Public Perceptions of PFAS Risk and Water Quality in Wisconsin

In June 2022, Wisconsin lawmakers approved a new drinking water standard for two of the most widely used per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Prized for their water and stain-resistant properties, PFAS are found in an array of industry and consumer products, including firefighting foam, cosmetics, waterproof fabrics, nonstick cookware, and food containers. These human-made compounds are commonly referred to as “forever chemicals.” Resistant to chemical breakdown, they persist and accumulate in our bodies and environment. A growing body of scientific…

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A Decade (Plus) for the Marquette Law School Poll

We communicate about the Marquette Law School Poll in any number of ways, including posts on this blog, Tweets from the official MULawPoll Twitter account and that of poll director Charles Franklin, and occasional articles in the Marquette Lawyer magazine (from 2012 to this past year). Marquette’s Office of University Relations (OUR) also issues releases. While these are ordinarily drawn from the poll’s homepage, OUR has issued its own announcement, noting the tenth anniversary of the poll. In light of the poll’s prominence and success, we post below for interested readers the University’s press release, which is also available here.


Marquette University Law Poll marking 10 years of polling in 2022

MILWAUKEE — The Marquette University Law School Poll is celebrating 10 years of polling, having released its first survey of Wisconsin voters on Jan. 25, 2012. Over the ensuing decade, the Marquette Law Poll has become recognized across the spectrum as “the gold standard in Wisconsin politics.”

The Marquette Law School Poll was established to be the most extensive polling project in Wisconsin history, with a full commitment to being an independent effort with no agenda except to reliably find out as much as is possible about public opinion in Wisconsin and to make that information publicly available. The poll is entirely funded by aggregated small donations to the Law School’s Annual Fund.

“The goal of the Marquette Law School Poll is to provide a balanced and detailed understanding of how voters on all sides view and respond to the issues of the 2012 campaigns,” wrote Joseph D. Kearney, dean of Marquette Law School, in announcing the polling project in November 2011. “With the national attention that Wisconsin will receive in 2012 and Marquette Law School’s growing reputation as a premier neutral site for debate and civil discourse on matters affecting the region and points beyond … there can be little doubt that the time, place, and people are right for the Marquette Law School Poll.”

The premise of Wisconsin’s important role in national politics was correct, and the decision to create the Marquette Law School Poll was even prescient, as the state has been a central battleground on the national level in each presidential election since. This has made the Marquette Law Poll a key instrument in measuring public opinion in the state come Election Day and a resource of national attention.

Since January 2012, the Marquette Law School Poll has recorded:

  • Responses from over 60,000 Wisconsin voters
  • Polling involving over 1,200 unique questions
  • Favorability of 112 political figures, including 70 measures of favorability for Sen. Tammy Baldwin, 56 measures for Sen. Ron Johnson, and 50 for former Gov. Scott Walker. Favorability and approval were also recorded for President Joe Biden and Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump in each poll during their respective time in office.
  • The Marquette Law Poll is nearing 400 unique issue questions on marijuana legalization, gun control, public schools, COVID-19, deer hunting, farm ownership, climate change, healthcare, and a host of other policy topics.

(more…)

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State Gun Laws And Public Opinion

Summary

Let’s begin with some general context: Nationwide, 66% of those with an opinion favor a Supreme Court ruling that the Second Amendment includes a right to possess a gun outside the home. When it is presented as a matter of state policy choice (law), 62% favor allowing concealed carry of handguns with a permit or license required. So public opinion substantially favors allowing “licensed concealed carry” of handguns.

In contrast, there is substantial majority opposition to laws allowing concealed carry without a licensing requirement. Concealed carry without a license requirement is supported nationwide by 19% and opposed by 81%.

In fact, even in the 25 states with “permitless concealed carry” laws, a minority of 28% of adults favor such laws, while 72% are opposed to them, based on a May 2022 Marquette Law School Poll national survey conducted last month (before the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas). And state surveys, by other polling entities, in Texas and Tennessee (states with permitless concealed carry laws) found 34% and 39% favored these laws, respectively, with 59% opposed in both states.

State gun laws

In the following analysis, state gun laws are grouped into four categories.

  • Twenty-five states have adopted laws allowing “permitless” concealed carry, requiring no license or permit to have a concealed weapon. (This includes states that have adopted such a law that will go into effect by Jan. 1, 2023.)
  • Ten states have “shall issue” laws, which give no discretion over issuing a license or permit to an applicant meeting the criteria specified by law.
  • Seven states have “shall issue” laws, which allow some discretion over issuing a license or permit if the applicant is judged to raise some public safety concerns.
  • Eight states and the District of Columbia have “may issue” laws, which give authorities greater latitude in determining when to issue a license or permit.

(more…)

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Liberals and conservatives both perceive the Supreme Court as acting against their preferences

The latest Marquette Law Poll found that approval of the U.S. Supreme Court fell by 11 percentage points from July to September. This change was driven by a 22-point decline among Democrats and a 10-point decline among Independents. Republican approval stayed about the same.

This follows the Court’s narrow September ruling declining to halt Texas’ ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Other recent controversial decisions included striking down the CDC’s eviction moratorium and preventing the Biden administration from ending Trump’s “remain in Mexico” policy for asylum seekers.

Majorities of Republicans approved of all three of these decisions. Democrats disapproved of each, but more of them lacked an opinion about the CDC moratorium decision and the remain-in-Mexico decision.

Attitudes to Supreme Court decisions
Marquette Law School Supreme Court Poll, September 2021, n = 1,411
Heard nothing at all Heard of but not enough for an opinion Favor Oppose
End CDC moratorium
Republican 18% 20% 57% 5%
Independent 13% 34% 39% 14%
Democrat 17% 33% 22% 27%
Reinstate remain-in-Mexico policy
Republican 13% 8% 76% 2%
Independent 21% 24% 34% 20%
Democrat 14% 25% 17% 43%
Uphold 6-week abortion ban
Republican 11% 15% 57% 17%
Independent 10% 16% 27% 47%
Democrat 7% 12% 9% 71%

In light of this, it makes sense that Democratic approval of the court plummeted, but why didn’t Republican approval grow? (more…)

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Remembering Shirley S. Abrahamson: Wisconsin’s First Woman Supreme Court Justice

Shirley Abrahamson with raised right hand, taking oath in 1976.
Shirley Abrahamson is sworn into the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1976 by late Chief Justice Bruce Beilfuss.

On Saturday, December 19, former Wisconsin Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson, died after battling pancreatic cancer. She was 87. Just two ways she was like another famous, short, tough, trailblazing Jewish jurist: Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Abrahamson, the daughter of Polish Jewish immigrants who arrived in the United States in the early 1930s, grew up in New York City. She graduated magna cum laude from NYU with her bachelor’s degree in 1953. Three years later, she graduated first in her class from Indiana Law School; she was also the only woman.

She met her husband Seymour in Indiana; they moved to Madison in the early 1960s, where Abrahamson earned her S.J.D. from UW Law in 1962. Thereafter, she became the first female lawyer at the Madison law firm La Follette, Sinykin, Doyle & Anderson. She was named a partner within a year. All throughout the time she was in practice, she also taught at UW Law.

In 1976, then-Governor Patrick Lucey appointed her to the Wisconsin Supreme Court’ she was the first woman to serve there. (more…)

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