MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School Poll finds Republican Gov. Scott Walker leading Democratic candidate Mary Burke, 48 to 41 percent, in the run-up to Wisconsin’s gubernatorial election this November. Walker held a 47 to 41 percent advantage in the most recent Marquette Law School Poll, taken in January.
The poll of 801 Wisconsin registered voters was conducted by cell phone and landline March 20-23 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.
Forty-seven percent of respondents approve of the job Walker is doing as governor while an equal 47 percent disapprove, with 5 percent saying they don’t know. In January, Walker’s approval rating stood at 51 percent, with 42 percent disapproving.
Voters have mixed views of the direction of the state, policy issues and the economy. Fifty-four percent say the state is headed in the right direction while 42 percent say it is on the wrong track; this is little changed from January’s 54-40 percent split.
A majority, 55 percent, favor the $500 million tax cut enacted by the legislature and signed into law by Walker, while 34 percent oppose the tax reduction. While approving of the tax cut, 58 percent say tax cuts do more to benefit the wealthy, while 25 percent see the middle class and 9 percent see the poor as benefiting more.
Asked how Wisconsin compares to other states in job creation, 45 percent say Wisconsin is lagging behind other states, 37 percent say it is keeping pace with other states and 12 percent think Wisconsin is creating jobs faster than other states. In January, 40 percent said lagging, 41 percent said keeping pace and 11 percent said Wisconsin was adding jobs faster.
Thirteen percent believe Wisconsin will reach the 250,000 new jobs Walker pledged in his 2010 campaign, while 80 percent say the state will fall short of that number. Twenty-nine percent say this issue is very important to their vote, 44 percent say somewhat important, 14 percent not very important and 12 percent say the jobs pledge is not at all important for their vote.
Burke is viewed favorably by 19 percent and unfavorably by 22 percent, with 59 percent saying they either don’t know enough about her or can’t say if they have a favorable or unfavorable view of her. In January, 70 percent were unable to give an opinion about her; those expressing an opinion split 12 percent favorable and 18 percent unfavorable.
By contrast, only 5 percent are unable to rate Walker, with 49 percent favorable and 47 percent unfavorable. In January, Walker was seen favorably by 49 percent and unfavorably by 44 percent with 6 percent unable to give an opinion.
Asked if each candidate “cares about people like you,” 43 percent say Walker does while 51 percent say he does not, with 5 percent saying they didn’t know. For Burke, 36 percent say she cares about them while 29 percent say she does not and 34 percent say they don’t know.
Sixty-seven percent of voters say they have read or heard about the release of some 27,000 pages of emails from employees in Walker’s office when he was Milwaukee County Executive, while 31 percent have not. Of those who have read or heard about them 43 percent say the emails give them a less favorable view of Walker while 53 percent say the emails made no difference and 3 percent say they have a more favorable view.
As the state legislature approaches the end of its session, voters have a mixture of views about major legislative issues. Voters favor requiring a government-issued photo ID in order to vote by a 60 to 36 percent margin, essentially unchanged from the 61-37 margin when last asked in May 2012.
On early voting, also called in-person absentee voting, 39 percent favor allowing three weeks, including three weekends, for early voting; 27 percent support a two-week period including one weekend; 12 percent support a limit of two weeks with no weekend voting; and 20 percent prefer to eliminate early voting entirely.
Voters diverge over when local governments should be allowed to regulate mining and minimum wages in their communities. Fifty-three percent say local governments should be allowed to regulate sand mining in their communities while 35 percent think only the state should set such regulations. In contrast, 42 percent believe local governments should be able to set minimum wages, with 50 percent saying they should not be able to do so.
Legalization of marijuana is supported by 42 percent while 52 percent say it should remain illegal. That reverses the October poll that found 50 percent favoring legalization with 45 percent opposed.
Forty-eight percent of respondents favor allowing marriage of gay couples, 24 percent support civil unions but not marriage and 24 percent prefer no legal recognition for same sex couples. In January, 53 percent supported marriage, 24 percent civil unions and 19 percent no legal recognition. Since September 2012, support for marriage has varied between 42 and 53 percent, support for civil unions between 24 and 27 percent and support for no legal status has varied between 19 and 28 percent.
In 2006, Wisconsin approved a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage by a 59-41 percentage point margin. Asked if that amendment were brought up for a new vote today, 36 percent would continue the ban while 59 percent would vote to repeal the amendment.
Voters support an increase in the minimum wage to help low-income workers, even when reminded that some argue this would lead some businesses to cut jobs. Sixty-three percent favor increasing the minimum wage while 33 percent oppose an increase.
A random half of the sample was asked if they would be more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate who supports increasing the minimum wage. Thirty-four percent say more likely while 16 percent say less likely and 49 percent say it would make no difference. The other half of voters were asked if they would be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who opposes increasing the minimum wage. For this group, 21 percent say more likely while 34 percent say less likely and 44 percent say it would make no difference.
With respect to the federal health care reform act, sometimes called Obamacare, 39 percent say they have a favorable view of it while 50 percent have an unfavorable view. In January 35 percent said favorable and 56 percent unfavorable. Before the troubled rollout of the federal health care exchange website in October, 42 percent said favorable and 48 percent unfavorable.
Despite this view of health care reform, voters prefer reform of the law rather than repeal. Eight percent would keep the law as it is; 52 percent would keep the law but improve it; 18 percent would repeal it but replace it with an alternative; and another 18 percent would repeal it and not replace it. Half the sample was asked if they would be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who “supports the federal health care law,” with 25 percent saying more likely, 28 percent less likely and 45 percent saying it would make no difference.
The other half of the sample was asked if they would be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who “calls for the complete repeal of the federal health care law.” Twenty-four percent say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who would repeal the law while 35 percent say they are less likely to vote for that candidate and 39 percent say it would make no difference.
Other political figures
President Barack Obama’s job approval stands at 47 percent to 49 percent disapproval. In January 44 percent approved and 50 percent disapproved.
Sen. Ron Johnson is viewed favorably by 29 percent and unfavorably by 27 percent while 44 percent say they either don’t know enough about him or can’t give a rating. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is rated favorably by 35 percent and unfavorably by 35 percent with 30 percent unable to give an opinion. Rep. Paul Ryan receives a 39 percent favorable rating and 35 percent unfavorable with 25 percent unable to rate him.
About the Marquette Law School Poll
The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive independent statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. In 2012, the poll provided highly accurate estimates of election outcomes, in addition to gauging public opinion on a variety of major policy questions.
This poll interviewed 801 registered Wisconsin voters by both landline and cell phone March 20-23, 2014. The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points for the full sample. The four half-sample items on minimum wage and health care reform have a margin of error of +/- 5.2 percentage points. The entire questionnaire, full results and breakdowns by demographic groups are available at http://law.marquette.edu/poll.