Poll: Kleefisch has slight lead over Michels in tight GOP primary race for governor

Poll: Kleefisch has slight lead over Michels in tight GOP primary race for governor

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- There's new evidence showing how tight the Republican primary race for governor will be with new polling showing Rebecca Kleefisch and Tim Michels in a dead heat leading up Tuesday's primary.

Former Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch has a slight lead over her rival with 36% among Republican voters, 34% back Michels, and 14% are still undecided, according to polling conducted by Emerson College.

When undecided voters were asked who they lean towards, Kleefisch bumped up to 41% and Michels to 39%.

The polling comes as the Republican primary is the most hotly contested statewide race after the Democratic U.S. Senate primary race drastically narrowed down to essentially a one-person race.

Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes is expected to secure the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate after three of his opponents dropped out of the race, clearing the field for Barnes to face off against Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson this fall.

"I think there are a lot of independent voters who said to themselves this is no longer a race why would I only vote in a race that is already done," said Mordecai Lee, a political science professor emeritus at UWM. "I think there will be swing to the Republican governor race the people who didn't have anything invested but Wisconsin voters like to go where the action is this is the fight they really want to be involved in :44

Lee predicts there will be more crossover voting on Tuesday's primary, a key demographic of voters that could make or break a campaign.

"I don't think there will be a malleolus Democratic crossover, but I do expect a large crossover vote among voters who lean independent and sometimes vote Democratic sometimes vote Republican and just want to be where the action is," Lee said.

A majority of Republicans surveyed, 49%, believe former President Donald Trump's endorsement won't make a difference in their decision on Election day. Thirty-nine percent say Trump's endorsement makes them more likely to support a candidate.

Michels is backed by Trump, meanwhile Kleefisch has support from former Vice President Mike Pence.

The Emerson College Polling survey of the Wisconsin Republican primary was conducted August 3-5, 2022. The sample consisted of very likely Republican primary voters, n=900, with a margin of error (MOE) of +/- 3.2 percentage points.

Barnes kicks campaign into high gear

On Sunday, Barnes held a campaign event in Milwaukee with volunteers and supporters in an attempt to energize Democrats ahead of Tuesday's primary.

Now that Barnes is in good standing to win the primary, he's working to make sure Democrats make their voice heard despite the U.S. Senate race no longer considered a competitive primary.

"People are still going to show up because democracy is on the ballot," Barnes said in an interview with CBS 58. "We even have been knocking on more doors these past couple of weekends because it's important to come out to make your voice heard. We're still not taking anything for granted."

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