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Walker leads by 7 heading into Tuesday's Wisconsin recall


Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) enjoys a 7-point advantage over Democratic challenger Tom Barrett among likely voters in Tuesday's recall election.


Darren Hauck / Reuters

Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker debates with Democratic challenger and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett before the start of the debate in Milwaukee.

Fifty-two percent of likely voters said they would vote to retain Walker, according to a Marquette Law School poll released Wednesday; 45 percent of likely voters said they would support Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee.

The poll suggests that Walker is heading toward victory on Tuesday, which would deliver a stinging rebuke to Democrats and members of the labor community who had sought the first-term governor's removal after he pushed a controversial bill curbing collective bargaining rights for many public employees through the Wisconsin state legislature.

The Marquette poll has been tracking the trajectory of the recall election for the better part of this spring. The survey found Walker and Barrett locked in a virtual tie ahead of the Democratic primary in early May, though a May 16 poll reflected Walker opening an advantageover his Democratic opponent.

Labor groups and Democrats supportive of Barrett have been circulating a number of internal polls over the past week showing a closer race than many outside observers have expected.

In the meanwhile, Walker and Barrett have debated, and the campaign has evolved into a rather pointed battle between the two candidates, who squared off in the initial 2010 gubernatorial contest.

Barrett has demanded that Walker release records associated with a criminal investigation into former aides, while Walker has barnstormed the state to brag of positive economic indicators that, he contends, were made possible in part by his initial collective bargaining reforms.

Thousands of dollars in outside spending have also flooded Wisconsin airwaves in this high-stakes contest. Republicans are hoping an organization forged in Walker's 2010 election and last year's state Senate recalls carries the day; Democrats are meanwhile enjoying the assistance of organized labor.

Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was in Wisconsin on Wednesday to help with fundraising, and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who heads Democratic gubernatorial campaign efforts, will be in the state this weekend.

A series of Republican heavyweights, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, have also campaigned in support of Walker, and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will be in his native Wisconsin this weekend, too.

The poll, conducted May 23-36, has a 4 percent margin of error.