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Wisconsin Democrats Face Hurdles Ahead of Recall

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MADISON, Wis.) -- With just under two weeks to go until the recall election in Wisconsin, Democrats appear to be facing rising odds in their quest to unseat Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

The race is still competitive, but Walker, 44, appears to have an edge in fundraising, recent polls and party enthusiasm in his challenge from Democratic candidate Tom Barrett.

“I think it’s still competitive, I think there’s still a chance for Barrett to win.  But right now most of the forces are pushing in favor of Walker,” said Barry Burden, professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Democrats face a large fundraising disadvantage in the state, as Walker has pulled in over $25 million in fundraising since the recall efforts first began.

The reason for Walker’s fundraising advantage is two-fold.  First, Walker benefited from a quirk in Wisconsin state election law that allowed him to raise unlimited funds beginning in early November when a recall committee first registered with the state’s accountability board, through the time when the board certified the recall election on March 30.  Second, Democratic fundraising was split as a result of a hard fought primary between top officials in the state.

The Democratic primary was mostly contained to Barrett and former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk.  Although Barrett, 58, eventually defeated Falk by more than 20 points in the primary, Falk was seen as the preferred candidate for many labor unions, the original driving force behind the recall.  Barrett and Falk split the fundraising support, with Falk receiving the majority of union donations.

Walker had the backing of the Republican Governor’s Association, the committee which oversees gubernatorial races, since the signatures were first turned in back in January.  The Democratic Governor’s Association stayed neutral during their party’s primary.

By the time Barrett won the nomination, Walker enjoyed a 25 to 1 fundraising advantage over the Milwaukee mayor, with just four weeks until the election, according to figures from the non-partisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.  The party has since rallied around Barrett, and the DGA is running ads on his behalf, but time is simply not on the Democrats side.

The latest polling from Marquette Law School showed Walker with a six point lead among likely voters over Barrett -- 50 percent to 44 percent -- outside of the polls margin of error of +/- 3.8 percent.

Republicans appear to have an enthusiasm advantage over Democrats in the recall as well, polling indicates.  According to Marquette Law School polling, 91 percent of Republicans say they’re “absolutely certain” to vote on June 5, while only 83 percent of Democrats and Independents responded the same way.

Democratic officials in the state point out that the polling was conducted May 9-12, just days after Barrett won his party’s nomination on May 8.  In the time since the primary, Barrett has gained ground in fundraising and spending.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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