It is still a bit over nine months until Wisconsin’s election for governor in November and the major parts of the campaigns, especially the expected heavy rounds of television advertising, are far from beginning. So Professor Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll, cautioned against reading too much into the first round of polling in 2014 as results were released Monday.
That said, the results attracted attention in political and news circles across Wisconsin and beyond when they showed Gov. Scott Walker, the Republican incumbent, had a six percentage point lead over Mary Burke, the only major Democratic challenger. In late October, the Law School poll found Walker was leading Burke by two percentage points.
Franklin noted that in both polls, Walker was the choice of 47% of those polled. However, in October, Burke got support from 45% and in the new results, based on polling from Jan. 20 to 23, she came in at 41%.
Poll results showed trends that might help Walker, including small but notable increases in the percentage of voters who think Wisconsin is headed in the right direction. But Burke might be helped by results showing only 14% of voters think Walker will fulfill his promise in the 2010 election campaign that 250,000 new jobs would be created during the four-year term.
Burke remains a largely undefined figure across the state. Both in October and in January, the Law School Poll found that 70% of voters did not have an opinion about her. However, among the rest of voters who did have an opinion, Burke was viewed favorably in October by 17%, while in January the figure was 12%. Well over 90% of voters have an opinion on Walker and, as has been true throughout the two years of Law School polls, the results are sharply divided. In the new poll, Walker’s job performance was rated favorably by 51% and unfavorably by 42%. In October, the figures were 49% positive and 47% negative.
President Barack Obama’s job approval ratings fell from October to January, which Franklin suggested is connected to problems with the roll-out of the new national health care law. Support for the law also fell during that period.
The poll tested Wisconsin opinion on possible tax cuts, job creation, the Common Core standards for what children should be taught, the Kenosha casino proposal, and other policy matters.
The full results may be found by clicking here.