Marquette University
Press Release

New Marquette Law School Poll finds Clinton, Feingold leading

Majorities have negative views of presidential candidates

By - Jun 15th, 2016 01:18 pm
Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

MILWAUKEE — A new Marquette Law School Poll finds Hillary Clinton with 42 percent and Donald Trump with 35 percent support among Wisconsin registered voters in a presidential race matchup. Seventeen percent say they will vote for neither candidate.

In the previous Marquette Law School Poll, in March, Clinton had 47 percent support and Trump 37 percent.

Among likely voters, i.e., those who say they are certain they will vote in November, Clinton receives 46 percent to Trump’s 37 percent in the new poll, with 13 percent saying they will support neither candidate.

While Clinton is the presumptive Democratic candidate, a head-to-head matchup between Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and Trump finds Sanders leading 56 percent to 31 percent among registered voters and 57 percent to 33 percent among likely voters.

In Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate race, among registered voters, Democratic candidate Russ Feingold is supported by 45 percent while Republican incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson receives 41 percent. In March, Feingold had 47 percent and Johnson 42 percent. Among likely voters in November’s election, Feingold has the support of 51 percent while Johnson is supported by 42 percent. Two percent say they will support neither and 5 percent say they don’t know whom they will support.

Differences between registered and likely voters reflect shifting enthusiasm among Republicans and Democrats. In this new poll, 78 percent of Republicans say they are certain they will vote in November, a drop of 9 percentage points from the 87 percent who said so in March. Meanwhile, Democratic intentions to vote have increased, rising in June to 84 percent certain to vote from 81 percent in March. These shifts in likely-voter intentions account for the stronger support for Democrats in both presidential and senate races among likely voters than among all registered voters. By contrast, in June 2012, 90 percent of Republicans said they were certain to vote in November, as did 80 percent of Democrats.

“The likelihood of voting reflects both personal involvement in politics and current campaign events,” said Charles Franklin, professor of law and public policy and director of the Marquette Law School Poll. “Studies have shown that this likelihood can fluctuate over the course of the campaign, only settling down as we move past Labor Day. However, the current data show the difficulty the Republican Party is currently facing with a sharp drop in enthusiasm for voting this November. After the national conventions in July, as both parties attempt to unify and rally their supporters, we will have a better idea how turnout will affect the election.”

The poll was conducted June 9-12, 2016. The full sample includes 800 registered voters interviewed by cell phone or landline, with a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percentage points. Results for likely voters are based on 666 respondents with a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percentage points.

Party unity and divisions

Each party faces divisions left over from the primary season. Among Democrats and independents who lean Democratic, supporters of Sanders remain reluctant to vote for Clinton in November. Sixty-seven percent of Sanders supporters say they will vote for Clinton, 4 percent say they will vote for Trump, while 24 percent say they will vote for neither and 5 percent say they don’t know. By comparison, 88 percent of Clinton supporters say they would vote for Sanders over Trump, who gets 5 percent of such supporters, with 7 percent saying they would support neither and 1 percent saying they don’t know.

Both parties face an unusually high percentage of their partisans who say they will vote for neither candidate. Among registered voters who describe themselves as Republicans or independents who lean Republican, 18 percent say they will vote for neither Trump nor Clinton, and an additional 5 percent say they don’t know how they will vote. Among Democrats and independents leaning Democrat, 13 percent say they will vote for neither candidate and 4 percent say they don’t know. For comparison, in June 2012, just 3 percent of Republicans and 2 percent of Democrats said they would not support either nominee.

Among Republicans and independent leaners, 12 percent say their party is currently united, 41 percent say it is divided now but will unite by November and 45 percent say the party will still be divided in November. Among Democrats and independent leaners, 18 percent say the party is united now, 53 percent say it is divided now but will unite by November and 26 percent believe the party will remain divided. Among Republicans who think their party will remain divided, Trump gets 63 percent of the vote. Among Democrats who think their party will still be divided in November, Clinton gets 58 percent support.

Asked about House Speaker Paul Ryan’s endorsement of Trump, 38 percent of all respondents say it was the right decision while 54 percent say it was a mistake. Among Republicans and independent leaners, however, 69 percent say the endorsement was the right decision and 23 percent say it was a mistake.

Images of presidential candidates

Trump and Clinton are both viewed negatively by a majority of voters. Among registered voters, 64 percent have an unfavorable view of Trump while 26 percent have a favorable view. Clinton is seen unfavorably by 58 percent and favorably by 37 percent. Within their parties, both candidates are seen more positively, with 52 percent of Republicans holding a favorable view of Trump and 35 percent unfavorable. Among Democrats, 67 percent have a favorable view of Clinton while 27 percent view her unfavorably.

Sanders has the most favorable image of the candidates, with an overall 53 percent favorable and 36 percent unfavorable rating. Among Democrats, he is seen favorably by 81 percent and unfavorably by 10 percent.

Voters were asked how comfortable they would be with the idea of each candidate as president. For Clinton, 38 percent say they would be very or somewhat comfortable while 61 percent said very or somewhat uncomfortable, including 42 percent saying very uncomfortable. For Trump 28 percent say very or somewhat comfortable with 72 percent saying very or somewhat uncomfortable, including 55 percent saying very uncomfortable. Fifty-three percent say they would be very or somewhat comfortable with Sanders while 44 percent say very or somewhat uncomfortable, including 29 percent very uncomfortable. 

Traits of the presumptive nominees

Respondents were asked whether each of four traits described Clinton and Trump. Clinton is described as “someone who is honest” by 28 percent while Trump is seen as honest by 32 percent.

Forty-two percent say Clinton is someone who “cares about people like me” while 27 percent say this describes Trump.

Forty-eight percent say Clinton is someone who “could handle a national crisis well” while 31 percent say this is true of Trump.

Asked if each candidate “has the qualifications to be president,” 56 percent say this is true of Clinton while 30 percent say it is true of Trump.

Respondents were asked if the FBI investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as Secretary of State was something that bothers them about Clinton. Sixty-one percent say this bothers them while 38 percent say it does not.

Sixty-three percent say they are bothered by pending lawsuits against Trump for his Trump University real estate seminars while 34 percent say this does not bother them.

Thirty-five percent of respondents say they are bothered by both of these matters while 10 percent are bothered by neither. Twenty-seven percent are bothered by the Trump University issue but not by the Clinton email issue, while 24 percent are bothered by the emails but not by Trump University.

U.S. Senate candidates

In Wisconsin’s race for U.S. Senate, Feingold is viewed favorably by 40 percent of registered voters and unfavorably by 33 percent. Another 26 percent say they haven’t heard enough or don’t know how they feel about him. In March, Feingold’s ratings were 41 percent favorable, 35 percent unfavorable and 25 percent not able to rate him.

Johnson is seen favorably by 33 percent of registered voters and unfavorably by 31 percent, with 35 percent saying they have not heard enough or don’t know how they feel. In March, Johnson’s ratings were 32 percent favorable and 31 percent unfavorable, with another 36 percent unable to rate him.

Views on issues

The parties are sharply divided on several issues surveyed in this month’s poll.

Sixty percent of registered voters favor an eventual path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S., while 18 percent prefer a permanent guest worker status and 17 percent say these immigrants should be required to leave the country. Among Republicans, 44 percent favor a path to citizenship, 24 percent prefer a guest status and 26 percent would require undocumented immigrants to leave. Among Democrats, 75 percent favor eventual citizenship, 14 percent prefer a guest worker option and 8 percent would favor removal from the country.

Fifty-four percent of respondents favor an increase in the minimum wage while 42 percent think it should not be raised. Among Republicans, 24 percent support a hike in the minimum wage while 73 percent oppose an increase, while 79 percent of Democrats support and 17 percent oppose an increase.

Support for allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally stands at 64 percent while 28 percent are opposed. Among Republicans, 43 percent favor while 48 percent oppose same-sex marriage. Among Democrats, 84 percent are in favor while 11 percent are opposed.

Sixty-three percent of registered voters say they would favor increasing taxes on wealthy Americans and large corporations in order to reduce income inequality, while 33 percent are opposed to this. Among Republicans, 33 percent favor such a tax increase to reduce inequality while 63 percent oppose it. Fully 90 percent of Democrats favor reducing inequality by increasing taxes on the wealthy, while just 8 percent are opposed.

However, when asked a slightly different question, opinion shifts substantially. Asked if “it is the responsibility of the government to reduce the differences in income,” 40 percent say they agree while 55 percent disagree. Eighteen percent of Republicans say this is government’s responsibility while 81 percent say it is not. Among Democrats, 60 percent say this is government’s role, while 33 percent say it is not.

The subject of free trade is one issue where partisan views appear to be shifting from traditional party positions. Forty-one percent say free trade agreements have in general been a good thing for the United States, while 44 percent say they have been a bad thing. Republicans now take a more negative view of free trade than do Democrats. Thirty-six percent of Republicans say trade agreements have been a good thing while 52 percent say they have been bad for the U.S. Among Democrats, 46 percent say trade agreements have been good for the U.S. while 37 percent say they have been bad.

More voters see trade agreements as costing the United States jobs. Fifty-three percent say trade agreements have cost the U.S. jobs, while 22 percent say they make no difference and 11 percent say trade leads to more job creation. Among Republicans, 58 percent say trade costs jobs, 20 percent say it has no effect and 13 percent say trade creates jobs. Of Democrats, 49 percent say trade costs jobs, 24 percent see no impact and 10 percent say trade increases jobs.

State of the state

Forty-six percent of registered voters say Wisconsin is headed in the right direction while 50 percent say it has gotten off on the wrong track. When last asked in February, 44 percent said the state was moving in the right direction and 52 percent that it was on the wrong track. Fifty percent or more have said wrong track in each of four polls asking this question since January 2015. In the nine combined polls taken in 2014, 53 percent said the state was headed in the right direction while 42 percent said it was on the wrong track. More than 50 percent in each of those nine 2014 polls said Wisconsin was going in the right direction.

Thirty-seven percent say the state budget is in worse shape than a few years ago, 31 percent say it is in better shape and 25 percent say it is about the same. Combining five polls taken in 2015 and 2016, 38 percent say the budget is in worse shape, 32 percent say better shape and 24 percent about the same. Combining eight polls that asked the question in 2014 shows 44 percent thought the budget was in better shape and just 25 percent said it was worse, with 25 percent saying about the same.

Twenty-nine percent of respondents think the economy got worse over the past year while 25 percent say it got better and 44 percent say it has remained about the same. This is little changed from March, when 28 percent said the economy had worsened, 25 percent saw improvement and 45 percent saw no change.

Looking ahead to the next 12 months, 25 percent expect the economy to improve, 23 percent think it will worsen and 43 percent expect no change. In March, 29 percent expected improvement, 18 percent thought the economy would worsen and 44 percent thought it would not change much.

Approval of how Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is handling his job stands at 39 percent, with disapproval at 57 percent. In March, approval was 43 percent and disapproval was 53 percent.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is viewed favorably by 37 percent of respondents and unfavorably by 33 percent, while 31 percent say they haven’t heard enough or don’t have an opinion. When last measured in August of 2015, Baldwin had a 36 percent favorable and 40 percent unfavorable rating, with 24 percent unable to give an opinion.

Speaker Ryan is viewed favorably by 49 percent of registered voters and unfavorably by 32 percent. Eighteen percent do not have an opinion of him. In March, 48 percent had a favorable opinion, 31 percent unfavorable and 21 percent were unable to say.

President Obama’s job approval stands at 51 percent, with 43 percent disapproval. In March, 50 percent approved and 45 percent disapproved. As in national polling, Obama’s job approval has moved slightly upward since 2014. With all 2014 surveys combined, Obama had a 44 percent approval to 49 percent disapproval rating in the Marquette Law School Poll. In 2015, combined polling put approval at 49 percent with disapproval at 47 percent. In combined 2016 polls, approval is 50 percent and disapproval 45 percent.

About the Marquette Law School Poll

The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. This poll interviewed 800 registered Wisconsin voters by landline or cell phone, June 9-12, 2016. The margin of error is +/- 4.4 percentage points for the full sample. For likely voters, the sample size is 666, with a margin of error of +/-4.9 percentage points.

The partisan makeup of this full registered voter sample, including those who lean to a party, is 41 percent Republican, 49 percent Democratic and 8 percent independent. The long-term estimate over the previous 34 statewide Marquette polls, with 29,740 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 26 percent Republican, 30 percent Democratic and 41 percent independent, compared to the long-term estimate of 27 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 38 percent independent.

The entire questionnaire, methodology statement, full results and breakdowns by demographic groups are available at

Recent Press Releases by Marquette University

New Marquette Law School Poll finds shifts in Wisconsin public opinion favorable to President Trump on impeachment and presidential election preferences

Trump holds small leads over each of four top Democratic candidates for president in head-to-head matchups in the new survey

Dean of public service at Marquette University Law School honored as legal innovator

As assistant dean for public service, Schultz’s charge is to advance access to justice through the creation, implementation, and operational oversight of pro bono projects for law students and lawyers.

Marquette University

Marquette Offices of Community Engagement and Corporate Engagement and Partnerships to unite as Office of Economic Engagement

According to President Lovell, the office will amplify Marquette’s vision to develop more holistic off-campus collaborations and partnerships for community impact.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us