We’ll leave it to others to analyze the results of the latest Marquette Law School Poll and what they tell us about the April 5 presidential primary. Instead, let’s focus for a few moments on the other favorite political pastime in Wisconsin: Debating the fortunes of Governor Scott Walker.
His job approval rating remains well under water. But is it possible that the governor could be smiling, even just a little, after today’s release of the Law School survey?
At first glance, it’s yet another poll where Walker fares poorly. Fifty-three percent of registered Wisconsin voters disapprove of Walker’s job performance. Only 43 percent approve. But the numbers are finally showing signs of improvement for Walker. He hit a low of 37 percent job approval last fall, shortly after his presidential campaign flamed out. Since then, his job approval number has hovered around 38 or 39 percent in Law School polling. But the new survey shows Walker back in the low 40’s. Nothing to shout about, but progress in what most observers see as a long, hard slog back to more solid political ground.
The poll offers another encouraging sign for Walker. Some observers, especially those with Democratic leanings, predicted the governor’s political struggles could affect the outcome of next week’s Supreme Court race. Walker appointed Justice Rebecca Bradley to the state’s highest court last fall, when his job approval was at its lowest point. It was his third appointment of Bradley to a judicial opening in three years. Bradley’s opponent, Appeals Court Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg, repeatedly has linked Bradley to the governor, with television ads echoing that theme. Despite that, Bradley holds a slim lead over Kloppenburg in the latest Law School survey, 41 to 36 percent among likely voters. Eighteen percent of those surveyed still haven’t decided, so the final outcome in the race is far from certain. But so far, the Walker brand hasn’t hurt Bradley in the way some Democrats hoped.
Which brings us to another important number in the new Law School Poll: 80 percent. That’s the job approval rating Walker gets from likely voters in the GOP primary. And among those who politically identify as Republicans, Walker’s approval is even higher: 91 percent. Walker has clearly lost the support of some independent voters, but he remains popular with the party faithful. Which is why Walker’s endorsement of Ted Cruz in the Wisconsin primary race is a boon for Cruz. The governor may always be the guy Democrats love to hate, but the latest Marquette Law School Poll confirms that he remains a force in Republican politics in Wisconsin.