Marquette University
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Marquette Law School Poll finds Walker, Clinton leading primary fields among Wisconsin voters

For U.S. Senate, Feingold 47, Johnson 42

By - Aug 20th, 2015 01:20 pm

MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School Poll finds Scott Walker leading in Wisconsin in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, with 25 percent of voters who are Republican or lean Republican saying that he is their first choice. Following Walker are Ben Carson at 13 percent, Donald Trump at 9 percent, and Ted Cruz at 8 percent. Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio receive 7 percent each. Jeb Bush is the choice of 6 percent, and each of the remaining candidates garners 4 percent or less.

In April, the Marquette poll had Walker at 40 percent, with Rand Paul in second place at 10 percent. Trump was not included in the April list of candidates.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton leads with 44 percent, followed by Bernie Sanders at 32 percent and Joe Biden at 12 percent. Lincoln Chaffee, Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb each receive less than 1 percent support. In April, Clinton had 58 percent support and Biden 12 percent while Sanders was not included in the April poll. Elizabeth Warren, who was not included in this poll, had received 14 percent support in April.

In the 2016 race for the U.S. Senate, Democrat Russ Feingold receives 47 percent support and Republican Ron Johnson 42 percent. In April, Feingold received 54 percent to Johnson’s 38 percent. Feingold is viewed favorably by 42 percent and unfavorably by 30 percent, with 28 percent unable to give a rating. Johnson is seen favorably by 30 percent and unfavorably by 31 percent, with 38 percent unable to rate him. In April, Feingold’s rating was 47 percent favorable and 26 percent unfavorable, with 26 percent unable to rate. For Johnson in April, 32 percent had a favorable view, 29 percent unfavorable, and 39 percent were unable to rate.

The full sample includes 802 registered voters interviewed by cell phone and by landline with a margin of error of +/-4.3 percentage points. Results for the Republican nomination are based on 334 registered voters who consider themselves Republicans or independents who lean to the Republican Party. The Democratic results are based on 396 Democrats or independents who lean Democratic. The margin of error for the Republican sample is +/-6.6 percentage points and for the Democratic sample it is +/-6.1 percentage points.

Looking ahead to possible general election preferences of Wisconsin voters:

  • Clinton 47, Bush 42.
  • Clinton 52, Walker 42.
  • Clinton 50, Cruz 38.
  • Clinton 51, Trump 35.

In April, the results showed Clinton leading Bush 49-38. She led Walker 52-40 and Cruz 52-36. Trump was not matched against Clinton in the April poll.

Wisconsinites’ perceptions of Walker

Thirty-nine percent of those polled approve of the job Walker is doing as governor, while 57 percent disapprove. In April, 41 percent approved while 56 percent disapproved. Thirty-three percent say that they like Walker’s decision to run for president, while 63 percent say they do not. Among Republicans, support for his presidential bid is much higher, 70 percent, while 28 percent do not like his running. Among independents who lean Republican, 44 percent say they like his bid while 53 percent do not. Among independents, independents who lean Democratic, and Democratic partisans, support for his run is 15 percent or less. In April, 34 percent of all those polled said they would like him to run while 62 percent said they would not.

Asked whether the phrase “cares about people like you” describes Walker, 37 percent say it does, while 59 percent say it does not. When last asked in October 2014, shortly before the gubernatorial election, 46 percent said this described Walker, while 50 percent said it did not.

Asked if “able to get things done” describes Walker, 60 percent say it does while 38 percent say it does not. In October 2014, 63 percent said this described Walker while 33 percent said it did not.

State conditions

Forty-six percent say Wisconsin is headed in the right direction while 52 percent say the state has gotten off on the wrong track. In April, 43 percent said right direction and 53 percent said wrong track.

Fifty percent say the state is lagging behind other states in creating jobs, 36 percent say it is creating jobs at about the same rate as others and 9 percent say the state is growing jobs faster than other states. In April, 52 percent said Wisconsin was lagging, 34 said it was adding jobs at the same rate as others and 8 percent said the state was adding jobs faster.

After the legislative debate over the budget in the spring and summer, 41 percent say the state budget is in worse shape than a few years ago while 36 percent say it is better and 19 percent say it is about the same. In April, 38 percent said the budget was worse, 33 percent said better and 25 percent said it was about the same.

Political issues

Forty-eight percent say they support the recently enacted ban on almost all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy while 44 percent oppose the ban. Partisan differences on this issue are substantial, with 77 percent support among Republicans, 67 percent among independents who lean Republican, 54 percent among independents, 30 percent among independents who lean Democratic and 23 percent among Democrats.

Protestants and Catholics are equally supportive of the ban, at 54 percent support, while those with no religious attachment offer only 23 percent support. Frequency of attendance at religious services also is related to views on this legislation, with 67 percent support among those who attend services at least once a week, 43 percent support among those who attend a few times a year and 32 percent among those who seldom or never attend religious services. Of those under 45 years old, 40 percent support the ban while 51 percent oppose it. Of those age 45 and older, 54 percent approve of the ban while 40 percent oppose it. There is only a slight difference by gender, with women supporting the ban 48 to 46 and men supporting it 49 to 42.

Cuts to the University of Wisconsin system receive a mixed review. Asked whether the university system could absorb the $250 million cut that was approved in the budget, 38 percent say it could while 58 percent say the cut would reduce educational quality. However, 52 percent say the university could absorb the extension of a tuition freeze on in-state students, while 44 percent say this would reduce educational quality.

A majority, 52 percent, say they agree with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the country, while 40 percent say they disagree with the ruling. Among Republicans and independents who lean Republican, 25 percent agree with the ruling while 68 percent disagree. Among Democrats and independents who lean Democratic, 76 percent agree with the ruling and 18 percent disagree. For independents who lean toward neither party, 52 percent agree with the ruling while 31 percent disagree with it.

Asked what policy should apply to those immigrants currently in the country illegally, 49 percent say they should be allowed to stay and apply for citizenship, 25 percent say they should be allowed to stay as guest workers only and 23 percent say they should be required to leave the country. When last asked in October 2014, 52 percent favored a path to citizenship and 20 percent a guest worker option, while 24 percent said they should be required to leave. Among Republicans and independents who lean Republican, 32 percent support a path to citizenship and 28 percent a guest worker option, while 37 percent say they should be required to leave. Among Democrats and independents who lean Democratic, 63 percent favor a citizenship process and 22 percent a guest worker program, while 11 percent say they should be required to leave. Fifty-four percent of independents favor a citizenship path, 19 percent a guest worker program, and 24 percent a requirement to leave.

Republican presidential debate

Forty-three percent of respondents say they watched the Aug. 6 Republican debate, while 56 percent did not. Fifty-one percent of Republicans and independents who lean Republican say they watched, while 40 percent of independents and 37 percent of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic did so.

Eighteen percent say they read or talked about the debate a lot, 39 percent say they read or talked some, while 24 percent say they had not talked much about it and 19 percent say they had not read or talked at all about the debate. Twenty-two percent of Republicans and independents who lean Republican say they had read or talked a lot about the debate and 38 percent say they had done so some. Among Democrats and Democratic leaners, 16 percent read or talked a lot and 43 percent had done so some, while for independents 17 percent read or talked a lot and 28 percent had done some of this.

Among Republicans and independents who lean Republican who watched the debate, Walker is the first choice for the GOP nomination of 21 percent while he is chosen by 30 percent of those who did not watch. Carson is the first choice of 17 percent of watchers and 10 percent of non-watchers. Trump is the choice of 5 percent of debate watchers and 13 percent of non-watchers.

Among those Republicans and leaners who read or talked a lot or some about the debate, Carson is the top choice of 17 percent, followed by Walker at 16 percent and Cruz at 12 percent. For those who read or talked only a little or not at all, Walker is the first choice of 38 percent, followed by Trump at 11 percent and Carson and Bush at 7 percent each.

Second choices

Combining first and second choices is an alternative measure of a candidate’s strength. The table below provides the first, second, and combined support of all Republican candidates among Republicans and independents who lean Republican. The table is ordered by first choice support and then by name. The top three first-choice candidates remain the top three in the combined strength measure as well. Rubio rises to fourth place in the combined measure from a tie for fifth among first choices

Candidate First Choice Second Choice Combined
Walker 25 18 43
Carson 13 9 22
Trump 9 10 19
Cruz 8 7 15
Fiorina 7 9 16
Rubio 7 10 17
Bush 6 9 15
Huckabee 4 5 9
Christie 2 4 6
Jindal 2 0 2
Paul 2 5 7
Gilmore 1 0 1
Kasich 1 2 3
Perry 1 1 2
Santorum 1 1 2
Graham 0 1 1
Pataki 0 1 1

Among the Democrats, the top ranking remains the same when considering only first choices or first and second choices combined, with Clinton, Sanders and Biden in that order. Biden is the strongest second-choice candidate with 34 percent.

Candidate First Choice Second Choice Combined
Clinton 44 28 72
Sanders 32 20 52
Biden 12 34 46
Chaffee 1 2 3
O’Malley 1 3 4
Webb 1 2 3

Environmental issues

Sixty-one percent of all registered voters say they support strict limits on carbon-dioxide emissions for existing coal-fired power plants, while 34 percent oppose those limits. The question mentioned both positive and negative effects of such a limit:

“Do you support or oppose setting strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants to reduce global warming and improve public health. Power plants would have to reduce their emissions and/or invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The cost of electricity to consumers and companies would likely increase.”

Thirty-six percent of Republicans and Republican leaners support this regulation while 58 percent oppose it. Among Democrats and independents who lean Democratic, 83 percent support this and 14 percent oppose this. Independents divide 66 percent in favor and 31 percent opposed.

This summer, Pope Francis released an encyclical urging the world to do more to address climate change. Forty-six percent of registered voters say they had not heard about Pope Francis’ statement on climate change; 36 percent agree with his message; and 17 percent disagree. Among Catholics, 39 percent say they had not heard of this, 45 percent say they agree and 15 percent say they disagree.

Views of Pope Francis are generally positive, with 51 percent having a favorable opinion of him, 12 percent unfavorable and 36 percent unable to say. Among Catholics, 70 percent have a favorable opinion, 6 percent unfavorable, and 23 percent are unable to give an opinion.

Opinions of other political figures

Approval of how President Barack Obama is handling his job stands at 48 percent, with 48 percent disapproving. In April, 49 percent approved and 47 percent disapproved.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s favorable rating stands at 36 percent, with 40 percent unfavorable and 24 percent unable to give a rating. In April, 39 percent viewed her favorably, 38 percent unfavorably and 23 percent could not say.

About the Marquette Law School Poll
The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. This poll interviewed 802 registered Wisconsin voters, by both landline and cell phone, August 13-16, 2015. The margin of error is +/- 4.3 percentage points for the full sample. For Republicans and independents who lean toward the Republican Party, the sample size is 334, with a margin of error of +/-6.6 percentage points. For Democrats and independents who lean toward the Democratic Party, the sample size is 396, with a margin of error of +/-6.1 percentage points. Republican and Democratic presidential primary items were asked of the corresponding party samples.

The partisan makeup of this sample, including those who lean to a party, is 42 percent Republican, 48 percent Democratic and 9 percent independent. The long-term estimate over the previous 28 statewide Marquette polls with 24,319 respondents is 43 percent Republican and 47 percent Democratic, with 9 percent independent. The partisan makeup excluding those who lean to a party is 27 percent Republican, 28 percent Democratic and 42 percent independent, compared to the long-term estimate of 27 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 38 percent independent. The entire questionnaire, full results, and breakdowns by demographic groups are available at http://law.marquette.edu/poll.

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