Marquette University
Press Release

New Marquette Law School Poll finds Cruz, Sanders ahead in Wisconsin presidential primaries

Bradley leads state Supreme Court race

By - Mar 30th, 2016 01:20 pm

MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School Poll finds Ted Cruz ahead in the Wisconsin Republican presidential primary race, supported by 40 percent of likely voters to 30 percent for Donald Trump and 21 percent for John Kasich, while 8 percent don’t know whom they will support. Among likely voters in the Wisconsin Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders holds a 49 percent to 45 percent edge over Hillary Clinton, with 6 percent undecided. In the election for Wisconsin Supreme Court, Rebecca Bradley is supported by 41 percent with JoAnne Kloppenburg at 36 percent and 18 percent undecided.

In the previous Marquette Law School Poll released in February, Trump was supported by 30 percent of Republican primary voters, with Cruz at 19 percent and Kasich at 8 percent. Other candidates who have since dropped out had a total of 31 percent. In the Democratic race in February, Sanders received 44 percent and Clinton 43 percent. The Supreme Court election in February found 37 percent support for Bradley and 36 percent support for Kloppenburg among likely voters, with 30 percent each among all registered voters.

Among likely voters in this new (March) poll, 54 percent say they will vote in the Republican primary while 46 percent choose the Democratic primary. Ninety-nine percent of Republicans say they will vote in the Republican primary with 1 percent choosing the Democratic contest. Among Democrats, 95 percent say they will vote in that party’s primary, with 5 percent crossing over to the GOP. Independents, including those leaning to either party, choose the Republican primary over the Democratic primary by 60 percent to 40 percent.

The poll was conducted March 24-28, 2016. The full sample includes 1,405 registered voters interviewed by cell phone or landline, with a margin of error of +/- 3.3 percentage points. Results for the Republican primary are based on 471 likely voters who say they are certain they will vote in the Republican primary in April. That sample has a margin of error of +/-5.8 percentage points. Results for the Democratic nomination are based on 405 likely voters who say they will vote in the Democratic primary, with a margin of error of +/- 6.3 percentage points. For the April 5 Wisconsin Supreme Court election there are 957 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percentage points. All results reported here are for likely voters except where registered voters are used for November elections.

U.S. Senate Race

In Wisconsin’s race for U.S. Senate, Russ Feingold is supported by 47 percent of registered voters, with Republican incumbent Ron Johnson receiving 42 percent. In February, Feingold was at 49 percent and Johnson was at 37 percent. Among those likely voters who say they are certain to vote in November’s election, Feingold receives 48 percent and Johnson 45 percent.

Johnson is viewed favorably by 32 percent of registered voters, unfavorably by 31 percent and 36 percent say they haven’t heard enough or don’t know how they feel about him. In February Johnson’s ratings were 29 percent favorable, 33 percent unfavorable and 38 percent were not able to rate him.

Feingold is seen favorably by 41 percent of registered voters, unfavorably by 35 percent with 25 percent saying they have not heard enough or don’t know how they feel. In February Feingold’s ratings were 43 percent favorable, 31 percent unfavorable and 26 percent were unable to rate him.

Supreme Court candidates

More than a third of likely voters say they do not know enough about the Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates to have a favorable or unfavorable opinion. Forty-one percent lack an opinion of Bradley and 35 percent lack an opinion of Kloppenburg. Thirty-two percent have a favorable view of Bradley while 28 percent have an unfavorable opinion of her. Thirty percent hold a favorable view of Kloppenburg while 35 percent have an unfavorable view.

Support for the Supreme Court candidates is strongly related to choice in the presidential primary. Among likely Republican primary voters, Bradley receives 69 percent support while Kloppenburg receives 11 percent, with 17 percent undecided and 4 percent saying they will vote for neither candidate. Among Democratic primary voters, 64 percent support Kloppenburg while 12 percent support Bradley, 17 percent are undecided and 7 percent say they will vote for neither court candidate.

Presidential perceptions and matchups

Republican primary voters were asked who they think is most likely to win the Republican nomination, regardless of whom they personally support. Sixty-five percent see Trump as the most likely nominee, followed by Cruz at 23 percent and Kasich at 5 percent. In February, after the Iowa and New Hampshire votes, 46 percent expected Trump to be the nominee, 25 percent said Cruz would be and 1 percent said Kasich.

On the Democratic side, 77 percent think Clinton is the most likely nominee, with 19 percent saying Sanders is most likely to win the nomination. Prior to Iowa and New Hampshire voting, 60 percent said Clinton and 33 percent said Sanders was most likely to win the Democratic nomination.

In possible matchups among registered voters for the November general election in Wisconsin, Sanders leads Kasich by 2 points, Cruz by 13 and Trump by 19. Clinton trails Kasich by 9 and ties with Cruz while holding a 10‑point margin over Trump. Results are for all registered voters.

  • Sanders 46 percent, Kasich 44 percent.

(Not asked previously.)

  • Sanders 52 percent, Cruz 39 percent.

(February: Sanders 53 percent, Cruz 35 percent.)

  • Sanders 54 percent, Trump 35 percent.

(February: Sanders 54 percent, Trump 34 percent.)

  • Kasich 48 percent, Clinton 39 percent.

(Not asked previously)

  • Clinton 44 percent, Cruz 44 percent.

(January: Clinton 43 percent, Cruz 43 percent.)

  • Clinton 47 percent, Trump 37 percent.

(February: Clinton 47 percent, Trump 37 percent.)

Views of presidential candidates

Voters were asked how comfortable they would be with the idea of each candidate as president. While there is considerable discomfort across party lines, among likely Republican primary voters 23 percent say they are very uncomfortable with the idea of Trump as president and 14 percent say the same for Cruz while 5 percent are very uncomfortable with Kasich. Among likely Democratic primary voters, 3 percent are very uncomfortable with Sanders and 8 percent with Clinton.

Candidate Percent Very UncomfortableAmong all Likely Voters Among RepublicanPrimary Voters Among DemocraticPrimary Voters
Kasich 10 5 17
Cruz 37 14 64
Trump 55 23 89
Sanders 36 67 3
Clinton 47 82 8

Walker endorsement

The Tuesday-morning endorsement of Cruz by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker aligns with how voters were leaning prior to the endorsement, when the poll was taken. Among the 80 percent of likely Republican primary voters who approve of the job Walker is doing as governor, Cruz has the support of 45 percent, Trump 27 percent and Kasich 18 percent, with 9 percent undecided. Among the 17 percent who disapprove of Walker’s job performance, 44 percent back Trump, 38 percent Kasich and 16 percent Cruz, with just 1 percent undecided.

Regional support for candidates

Among likely Republican primary voters, Cruz does best in Milwaukee County and the larger Milwaukee media market while doing least well in the Madison market. Trump is strongest in the north and west of the state, although Cruz is now a single point behind there. Kasich is strongest in the Madison market, followed by the Milwaukee market.

Region Cruz Kasich Trump
Milwaukee City and County 53 22 15
Rest of Milwaukee Media Market 43 21 27
Madison Media Market 19 37 33
Green Bay Media Market 41 15 32
Rest of the state (north and west) 40 17 41

In the Democratic primary, among likely voters, Sanders’ lead is strongest in Madison and the north and west, with other areas closely competitive. In the City of Milwaukee, Clinton leads 51‑42 among all registered voters but Sanders has the edge 47-46 among likely voters, an indication of the potential effect of turnout on the results.
<tableclass=”display-data”>

RegionClintonSandersMilwaukee City and County4549Rest of Milwaukee Media Market4846Madison Media Market4252Green Bay Media Market4846Rest of the state (north and west)4254

Demographics and vote

In the Republican primary electorate, Trump wins 35 percent of the vote of likely primary voters without a college degree compared to 21 percent among those with a college degree. However, Cruz now captures 37 percent support from those with less than a college degree and 45 percent among those with a college degree. Kasich receives 20 percent from those without and 23 percent from those with a degree.

Among men in the Republican primary electorate, Trump is the choice of 35 percent compared to 24 percent among women, while Cruz receives 40 and 39 percent respectively. Kasich is supported by 18 percent of men and 25 percent of women.

Among likely Democratic primary voters, there are large differences in preference by age, with Sanders winning 83 percent among those 18-29, 59 percent among 30-44 year olds, 43 percent among those age 45-59 and 31 percent among those 60 and over. For Clinton the corresponding percentages are 12 percent among ages 18-29, 37 percent among ages 30-44, 51 percent among ages 45-59 and 63 percent among those 60 and over.

Among likely Democratic primary voters: Clinton receives the support of 48 percent of women and 40 percent of men, while Sanders is backed by 46 percent of women and 54 percent of men. Sanders holds a 51 to 42 percent lead over Clinton among white likely primary voters while Clinton leads Sanders 58 to 42 percent among non-white voters.

Populist appeals

Views on free trade divide likely voters of both parties. Overall, 37 percent say free trade agreements have been mostly a good thing for the country, while 46 percent say mostly a bad thing and 17 percent say they don’t know. Among Republicans, 32 percent say free trade agreements have been a good thing, while 48 percent say they have been bad and 19 percent don’t know. Among Democrats, 43 percent say a good thing, 42 percent say a bad thing and 14 percent don’t know.

Among likely Republican voters who think free trade has been a good thing, Cruz receives 48 percent, Kasich 24 percent and Trump 21 percent. Among those who think trade agreements have been a bad thing, Trump receives 41 percent, Cruz 33 percent and Kasich 19 percent.

For Democrats who think trade agreements have been mostly a good thing, Clinton is supported by 54 percent to 42 percent for Sanders. Those Democrats who think the agreements have been mostly bad back Sanders by 60 percent to 36 percent.

Primary voters differ on whether hard work and playing by the rules is still sufficient to make a decent living. Among Republicans, 74 percent say hard work is enough and 24 percent say it is not, while among Democrats 38 percent say hard work is enough and 57 percent say it is no longer enough.

Among those who say hard work is no longer enough for a decent living, Trump receives 46 percent of the GOP primary vote, while he is supported by 25 percent of those who say hard work continues to provide a decent living. Cruz receives 35 percent and 41 percent respectively while Kasich is supported by 12 percent of those saying hard work is no longer sufficient and 24 percent of those who say it is.

On the Democratic side, Sanders is backed by 57 percent of those saying hard work is no longer enough, while 40 percent of those who say it is enough support him. Clinton receives 37 percent from those who say it is not enough and 56 percent from those saying hard work is enough.

Fifty-five percent of Republican and 53 percent of Democratic primary voters say they have a comfortable financial situation, while 45 percent and 47 percent respectively say they are just getting by or are struggling.

Among those in the Republican primary who say they are comfortable, Trump receives 23 percent support, compared to 39 percent among those just getting by or struggling. Cruz receives 39 and 41 percent from the respective groups, while Kasich is supported by 27 percent of those saying they are comfortable and 15 percent of those getting by or struggling.

Among those in the Democratic primary, Sanders is supported by 44 percent of those who say their situation is comfortable and 55 percent of those just getting by or struggling. Clinton receives 50 percent among those who are comfortable and 39 percent among those just getting by.

Thirty-eight percent of Republican primary voters say they think a terrorist attack on the U.S. is very likely, 48 percent say somewhat likely and 12 percent say not very or not at all likely. Among Democratic primary voters, 12 percent say an attack is very likely, 46 percent say somewhat likely and 40 percent not very or not at all likely.

Among those Republican primary voters who think a terrorist attack is very likely, 41 percent support Cruz, 39 percent Trump and 15 percent Kasich. Of those who say an attack is somewhat likely, 41 percent back Cruz, 25 percent Trump and 23 percent Kasich. Of those who think an attack is less likely, 32 percent support Cruz, 26 percent Trump and 34 percent Kasich.

Of Democratic primary voters, too few think an attack is very likely for a reliable estimate of the vote, although it appears evenly split in this small group of 55 respondents. Among the larger sample who say an attack is somewhat likely, Clinton is supported by 51 percent to Sanders’ 43 percent. Among those thinking an attack is less likely, Clinton receives 37 percent to Sanders’ 55 percent.

Walker Job Approval

Among all registered voters approval of how Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is handling his job stands at 43 percent, with 53 percent disapproving. In February, 39 percent approved and 55 percent disapproved.

About the Marquette Law School Poll

The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. This poll interviewed 1,405 registered Wisconsin voters, by both landline and cell phone, March 24-28, 2016. The margin of error is +/- 3.3 percentage points for the full sample. For Republican presidential primary likely voters, the sample size is 471, with a margin of error of +/-5.8 percentage points. For Democratic presidential primary likely voters, the sample size is 405, with a margin of error of +/-6.3 percentage points. For the April 5 Wisconsin Supreme Court election there are 957 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percentage points. All results reported here are for likely voters except where registered voters are used for November elections.

The partisan makeup of this full registered voter sample, including those who lean to a party, is 44 percent Republican, 48 percent Democratic and 7 percent independent. The long-term estimate over the previous 33 statewide Marquette polls, with 28,335 respondents, is 42 percent Republican and 47 percent Democratic, with 9 percent independent. The partisan makeup of this sample, excluding those who lean to a party, is 28 percent Republican, 32 percent Democratic and 36 percent independent, compared to the long-term estimate of 27 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 39 percent independent.

The entire questionnaire, methodology statement, full results and breakdowns by demographic groups are available at law.marquette.edu/poll.

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One thought on “New Marquette Law School Poll finds Cruz, Sanders ahead in Wisconsin presidential primaries”

  1. Vincent Hanna says:

    How do so many voters have no opinion of Bradley at this point? I expected favorable and unfavorable ratings to be much higher. Do that many people just not pay close attention to a race for State Supreme Court regardless of whether or not other high-profile elections are taking place? That surprised me more than anything else. Feingold/Johnson will be close. Never expected that one to be decided by double digits. Not in this state. I wish they had also polled for County Executive. I’d like to know how close that race is at the moment.

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