Rally ’round the flag? It depends on the flag

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Nationally, Donald Trump’s approval rating has improved by a few points since mid-March. This could be due to a so-called “Rally ’round the flag effect,” in which, traditionally, a wartime president receives an upswell of support during times of national crisis. The archetypal example is George W. Bush after 9/11. His approval rating rose nearly 40 points, basically overnight.

Trump’s approval rating improved not at all in the latest Marquette Law Poll. In late February we found 48% of registered voters approved of his job and 48% disapproved. This month, we find 48% approve and 49% disapprove–not even close to a meaningful change. Given the dramatic results found elsewhere in the poll this could seem surprising. Are Wisconsinites so polarized that nothing can change their minds about politicians?

Not necessarily. The graph below shows the share of respondents who approved of Donald Trump’s job as President and Tony Evers’ job as governor in late February compared to the end of March.

  • Independents handed Evers and Trump identical boosts. Each politician grew 9 points more popular.
  • Democrats gave Evers a 10-point boost. Their dismal approval rating for Trump remained unchanged.
  • Republicans have the most interesting trend. They increased their support of Evers by 19 points, from 20% approving to 39%. Their approval of Trump actually declined from 95% to 88%. (This is right around the edge of the margin of error). Possibly explanations include statistical noise, dissatisfaction with his handling of the pandemic, or a natural reversion from Trump’s peak intra-party support during the impeachment trial.

It seems Wisconsin voters are rallying around the flag; just in this case, it’s the Wisconsin flag.

Coronavirus pandemic breaks through Wisconsin’s partisan divide

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Pollsters and political observers of all stripes in the Trump era have grown used to the strong role party identification plays in shaping Americans’ perceptions of reality. To give one example, in October 2016 just 14% of Wisconsin Republicans said the economy had gotten better over the previous year. Just a few months later, after Donald Trump’s inauguration, 59% said it had. The proposed border wall with Mexico, the Mueller Report, Ukraine, impeachment–all have had the same bifurcated public response.

The current coronavirus pandemic is different. Majorities of all Wisconsin’s partisan groups are following the outbreak closely, are very concerned about the epidemic, and support the steps taken by state and local leaders thus far. There is a gap between Democrats and Republicans, but compared to the issues mentioned above, the gap is small.

The discussion below combines data from the Marquette Law School Poll conducted March 24-29 along with open-ended responses from 200 online panelists selected to match Wisconsin’s demographic makeup. These responses were collected over the same time period as the telephone poll. You can view all of the results from both surveys at https://law.marquette.edu/poll/category/results-and-data/.

Concern about the virus’ spread

Ninety-nine percent of Republicans, 97% of Independents, and 100% of Democrats are following the coronavirus outbreak at least “somewhat closely.”

How closely are you following the news about coronavirus?
Party ID Very closely Somewhat closely Not very closely Not following at all n
Republican 74 25 1 0 236
Independent 70 27 2 1 316
Democrat 87 13 0 0 255

Democrats are the most likely to be “very concerned” about an epidemic in the United States, but Republicans and Independents aren’t dismissing the risk either. Ninety percent of Republicans are at least “somewhat concerned,” compared with 92% of Independents and 99% of Democrats.

How concerned are you about a coronavirus epidemic here in the United States?
Party ID Very concerned Somewhat concerned Not very concerned Not concerned at all Don’t know n
Republican 56 34 8 3 0 236
Independent 61 31 6 2 1 316
Democrat 87 12 1 0 0 255

Democrats are also the most worried about personally experiencing COVID-19. But again, Independents and Republicans still express high levels of concern; 64% of each group are at least “somewhat concerned.”

Taking into consideration both your risk of contracting it and the seriousness of the illness, how worried are you personally about experiencing coronavirus?
Party ID Very worried Somewhat worried Not very worried Not worried at all Don’t know n
Republican 28 36 20 17 0 236
Independent 22 42 24 11 0 316
Democrat 44 42 10 4 0 255

Nearly every month, the Marquette Poll asks about 200 Wisconsinites to answer some free response questions online. Often we ask, “what do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?” Usually, responses vary widely but not this time. More than 2/3rds of respondents volunteered something about the current pandemic, including equal shares of Democrats and Republicans.

Here are a few of their responses

an under-30 woman from Waukesha County, Independent

Most important problem: “Right now I think the important problem that this country is facing is the Corona virus.”

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “Well all of the part time workers in my family has been laid of temporarily so there’s no income from some of our family members.”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “Honestly I can’t even say what they should do”

a woman in her 40s from Milwaukee County, Democrat

Most important problem: “Coronavirus and the confusion of how to handle it”

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “My daughter and I have been in the house since [redacted] because I am a teacher and she is a student where schools have been closed. We have done what we needed to do to live. We only shop for necessities once a week. I watch the updates on CNN everyday. I am concerned about returning to work and sending my daughter back to school in weeks since the doctors (experts) don’t share the same mindset as the one currently overseeing the US.”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “The state and local government should continue to pay attention to data and make decisions based on data and not notions from the federal government”

a woman in her 60s from Ozaukee County, leans Republican

Most important problem: “The effects of the Covid-19 on people and the economy.”

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “We are self isolating and making minimal trips to stores.”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “Delay the spring primary in WI. Can’t limit gatherings to 10 people and then have a primary where hundreds of people will come plus exposure to the poll workers. WI governor has been a leader in sheltering in place. But, can’t have it both ways with sheltering in place AND a primary election.”

a man in his 60s from Waukesha County, Independent

Most important problem: “A lack of civility = a lack of God individually and as a society”

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “Only not being able to meet together with other family members and with other believers.”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “Not restrict the financial ability of the population and certainly NOT engage in election tampering (i.e. messing around with date of voting in person)!!!”

Many people’s lives have already changed

Many people in Wisconsin have already begun paying a steep economic cost for the state’s social isolation measures. We find that 9% of respondents have already lost a job or been laid off. A quarter have at least one family member who has lost a job. Work reductions are even more common. A fifth (21%) of respondents are working fewer hours due to the coronavirus outbreak. Twenty-six percent are being required to work from home.

Only 21% of Wisconsinites say none of these things have happened to them or their family. There is no difference in support for the state’s mandatory social distancing measures between people whose families have been affected this way and those who have thus far escaped unscathed. Even among those who have personally lost their jobs or had hours reduced, 82% say the state’s actions have been an appropriate response.

Here is what some Wisconsin voters had to say.

an under-30 woman from Racine County, Republican

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “We are without jobs and our whole life seems like it has been cancelled.”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “quarantine”

a man in his 30s from Waushara County, Democrat

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “We are isolated with our family, working from home with limited contact to the outside world. Where we are fortunate to have jobs, it’s been difficult at times without outside contact.”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “I think they should keep people quarantined, but take steps to ensure they have adequate healthcare and that their economic needs are being met.”

a woman in her 50s from Shawano County, leans Democrat

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “I was working 3 jobs.. and now I am unemployed. My nephew who lives here just got laid off”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “Provide assistance for mortgages, utilities and quicker unemployment”

a woman in her 40s from Washington County, Republican

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “yes we are all at home and some lost jobs”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “not sure”

a woman in her 30s from Winnebago County, Democrat

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “The isolation is causing emotional turmoil and we are suffering money-wise.”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “I’m not sure.”

a man in his 30s from Kenosha County, Republican

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “Yes we are forced to work from home and to stay home all week.”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “I totally agree with their decision for them to mandate everyone staying home.”

a man in his 70s from Milwaukee County, Republican

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “we feel locked up and fell like we are living in a communist country”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “ask people to be cautious but not demand stay at home or shut downs”

Support for government measures is strong

More than 8-in-10 Republicans and Independents as well as 95% of Democrats support the state’s mandatory social distancing measures. Thirteen percent of Republicans, 15% of Independents, and 2% of Democrats call these decisions an “overreaction.” Essentially the same numbers of each group agree that “the state or federal government should have the authority to limit public gatherings and store hours for public health emergencies.”

Do you think the decision to close schools and businesses, and to restrict the size of public gatherings is an appropriate response to the coronavirus outbreak or is it an overreaction that will do more harm than good?
Party ID Appropriate response Overreaction Don’t know Refused n
Republican 83 13 3 1 236
Independent 82 15 3 0 316
Democrat 95 2 2 0 255

Tony Evers’ approval rating now stands at 65%, up from 51% a month ago. The improvement has come from all partisan groups with the biggest increase coming from Republicans (+19).

Here are a few characteristic responses:

an under-30 woman from Winnebago County, leans Republican

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “I am constantly stressed. I am pregnant, and work in healthcare. Both my husband and I are going to work everyday. We are both afraid of what the future holds for us and our child.”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “Keep up with the social isolation. For one month keep everyone on the ‘safer at home’ plan. I work in healthcare, I think this will work to flatten the curve and keep our supplies up as much as we can.”

a man in his 60s from Brown County, Democrat

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “I am currently working from home and under quarantine and my family is stressed out and bored.”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “They should let the health experts who know what they are doing handle it and let the president do his job.”

a woman in her 30s from Milwaukee County, Republican

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “totally affected. I was diagnosed with a [health condition] in late November and have been out of work due to being diagnosed with [cancer] back in [redacted] and was finally getting better and was to start back to work [redacted] and due to the outbreak and my current [health condition] was advised by my doctor that I would not be able to go back to work on that date. so just when I thought I was going to get my life back coronavirus took that opportunity away from me.”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “exactly what they are doing! keep people home and safe. the less opportunity there is for it to spread the sooner it will pass and we can all get back to our normal day to day.”

Hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites have filed initial unemployment claims in the last several weeks. Our data suggests that almost 10% of Wisconsin registered voters had lost a job when we interviewed them, and even more are missing income from reduced working hours. Despite this, 44% of registered voters still expect the economy to get better next year; 34% expect it to get worse. Fifty-nine percent still say their families’ are “living comfortably,” compared with 30% “just getting by” and 10% “struggling to make ends meet.” If much of the country’s economy remains closed as expected over the next month or more, these numbers will surely worsen. As our open-ended interviews show, the pandemic is already harming Wisconsinites in profound ways. Despite (or perhaps because of) this, Wisconsin enters the crisis with more agreement about the threat and more unity about the sacrifices needed to combat it than any other period in recent memory.

Gender, Party ID, and the Wisconsin Primary

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The gender balance of the parties in Wisconsin is different than during recent past presidential elections. A significant number of men have changed their partisanship, shifting from the Democrats to the Republicans. Wisconsin women’s preferences haven’t systematically changed.

During the period 2012 through 2016, male registered voters in Wisconsin split 48% Republican – 42% Democratic (this includes independents who lean to a party). Since 2016, the balance has been 53% Republican compared to 36% Democratic. Women have remained a consistent 52-53% Democrat and 38% Republican.

This shift has had two main consequences. First, the relative size of the Democratic party has declined. From 2012-16, Democrats (including leaners) made up 48% of all Wisconsin registered voters; 43% were Republicans. Now, the Marquette Law Poll finds an even more narrowly divided electorate–44% Democrat and 45% Republican. Second, the Wisconsin Democratic party has become proportionally more female. Fifty-eight percent of self-identified Wisconsin Democrats were women in 2012-16. This has grown to 62% in the years since then.

Female Democratic primary voters have somewhat different preferences than their male counterparts. This graph below shows the support for each candidate from our February 2020 poll of Wisconsin women and men who intend to vote in the Democratic presidential primary in April.

Substantial gender gaps are apparent for some candidates, including Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, and Elizabeth Warren. But the margins of error are inevitably quite large due to the small subsample sizes of a single poll.

In order to maximize cases, the next graph pools all Marquette Law Poll surveys from August 2019 through February 2020. This months-long average does not reflect the most current levels of support for each candidate, but the direction of the gender differences remains the same. Elizabeth Warren is clearly more popular with women (18% support compared with 12% from men). Likewise, Bernie Sanders is more popular with male Democratic primary voters (25% compared to 18% among women). Amy Klobuchar and Joe Biden might be more popular with women, but the differences are small. Tulsi Gabbard receives support from about 3% of male Democratic primary voters and 0% of female voters. Pete Buttigieg’s support is the most evenly divided between men and women of any active candidate.

Milwaukee traffic accidents reach a new high in 2019, growing 65% since 2011

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A recent article by the Wisconsin Policy Forum details a disturbing increase in auto deaths among Wisconsin African Americans.

From 2013 to 2018, the motor vehicle crash fatality rate for black, non-Hispanic Wisconsinites nearly doubled on an age-adjusted basis, according to data from the federal Centers for Disease Control (see Figure 1). In raw numbers, motor vehicle deaths for black Wisconsinites increased from 31 in 2013 to 39 in 2014, 56 in 2015, and 62 in 2016. They hit a high of 79 in 2017.

This trend in fatal crashes coincides with a significant and ongoing increase in the total number of traffic accidents occurring in the City of Milwaukee. In 2011, MPD reported 10,616 accidents. By 2019, this had risen to 17,568.

Traffic accidents by month

Accidents have increased uniformly across every hour of the day and each day of the week. Sunday consistently has the fewest accidents and Friday has the most. In 2011 there were 26 accidents on the average Sunday and 32 on a normal Friday. In 2019 the average Sunday had 42 accidents; Fridays had 53.

average traffic accidents by day of the week

The afternoon rush hour (4-5pm) causes the most accidents. 781 accidents occurred during these 60 minutes in 2011. In 2019, 1,379 did.

Every hour of the day saw double-digit percentage increases in traffic accidents from 2011 to 2019. But the wee hours of the morning underwent the smallest jumps, while the late afternoon and early evening experienced the biggest. Accidents from 2 to 3am increased 15%; they surged 98% during the 8pm hour.

Total annual traffic accidents by hour

 

The data in this post is from this City of Milwaukee dataset. It was downloaded on February 25,  2020. Reportable traffic accidents include all incidents causing either (1) injury or death, (2) least $200 of non-vehicle damage to government property, or (3) at least $1,000 of damage to any one person’s property.

Wisconsin voters give Trump different ratings on the economy and foreign policy, but it doesn’t affect his overall job approval among partisans

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Democrats, Republicans, and Independents all give Trump higher ratings on the economy than on foreign policy, but this doesn’t affect their overall approval of Trump among members of either party.

Trump approval ratings among different parties

Republicans only give Trump a net +58% approval rating on foreign policy, but his overall net job approval matches that of his economic job approval (+83% and +84%, respectively).

Inversely, Democrats give Trump a net -78% rating on the economy, but their overall job approval is identical to their foreign policy approval at -94%.

Independents are more mixed. They give Trump a +8% net rating on the economy and a -31% rating on foreign policy. His overall approval lies in the middle at -10%.

What’s going on with Milwaukee’s population [update]

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Last month I wrote about how Milwaukee’s population has fallen by around 5,000 since 2015, erasing the city’s tepid growth in the first half of the 2010s. Today, the Census released its latest 1-year estimates from the American Community Survey (ACS). They cover the year from July 1, 2017 to July 1, 2018.

The ACS estimates Milwaukee lost 3,363 individuals from 2017 to 2018, with a margin of error of 85.1 This places the city’s total population at 592,002. An alternative federal program uses administrative records and a survey of housing units to estimate population.2 It places the city’s 2018 population at 592,025.

All Census products now agree that Milwaukee has experienced negative population growth since 2010.