Poll Shows Ron Johnson Trails Three Democrats, Evers Leads GOP Challengers
MU poll also shows Michels/Kleefisch in virtual tie in GOP primary for governor.
The new Marquette Law School poll shows a tight race in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senator, led by Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes, and even tighter in the Republican primary for governor, with businessman Tim Michels in a near-tie with former Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch. The poll also did head-to-head matchups of incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson against his top challengers, which show Johnson a bit behind three of the four Democratic challengers, and a similar matchup of incumbent Democratic Gov. Tony Earl against his four potential Republican challengers, with Evers leading all four and Kleefisch running closest to the governor.
Perhaps the biggest news in the poll is the rise of Michels, who announced his run for governor in late April, too late to be included in the April MU p0ll which last measured the governor’s race. Michels has quickly jumped to the lead in the Republican primary, with 27% of the vote versus 26% for Kleefisch, 10% for former Marine Kevin Nicholson, and 3% for Rep. Timothy Ramthun. The results echo a poll done in mid-May by Public Policy Polling for the Milwaukee nonprofit, Milwaukee Works, which found a virtual dead heat between Michels and Kleefisch.
In the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, Barnes still leads, with 25% of the vote versus 21% for Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry, 9% for state treasurer Sarah Godlewski. and 7% for Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson.
In the head-to-head matchups for U.S. Senator, Johnson won one of them, getting 45% versus 42% for Lasry. He ran behind the other three, with 44% versus 46% for Barnes, 43% versus 45% for Godlewski and 43% versus 44% for Nelson.
Adding to the bad news for Johnson is that his approval rating continues to be at an all-time low with just 37% of registered voters saying they approve of him and 46% saying they disapprove. Over the nine months previous to this, Johnson has averaged 35% favorable and 44% unfavorable ratings in the MU polls, the lowest since Marquette began polling about him in 2013.
Democratic President Joe Biden was also underwater in the latest poll, with just 40% approving of him and 57% disapproving.
Evers, by contrast, had a net positive rating, with 48% approving of the job he did and 45% disapproving.
While the results are better for Evers than Johnson, and offer the best news for Michels and Barnes among the challengers, the difference in most cases does not surpass the 6.3% margin of error for the governor’s race and 6.4% for the U.S.Senator race. And a high number of respondents who “don’t know” which candidate they favor — 36% in the primary for senator and 32% in the primary for governor — allows lots of room for both races to change.
Another factor that could affect the vote — which bodes well for Republicans — is the enthusiasm factor, which typically drives the turnout and can be critical in a swing state like Wisconsin. The new poll found that 67% of Republicans are “very excited” about the election, compared to 58% of Democrats and 35% of independents.