New Poll Gives Vivid Look into Polarized Political Perceptions

Once again, a lesson in the two worlds of Wisconsin. That’s one way to describe the new round of results from the Marquette Law School Poll released on Wednesday (June 28, 2017).

In one world, Donald Trump is doing well as president. In another, he is not. In one, he is keeping his promises. In another he is not. Opinions on Governor Scott Walker or Senators Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin or House Speaker Paul Ryan? Split evenly. In all of these instances, Republicans are firmly on one side, Democrats firmly on the other. And the divisions  generally show little change since March, the time of the most recent prior Law School Poll.

How sharp is the divide? A few results:

Overall, 41 percent of the 800 Wisconsin registered voters who were interviewed approved of the way Trump is doing his job, while 51 percent disapproved. But among those identifying themselves as Republican or leaning Republican, Trump’s work was approved by 85 percent, with 8 percent disapproving. Among Democrats, 3 percent approved of how Trump was doing as president while 95 percent disapproved.

The percentage overall who disapproved of Trump was the same as the 41 percent in the poll in March. The disapproval figure in March was 47 percent, compared to 51 percent now, a change that occurred as the percentage with no opinion went down from 11 to 7.

Professor Charles Franklin, director of the poll, said at the “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at which results were unveiled that even Democratic President Barack Obama, as polarizing as he was, generally had approval ratings among Republicans of 10 or 12 percent, compared to the 3 percent rating for Trump among Democrats.

The Republican/Democratic schism showed up in other questions.

Do you approve of Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate change accord? Overall, 34 percent approved and 54 disapproved. Among Republicans, 65 percent approved of withdrawing. Among Democrats, it was 2 percent.

Is Trump keeping his promises overall? Republicans, 86% yes, Democrats 84% no. Is Trump someone you would describe as honest? Republicans, 69% yes. Democrats, 95% no.

What should be the outcome of the heated debate about changing national health care laws? Among Republicans, 63 percent favor repealing and replacing the 2010 law often referred to as Obamacare, and 8 percent favored repealing it and not replacing it. Among Democrats, only 2 percent favored repealing and replacing, 2 percent favored repealing and not replacing, and 91 percent either leaving the law alone or keeping it but improving it.

Opinions among those identifying themselves as independents fell overall somewhere in the middle of the Republican and Democratic divide.

When it came to several prominent Wisconsin politicians, opinion was (you guessed it) evenly divided.

For Walker, that was actually good news. Overall, 48 percent approved of how he is doing his job and 48 percent disapproved. But that is the first time since October 2014 that Walker’s approval rating was not lower than his disapproval rating.

For Ryan, disapproval has grown substantially nationwide and it went up (but not as dramatically) in Wisconsin. In this poll, 44 percent had favorable views of him and 44 percent had unfavorable views. Last October, 45 percent had favorable opinions of Ryan and 38 percent unfavorable.

Baldwin the Democratic senator who races a re-election race in 2018, had an approval rate of 38 percent – and a disapproval rate of 38 percent. The work of Republican Johnson, who won re-election in 2016, was approved by 39 percent and disapproved by 32 percent.

Polarization has been a crucial and growing aspect of politics in Wisconsin and nationwide in recent years. It seems often as if people have not only differing opinions but differing views of facts and realities.

Given how politics have unfolded, the intensity of divisions shown in the new poll results is not a surprise. But it makes the new results an important and vivid snapshot of political reality.

For the full results of the poll, click here. To watch the video of Franklin and Gousha talking about the results, click here.


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