Coming into Tuesday's election, Walker led Democratic challenger Tom Barrett, mayor of Milwaukee, 52 percent to 45 percent among likely voters, according to the latest poll from Marquette University Law School. However, a poll released late Sunday by Public Policy Polling in Raleigh, N.C,. shows a much tighter race, at 50 percent for Walker and 47 percent for Mr. Barrett. Democrats insist that they are competitive and that their union-led get-out-the-vote effort will offset Walker's advantage in campaign cash and advertising.
If Walker were to be voted out, it would be a setback for his entire party, diminishing Mr. Romney and his agenda by association, says Geoff Peterson, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin in Eau Claire. But a Walker win could work against President Obama by reinforcing the Republican claim that even swing states like Wisconsin are ready to consider a sweeping small-government agenda.
“The [recall] election will be the signal for which side has more credibility in that messaging,” says Kathleen Walsh, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
The essence of Walker’s agenda is the fundamental Republican tenet that budget-balancing should occur by cutting spending and limiting the size of state government, not raising taxes. Other Republican governors have signaled their support for such plans, but Walker remains the standardbearer, which gives the recall a particular significance.