Marquette University
Press Release

New Marquette Law School Poll finds tight race for Wisconsin governor, Baldwin leading in Senate contest

Wisconsin voters weigh in on Kavanaugh confirmation, Mueller investigation

By - Oct 10th, 2018 01:18 pm
Tony Evers and Scott Walker.

Tony Evers and Scott Walker.

MILWAUKEE — With less than a month to go until Election Day, a new Marquette Law School Poll of Wisconsin voters finds incumbent Republican Gov. Scott Walker with 47 percent support and Democratic gubernatorial challenger Tony Evers with 46 percent support among likely voters. Libertarian candidate Phil Anderson receives 5 percent. Only 1 percent say that they lack a preference or do not lean to a candidate. In the previous Marquette Law School Poll, in September, among likely voters, Evers received 49 percent, Walker had 44 percent and Anderson had 6 percent. Likely voters are defined as those who say that they are certain to vote in the November election.

In the race for Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate seat, Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin leads among likely voters with 53 percent, while 43 percent support Republican challenger Leah Vukmir and 3 percent say that they lack a preference or do not lean toward a candidate. In the September poll, Baldwin received 53 percent and Vukmir was supported by 42 percent.

In the race for Wisconsin attorney general, Republican incumbent Brad Schimel is the choice of 47 percent and Democratic challenger Josh Kaul is the choice of 43 percent of likely voters. Ten percent lack a preference in this race. In September, Schimel held 48 percent and Kaul 41 percent of likely voters.

Among all registered voters surveyed in the poll, Walker receives 47 percent, with Evers at 43 percent and Anderson with 7 percent.

In the Senate race, among all registered voters, Baldwin receives 53 percent and Vukmir 42 percent.

For attorney general, registered voters give Schimel 45 percent and Kaul 41 percent.

The poll was conducted Oct. 3-7, 2018. The sample includes 1,000 registered voters in Wisconsin interviewed by cell phone or landline, with a margin of error of +/- 3.6 percentage points. For likely voters, the sample size is 799 and the margin of error is +/- 3.9 percentage points.

Six issue questions were asked of half the sample. Questions on Form A have a sample size of 500 and a margin of error of +/- 5.1 percentage points. Questions on Form B have a sample size of 500 and a margin of error of +/- 5.1 percentage points. These half-sample items are listed at the end of this release.

How turnout could affect election results

The estimates above for likely voters are based on the definition that the Marquette Law School Poll has used since 2012: those who say that they are certain they will vote in November. Alternative models of likely voters could be broader, including those less than certain to vote, or could be narrower, including enthusiasm and attention to politics. Table 1 shows the vote for governor by alternative measures of likelihood of turnout based on an average of responses to certainty of voting, enthusiasm and attention to politics. The vote for Evers generally rises as the set of criteria for a likely voter requires higher levels of certainty of voting, enthusiasm and attention, implying lower turnout but a more enthusiastic and attentive set of actual voters, while Walker’s vote does not vary by alternative likely-voter definitions. Alternative likely-voter models for the senate and attorney general races also are shown below.

Table 1: Vote for governor, by alternative likely-voter models

Evers Walker Anderson
All Registered 43 47 7
90% of Registered 45 47 5
80% of Registered 47 47 4
Standard Likely Voter 46 47 5
70% of Registered 48 47 3

Table 2: Vote for Senate by alternative likely-voter models

Baldwin Vukmir
All Registered 53 42
90% of Registered 53 44
80% of Registered 53 43
Standard Likely Voter 53 43
70% of Registered 54 44

Table 3: Vote for Attorney General by alternative likely voter models

Kaul Schimel
All Registered 41 45
90% of Registered 42 48
80% of Registered 43 48
Standard Likely Voter 43 47
70% of Registered 44 49

Favorability and awareness of candidates

The non-incumbent candidates remain less well-known than the incumbents, though voters are becoming more familiar with the candidates over time. Table 4 shows favorable, unfavorable and unable-to-rate percentages in the October and September polls.

Table 4: Favorability and awareness of candidates, Oct. and Sept., among likely voters

Oct:Fav Oct:Unfav Oct:Not Heard/DK Sept:Fav Sept:Unfav Sept:Not Heard/DK
Evers 41 38 20 40 29 31
Vukmir 30 43 27 26 38 36
Kaul 10 8 81 7 5 87
Anderson 4 5 91 4 4 92
Walker 48 49 2 45 52 2
Baldwin 49 42 9 48 40 12
Schimel 32 22 46 24 20 56

Voting groups

The electorate has become increasingly segmented by gender and education among white voters, with longer-standing differences by race. Table 5, involving likely voters, shows preference for governor among white males and females by education, and among non-whites or Hispanics. The sample size for non-white or Hispanic voters is too small to analyze by gender and education.

Table 5: Vote for governor by race, gender and education among likely voters

White, Male, Noncollege White, Female, Noncollege White, Male, College White, Female, College Nonwhite or Hispanic
Evers 32 44 43 64 54
Walker 60 46 53 34 36
Anderson 7 6 1 2 8

Evers receives his strongest support from white, female college graduates and from non-white or Hispanic voters while Walker does best with white, male non-college graduates and has a smaller lead among white males with a college degree. Non-college white females are closely divided.

Partisans are strongly supporting their party’s candidate, but independents are currently favoring Evers, as shown in Table 6. While support of partisans for the nominee of their party is little changed, the margin among independents has tightened since the September Marquette Law School Poll, when independents favored Evers by 20 points.

Table 6: Vote for governor by Party ID among likely voters

Rep Dem Ind
Evers 5 93 46
Walker 91 5 40
Anderson 3 1 11

Preferences in the senate contest by race, gender and education are shown in Table 7. Baldwin does best with white, female college graduates but also holds a substantial advantage among non-college white females. White college males are evenly divided and Vukmir has a substantial advantage with non-college white males. Baldwin has a substantial lead among non-white or Hispanic voters.

Table 7: Vote for senate by race, gender and education among likely voters

White, Male, Noncollege White, Female, Noncollege White, Male, College White, Female, College Nonwhite or Hispanic
Baldwin 38 56 49 66 61
Vukmir 58 39 50 29 36

The senate vote by party is shown in Table 8. Partisan alignments are strong, though Vukmir’s support among Republicans is not as strong as Baldwin’s is among Democrats. Independents favor Baldwin.

Table 8: Vote for senate by party ID among likely voters

Rep Dem Ind
Baldwin 12 98 54
Vukmir 85 1 39

The survey results for the attorney general race are shown in Table 9 and Table 10. Incumbent Schimel has the strongest showing among the three Republican candidates for major office in Wisconsin, holding a lead among both non-college and college white males and a near tie with non-college white females. Kaul leads among white college females and among non-white or Hispanic voters.

Table 9: Vote for attorney general by race, gender and education among likely voters

White, Male, Noncollege White, Female, Noncollege White, Male, College White, Female, College Nonwhite or Hispanic
Kaul 32 44 38 51 53
Schimel 61 43 54 39 34

Table 10: Vote for Attorney General by party ID among likely voters

Rep Dem Ind
Kaul 10 85 38
Schimel 83 10 45

Schimel holds 83 percent of Republican support while Kaul receives 85 percent support from Democrats. Independents give Schimel 45 percent and Kaul 38 percent. Both candidates for attorney general are currently less well-known than the gubernatorial and senate candidates.

State issues among registered voters

Fifty-four percent of Wisconsin registered voters see the state as headed in the right direction while 40 percent think the state is off on the wrong track. In September, 50 percent said right direction and 47 percent said wrong track. In October 2014, 53 percent said the state was headed in the right direction and 42 percent said it was on the wrong track.

Taxes and spending

The Marquette Law School Poll asks about several issues involving the balance between taxes and spending for state programs.

Fifty-one percent of registered voters say that they would rather pay higher taxes and have state government provide more services, while 42 percent said they prefer lower taxes and fewer services from the state. When this question was first asked in January 2012, 41 percent preferred higher taxes and services while 50 percent wanted lower taxes and fewer services. When asked most recently in May 2014, 46 percent preferred higher taxes and services while 46 percent wanted lower taxes.

Balancing property taxes versus spending for public schools, voters say they would rather increase spending on public schools than reduce property taxes, by a 57 percent to 37 percent margin. Support for additional spending on public schools has increased since the question was first asked in 2013. The full trend on this issue is shown in Table 11.

Table 11: Trend in property tax vs school spending opinion, 2013-2018 among registered voters

Cut property taxes Increase school spending
3/11-13/13 49 46
5/6-9/13 49 46
4/7-10/15 40 54
2/25-3/1/18 33 63
6/13-17/18 35 59
8/15-19/18 32 61
9/12-16/18 38 57
10/3-7/18 37 57

Roads

Six percent of registered voters say that roads where they live are in excellent condition and 30 percent say good condition, while 34 percent say the roads are fair and 30 percent say their roads are in poor condition.

While respondents are willing to pay higher taxes to increase spending on public schools, they are unwilling to increase gas taxes and vehicle registration fees in order to increase spending on roads.

Sixty-one percent say it is more important to keep gas taxes and vehicle registration fees where they are now, while 32 percent say it is more important to raise gas taxes and registration fees in order to spend more on roads and highways.

Table 12 shows that those who believe roads are in the best condition are less willing to support increased taxes and fees, while those who see roads as being in the worst shape are more supportive of tax and fee increases. However, even among those who think roads are in poor condition, less than half, 48 percent, support higher taxes and fees.

Table 12: Gas tax by condition of roads among registered voters

No gas tax/fee increase Increase tax, spending on roads DK
Excellent 78 17 5
Good 75 20 5
Fair 58 34 8
Poor 48 45 7

Foxconn

Forty-eight percent of registered voters think that the state is paying more than the Foxconn plant is worth, while 38 percent think that 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 September poll, 48 percent said the state was paying too much and 39 percent said it was worth it.

A majority—61 percent—of registered voters statewide believe that the Foxconn plant will substantially improve the economy of the greater Milwaukee area, while 30 percent do not think that it will, and 9 percent say that they don’t know. In the September poll, 58 percent said that the Milwaukee area would benefit, while 31 percent did not think so.

When asked if businesses where the respondent lives will benefit from Foxconn, 35 percent say that such businesses will benefit directly from the Foxconn plant, while 57 percent say that their local businesses will not benefit and 8 percent don’t know. In the September poll, 33 percent said that their local businesses would benefit, while 54 percent did not think so.

Act 10

Almost eight years after its passage, opinion remains divided on Act 10, the 2011 legislation that eliminated most collective bargaining for public employees. Forty-two percent say they would like to see collective bargaining returned to what was law before Act 10, while 43 percent say they want to keep Act 10 as it is now. The full trend for this question since 2012 is shown in Table 13.

Table 13: Trend in view of Act 10, 2012-2018 among registered voters

Repeal Act 10 Keep Act 10 DK
5/9-12/12 43 50 6
5/23-26/12 45 50 5
8/21-24/14 43 46 10
10/23-26/14 43 50 6
2/25-3/1/18 41 46 12
6/13-17/18 47 43 10
10/3-7/18 42 43 15

Opioids

Eleven percent of registered voters say the state has done a lot to address the issue of opioid addiction, with 31 percent saying the state has done a fair amount about the issue. Twenty-nine percent say the state has done only a little and 17 percent say it has done almost nothing. This question has not been asked before on the Marquette Law School Poll.

Walker job approval

Walker’s job approval among registered voters stands at 48 percent, with 47 percent disapproving. The trend in approval since June 2018 is shown in Table 14. Among likely voters, 48 percent approve and 49 percent disapprove. In October 2014, 48 percent approved and 49 percent disapproved.

Table 14: Scott Walker job approval trend among registered voters

Approve Disapprove Don’t know
June 2018 49 47 3
July 2018 47 45 7
August 2018 48 45 6
September 2018 44 50 5
October 2018 48 47 5

Walker handling of prisons

Among all registered voters, 18 percent say that Walker has done all he should to address inmate-abuse issues at the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake juvenile prisons, while 32 percent say that he has not paid enough attention to the issue. However, 50 percent say that they haven’t heard enough about the issue to have an opinion. These results are little changed since the last time the question was asked, in August, when 12 percent said Walker has done all he should, 35 percent said he has not paid enough attention, and 53 percent hadn’t heard enough.

Walker run for president

Looking back, 26 percent in the new poll say that they liked Walker’s run for president in 2015 while 65 percent say that they did not like his presidential bid. In October 2014, just prior to his reelection as governor, 26 percent liked the idea of a presidential bid with 68 percent saying they did not. After Walker dropped out of the presidential race in August 2015, 33 percent said they had liked his run for president and 63 percent said they had not.

Partisan views of Walker’s run show some division among Republicans three years after the presidential bid ended, as shown in Table 15. A plurality of Republicans favored the presidential bid, while a majority of independents who lean Republican did not like the presidential race and two-thirds of independents wish that he had not run. Democrats and independents who lean Democratic are solidly negative about the attempt.

Table 15: View of Walker’s presidential bid by party ID among registered voters

Rep Lean Rep Ind Lean Dem Dem
Liked presidential bid 49 32 22 12 4
Did not like 41 58 66 80 89
Don’t Know 8 8 10 8 7

Among Republicans who liked the presidential bid (not including independents who lean Republican), 94 percent say that they will vote for Walker. Among those Republicans who say that they did not like the presidential bid, 79 percent currently plan to vote for Walker.

Baldwin favorability

Among all registered voters (see above for likely voters), 45 percent have a favorable opinion of Baldwin and 40 percent an unfavorable opinion. Baldwin is not rated by 14 percent. The trend in Baldwin favorability since June is shown in Table 16.

Table 16: Tammy Baldwin favorability trend among registered voters

Favorable Unfavorable Haven’t heard enough
June 2018 41 43 11
July 2018 41 40 13
August 2018 43 40 14
September 2018 45 39 10
October 2018 45 40 11

Supreme Court nomination

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Saturday, during the poll’s Wednesday-through-Sunday interviewing period. There is no evidence that opinion of Kavanaugh changed over the days during which the survey was completed.

Since July, both favorable and unfavorable views of Kavanaugh have risen, with corresponding declines in the percentage unable to give an opinion of him. In the October poll, 38 percent have a favorable opinion while 41 percent have an unfavorable view and 20 percent are not able to give a rating.

In September, 29 percent had a favorable opinion while 29 percent had an unfavorable view and 41 percent were not able to give a rating.

In July, when first asked, 27 percent gave a favorable rating while 22 percent had an unfavorable view and 50 percent were unable to rate him.

In the October poll, about a week after the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, 35 percent have a favorable opinion of her, 35 percent have an unfavorable view and 29 percent did not give a rating.

Interest in the Senate hearing was substantial, with 37 percent saying they had watched the hearings live, with another 27 percent saying they had followed closely but not watched the hearing live. Twenty-five percent say they saw some news coverage but didn’t follow closely, and 10 percent say they did not pay much attention at all.

Men and women differ in their views of Kavanaugh, but partisan differences account for much of the difference. Views of Kavanaugh by gender are shown in Table 17.

Table 17: View of Kavanaugh by gender among registered voters

Men Women
Favorable 48 30
Unfavorable 33 48
Haven’t heard/DK 18 22

Among men, Kavanaugh has a +15 percent net favorability rating, while among women the net rating is -18 percent. Gender differences within party, however, are smaller, as shown in Table 18.

Table 18: View of Kavanaugh by gender and party among registered voters

Rep Men Rep Women Dem Men Dem Women Ind Men Ind Women
Favorable 77 68 2 5 45 24
Unfavorable 6 10 88 80 31 46
Haven’t heard/DK 18 21 11 14 24 30

Republican and independent women are less favorable to Kavanaugh than are their fellow male partisans, but Democratic women are slightly more favorable than are Democratic men.

Views of Ford also vary by gender and party. Men and women have near mirror-image views of Ford, as shown in Table 19.

Table 19: View of Ford by gender among registered voters

Men Women
Favorable 29 40
Unfavorable 41 29
Haven’t heard/DK 29 29

Within partisanship, however, these gender differences become small, as shown in Table 20.

Table 20: View of Ford by gender and party among registered voters

Rep Men Rep Women Dem Men Dem Women Ind Men Ind Women
Favorable 7 8 72 69 28 37
Unfavorable 62 66 4 6 39 23
Haven’t heard/DK 28 24 24 24 32 38

Within party, gender differences are modest, though gender differences are larger among independents.

Similar gender differences appear in support of or opposition to Kavanaugh’s confirmation as a Supreme Court justice in Table 21.

Table 21: Support or oppose Kavanaugh confirmation, by gender among registered voters

Men Women
Support 52 36
Oppose 40 53
Don’t Know 7 11

Table 22: Support or oppose Kavanaugh confirmation, by gender and party among registered voters

Rep Men Rep Women Dem Men Dem Women Ind Men Ind Women
Support 82 83 4 6 49 27
Oppose 10 9 92 87 42 53
Don’t Know 7 7 5 6 8 19

As with favorability, gender differences are smaller within party, with larger gender differences persisting among independents in Table 22.

There were no differences in attention to the confirmation hearings by gender, as shown in Table 23.

Table 23: Attention to Kavanaugh hearings by gender among registered voters

Men Women
Watched live 36 39
Followed closely 28 27
Saw some news 27 23
Didn’t pay attention 9 11

Mueller investigation

Thirty-one percent say that they have a great deal of confidence that the Mueller investigation will be fair and impartial, while 26 percent say they have no confidence at all. Nineteen percent have some confidence, and 13 percent have only a little confidence in the fairness of the investigation. Both high-confidence and no-confidence are higher than in June 2017, when the question was first asked: Then, 20 percent were very confident and 21 percent had no confidence at all.

Health coverage

Fifty percent say they would like to see the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, remain in place, while 44 percent would like the act repealed. There are large partisan differences on this issue, shown in Table 24, but among independents 51 percent would keep the act and 42 percent would repeal it.

Table 24: Keep or repeal ACA by Party ID among registered voters

Rep Dem Ind
Keep ACA 11 92 51
Repeal ACA 83 5 42
Don’t Know 6 2 7

While views of the ACA are divided, a large majority, 78 percent, say that the ACA’s requirement that pre-existing conditions be covered by insurance companies is very important to them. Fifteen percent say that such coverage is somewhat important, with 3 percent saying it is not too important and 2 percent saying it is not at all important.

Among those who would like to see the ACA repealed, 65 percent say coverage of pre-existing conditions is very important while 25 percent say it is somewhat important.

Looking at one alternative to the ACA, 49 percent say they would favor “Medicare-for-all” through a single government plan, while 41 percent oppose such a plan.

Views of President Trump

President Trump has a 46 percent approval rating, with 51 percent disapproving. In the previous Marquette Law School poll, in September, his approval was 42 percent, with 54 percent disapproving. Partisans are deeply divided on Trump’s job performance, as shown in Table 25.

Table 25: Trump job approval, by party ID among registered voters

Rep Dem Ind
Approve 88 3 42
Disapprove 9 97 52
DK 2 0 5

Trump’s influence on, and divisions within, the Republican party

Asked if Trump has changed the Republican party—and if so, how—25 percent say he has changed it for the better, while 47 percent say he has changed it for the worse and 25 percent say he hasn’t changed it much either way.

Partisans have differing views of Trump’s effect on his party, as seen in Table 26.

Table 26: How Trump has changed GOP, by party ID among registered voters

Rep Lean Rep Ind Lean Dem Dem
For better 51 36 17 3 3
For worse 10 24 30 79 88
Not changed 37 33 46 17 8

Enthusiasm for voting

Overall, 67 percent of registered voters say they are very enthusiastic about voting in this year’s elections, with 22 percent somewhat enthusiastic and 10 percent either not very or not at all enthusiastic.

Among Republicans, 70 percent are very enthusiastic while among Democrats 76 percent are. Among independents, 59 percent say they are very enthusiastic about voting this year. In September, 64 percent of Republicans and 75 percent of Democrats were very enthusiastic, with 49 percent of 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 1,000 registered Wisconsin voters by landline or cell phone, Oct. 3-7, 2018. The margin of error is +/-3.6 percentage points for the full sample.

For likely voters, the sample size is 799 and the margin of error is +/- 3.9 percentage points.

Six issue questions were asked of half the sample. Questions on Form A have a sample size of 500 and a margin of error of +/- 5.1 percentage points. Questions on Form B have a sample size of 500 and a margin of error of +/- 5.1 percentage points. The half-sample items are listed below.

Form A asks three questions about Foxconn. Form B items include view of the Mueller investigation, how the state has handled opioids and how Gov. Walker has handled prisons.

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 48 statewide Marquette polls, with 42,752 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 33 percent Republican, 30 percent Democratic and 36 percent independent, compared to the long-term totals of 27 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 41 percent independent.

In the likely-voter sample, partisanship, including those who lean to a party, is 48 percent Republican, 45 percent Democratic and 7 percent independent. The partisan makeup of likely voters excluding those who lean to a party is 34 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 34 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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