Republican Gov. Scott Walker leads Democratic challenger Mary Burke by 7 percentage points heading into the 2014 governor’s race, a poll released Wednesday found.

The new Marquette University Law School Poll found Walker continues to lead Burke, a Madison School Board member and former Trek Bicycle executive, now by a slightly larger margin of 48-41 percent.

The poll is the first Marquette has released since more than 28,000 pages of emails and other documents were released by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals related to a now-closed secret John Doe investigation into Walker’s former aides and associates during his time as Milwaukee County executive.

It’s also the first since the governor’s race campaign ad battle began to heat up, including ads from the Republican Governors Association, Burke and Walker.

Despite release of the emails and the flurry of ads, Wednesday’s poll showed little change in the race since Marquette’s January poll found the Republican governor leading Burke, who previously served as commerce secretary under Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, by 47-41 percent.

In October, Walker held a narrower 47-45 percent advantage.

The poll interviewed 801 Wisconsin registered voters by both land line and cellphone Thursday through Sunday, March 20-23.

It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The poll also found that 47 percent of those surveyed said they approve of the job Walker is doing as governor, but an equal 47 percent said they disapprove.

In January, 51 percent said they approved and 42 disapproved of Walker.

When asked about the direction the state was heading, 54 percent said Wisconsin was headed in the right direction and 42 percent said it was on the wrong track. That’s nearly identical to the 54-40 percent split in the January survey.

About 49 percent said they viewed Walker favorably and another 47 percent viewed him unfavorably.

For Burke, only 19 percent said they had a favorable view while 22 percent had an unfavorable opinion, and 59 percent of those surveyed said they could not rate her.

The majority of people surveyed — 67 percent — said they had read or heard about the release of the John Doe documents. But 53 percent of those who have read or heard about them said the emails made no difference, while 43 percent said the emails gave them a less favorable view of Walker.

The poll also found:

• Forty-five percent said Wisconsin was lagging behind other states in job creation, 37 percent said it was keeping pace with others and just 12 percent said it was creating jobs faster than other states.

• People polled favored requiring a photo ID to vote by a 60 to 36 percent margin.

• Fifty-three percent said local governments should be allowed to regulate sand mining, while 35 percent said only the state should regulate it.

The poll was conducted before Burke released her jobs plan on Tuesday.

Her campaign spokesman said that as voters learn more about her and her plan they will have a clear choice.

“Burke is offering a new direction that grows our economy and the middle class, to turn around an economy that is lagging under Scott Walker,” Zepecki said.

But the Walker campaign said voters would back Walker and his efforts.

“We’re confident voters want to continue moving Wisconsin forward and have no desire to return to the failed policies of the past,” Walker campaign spokeswoman Alleigh Marre said.

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State Government Reporter for Wisconsin State Journal