Marquette University
Press Release

New Marquette Law School Poll finds many Wisconsin primary voters undecided, unfamiliar with candidates

Walker, Baldwin hold modest advantages over challengers

By - Jun 20th, 2018 01:18 pm
Scott Walker and Tammy Baldwin.

Scott Walker and Tammy Baldwin.

MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School Poll finds one in three Wisconsin voters remains undecided on August primary candidates in each party. Among Democratic primary voters, 34 percent say that they don’t know which of 10 candidates they will support for the gubernatorial nomination to run against Gov. Scott Walker in November. In the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, 30 percent of primary voters are undecided on who should face Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

In the previous poll, Feb. 25-March 1, 2018, 44 percent were undecided in the Democratic primary. Among Republican primary voters, 49 percent were undecided.

The non-incumbent candidates are not yet well known to registered voters in Wisconsin. Among Democratic gubernatorial candidates, the percentage who say they haven’t heard enough or don’t know if they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of each candidate is shown below.

The Republican Senate candidates are also not well-known.

In contrast, relatively few respondents lack an opinion of the incumbents in each race.

  • Walker: 3 percent
  • Baldwin: 15 percent

Primary preferences
Among those who say they will vote in the Democratic primary, Tony Evers is the choice of 25 percent, while all other candidates are in single digits.

Table 1: Democratic gubernatorial primary

Candidate Percent
Tony Evers 25
Matt Flynn 7
Andy Gronik 4
Mike McCabe 7
Mahlon Mitchell 4
Josh Pade 1
Kelda Roys 2
Paul Soglin 7
Kathleen Vinehout 5
Dana Wachs 2
Someone else (volunteered) 1
Don’t know 34
Refused 1

Among those who say they will vote in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, Kevin Nicholson receives 37 percent and Leah Vukmir receives 32 percent.

Table 2: Republican Senate primary

Candidate Percent
Kevin Nicholson 37
Leah Vukmir 32
Someone else (volunteered) 1
Don’t know 30
Refused 1

The poll was conducted June 13-17, 2018. The sample included 800 registered voters in Wisconsin, interviewed by cell phone or landline, with a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points. For the Democratic primary sample, the margin of error is +/- 6.4 percentage points, and for the Republican primary sample, the margin of error is +/- 6.9 percentage points. The gubernatorial matchups for Evers versus Walker and Roys versus Walker were asked of the full sample, with a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points. The other gubernatorial matchups were asked of half the sample and have a margin of error of +/- 5.6 percentage points.

November matchups
Looking ahead to possible November matchups, Baldwin receives 50 percent to 39 percent for Nicholson, with 7 percent undecided and 4 percent saying they would vote for neither. When matched against Vukmir, Baldwin receives 49 percent to 40 percent for Vukmir, with 8 percent undecided and 4 percent saying they would vote for neither.

The gubernatorial matchups are shown in Table 3. Walker’s support ranges from 44 to 49 percent, while Democratic candidates receive between 36 and 44 percent. Among Democrats, Evers has the highest vote percentage, at 44 percent to 48 percent for Walker. McCabe has the closest margin with Walker, 42 percent to 44 percent.

Table 3: Gubernatorial matchups

Democrat Scott Walker Neither Don’t know
Evers v Walker 44 48 3 5
Flynn v Walker 42 46 2 10
Gronik v Walker 41 46 3 11
McCabe v Walker 42 44 4 9
Mitchell v Walker 41 45 3 11
Pade v Walker 36 49 4 11
Roys v Walker 40 48 4 7
Soglin v Walker 39 48 4 8
Vinehout v Walker 39 48 3 9
Wachs v Walker 38 49 4 9

State issues
Walker’s job approval stands at 49 percent, with 47 percent disapproving. The trend in approval in 2017 and 2018 is shown in Table 4. This is the first time since Oct. 23-26, 2014, that Walker’s approval has been higher than his disapproval in the Marquette Law School Poll. Approval was also 49 percent to 47 percent disapproval in that 2014 poll.

Table 4: Scott Walker Job Approval Trend, 2017-18

Approve Disapprove Don’t know
June 2018 49 47 3
March 2018 47 47 6
June 2017 48 48 4
March 2017 45 48 6

Fifty-two percent of Wisconsin voters see the state as headed in the right direction, while 42 percent think the state is off on the wrong track. In March, 53 percent said right direction and 44 percent said wrong track.

Views of the Foxconn incentive package and the effects of the new manufacturing center to be built in Racine County are little-changed from the March 2018 poll. Forty-six percent think the state is paying more than the Foxconn plant is worth, while 40 percent think the plant will provide at least as much value as the state is investing in the plant. Thirteen percent say they don’t know if the plant will be worth it or not. In the March poll, 49 percent said the state was paying too much and 38 percent said it was worth it.

A majority—56 percent—of registered voters statewide believe the Foxconn plant will substantially improve the economy of the larger Milwaukee area, while 33 percent do not think it will and 10 percent say they don’t know. In the March poll, 57 percent said the Milwaukee area would benefit while 35 percent did not think so.

When asked if businesses where the respondent lives will benefit from Foxconn, 29 percent say businesses will benefit directly from the Foxconn plant, while 61 percent say their local businesses will not benefit and 9 percent don’t know. In the March poll, 25 percent said their local businesses would benefit, while 66 percent did not think so.

Given a choice of reducing property taxes or increasing spending on public schools, 59 percent answer public schools and 35 percent answer property taxes. When first asked in March 2014, 49 percent preferred to reduce property taxes while 46 percent favored increased spending for public schools. In March 2018, 63 percent preferred higher school spending versus 33 percent who preferred lower property taxes.

Act 10, the law that sharply limited collective bargaining for most public employees in Wisconsin, remains a major divide in the state. Forty-three percent favor keeping Act 10 as it is, while 47 percent favor a return to collective bargaining. When asked in March 2018, 46 percent favored Act 10 and 41 percent supported collective bargaining.

National issues
President Trump has a 44 percent approval rating, with 50 percent disapproving. In the previous Marquette Law School Poll in March, his approval was 43 percent, with 50 percent disapproving.

Asked about the results of the Singapore summit, 38 percent say it is likely to reduce nuclear weapons in North Korea while 52 percent say it is unlikely to do so. Ten percent say they don’t know.

Twenty-nine percent think increased tariffs on steel and aluminum imports will improve the U.S. economy, while 55 percent think tariffs will hurt the economy. Fifteen percent say they don’t know.

On free-trade agreements in general, 51 percent think these agreements have been a good thing for the U.S. economy, while 28 percent think they have been bad for the economy. Twenty percent say they don’t know.

Forty percent favor building a wall along the Mexico border while 55 percent oppose a wall. Four percent say they don’t know.

Confidence in the ability of the Mueller investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election and other matters to be fair and impartial has become more polarized since June 2017. Both the number of voters saying they have “a great deal of confidence” and the number saying they have “no confidence at all” have grown. Twenty-nine percent say they have a great deal of confidence, while 32 percent say they have no confidence. The trend in confidence since June 2017 is shown in Table 5.

Table 5: Trend in Confidence in Mueller Investigation, 2017-18

A great deal Some Only a little No confidence at all Don’t know
June 2018 29 18 15 32 5
March 2018 24 22 20 23 10
June 2017 20 31 17 21 11

With respect to the FBI, 34 percent of Wisconsin voters say they have a great deal of confidence in the FBI and another 34 percent say they have some confidence. There are 17 percent who say they have little confidence in the FBI and 13 percent who say they have no confidence.

Thirty-eight percent say they trust President Trump more than they trust the news media to tell the truth on important issues, while 45 percent say they trust the news media more than Trump. Fourteen percent say they trust neither.

Enthusiasm for voting
In total, 61 percent of registered voters say they are very enthusiastic about voting in this year’s elections, with 27 percent somewhat enthusiastic and 11 percent either not too or not at all enthusiastic. Among Republicans, 67 percent are very enthusiastic, while among Democrats, 71 percent are. Among independents, 51 percent say they are very enthusiastic about voting this year. In March, 54 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of Democrats were very enthusiastic, while the figure was 46 percent among independents.

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 13-17, 2018. The margin of error is +/-4 percentage points for the full sample. For the Democratic primary sample, the margin of error is +/- 6.4 percentage points, and for the Republican primary sample, the margin of error is +/- 6.9 percentage points. The gubernatorial matchups for Evers versus Walker and Roys versus Walker were asked of the full sample, with a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points. The other gubernatorial matchups were asked of half the sample and have a margin of error of +/- 5.6 percentage points.

The partisan makeup of the sample, including those who lean to a party, is 47 percent Republican, 44 percent Democratic and 8 percent independent. The long-term total for the previous 44 statewide Marquette polls, with 38,552 respondents, is 43 percent Republican and 47 percent Democratic, with 9 percent independent. The partisan makeup of the current sample, excluding those who lean to a party, is 29 percent Republican, 27 percent Democratic and 44 percent independent, compared to the long-term totals of 27 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 41 percent independent.

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

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