Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks during a jobs announcement at the Pewaukee,… (Charles Auer / AP Photo )
The hotly contested issue of whether to recall Wisconsin's Republican governor has the state's voters evenly divided, according to a newly released poll.
Gov. Scott Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, his most likely Democratic opponent, were virtually tied, with Barrett leading 47%-46% among all registered voters and Walker ahead 48%-47% among those most likely to vote, according to the poll by Marquette University Law School.
Barrett holds a strong and growing lead over three other Democrats a week before the party's May 8 primary, the poll showed.
Almost one-fifth of voters in the Democratic primary remain undecided, however. The four candidates are scheduled to debate Friday. Barrett's chief rival, Kathleen Falk, has strong backing from several major unions.
Both parties have seen the recall as a forecast for November's presidential election. But the contest between President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney is not nearly as close as the recall. Obama led by 51%-42%, the poll showed.
Although Republican strategists hope Wisconsin will be competitive in the fall, Romney's campaign has not begun to air advertising in the state as it has in some swing states where polls show a closer contest.
In the recall, "voters have substantially made up their minds," with very few undecided over Walker, said pollster Charles Franklin, who directs the poll.
Walker became a hero to conservatives nationwide when he pushed a bill through the state Legislature last year repealing collective bargaining rights for state employees. He has raised more than $25 million to fight the recall, with contributions from wealthy conservatives nationwide.
Unions have contributed heavily to the Democrats, and total spending for the race could top $60 million, officials on both sides say.
Original source: Wisconsin Recall in Dead Heat, Obama leads, new poll shows