(CNN) - Exit polling of voters in the Wisconsin recall election showed a tight contest, with a clear majority of voters having made up their minds well before the final weeks which saw intense campaigning on both sides of the aisle.
Voters were split 52%-48% with Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, taking a slight advantage over Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat, the CNN exit polls showed. Asked how they would vote if the presidential election were held today, a 12-point margin emerged. President Barack Obama would have carried the state with 54% to GOP candidate Mitt Romney's 42%.
- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
- Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.
The exit polls showed that nearly nine of ten voters made their decisions in the recall election prior to May, when Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett won the Democratic primary to challenge Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican. Petitions for the recall election circulated after Walker signed a bill last spring which cut collective bargaining rights for many state employees, prompting massive protests at the state house.
Only seven percent made up their minds either on Election Day or in recent days, the exit polls showed.
Numerous telephone polls showed a close election, and political analysts predicted the election would come down to turnout.
Those who went out on Tuesday to cast ballots were nearly evenly divided along party affiliation, the exit polls showed, with 35% of those voting being Democrats, 33% Republicans, and 32% independent voters.
Neither party had an edge among voter's favorability: Republicans and Democrats alike were seen as unfavorable to 50% of those who cast ballots on Tuesday, and 47% saw each party as favorable.
The electorate was also divided along their opinions of the collective bargaining limitations, with 48% disapproving and 50% approving.
Polls close in the state at 9 p.m. ET.
Barrett says Obama visit would have been distraction
Veep contenders in the spotlight this week
Walker didn't just 'manage to retain his position', the voters gave his opponent an old-fashioned butt-kicking! Close race?
ahh exit polls don't mean a lot when 12% of the voters were early voters – and most of them are republican. I am a dem. so don't get cocky for obama – it will be a lot closer than 54 – 42.
close race 19% different ???????
What a sad day for Wisconsin. How totally deluded the people of this state are to anyone that has a brain in their head!
There is something seriously wrong with the election results. The number of voters is less than 2010. Barrett will get only 800,000 votes, yet over 1 million people signed a recall petition. Something is seriously amiss with these results. Walker should not have a 10 point lead according to exit polls.
Hey lib's, can you demand a recall again and again before the November election? It's a great waste of time and energy and money. Keep up the idiocy.
I am an independent, but I voted for Walker. Not because I really like him, but because I did not agree with the recall in general. Nobody should be recalled unless they conmit a crime in office. Just because you don't agree with his policys is not a reason to recall him.
How is a 17% margin, which you are reporting, a close race. He's winning by nearly three times the margina as in 2010.
haha....u libs are done....no mas dinero
Unless I'm missing something here, this is an instance where the exit polls seem to have no scientific basis to the actual result. The exit polls showed a close race; in fact, it appears to be a blow out with Walker currently holding a 17 point lead with nearly 2/3 of the vote in. Whoever took the exit polls needs to seriously reexamine how they were taken.
The last time exit polls were so far off what we ended up getting – didn't some precincts in Florida actually end up with negative votes for Gore on some of the machines? Someone had preset them with negative numbers hoping this would offset the votes for Gore and they set them too far back and they showed up as tampered with – but the Supreme court did not think it important enough and we got Bush – something is fishy – exit polls are usually pretty good aren't they? – they shouldn't be that far off at all – red flag – i think
So this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause.
Tight contest? Nice job CNN exit pollsters ...
Thank god it looks like Walker won. No one should ever be forced to join an union if they do not wish to. Now we need more governors to do the same thing. The people have spoken and now the political parties do not have to be slaves of the unions because the people will vote for what they believe is best for them.
He won by a larger margin that the original election. Common sense 1, Unions 0.
Close race? It was never even close...
"Voters were split 52%-48% with Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, taking a slight advantage over Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat, the CNN exit polls showed. "
Since when is that close? That's a 4 pt spread which is a solid victory.
Wow, those exit polls were just a little off, but go ahead and view them as a reliable indicator of the Presidential race. It’s in the bag Bammy, move on to the next state.
Why is there no mention of the robo calls made to those who signed the petition, telling them that if they signed the petition, they didn't need to vote because their votes would already be registered? Of course, if people were stupid enough to fall for this, perhaps they should not have voted, anyway,.
Is this a Democratic spin on the election results? At least Billy-boy had the guts to show up in Wisconsin to back Barrett. Obama, the leader from the rear, stayed away and emailed his support. The people of Wisconsin apparenty value results from their elected leaders. The self centered government workers got their due.
Boycott everything from Wisconsin. More people there would turn up for a packers game than vote in their election.