If the election for Wisconsin's governor was held right now, Republican Gov. Scott Walker would most likely win another term, according to the results of a new Wisconsin Public Radio-St. Norbert College survey .
Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Survey's results suggest Walker's Democratic challenger needs to introduce herself to voters.
Most of the survey's 401 respondents say that they believe Wisconsin is headed in the right direction.
The sitting governor also has a strong approval rating, the survey found. Walker is seeking a second term and is running against Democrat Mary Burke.
Wendy Scattergood, a political scientist and an associate at St. Norbert College's Strategic Research Institute, said that 55 percent of respondents said they will vote for Walker while 40 percent said they'd back Burke.
"There's a correlation there with how people feel the governor is doing, which is his approval rating, but also people feel the state is going in the right direction," she said. "And 57 percent of our respondents think the state is going in the right direction, so it's very close to the numbers with the vote choice. And then, if you look at the governor's approval ratings right now, it's at 59 percent."
Scattergood said that Burke's numbers reflect a common problem for challengers: namely, a good portion of respondents don't know who she is.
"Fourteen percent had not heard of her and an additional 13 percent were not sure if they had a favorable or not favorable impression of her," Scattergood said. "So, that's basically 27 percent of those folks. So, yes, she's got some work to do with name recognition."
The survey didn't select for likely voters, but it asked if respondents would definitely vote or not. Seventy-nine percent said they will definitely vote. While 32 percent of respondents identified as Democrats, 37 percent said they were Republicans. One-quarter voluntarily said they were independents.
Party Leaders React Differently To Survey Results
Brian Schimming, vice chair of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, said that he thought the survey results showed support for Walker's agenda in the state.
“I think the central question in the election is whether the state is going to move forward or going to move backward,” said Schimming.
He stated that under Walker, Wisconsin has added more jobs, cut taxes, balanced budgets and generated surpluses.
“It’s about where Scott Walker picked up from the disastrous policies of (Gov.) Jim Doyle, where we are now, and where we’re going, and that is a very persuasive case for Scott Walker,” Schimming said.
However, Joe Wineke, former Democratic Party of Wisconsin chair, said that Walker has broken the state’s tradition of taking care of its people.
“Under Scott Walker in three short years, we have crucified public education, we have destroyed our job base, we have put 80,000 people out of health care through BadgerCare reductions, we have destroyed our technical college system by reducing it by 30 percent,” Wineke said.
He maintained that residents want a return to open, progressive government that unites instead of divides.
“This governor and this Legislature have polarized the state. It has made this state fight person against person, family against family, and it is wrong,” said Wineke. “Come November, we will change that.”
Editor's Note: WPR's Bill Martens contributed to a portion of this report.