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Walker’s lead in Wisconsin recall election tightens in new poll

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (Morry Gash/AP)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker maintains a narrow lead in his recall election, but his standing has diminished in recent weeks, according to a new poll released on the eve of the election.

Walker leads Democratic challenger Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee, by just 3 percentage points in a new survey of likely voters (pdf) conducted by Public Policy Polling. Walker leads Barrett 50 to 47 percent, down from the 50 to 45 percent matchup PPP found in a poll conducted three weeks ago. The margin of error for this week's poll is plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.

According to PPP, Walker—who was targeted for a recall after waging war on state public employee unions in 2011—is winning among men, whites, seniors and residents of the Milwaukee suburbs. Barrett leads among women, minorities, young voters and residents of Milwaukee County and greater Madison. Barrett is also winning independent voters 48 to 46 percent, a lead that is within the margin of error.

Currently, polls, campaign finance statistics and anecdotal evidence suggest Republicans are more engaged and excited than Democrats for the June 5 race.

[Related: Clinton says recall is referendum on divide and conquer]

Walker has successfully drawn national support from the tea party movement and high-profile Republicans such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and others. Former President Bill Clinton made a campaign stop for Barrett on Friday, but Clinton's presence prompted Republicans to note that the current president has steered clear of this race.

From the Republican Party of Wisconsin's Communications Director Ben Sparks:

Clinton's arrival is clearly meant to provide cover for President Obama's refusal to campaign in Wisconsin, given that today the President will be attending three campaign events a stone's throw away in Minneapolis, and then three more in Chicago. The President has made it clear he does not wish to touch Tom Barrett or this baseless recall election with a ten-foot-pole; he clearly learned a thing or two from the failed campaigns of Creigh Deeds and Martha Coakley.

Turnout will be the deciding factor in this close race, as PPP stated in its analysis Monday.

"If Democrats turn out in the same numbers that they did in 2008 Tom Barrett will win a surprise victory," Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling, wrote in his analysis. "And if they don't Scott Walker will survive."

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