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New Wisconsin Poll: Walker Maintains Lead; Obama Gains Strength

A new survey of Wisconsin voters shows GOP Gov. Scott Walker maintaining his lead over Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the Democrat who is trying to oust the governor in a recall election Tuesday.

And the survey had good news for President Obama: during the last half of the month, he improved his standing against GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Wisconsin.

The Marquette Law School poll, conducted late last week, showed Walker the favorite of 52 percent of the 720 registered Wisconsin voters surveyed. Barrett was favored by 45 percent. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

A similar poll taken by the school two weeks ago had Walker leading 50 percent to 44 percent.

The new survey also showed Obama leading Romney among likely voters, 51 percent to 43 percent. Two weeks ago, the poll showed the presidential race tied at 46 percent each. Nearly half of the voters polled expressed an unfavorable opinion of Romney, with 40 percent saying they looked favorably on the former Massachusetts governor. Obama had a 55 percent favorability rating, with 41 percent saying they viewed him unfavorably.

In an online analysis of the new survey data, the Marquette pollsters found:

-State residents who said they think the state has gained jobs over the last year increased to 38 percent, up from 20 percent two weeks ago. Pollsters said that "voters also said Walker would be better at creating jobs than Barrett by a 50 percent to 43 percent margin."

-Just over half of those surveyed said they have a favorable opinion of Walker, with 41 percent expressing similar sentiments about Barrett. Both Walker and Barrett are seen in an unfavorable light by 46 percent of Wisconsin voters.

-Though voters were divided on how they think Walker has performed as governor, more than half of those surveyed said they believe the state is "going in the right direction." Forty-four percent said "things have gotten off on the wrong track." And 54 percent expressed the view that changes in state government over the past year - including a rollback in public union collective bargaining rights - will make the state "better off in the long run."

-And, in a finding that will likely hearten Walker's get-out-the-vote workers, the pollsters said that 92 percent of GOP voters surveyed said they are "absolutely certain to vote" in next week's recall election, far outpacing the 77 percent of Democrats who said they were similarly motivated. Eighty-four percent of independents said that they, too, are certain to vote.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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