poll’s long-term partisan sample makeup, which is 43 percent Republican, 47 percent Democratic and 9 percent independent.

An August poll by Suffolk University conducted for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found Evers leading Walker 46-44, within the margin of error. It found Baldwin leading Vukmir, 50-42.

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Mark Sommerhauser covers state government and politics for the Wisconsin State Journal.