MADISON (WITI) -- It's still two months until the primary election, and six months until the general election -- and already it's a close contest. Conservative and liberal groups are fighting for every single vote in the campaign between Scott Walker and Mary Burke. The latest Marquette University Law School poll shows the race is a dead heat. The latest poll shows Gov. Walker and Burke tied at 46 percent among all registered voters. Among likely voters, Walker is up 48 to 45 percent. But that lead is apparently statistically insignificant. So already -- the focus is on voter turnout.
Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke have been engaged in a kind of passive politics for months -- discussing themselves, but rarely engaging each other.
After the latest Marquette poll showed a tie in the race, the close contest has become a full-blown campaign.
"Not surprised at all. I said when the last poll came out from Marquette that I thought this race would tighten up," Gov. Walker said.
"It's very good news, and this is going to be a competitive race. I have no doubts about this," Burke said.
A $2 million ad campaign from the Republican Governors Association may have inadvertently increased Burke's name recognition.
Now, Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group backed by the Koch brothers has started a major pro-Walker ad campaign in Wisconsin.
"You're going to see the big government unions, some of the liberal groups, the president's allies and others, and some groups trying to counter-balance that," Gov. Walker said.
The AFL-CIO says it is redirecting $300 million to unseat five Republican governors -- including Scott Walker.
The candidates themselves are carving out contrasting policy positions on a variety of issues, including:
- Transportation funding
"We're spending money without knowing how we're going to pay for things," Burke said.
"It's a bit of amnesia from Mary Burke who worked for Jim Doyle -- the very governor who took a billion dollars out of the state Transportation Fund," Gov. Walker said.
- Toll roads
"All the options are on the table -- and toll roads are one of those options," Burke said.
"I do not support tolls," Gov. Walker said.
- Gay marriage
"To me, where I'm at personally doesn't matter. It's not an issue in this campaign," Gov. Walker said.
"I don't know why Governor Walker seems to be waffling in terms of not even knowing where he stands on this issue," Burke said.
Because Republicans and Democrats appear to be evenly divided in this race, Gov. Walker predicts that the election will be decided by independent voters.
That means almost all of the advertising going into this campaign will be directed at about six to eight percent of the voters.