Bruce Murphy
Back in the News

Poll Shows Barrett Way Ahead

Zielinski, Taylor do poorly and more voters favor streetcar.

By - Nov 12th, 2019 02:27 pm
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Mayor Tom Barrett speaking at the groundbreaking for the Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Mayor Tom Barrett speaking at the groundbreaking for the Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A poll done by opponents of Mayor Tom Barrett has good news for him: voters greatly favor the mayor over his two opponents, Democratic state Sen. Lena Taylor and south-side alderman Tony Zielinski. 

The poll was done by Remington Research Group, which has done polling for such Republican politicians as Mike HuckabeeRick Perry and Ted Cruz and is considered to have a slight right-center bias. And its poll on Barrett words its questions in a way intended to gain more support for Lena Taylor. 

For instance, while a typical straight-arrow poll would ask if you support or don’t support an official, this poll puts the question in a way emphasizing how long Barrett has been in office: “Current Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is expected to run for a fifth 4-year term in 2020. In general, would you support Mayor Barrett serving a fifth term in office?”

Even so, the poll found 56 percent would support a fifth term for Barrett, 29 percent would not and 15 percent weren’t sure. 

By contrast the poll leads respondents to think well of Taylor, describing her this way: “State Senator Lena Taylor has been in the State Senate for fourteen years and was the first black woman to serve on the powerful Joint Finance Committee.” 

Yet even after this description, when asked which of the three candidates the voters support for mayor, 41 percent chose Barrett, with both Taylor and Zielinski getting the same support, from 22 percent of respondents, with 15 percent undecided. 

“If Tony Zielinski were not on the ballot, and the candidates for Mayor of Milwaukee were just Tom Barrett and Lena Taylor, for whom would you vote?,” the poll also asked. And 51 percent chose Barrett with 27 percent picking Taylor and 22 percent undecided. 

Opponents of the streetcar have long argued that voters oppose it, but this poll found that wasn’t the case. It asked: “Milwaukee’s streetcar has been operating downtown for a year. In general, do you support or oppose expanding the streetcar?” And 47 percent of respondents favored expanding it, 42 percent opposed this and 11 percent weren’t sure.  

The poll’s breakdown of who would support a fifth term for Barrett showed liberals, Democrats and women were far more likely to say yes, but also showed huge percentage of African Americans said yes (61 percent), with 23 percent saying no and 16 percent undecided. That’s not great news for Taylor, who would probably need to run up big totals in the black community to defeat Barrett. 

The poll also asked respondents who they favored for Milwaukee Comptroller, a wide-open race with incumbent Martin Matson retiring. The results: 23 percent favored Aycha Sawa, 18 percent favored Jason Fields and 8 percent favoring Alex Brower, with 51 percent undecided.

The poll was done in September and overseen by attorney Daniel Adams, who told Urban Milwaukee last month that has worked with Remington Research several times and found the polls are very accurate in predicting voting results. Adams declined to the share the poll but Urban Milwaukee was able to secure a copy from another source. 

As for who paid for it, Adams has worked with County Executive Chris Abele in the past, but said this poll wasn’t paid for by Abele. He wouldn’t disclose who did pay for it. 

Two political observers contacted by Urban Milwaukee speculated that it may have been school choice supporters who paid for the poll, since Taylor favors vouchers, as does state Rep. Jason Fields, who is running for comptroller, as does Adams himself.

The poll also asked a question on the Milwaukee County Circuit Court race, whose results Adams shared with Urban Milwaukee in a story published last month.

Correction: An earlier version of this story suggested that current Congresswoman and former state senator Gwen Moore rather than Lena Taylor (as the poll states) was the state’s first legislator to serve on the Joint Finance Committee. In fact the first to hold that distinction was the late Marcia Coggs. Taylor is the first to serve as co-chair of the committee.

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More about the 2020 Mayoral Race

One thought on “Back in the News: Poll Shows Barrett Way Ahead”

  1. Thomas Martinsen says:

    Barrett is looking good because he has a calm and steady voice in times of trouble and a chipper voice re new development in this city – the scope of which cannot be ignored.

    Tom Barrett has not aspired to be a rock star. He has been a good mayor of a good city – with tentative hopes of greatness (depending on the outcome of the 2020 Democratic National Convention)

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