MADISON, Wis., May 8 (UPI) -- Wisconsin officials projected a 30 percent to 35 percent turnout for the primary to choose a Democrat to face Republican Gov. Scott Walker in a recall election.
The projected turnout, amounting to about 1.5 million voters, would be short of the record 38.9 percent voting in a 1952 primary, the highest primary turnout on record in Wisconsin, state Government Accountability Board said.
The state has an open-primary system that doesn't require voters to declare a party affiliation. This creates the possibility Republicans may try to sabotage the vote by casting ballots for Kathleen Falk, a former Dane County executive, The Christian Science Monitor said.
Polls indicate Falk is the weaker candidate against Walker, while Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the other leading Democratic candidate, is polling in a dead heat against Walker.
Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug La Follette and state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout are also candidates in the Democratic primary.
Marquette University polling director Charles Franklin told the Monitor polls indicate Republicans would likely not "cause mischief in the Democratic primary." He said Republicans were most likely to vote for Barrett, even though he stands the greatest chance of defeating Walker in the June 5 general election.
Independent voters will be key, with 36 percent of those likely to vote Tuesday identifying themselves as independent, a poll conducted by Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee indicated.
Walker, who has battled public employee unions since taking office last year, framed the recall election as damaging to the state's economic health, particularly job creation.
He told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last week if he loses, it will open the door to "recall ping-pong."
"It will go back and forth. I don't think that's just bad for elections -- it's bad for jobs," he said.
Wisconsin lost 23,900 jobs between March 2011 and March 2012, data released last month by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated.
By comparison, no other U.S. state lost more than 3,500 jobs.
Walker is one of six Wisconsin Republicans facing recalls. The others include Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four GOP state senators.