MADISON, Wis (Reuters) - Wisconsin's Republican Governor Scott Walker, who is the target of an election recall effort, leads all of his possible Democratic opponents in a special election expected later this year, according to a new opinion poll.
The poll was published as Walker prepares to give his annual "state-of-the-state" speech to the legislature on Wednesday evening. He is expected to champion conservative policies that have sparked strong opposition from Democrats and unions.
Walker, elected in the national Republican sweep of 2010, faces a recall election after he forced through the legislature last year a measure stripping public sector unions of some powers, setting off a firestorm of criticism.
Opponents of Walker have submitted petitions with more than 1 million signatures to force a recall vote, far more than needed. But Democrats have yet to settle on an opponent to face Walker in a recall.
The Marquette University Law School poll shows Walker leading Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, whom he beat in 2010, by 50 to 44 percent. Dane County executive Kathleen Falk, who has announced she will run for the nomination to challenge Walker, trails Walker by 49 to 42 percent.
The poll also shows Walker leading former congressman David Obey by 7 percentage points and state Senator Tim Cullen by 10 points. Cullen said last month he would run.
The survey of 701 registered Wisconsin voters was taken by telephone from January 19 to 22 and has a margin of error of 3.8 percent. It is the first of a series of polls on the race that Marquette University said it would be conducting.
Some other polls have shown either that Walker is more narrowly leading, or is trailing his potential competitors.
If two or more Democrats decide to run for the right to challenge Walker in a recall election, a primary will be held.
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Greg McCune)