New Marquette Law School Poll Puts Enthusiasm of Voters in Spotlight

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How important is enthusiasm among voters in determining the outcome of an election? Very, and the closer the election, the more important enthusiasm usually is because it indicates who will actually turn out to vote.

So how important are the “enthusiasm” results in the Marquette Law School Poll released Wednesday? That remains to be seen, starting with keeping an eye on the remaining rounds of polls that will be released before the Nov. 4 election.

But it is a sure bet that people working in the campaigns of Republican Gov. Scott Walker and his Democratic challenger, Mary Burke, are paying close attention to the new results. While the poll showed that the race for governor remains essentially tied, there was an uptick in how enthusiastic Walker supporters are and in the percentage of people who identified themselves as Republicans.

Overall, the poll found that Walker and Burke are tied at 46% each among registered voters. Among those considered likely voters (people who said they are registered and are certain to vote), Walker was supported by 49% and Burke 46%. In both cases, the outcomes were within the poll’s margins of error.

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The Likely and the Less Likely — Insights from the New Law School Poll

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The Registered and the Likely – maybe that could be the name of a political soap opera, although I doubt it would attract high ratings in the general public. But it would attract high ratings among those involved in election campaigns and those eager to understand those campaigns and politics overall.

New results from the Marquette Law School Poll, released Wednesday, put the Registered and the Likely in the spotlight. Among 815 registered voters across the state, Republican Gov. Scott Walker led Democratic challenger Mary Burke 47.5 percent to 44.1 percent in the race for governor. But among 609 participants in the poll who were labeled likely to vote in November, Burke led Walker, 48.6 percent to 46.5 percent.

So who’s ahead, Walker or Burke? The best answer is that it’s too close to say – by both measures, the race is within the margin of error of the poll. Read more »

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Prox and the Poll

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Senator ProxmireHe died more than nine years ago, but the spirit of the late U.S. Senator William Proxmire lives on in Wisconsin. The proof can be found in the latest Marquette Law School Poll, which suggests that someone like Proxmire, a political maverick if there ever was one, might play well in Wisconsin today. More on that in a moment, but first a couple of thoughts on what this latest survey tells us.

Today’s Marquette Law School Poll tends to complicate the national narrative about Wisconsin: that we’re a hyper-polarized state with voters split almost equally between Republican red and Democratic blue. While voting patterns certainly seem to support that claim, the poll results point to an electorate with a considerably more nuanced view of the world, replete with mixed messages that are sure to cause a lot of head-scratching among political pundits. Case in point: the poll finds that 54 percent of voters feel the state is moving in the right direction, which for the last three-and-a-half years, has been a distinctly conservative one. But on a number of key issues, Wisconsin voters agree with positions favored by Democrats. They support a hike in the minimum wage and accepting federal dollars to expand Medicaid. They don’t like outsourcing. They think tax cuts favor the wealthy. They want to know more about whose deep pockets are funding political campaigns. Past polls have also shown majority support for repealing the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

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The Rest of the Story

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The story will be the horse race. It always is. Governor Walker and likely Democratic challenger Mary Burke are in a dead heat.  But there are a couple of interesting subplots in the latest numbers from the Marquette Law School Poll.

Like many Democratic candidates, Burke fares especially well with younger voters, and with those who are single (never married, widowed, or divorced).  Governor Walker, the Republican, scores best with those who are middle-age and married.  This is essentially the same voter behavior we saw in the 2012 presidential election.  But in a non-presidential year, the question for Burke will be whether those in the demographics who like her most will show up at the polls.

While the Burke campaign is undoubtedly pleased that the race appears close, one of the poll’s results may be cause for concern for her — 49 per cent of voters say they still don’t know enough about Burke to have an opinion of her.  That spells opportunity for the Walker campaign, which has unleashed a series of ads recently, rushing to define Burke before she defines herself. Read more »

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So What Do You Think of Mary Burke?

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On one level, the results released Wednesday of a fresh round of the Marquette Law School Poll did not contain much new. As Charles Franklin, professor of law and public and policy and director of the poll,  said frequently during the “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” event at which results were presented, there was not much that was statistically different from the poll two months ago. The big headline – and it did, indeed, make big headlines – was that Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke are essentially tied. That was the central result of the May poll as well.

I would suggest two important points that the little-changed results suggest:

One: The May results caught many people by surprise. There seemed to be a perception that, while the race was close, Walker was leading. The Law School Poll is the most closely watched and respected measure of public opinion in Wisconsin, and for the results to show a tie changed the perception of the race. But, as Franklin said on Wednesday, there were suggestions that the results might be a one-time matter, an “outlier.” To have almost identical results two months later should put to rest that notion. The only reasonable conclusion is that this really is a race that is tied at this point. The intense level of campaigning, more than three months before the November election, shows that the candidates themselves are operating on the understanding that this is an intense, highly competitive election that either could win. Read more »

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R.I.P., Gabriel Kolko (1932-2014)

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gabriel-kolko-tnI was saddened to read of the recent death of prominent historian Gabriel Kolko. He suffered from an incurable neurological disease and relocated to the Netherlands. He then took advantage of that nation’s legal euthanasia option and died in Amsterdam on May 19.

When I was an undergraduate, I read and found immensely provocative Kolko’s “The Triumph of Conservatism: A Reinterpretation of American History, 1900-1916” (1963). Kolko argued in the book that big businesses of the early twentieth century actually wanted the federal government to regulate them in order to avoid more restrictive legislation from state legislatures. Self-styled “Progressive” reformers, in Kolko’s interpretation, were wolves in sheep’s clothing. They worked in sneaky ways to preserve corporate power and to short-circuit efforts to rein in exploitative corporate profit-seeking.

In the later stages of his career, Kolko turned increasingly to American war-making and foreign policy, and his works included: Read more »

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Close Poll Results = Hot Campaigning Ahead

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There was audible reaction in the audience of about 100 who were present when Professor Charles Franklin unveiled the primary finding of the new round of the Marquette Law School Poll: The race between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke is essentially a dead heat as of now. That strong reaction echoed across the Wisconsin political world and beyond with its clear signal that this will be a close race that will likely pick up additional energy and attention now.

But in addition to the highlighted results – Walker and Burke each drew 46% support among registered voters and Walker led by a narrow 48% to 45% among those who say they are “absolutely certain” to vote in November – there were interesting indications of the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate. Those carried implications for what strategies the campaigns will pursue over the remaining five-plus months of the campaign for governor.

In brief, results of the new poll, and comparisons with prior polls, show Burke gaining strength among women and younger voters, while Walker remains strong among men and older voters. Burke does better than Walker on an “empathy” question – does a candidate care about people like you – and Walker does better on a question about whether a candidate is someone who is “able to get things done.” Read more »

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Conference Probes the Depth and Breadth of Political Polarization

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“I believe in my heart that we have a lot more in common than we have differences,” said Tom Meaux, Ozaukee County Administrator.

But if you do the numbers, we have a dramatic amount not in common. And no one has done the numbers the way the Marquette Law School and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel have.

The numbers – voting data, polling results, a wide range of demographic statistics – spell out the polarization that has become a dominant fact of politics in Wisconsin and especially in southeastern Wisconsin. A six-month fellowship at the Law School, funded by the Lubar Fund for Public Policy Research, allowed Craig Gilbert, Washington bureau chief of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, to collaborate with Professor Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll, in producing an analysis of the growing political divide that offers remarkable depth and breadth.

The result was a four-part series in the Journal Sentinel and a conference Thursday at Eckstein Hall, sponsored by the Law School and the Journal Sentinel, that brought together Gilbert, Franklin, political leaders, and academic experts to discuss what unites us, what divides us, and what lies ahead, given the intense current divisions. Read more »

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Why Partisanship Bothers Us

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Red_state_blue_stateWith the Marquette Law School conference “Dividing Lines” approaching on May 15, it is worth asking why hard and determined forms of partisanship so unnerve us.

The immediate occasion for this discussion is Craig Gilbert’s study of political polarization in the Milwaukee metropolitan area, and its economic and cultural origins. Gilbert is the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Washington bureau chief and this past year served as the Law School’s Lubar Fellow for Public Policy Research. Working with Charles Franklin, professor of law and public policy and director of the Marquette Law School Poll, Gilbert has documented in recent elections a strong and consistent correlation between voting preferences and race, ethnicity, education, and population density (the series to date appearing in the newspaper here, here, and here, with the final entry coming this Wednesday). Marquette Law School’s Professor David Papke has also commented on Gilbert’s research, noting how deliberately conceived public policies such as restricted covenants, exclusionary zoning, and easing of residency rules for municipal employees have contributed to the climate of divisiveness.

As a scholar of journalism and media, I want to probe more deeply the meanings Americans attribute to their experience of political division. Read more »

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Baldwin Points to Tax Issues for the Super-Rich as a Rising Issue

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Could using tax policy to reduce the gaps between the highest income Americans and middle and lower income people be an important, and maybe hot, issue ahead?

Sen. Tammy Baldwin indicated that was her perspective and that she was open to ideas for using tax reform changes to pursue that goal during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program Wednesday at Eckstein Hall.

“We clearly have a system that has chosen, in certain policy decisions made, to reward wealth over work,” Baldwin said.  “I think we have to question a system that works that way.”

Baldwin said some other countries have policies that limit the maximum salaries of CEOs in relation to the salaries of their employees. “I don’t think we’re going to see those kind of initiatives” in the United States, she said. “But that leaves the tax code really as our predominant way of looking at this and understanding this. . . . That’s an issue we should think about.” Read more »

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MULS to Welcome Professor Linda Edwards in Fall 2014

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faculty_lindaedwards2014-04Marquette University Law School’s legal writing professors are pleased to announce that Professor Linda Edwards, E.L. Cord Foundation Professor of Law at University of Nevada Las Vegas, will be joining us as a Boden Visiting Professor for the fall semester of 2014.

Professor Edwards is a leading scholar and leader in the field of legal writing.  She has authored five texts, three of them focused on legal writing, and has written numerous scholarly articles on legal writing, rhetoric, and law. Her recent book, Readings in Persuasion: Briefs that Changed the World (Aspen Law & Bus. 2012) will serve as the basis for the advanced legal writing seminar she will be teaching at MULS next fall. The book discusses why some briefs are more compelling than others and covers briefs written in some of the law’s most foundational cases: Muller v. Oregon (the Brandeis Brief), Brown v. Board of Education, Miranda v. Arizona, Furman v. Georgia, Loving v. Virginia, and others. Professor Edwards says the course will build on what students learned in Legal Analysis, Writing & Research 2, but from a more advanced perspective.

Professor Edwards practiced law for 11 years before becoming the coordinator of NYU’s Lawyering Program. She then spent 19 years at Mercer University School of Law, where she was the director of legal writing and taught legal reasoning and advanced legal writing, as well as property, employment discrimination, and professional responsibility. In 2009, she joined the faculty at UNLV.  Also in 2009, Professor Edwards was awarded the Association of Legal Writing Directors and Legal Writing Institute’s Thomas Blackwell Award for her lifetime achievements and contributions to the legal writing field.

We are very excited to welcome Professor Edwards next fall.

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Poll Results Show Strengths and Weaknesses for Walker and Burke

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A couple of quick observations about the newest Marquette Law School Poll, released Wednesday. It contains good news for Republican Governor Scott Walker, who leads his likely Democratic challenger Mary Burke 48 to 41 percent among those surveyed. Walker should also be heartened by the results of the familiar and important “right direction/wrong track” question. Fifty-four  percent of respondents say Wisconsin is headed in the right direction. Only 42 per cent say we’re on the wrong track. There is also majority support for his recently signed $541 million property and income tax cut.

But the poll reveals several areas of concern for the governor. He remains below 50 percent in job approval and in a head-to-head matchup with Burke. Seventy-three percent of those surveyed say a failure to keep his 250,000 new jobs promise would be “very important” or “somewhat important” in deciding how they would vote. The governor’s opposition to a minimum wage hike and repealing the state’s same sex marriage ban puts him at odds with public sentiment in the poll, and the recently released John Doe documents aren’t helpful. But perhaps the most worrisome result for the Walker campaign is found in question number 32. When asked if Walker “cares about people like me,” 51 percent say he doesn’t. Forty-three percent say he does. Mary Burke fares better on the question. Thirty-six percent say Burke “cares about people like me.” Twenty-nine percent say she doesn’t. But 34 percent say they don’t know, demonstrating that many people still haven’t formed an opinion of Burke. It’s early, but the “empathy” or “compassion” question will be one to watch as the campaign moves into high gear.

 

 

 

 

 

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