(CNN) -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican hero for austerity measures that stripped collective bargaining rights from most public unions, spent a final day campaigning before Tuesday's recall election that brought lots of outside interest and money to the state.
Walker faces Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in a rematch of the 2010 governor's race that he won by getting more than 52% of the vote.
This time, the stakes are higher after a vitriolic campaign that epitomized the political divide across the country.
The three most recent polls of Wisconsin voters showed Walker ahead of Barrett, and campaign finance filings put Walker far ahead in recent fund-raising. Tens of millions of dollars have been contributed to the campaigns, the lion's share to Walker.
A victory by the first-term governor would give Republicans a major boost in efforts to make Wisconsin a battleground state in the November presidential election.
President Barack Obama easily won the state in 2008, but Walker's unyielding commitment to fiscal austerity in the face of chaotic protests last year made him the poster child for tea party conservatism.
Along with the gubernatorial recall, voters also will decide whether Walker's lieutenant governor and four Republican state senators keep their jobs.
The recall effort was spurred by a Walker-backed law, signed in March 2011, to limit the collective bargaining rights of state worker unions.
During a bitter fight over the law last year, Democratic legislators left the capital to prevent a quorum, and tens of thousands of protesters converged on the State Capitol building in what became an occupation.
After the law was signed, Democrats immediately began a recall effort that eventually led to Tuesday's vote.
The campaign has been fierce, with campaigners complaining of keyed cars, verbal harassment and a general lack of tolerance for differing opinions.
The Justice Department on Monday dispatched federal observers to monitor Milwaukee polling places Tuesday to ensure no voter discrimination takes place.
A litany of Republican stars have campaigned for Walker, including follow governors Chris Christie of New Jersey, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Bob McDonnell of Virginia, as well as U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio from Florida.
Americans for Prosperity, a conservative advocacy group built around many of the same principles as the tea party, has pumped more than $10 million into Wisconsin backing Walker's policies.
"It's big for the people of Wisconsin and their economic future, but I think it's even bigger nationally as well," said Tim Phillips, the group's president. "I think every governor, every state legislator around the country is looking at Wisconsin, and they're going, OK, if I got the courage to stand up and do what I think is right to get my state moving again ... will someone have my back? And hopefully the answer is going to be, you bet."
Barrett, meanwhile, got his own high-powered support from former President Bill Clinton, as well as Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.
However, his campaign fund-raising has badly trailed the support Walker received. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee announced Saturday it is spending $100,000 in the last five days before the Wisconsin recall vote, bringing its investment to $300,000.
In addition, Obama never hit the trail for Barrett, which the candidate said Sunday was more indicative of the president's busy schedule than any reflection of the race.
"We understand he's got a lot going on," Barrett said on CNN's "State of the Union," noting that his campaign never asked Obama to campaign on his behalf.
While Tuesday's vote will culminate a two-year fight over collective bargaining rights for public employee unions, both parties are casting the debate as a larger referendum on the role of government and policies supported by both parties.
Barrett, however, has continually framed the race as a state contest instead of a national affair.
"I want to make sure that everybody understands this is about Wisconsin values. It's not about Washington, D.C. It's about right here, who is going to control the future of this state?" Barrett said Sunday. "Will it be tea party, the national right wing, or is it going to be the people of the state of Wisconsin? And I'm putting my money on the people of the state of Wisconsin."
Walker has defended his budget actions as necessary for the fiscal health of his state and described his campaign as one of a strong leader who is making the necessary "tough decisions."
-- CNN's Gabriella Schwarz and Chris Welch contributed to this report.
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