Poll Finds Huge Partisan Gap on Issues
Is the biggest issue inflation or climate change? Depends on who you ask.
Beyond the “horse race” numbers of who may be leading in campaigns for the U.S. Senate and governor, a deeper look at the latest Marquette University Law School poll offered a fascinating look at the stunning difference in how Republicans, Democrats and political independents view issues.
Marquette’s Aug. 10-15 survey of 811 registered voters included this question: Which of the following nine issues are you “very concerned” about? The biggest differences:
-79% of Democrats surveyed rated climate change as their top concern, but only 8% of Republicans listed it – a huge gap. Republicans ranked climate change as their next-to-last worry.
-91% of Republicans ranked inflation as their biggest worry, which was more than twice the 42% of Democrats who cited it. It was fifth on Democrats’ list of concerns.
-77% of Democrats rated gun violence as a major problem, while 45% of Republicans did so. Gun violence was the second biggest concern of Democrats; it ranked sixth among Republicans.
-80% of Republicans ranked crime as their second biggest concern, significantly higher than the 53% of Democrats who listed it. Crime was the fourth biggest worry of Democrats.
-73% of Democrats listed abortion policy as a major concern, making it their third biggest worry. Only 39% of Republicans did so, ranking it seventh on their list of issues.
-72% of Republicans cited taxes as a major problem, ranking it their third biggest worry. But only 26% of Democrats ranked taxes as a problem; it ranked seventh on their list.
“The differences in issue priorities reflects how the parties frame issues,” Marquette pollster Charles Franklin said last week.
Wisconsin’s political independents will decide who wins Nov. 8 elections for U.S. Senate and governor, and which 2024 presidential candidate wins Wisconsin.
What did independents surveyed rate as their biggest concerns? Inflation, 67%; gun violence 59%; abortion policy, 53%; public schools, 50%; crime, 47%; taxes, 44%; climate change, 40%; illegal immigration, 34%, and coronavirus, 15%.
Franklin said leaders of both parties can craft their final messages to independent voters before Nov. 8. “Each party could pick an issue or two that are somewhat important to their party’s voters but that also is a substantial concern for independents,” Franklin said.
“Those would be different, because Democratic and Republican concerns are different, but both could find something that might give leverage with independents,” he added. “Independents are interesting because some of their concerns are similar to Republican concerns – gun violence is their second highest concern. “Or abortion as third highest for independents and third highest for Democrats, while seventh [highest] for Republicans”.
A few issues are “fairly important across parties,” Franklin noted. For example, public schools were listed as a concern by 60% of Republicans surveyed, by 53% of Democrats and by 50% of independents.”
One “interesting” example of differing worries is inflation, Franklin said. “We all pay the same at gas pumps and grocery stores, but Republicans are far more concerned, while Democrats rank inflation sixth. Why? Blame Biden and the Democratic Congress, or desire to discount how bad inflation is to protect your party’s image.
“Lots of motivated reasoning there on both sides.”
Inflation was the top concern of 67% of political independents, making it their biggest concern. That was midway between the 91% of Republicans who rated inflation first and the 42% rating assigned inflation by Democrats.
“There’s a class of people out there that does not talk to pollsters,” Michels told supporters, according to a Green Bay Press-Gazette story.
Michels added: “If the polls say we’re dead even right now, I believe in my heart that we are up at least 5 to 10 (percentage) points.”
But in a deeply divided swing state like Wisconsin, even a five point margin could be tough to achieve — for either party.
If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits.