Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is more popular among Republicans than the top GOP presidential aspirants, according to a poll released on Thursday.

The Republican governor unleashed a wave of protests in Wisconsin after pushing to curb state workers' union rights. On March 11, Walker signed a bill that was rammed through the Wisconsin Legislature to eliminate most collective bargaining rights for public employees.

The survey [PDF] of 642 registered voters by Public Policy Polling (PPP) found that 55 percent of Republicans had a favorable opinion of Walker, with only 11 percent having an unfavorable opinion.

Walker's 44 point spread makes him more popular than Mike Huckabee (42 point spread), Sarah Palin (40 point spread), Mitt Romney (21 point spread), and Newt Gingrich (19 point spread).

"None of the folks most seriously considering this race have been able to get any momentum yet, leaving a lot of room for a fresher face to enter and get a lot of traction," Tom Jensen of PPP explained. "Walker's crusade against the unions has put him in a position where he could be that guy."

"The primary flaw with the top GOP hopefuls is that Americans already know them well and dislike them," he added. "That might prove to be the case ultimately with Walker as well but a candidacy from him is an intriguing possibility."

Although most Republicans have a favorable view of Walker, overall Americans have a negative opinion of him and side with the unions. Thirty-four percent of surveyed voters had a favorable opinion of Walker and 39 percent rated him negatively.

The governor's attack on union rights has created a backlash against him and Republican state lawmakers.

In addition to protests seen across the state, Wisconsin citizens upset with Gov. Scott Walker's attack on public employees' collective bargaining rights have launched a boycott campaign aimed at his campaign contributors.

The Wisconsin Democratic Party said it has collected over 56,000 signatures supporting a recall of eight state senators who aligned themselves with Gov. Walker's controversial budget repair bill, making the Democrats nearly halfway to recalling the GOP state senators.