Walker Leading in Wisconsin Republican Nomination Race, but His Job Approval Falls

Still in the lead, but with cause for concern on the home front. That was the overall picture for Gov. Scott Walker as the Marquette Law School Poll on Thursday released its first wave of results on political issues since April.

For Hillary Clinton, frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for president, the picture was: Still in the lead, but with some cause for concern on the Wisconsin front.

And for Democratic US Senate candidate Russ Feingold and Republican incumbent Senator Ron Johnson, the picture was of a race that is likely to end up being tight and intensely fought.

Walker remained the presidential candidate of choice for Wisconsin Republicans and independents leaning toward voting Republican. But, according to the poll, he had the support of 40 percent of the state’s Republican voters in April and the support of 25 percent in August. In the intervening time, the field of Republican candidates grew larger, there were a lot of developments in the campaign, and, polls of national opinion and opinion in key primary states indicated Walker had slipped in popularity in recent weeks.

But Walker’s 25 percent support still led the Republican field among Wisconsin voters, with Ben Carson at 13 percent, Donald Trump 9 percent, Ted Cruz 8 percent, Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio each 7 percent, and Jeb Bush 6 percent.  

But opinion of how Walker is doing his job as governor was decidedly more negative than positive. In   2012, 2013 and 2014, Walker’s approval rate generally was steady around 50 percent or slightly lower. But in the April round of Marquette Law School polling, his approval rate fell to 41%, with 56% disapproving of his job performance. And in the new round, it slipped to 39% approval, with 57% disapproving.

In the race for the Democratic nomination for president, Clinton was the favorite of 44 percent of Wisconsin Democrats or independents who lean Democratic, with Bernie Sanders the choice of 32 percent and Joe Biden the choice of 12 percent. But her support was down from the 58 percent figure in April’s poll. In April, Elizabeth Warren, who is not running, had 14 percent support, and Biden had 12 percent support. Sanders wasn’t included in the April poll.

In match-ups against several leading Republican candidates, Clinton won, but, where there was comparable data, her leads were a bit smaller than in April. In the new poll, Clinton lead 47-42 over Bush, 52-42 over Walker, 50-38 over Cruz, and 51-35 over Trump.

In the April poll, Feingold had an eye-catching 16 point lead, 54-38, over Johnson in a race between a former senator and a current senator. In the August poll, Feingold led 47-42, a sign that a close race lies ahead. Among the interesting details in the results was the continuing high percentage of voters (in the upper 30s) who didn’t express an opinion on whether they had favorable or unfavorable views of Johnson.

In other poll results, the state’s new ban on almost all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy drew 48 percent support and 44 percent opposition; the US Supreme Court’s decision approving gay marriage was supported by 52 percent of those polled, with 40 percent opposed; and 58 percent of those polled said the $250 million reduction in state aid to the University of Wisconsin system could hurt education quality, while 38 percent thought the system could absorb the cut.

For other results and more detail, click here. And to watch the “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” session at which poll director Charles Franklin discussed the results, click here.


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