New Marquette Law School Poll finds Wisconsin governor’s race remains statistical dead heat

MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School Poll finds Republican Gov. Scott Walker receiving the support of 46 percent of all registered voters and Democratic challenger Mary Burke also receiving 46 percent support in the Wisconsin governor’s race. Another 5 percent say that they are undecided or that they do not know whom they will support, while 1 percent say they will vote for someone else.

Among likely voters, Walker receives 49 percent and Burke 46 percent, with 4 percent undecided and fewer than 1 percent saying they will vote for someone else. Likely voters are those who say they are certain to vote in November’s election.

The results for both registered and likely voters are within the poll’s margin of error. The September poll interviewed 800 registered voters and 589 likely voters by landline and cell phone from Sept. 11 to 14. For the full sample of 800 registered voters the margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points. The margin of error for the sample of 589 likely voters is +/- 4.1 percentage points.

This is the fourth Marquette Law School Poll in a row with governor’s race results inside the margin of error, indicating a very close election with no clear front-runner. Since the most recent Marquette Law School Poll, in August, Walker has gained ground among likely voters while Burke has improved among registered voters. Walker trailed Burke by 2 points among likely voters in August but now has a 3-point advantage. Among registered voters in August, Walker had a 3-point advantage, but registered voters now show a tie.

In the race for attorney general, among registered voters, Democrat Susan Happ receives 39 percent and Republican Brad Schimel 38 percent, with 20 percent saying that they are undecided or don’t know for whom they will vote. Among likely voters, Schimel receives 42 percent to Happ’s 41 percent, with 16 percent yet to choose a candidate. Both results are inside the margin of error for the poll. In August, Happ held a 40-33 lead among registered voters and a 42-32 lead among likely voters.

Shifting enthusiasm
According to Marquette Law School Poll Director Charles Franklin, much of the shift between the August and September polls, and the differences between likely and registered voters, can be accounted for by shifting involvement by partisans.

“In July and August, Democrats were more likely to vote than were Republicans, producing an advantage for Burke among likely voters,” Franklin said. “But in the September poll, it is Republicans who have an advantage in enthusiasm. Eighty percent of Republicans said they are certain to vote in November, compared to 73 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of independents. In August, 82 percent of Democrats, 77 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of independents were certain to vote.”

Similarly, 67 percent of Republicans and 60 percent of Democrats say that they are “very enthusiastic” about voting in November, as do 47 percent of independents. In August, 59 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of independents said they were “very enthusiastic.”

“Elections are about both candidate preference and turnout,” Franklin said. “Changes in either can shift elections.”

Differences in partisan enthusiasm were also reflected in the composition of this month’s sample. Republicans hold a 1-percentage-point advantage among registered voters polled, with 29 percent identifying themselves as Republicans and 28 percent saying that they are Democrats. A total of 41 percent say that they are independent. This is the first time in 24 Marquette Law School Polls that Republicans have held an edge among all registered voters. Among likely voters, Republicans have a 32 percent to 28 percent advantage over Democrats, with 38 percent independent. This is the fourth time the GOP has had an edge among likely voters in the Marquette Law School Poll, which began in 2012. In August, Democrats had a 4-point advantage among registered voters and a 6-point margin among likely voters. Across all Marquette polls in 2013 and 2014, Democrats have averaged a 4-point advantage among registered voters and a 3-point advantage among likely voters.

“It is unusual to see a 5-point net shift in partisan composition,” Franklin said. “People should be appropriately skeptical since it is always possible this sample is simply an outlier. However, the shift to more Republicans and fewer Democrats occurred across all regions of the state and most demographic groups, demonstrating that it was not a localized difference in response rates.”

Photo ID for voting
Just as a federal appeals court ruling reinstated the Wisconsin legislature’s requirement of a government-issued photo ID in order to vote, the poll finds 61 percent of registered voters favor the photo identification requirement, while 35 percent oppose it. The federal ruling was handed down this past Friday, after interviewing for the poll began on Thursday, but there was no significant variation in support by day of interview. In seven polls since 2012, support for voter photo ID has averaged 62 percent while opposition has averaged 35 percent, with little change from poll to poll.

Partisans differ on photo ID, with 87 percent of Republicans favoring it and 12 percent opposing it. Among Democrats, 33 percent favor and 62 percent oppose the requirement. Among independents, 61 percent favor and 34 percent oppose the ID requirement.

Jobs
Perceptions of job creation in the state have divided the gubernatorial candidates and divide partisan voters as well. Forty-two percent of registered voters say that the state is lagging behind other states in job creation, while 37 percent say that Wisconsin is adding jobs at about the same rate. Thirteen percent say it is adding jobs faster than other states. In August, 48 percent said the state was lagging, 34 percent said it was moving at the same rate as other states and 8 percent said it was creating jobs faster than other states.

Among Democrats, 76 percent say the state is lagging in job creation while 19 percent say it is keeping up or doing better than other states. Among Republicans, 81 percent say Wisconsin is keeping up or doing better and 11 percent say it is lagging behind. Forty-nine percent of independents say the state is keeping up or better and 42 percent say it is lagging. Independents shifted the most from August, when 38 percent said keeping up or better and 50 percent said lagging. In August, 75 percent of Republicans said keeping up or better and 14 percent said lagging. Among Democrats there was virtually no change from August, when 75 percent said lagging and 19 percent said keeping up or better.

On Governor Walker’s 2010 campaign pledge to create 250,000 jobs in four years, 84 percent say the state will fall short of that number, while 11 percent believe it will be reached. When last asked in March 2014, 80 percent said the state would fall short and 13 percent thought the goal would be reached.

Among Republicans, 73 percent say that the state will fall short while 20 percent say that the goal will be reached. Ninety-four percent of Democrats say the goal will not be reached while 3 percent believe it will be. Among independents, 85 percent say the goal will not be reached, while 10 percent say it will.

Twenty-nine percent of those polled say that the jobs pledge is very important in deciding how they will vote, 35 percent say it is somewhat important, 20 percent say not very important and 15 percent say it is not at all important. Among Republicans, 10 percent say very important, 38 percent somewhat important, 27 percent not very and 24 percent not at all important. For Democrats, 54 percent say very important, 31 percent somewhat important, 10 percent not very and 4 percent not at all important. Independents fall in between, with 24 percent saying very important, 36 percent somewhat important, 23 percent not very and 15 percent not at all important.

State budget
In this September poll, 41 percent of registered voters say the state budget is in better shape than a few years ago, 25 percent say about the same and 27 percent say worse shape. In August, 45 percent said better shape, 26 percent about the same and 22 percent said worse shape. In January 2014, 49 percent said better, 26 percent the same and 20 percent said the budget was in worse shape. 

Direction of the state
Among registered voters, 54 percent say that the state is headed in the right direction while 42 percent say that the state is off on the wrong track—unchanged since the August poll.

Among registered voters, 49 percent approve of the way Walker is handing his job as governor while 46 percent disapprove and 4 percent say they don’t have an opinion. In August, 47 percent approved and 47 percent disapproved.

Images of the candidates
Burke is viewed favorably by 36 percent of registered voters and unfavorably by 35 percent, while 29 percent say they haven’t heard enough or don’t know how they feel about her. In August, 33 percent viewed her favorably, 32 percent unfavorably and 35 percent did not have an opinion.

Walker is viewed favorably by 49 percent and unfavorably by 45 percent, with 5 percent not holding an opinion. In August, he was viewed favorably by 48 percent and unfavorably by 48 percent, with 4 percent not offering an opinion.

Asked if “cares about people like you” describes Burke, 48 percent say it does while 34 percent say it does not, with 17 percent saying they don’t know. For Walker, 47 percent say this describes him while 50 percent say it does not, with 3 percent lacking an opinion. In August, 43 percent said “cares about people like you” describes Burke and 35 percent said it does not, with 21 percent unable to say. For Walker in August, 45 percent said “cares about people like you” describes him while 50 percent said it does not, with 4 percent unable to say.

When it comes to “able to get things done,” 44 percent say this describes Burke while 35 percent say it does not and 20 percent were unable to say. For Walker, 64 percent say he is someone who is able to get things done while 31 percent disagree, with 5 percent unable to say. In August, 43 percent said Burke can get things done, while 32 percent said that did not describe her and 24 percent were unable to say. For Walker in August, 68 percent saw him as able to get things done with 28 percent disagreeing and 3 percent unable to say.

Asked if Burke has been clear enough about what she would do as governor, 42 percent say she has, while 48 percent say she has not and 10 percent say they don’t know. For Walker, 57 percent say he has been clear enough, while 39 percent say he has not and 4 percent don’t know.

Attorney general candidates and issues
The candidates for attorney general are only beginning to become known to registered voters. Seventy-three percent say they haven’t heard enough or don’t have an opinion of Susan Happ, while 86 percent lack an opinion of Brad Schimel. In August, 82 percent lacked an opinion of Happ and 87 percent lacked one for Schimel. Happ is viewed favorably by 12 percent and unfavorably by 14 percent, compared to August when 12 percent were favorable and 7 percent unfavorable. For Schimel, 8 percent have a favorable view and 6 percent an unfavorable view, while in August 8 percent were favorable and 5 percent unfavorable.

At the end of his eight years as attorney general, J. B. Van Hollen is also relatively unfamiliar to registered voters: 51 percent say they don’t know enough or lack an opinion of him. Twenty-six percent have a favorable view of him and 22 percent an unfavorable view.

The question when to defend state statutes in court has been an issue both for Van Hollen as attorney general and for the candidates to succeed him. Asked if “the state attorney general should appeal when a federal court strikes down a state statute or a provision of the Wisconsin constitution or use his or her judgment as to whether an appeal is likely to be successful,” 31 percent say the attorney general should appeal while 54 percent say the attorney general should use his or her judgment as to whether an appeal is likely to be successful, with 13 percent saying they don’t know.

On the issue of legalizing use of marijuana, 46 percent support legalization while 51 percent oppose it. In March, 42 percent supported and 52 percent opposed legalization.

School voucher expansion
When asked about expanding the statewide private school voucher program, 18 percent say they favor removing limits on how many students can receive vouchers. The total is currently capped at 1,000 students (outside of Milwaukee and Racine, which have separate voucher programs). Twenty-one percent would increase the limit but keep some cap on the size of the program, while 19 percent would keep the current limit and 38 percent would eliminate the statewide program entirely. Those results change little when the question includes the statement that the cost of vouchers would come out of state support for public schools, in which case 14 percent favor unlimited voucher enrollments, 20 percent would increase the current limits but retain a cap, 22 percent would keep the current limit of 1,000 students and 38 percent would eliminate the expanded voucher program.

Health care reform
Wisconsin registered voters continue to view the new federal health care reform law unfavorably, with 50 percent having an unfavorable view and 40 percent favorable. In August, 53 percent held an unfavorable view and 36 percent favorable.

When asked what to do about the health reform law, 10 percent say keep it as it is, 50 percent say keep the law but improve it, 19 percent say repeal it and replace it with a Republican alternative and 18 percent say repeal it with no replacement. These views are little changed since March 2014, when the question was last asked.

A total of 61 percent say the state should accept federal funds to expand Medicaid coverage in the state, while 29 percent oppose accepting the expansion and 9 percent say they don’t know. In August, 58 percent supported expansion and 29 percent opposed, with 12 percent saying they didn’t know.

Transportation funding
With transportation funding facing shortfalls at both state and federal levels, voters were asked how the state should pay for transportation, road building and road maintenance. Thirty percent of registered voters would be willing to increase taxes and fees, 5 percent would continue to borrow to fund road building, 13 percent would reduce construction and maintenance and 42 percent would take money from other areas of the budget. Those areas were not specified in the question.

Kenosha casino
Fifty percent of registered voters say the governor should approve a proposed new casino in Kenosha, while 39 percent say the governor should reject that proposal and 9 percent say they don’t know. In August, 49 percent supported and 35 percent opposed the casino, with 14 percent saying they didn’t know.

John Doe investigation
In the wake of recent releases of court documents related to the John Doe investigation, 74 percent say they have heard of the investigation while 24 percent have not, unchanged since July. Of those who have heard, 59 percent say it is “just politics” while 37 percent say it is “really something serious.” In July, 54 percent said it was just politics and 42 percent said it was something serious. 

About the Marquette Law School Poll
The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive independent statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. Beginning in 2012, the poll has provided highly accurate estimates of election outcomes, in addition to gauging public opinion on a variety of major policy questions.

This poll interviewed 800 registered Wisconsin voters, by both landline and cell phone, Sept. 11-14, 2014. The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points for the full sample. The sample included 589 likely voters. The margin of error for likely voters is +/- 4.1 percentage points.

New Marquette Law School Poll finds Walker, Burke remain inside margin of error in Wisconsin governor’s race

MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School Poll finds Republican Gov. Scott Walker receiving the support of 47.5 percent of registered voters and Democratic challenger Mary Burke receiving 44.1 percent support. Another 5.5 percent say that they are undecided or that they do not know whom they will support, while fewer than 1 percent say they will vote for someone else.

Among likely voters, defined as those who say they are certain to vote in November’s election, Burke receives 48.6 percent and Walker 46.5 percent, with 2.5 percent undecided and 0.6 percent saying they will vote for someone else.

The results for both registered and likely voters are within the poll’s margin of error. The August poll interviewed 815 registered voters by landline and cell phone August 21-24. The margin of error for the full sample of registered voters is +/- 3.5 percentage points. For the sample of 609 likely voters, the margin of error is +/- 4.1 percentage points.

These results are similar to the two most recent Marquette Law School Polls, which also showed the candidates within the margin of error. In July, Walker had 45.8 percent support, with Burke at 44.8 percent, among registered voters, while Burke had 46.8 percent to Walker’s 46.3 percent among likely voters. In May, Walker was supported by 46.1 percent and Burke by 45.7 percent among registered voters; among likely voters, Walker received 47.9 percent to Burke’s 45.2 percent.

The Marquette Law School Poll reports both registered voters and the somewhat smaller subset of likely voters.

“As pollsters, we try to measure both opinions and the likelihood that voters will act on their opinions by voting,” said Charles Franklin, professor of law and public policy and director of the Marquette Law School Poll. “Some registered voters may cast a ballot who today are not certain that they will; on the other hand, even among people registered who say they are absolutely certain to vote, we know that a portion of them won’t actually do so, for turnout on election day is invariably lower than the percentage who say they won’t miss the chance. Still, the differences in involvement and enthusiasm about voting are enormous between the likely voters, who say they are certain to vote, and those who admit there is at least some chance they will stay home from the polls. The difference in vote between likely voters and all registered voters is a measure of the roles turnout and enthusiasm play in the election and tells us which party, at the moment, is enjoying greater intensity.”

In the race for attorney general, the vast majority of registered voters have yet to form opinions of the candidates. Seventy-three percent say they haven’t heard enough about Democrat Susan Happ to form an opinion, and an additional 9 percent say they don’t know if their opinion of her is favorable or unfavorable. For Republican Brad Schimel, 76 percent say they haven’t heard enough and another 11 percent say they don’t know if their opinion is favorable or not. Happ is seen favorably by 12 percent and unfavorably by 7 percent. Schimel is seen favorably by 8 percent and unfavorably by 5 percent.

When asked if they would vote for “Susan Happ, the Democrat, or Brad Schimel, the Republican,” for attorney general, 40 percent of registered voters would support Happ and 33 percent would support Schimel, with 24 percent saying they are undecided or don’t know how they will vote. Among likely voters, Happ receives the support of 42 percent and Schimel is supported by 32 percent, with 23 percent undecided or saying they don’t know how they will vote.

Jobs and personal finances
Forty-eight percent of registered voters say the state is lagging behind other states in job creation, while 34 percent say Wisconsin is adding jobs at about the same rate and 8 percent say it is adding jobs faster than other states. In July, 43 percent said the state was lagging, 42 percent said the same rate as other states and 9 percent said it was creating jobs faster than other states.

When limited to one of two choices, 73 percent think that outsourcing, “meaning when American businesses move manufacturing to other parts of the world in order to save money,” reduces jobs and wages of American workers, while 20 percent think outsourcing is “necessary for American companies to remain competitive.”

Asked if “Wisconsin government can provide economic incentives that would persuade companies not to outsource work overseas,” 55 percent believe that such incentives can persuade companies not to outsource, while 38 percent say that “business pressures leave companies little choice” but to outsource.

When asked, “All things considered, who as governor do you think would be best at helping the state create jobs?,” 45 percent say Mary Burke and 45 percent say Scott Walker.

Twenty-four percent say the recession had a major effect on their finances and that they have not yet recovered, while 33 percent say they suffered a major impact but have mostly recovered. Forty-two percent say the recession did not have a major effect on their personal finances.

Direction of the state
Among registered voters, 54 percent say the state is headed in the right direction while 42 percent say the state is off on the wrong track. Forty-five percent say the state’s budget is in better shape than a few years ago, with 26 percent saying about the same shape and 22 percent say the budget is in worse shape now. And 51 percent say that, “thinking about all the changes in state government over the past four years,” the state is better off in the long run, while 43 percent say the state is worse off.

Registered voters split in their view of how Walker is handling his job as governor, with 47 percent approving and 47 percent disapproving. Five percent say they don’t have an opinion.

Policy
Sixty-three percent favor requiring photo identification to be shown in order to vote while 32 percent oppose that.

Opinion is more evenly split on Act 10, the legislation that largely eliminated collective bargaining for public sector workers. Forty-four percent would like to see collective bargaining returned to what it was before Act 10 was passed, while 46 percent would keep the law as it is now.

Fifty-eight percent believe Wisconsin should accept federal funds to expand the Medicaid, or Badgercare, program for those whose incomes are as high as 133 percent of the poverty line. Twenty-nine percent say the state should reject the Medicaid expansion.

Forty-nine percent say the governor should approve a proposed new casino in Kenosha, while 35 percent say the governor should reject that proposal. Support is strongest in the Milwaukee media market, which includes Kenosha, with 60 percent support and 24 percent opposition. In the city of Milwaukee, support stands at 60 percent with 29 percent opposition. In the Green Bay media market, 47 percent support that proposal, with 41 percent opposed. Opposition is strongest in the Madison market, with 43 percent opposed and 40 percent in favor. The rest of the state is evenly split, with 40 percent opposed and 40 percent in favor.

Campaign finance disclosure
More than three-quarters of voters think political ads should disclose the source of the money paying for those ads. Voters were asked if they thought groups airing political ads during elections should be required to list their top donors as part of the ad. Seventy-six percent said groups should have to list their top donors while 21 percent said they should not. When the question is phrased to focus on “out of state groups” instead of simply “groups” airing ads, support for including a list of donors rose to 83 percent while opposition declined to 14 percent. These items were asked of random half-samples of respondents and each had a margin of error of +/- 5 percentage points.

Trek Bicycle
Wisconsin-based Trek Bicycle, the company founded by Mary Burke’s father, is viewed favorably by 32 percent of respondents and unfavorably by 9 percent. A substantial 46 percent haven’t heard enough and an additional 11 percent lack an opinion of the company. While Democrats, Republicans and independents are about equally aware of the company, 16 percent of Republicans now hold an unfavorable view of Trek, compared to 8 percent of independents and 2 percent of Democrats. Twenty-three percent of Republicans have a positive view, as do 36 percent of independents and 39 percent of Democrats.

Issues
Voters have an unfavorable view of the Affordable Care Act, also called “Obamacare,” by a 53 percent to 36 percent favorable margin. When last asked in March 2014, 50 percent had an unfavorable view and 39 percent had a favorable view of the federal law.

A majority, 57 percent, support increasing the minimum wage, while 36 percent oppose an increase.

Fifty-nine percent say tax cuts do more for the wealthy, 22 percent say they do more for the middle class and 8 percent say tax cuts do more for the poor.

Common core
Despite recent debates about the “common core” standards for schools, 26 percent say they have heard nothing at all about them, and another 14 percent say they have only heard the name. In January, 36 percent had head nothing and 10 percent had heard only the name.

In August, 28 percent say they have heard quite a bit about common core, up from 20 percent in January, and 32 percent say they have heard “some,” compared to 34 percent in January.

Among those who have at least heard of the “common core,” 7 percent have a very favorable and 43 percent a favorable opinion, while 22 percent an unfavorable and 12 percent a very unfavorable opinion. In January, 5 percent were very favorable, 45 percent favorable, 26 percent unfavorable and 8 percent very unfavorable.

Among Republicans, 41 percent have a favorable or very favorable opinion while 41 percent have an unfavorable or very unfavorable view. Among independents, 47 percent come in at favorable or very favorable and 39 percent at unfavorable or very unfavorable. Democrats divide 65 percent favorable and 22 percent unfavorable.

Gender and the vote
Among registered voters, women support Burke over Walker by a 49-42 percent margin, while men favor Walker 54 to 39 percent. Among likely voters, women support Burke by 56 percent to 38 percent for Walker, while men favor Walker 57 percent to 40 percent for Burke.

In the attorney general’s race, among registered voters, women favor Happ by 44 percent to 26 percent for Schimel, with 27 percent undecided or saying they don’t know how they will vote; 40 percent of men favor Schimel and 34 percent favor Happ, with 21 percent saying they are undecided or don’t know. Among likely voters, 48 percent of women support Happ while 25 percent support Schimel, with 25 percent undecided or saying they don’t know how they would vote, while Schimel is supported by 40 percent of men to 36 percent for Happ, with 21 percent undecided or saying they don’t know.

Personal perceptions
Burke has become better known to voters since July, although 35 percent still say they haven’t heard enough about her or don’t know if they have a favorable or unfavorable view of her. In July, that number was 49 percent.

Burke receives ratings in August of 33 percent favorable and 32 percent unfavorable, compared to July’s 26 percent favorable and 24 percent unfavorable.

Only 4 percent of voters did not give a rating for Walker. He is seen favorably by 48 percent and unfavorably by 48 percent. In July, 45 percent had a favorable view and 47 percent unfavorable.

Voters were asked if the phrase “cares about people like you” describes Walker and Burke. Forty-five percent say that “cares about people like you” describes Walker, while 50 percent say that that does not describe him and 4 percent say that they do not know. For Burke, 43 percent say that the phrase describes her, while 35 percent say that it does not and 21 percent are not able to say if this describes her. Those results are little different from July, when 45 percent said “cares about you” described Walker and 49 percent said it did not, and 38 percent said it described Burke while 31 percent said it did not.

When asked if “able to get things done” describes Walker, 68 percent say it does, while 28 percent say it does not, with 3 percent unable to say. For Burke, 43 percent say “able to get things done” describes her, while 32 percent say it does not and 24 percent were unable to say. In the July results, Walker was seen as able to get things done by 66 percent, with 29 percent saying “no” for him, while Burke got responses of 36 percent “yes” to 28 percent “no.” In July, 4 percent did not know if this described Walker and 35 percent did not know if it described Burke.

Voter involvement
Seventy-five percent of respondents say they are absolutely certain to vote in November, up from 68 percent in the July poll. Excitement about the election remains unchanged, with 53 percent describing themselves as “very excited” about voting, compared to 54 percent in July.

Seventy-seven percent of Republicans and 82 percent of Democrats say they are absolutely certain to vote this fall, while 68 percent of independents say this. When asked how enthusiastic they are about voting in November, 59 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of independents say “very enthusiastic.”

Republicans make up 27 percent of registered voters in the August sample, Democrats 31 percent and independents 38 percent, while among the likely voter sample Republicans are 28 percent, Democrats 34 percent and independents 34 percent. The long-term average for 19,402 registered voters included in 23 Marquette Law School polls since the start of 2012 is 27 percent Republican, 31 percent Democrat and 38 percent independent. For likely voters, the long-term average is 29 percent Republican, 32 percent Democrat and 36 percent independent.

In July, Republicans were 24 percent of registered voters and 25 percent of likely voters. Democrats were 30 percent of registered voters and 32 percent of likely voters. Independents were 41 percent of registered voters and 38 percent of likely voters.

Comparing likely and less-likely voters
Likely voters, those saying they are certain to vote in November, are quite different in their political involvement from voters who say they are less than certain to vote.

Among likely voters, 69 percent say they follow politics “most of the time,” while only 27 percent of less likely voters say the same. A full 66 percent of likely voters say they are very enthusiastic about voting, but only 14 percent of less likely voters say the same. Among likely voters, 26 percent say they haven’t heard enough or don’t know if they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Mary Burke, while among less likely voters 61 percent did not have an opinion. For Scott Walker, 3 percent of likely voters and 8 percent of less likely voters failed to have an opinion. Among likely voters, 20 percent lacked an opinion of the Tea Party but 46 percent of less likely voters did not know enough about the Tea Party to express an opinion.

Less likely voters are not consistently more liberal or conservative in their views of specific policy issues compared to likely voters. Less likely voters are a bit more unfavorable toward the federal health care law than are likely voters (57 percent to 52 percent), but a bit more in favor of the state’s accepting federal funding to expand Medicaid (61 percent to 57 percent). Less likely voters are more supportive of approving a casino in Kenosha (56 percent to 47 percent). And less likely voters are more supportive of raising the minimum wage (64 percent) than are likely voters (54 percent).

Less likely voters are much more inclined to say the state is headed in the right direction than are likely voters (64 percent to 50 percent), but show no difference in approval of Walker’s handing of his job as governor (47 percent approval for both groups). Less likely voters are more undecided about their choice for governor (14 percent vs. 2 percent among likely voters). But among the less likely, Walker is supported by 50 percent and Burke by 31 percent. Burke holds a 2.1 percentage point advantage among likely voters.

About the Marquette Law School Poll
The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive independent statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. Beginning in 2012, the poll has provided highly accurate estimates of election outcomes, in addition to gauging public opinion on a variety of major policy questions.

This poll interviewed 815 registered Wisconsin voters, by both landline and cell phone, August 21-24, 2014. The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points for the full sample. The sample included 609 likely voters. The margin of error for likely voters is +/- 4.1 percentage points. The entire questionnaire, full results and breakdowns by demographic groups are available at http://law.marquette.edu/poll.

New Marquette Law School Poll finds Walker, Burke tied in Wisconsin governor’s race

MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School Poll finds that the Wisconsin governor’s race remains a dead heat, with Republican Gov. Scott Walker receiving the support of 46 percent of registered voters and Democratic challenger Mary Burke receiving 45 percent support. Eight percent say that they are undecided or that they do not know whom they would support. Fewer than 1 percent say they will vote for someone else.

These results closely resemble the most recent Marquette Law School Poll, in May, which showed both candidates receiving the support of 46 percent of registered voters.

Among likely voters, i.e., those who say they are certain to vote in November’s election, Burke receives 47 percent and Walker 46 percent.

The results for both registered and likely voters are within the poll’s margin of error. The July poll interviewed 804 registered voters by landline and cell phone July 17-20. The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points. For the sample of 549 likely voters, the margin of error is +/- 4.3 percentage points.

In May, Walker received 48 percent to Burke’s 45 percent among likely voters, which was also within the margin of error of that poll.

Partisans remain solidly behind their candidates, with 93 percent of Republicans supporting Walker and 3 percent backing Burke. Among Democrats, Burke receives 88 percent while Walker receives 9 percent. Independents are evenly divided, with 44 percent supporting Burke and 45 percent supporting Walker. Independents in May split 49 percent for Walker and 40 percent for Burke, while Republicans backed Walker 94-3 and Democrats went for Burke 87-8.

Demographic divisions

Women support Burke over Walker by a 48-41 percent margin, while men favor Walker 51 to 41 percent. That is virtually unchanged from May, when women favored Burke 49-41 and men supported Walker 52-42.

The youngest voters, age 18-29, favor Burke over Walker by 48 to 35 percent. Those age 30-44 split evenly, 46 to 46 percent, while Walker’s strongest support comes among those 45-59 where he leads 51 to 42 percent. Voters over 60 split evenly, 45 percent for Burke and 46 percent for Walker.

Married voters favor Walker by a 54 to 38 percent margin, while those never married favor Burke by 53 to 34 percent. Those who are widowed, divorced, or separated favor Burke 53 to 38.

The gender gap appears within groups by marital status as well. Married men favor Walker 60-34, while married women prefer Walker 49-42. Among never-married men, Burke holds a 48-40 advantage, while never-married women prefer Burke 60-23. Among those widowed, divorced, or separated, men prefer Burke 50-44 and women prefer Burke 55-34.

State’s direction and issues

Approval of Walker’s handing of his job as governor stands at 47 percent approval and 48 percent disapproval. In May, approval was 49 percent, with 46 percent disapproving. In March, 47 percent approved and 47 percent disapproved.

Fifty-four percent of voters say that Wisconsin is headed in the right direction, compared to 41 percent who say that it is off on the wrong track. This is virtually unchanged from May’s 52 to 42 percentage point split and March’s 54-42 split.

Forty-five percent say the state’s budget is in better shape now than a few years ago, while 28 percent say it is in about the same shape and 22 percent say the budget is in worse shape. In January, 49 percent said the budget was in better shape, 26 percent said about the same, and 20 percent said it was in worse shape. In May, 48 percent said better, 22 percent said the same, and 25 percent said worse.

Nine percent of voters say Wisconsin is creating jobs faster than other states, 42 percent say the state is creating jobs at about the same rate as other states, and 43 percent say Wisconsin is lagging behind other states. In May, 13 percent said the state was creating jobs faster, 38 percent said about the same, and 43 percent said lagging behind.

Support for increasing the minimum wage claimed 56 percent, as against 39 percent opposition. When last asked in March, 63 percent supported increasing the minimum wage, while 33 percent opposed an increase.

Opinion on same-sex marriage is little changed in the wake of a June federal trial court ruling striking down a Wisconsin constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Fifty-six percent of voters say they would vote to repeal the ban if they could, while 37 percent would keep it. When asked in March, before the court ruling, 59 percent said they would repeal the amendment while 36 percent would keep it in place.

Personal perceptions

Burke still remains unfamiliar to nearly half of Wisconsin voters, as 49 percent say they either haven’t heard enough about her or don’t know if they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of her. In May, the number was 51 percent. At the launch of her candidacy in October 2013, 70 percent were unable to rate her.

Burke receives ratings of 26 percent favorable and 24 percent unfavorable in July, nearly the same as May’s 27 percent favorable and 22 percent unfavorable result.

Only 8 percent of voters did not give a rating for Walker. He is seen favorably by 45 percent and unfavorably by 47 percent. In May, 47 percent had a favorable view and 48 percent unfavorable.

Voters were asked if the phrase “cares about people like you” describes Walker and Burke. Forty-five percent say that “cares about people like you” describes Walker, while 49 percent say that that does not describe him and 5 percent say that they do not know. For Burke, 38 percent say that the phrase describes her while 31 percent say that it does not. Thirty percent are not able to say if this describes her. Those results are little different from May, when 44 percent said “cares about you” described Walker and 52 percent said it did not, and, for Burke, 39 percent said it described her while 29 percent said it did not.

When asked if “able to get things done” describes Walker, 66 percent say it does, while 29 percent say it does not, with 4 percent unable to say. For Burke, 36 percent say “able to get things done” describes her, while 28 percent say it does not and 35 percent were unable to say. The May results were also quite similar, with Walker seen as able to get things done by 68 percent, with 28 percent saying “no” for him, while Burke got responses of 36 percent “yes” to 26 percent “no.” In May, 4 percent did not know if this described Walker and 38 percent did not know if it described Burke.

John Doe investigation

In the wake of the release of court documents concerning an investigation by prosecutors into possible campaign finance law violations, known as a “John Doe” proceeding, 75 percent of voters say they have heard or read about the investigation while 24 percent say they have not. Of those who have heard, 54 percent say it is “just more politics” while 42 percent say it is “really something serious.” In October 2012, 76 percent had heard of a “John Doe” investigation at that time, with 46 percent saying it was “just more politics” and 45 percent saying it was “really something serious.”

Voter involvement

In the July poll, 68 percent of registered voters say they are absolutely certain to vote in November. In contrast, before the November 2012 election, 88 percent said they were similarly certain to vote. Midterm elections consistently show lower turnout than presidential years. In 2010, 2.1 million voters went to the polls, compared to 3 million in November 2012.

Seventy-two percent of Republicans and 75 percent of Democrats say they are absolutely certain to vote this fall, while 63 percent of independents say this. When asked how enthusiastic they are about voting in November, 60 percent of Republicans, 56 percent of Democrats, and 50 percent of independents say “very enthusiastic.”

The parties and campaigns have already begun to contact voters. One in three voters, 33 percent, say they have been contacted by phone, in person or by mail in the last month. Of those who have been contacted, 14 percent say they were contacted only by Democrats, 25 percent say only by Republicans and 53 percent say they were reached by both parties.

Republicans were most likely to be contacted by only the Republican party, 35 percent, or by both parties, 49 percent, with only 7 percent of Republicans saying only the Democrats contacted them. Democrats, in contrast, were about equally likely to be contacted by both parties, with 27 percent saying only the Democrats contacted them, 29 percent saying only the Republicans, and 42 percent saying both parties had been in contact.

Independents are much more likely to be contacted by both parties, with 64 percent reporting such contact, while 12 percent said only the Democrats had contacted them and 18 percent saying only the Republicans. Of those who have been contacted, regardless of party, 75 percent say they are certain to vote, while 65 percent of those who have not been contacted say they are certain to vote.

Party affiliations

In the July poll, people who identified themselves as Republicans made up 24 percent of the sample, people saying they are Democrats 30 percent and those labeling themselves independents 41 percent. In May, Republicans were 24 percent, Democrats 32 percent and independents 41 percent. In eight statewide Marquette Law School polls since January 2013, Republicans have averaged 26 percent, Democrats 30 percent and independents 40 percent. Partisanship was slightly higher for both parties in 2012, when, over Marquette Law School’s 14 polls, Republicans averaged 28 percent, Democrats 32 percent and independents 37 percent.

Among likely voters in the July poll, Republicans made up 25 percent, Democrats 32 percent and independents 38 percent. In May, likely voters were composed of 26 percent Republicans, 31 percent Democrats and 39 percent independents.

About the Marquette Law School Poll

The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive independent statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. Beginning in 2012, the poll has provided highly accurate estimates of election outcomes, in addition to gauging public opinion on a variety of major policy questions.

This poll interviewed 804 registered Wisconsin voters, by both landline and cell phone, July 17-20, 2014. The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points for the full sample. The sample included 549 likely voters. The margin of error for likely voters is +/- 4.3 percentage points.