MILWAUKEE — Slightly more Wisconsin voters approve than disapprove of the job Republican Gov. Scott Walker is doing as he prepares for an expected recall election, according to a poll released Wednesday.
Mr. Walker also showed leads of 6 to 10 percentage points when running against four potential Democratic opponents, according to a Marquette University Law School poll.
It showed 51 percent of 701 registered voters polled approve of Mr. Walker's performance while 46 percent disapprove. The telephone poll, which has a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points, was conducted Jan. 19-22, just days after recall organizers turned in a million signatures to possibly force a recall election against Mr. Walker.
The recall effort has been driven by Democrats and liberal groups angry at Mr. Walker's conservative actions during his first year in office, particularly his successful push for a law that effectively ended collective bargaining rights for most public workers.
The Government Accountability Board is reviewing recall signatures to determine if enough were gathered to order recall elections for Mr. Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four Republican senators. A judge Wednesday granted the board an additional 30 days to complete that process. State law would ordinarily give the board 31 days to verify the signatures' authenticity. The clock began ticking Jan. 18.
The poll shows the support for Mr. Walker is mostly along partisan lines, with 87 percent of Republicans saying they approved the job he was doing and 82 percent of Democrats disapproving. Among independents, Mr. Walker has a 54 percent approval rating, compared to 34 percent who disapprove of him.
So far, two Democrats have announced that they will seek the party's nomination to take on Mr. Walker. They are former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and state Sen. Tim Cullen of Janesville. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who lost the governor's race to Mr. Walker in 2010, and former U.S. Rep. Dave Obey are also potentials in the race.
According to the poll, Mr. Walker would be ahead of all the alternatives - 49 percent to 42 percent over Ms. Falk, 49 percent to 43 percent over Mr. Obey, 50 percent to 44 percent over Mr. Barrett, and 50 percent to 40 percent over Mr. Cullen.
As part of the collective bargaining changes, Mr. Walker also required state workers to pay more for pension and health care benefits, which he has said helped put the state on firmer financial ground. Seventy-four percent of voters polled said they favored requiring state workers to pay more for pension and health benefits, while 22 percent opposed it.
Mr. Walker is set to give his state of the state address Wednesday evening.