Strong Support for Marijuana Legalization in Law School Poll, But Results for Other Drugs Harder to Interpret

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In the Marquette Law School Poll conducted earlier this month, fifty-nine percent of registered Wisconsin voters agreed that marijuana “should be fully legalized and regulated like alcohol.” Only thirty-nine percent disagreed.

Support for legalization in Wisconsin follows the recent decisions to legalize marijuana in Colorado and Washington in 2012, and in Oregon and Alaska in 2014. Nationally, support for legalization has grown steadily since the early 1990s and finally crossed the fifty-percent threshold in 2013. (On the local level, the Public Policy Forum published a thoughtful assessment of the costs of marijuana enforcement in Milwaukee earlier this year.)

In the Law School Poll, respondents were asked which arguments for legalization they found most convincing.

Continue reading “Strong Support for Marijuana Legalization in Law School Poll, But Results for Other Drugs Harder to Interpret”

New Poll Results: Even “Smidgens” of Change Provide Insight

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The word for the day was “smidgeny” when a new round of Marquette Law School Poll results were released on Wednesday.

“I think smidgen is a word I’m going to wear out today because these differences are truly smidgeny,” Charles Franklin, director of the poll and professor of law and public policy at the Law School, said as he walked the audience at Eckstein Hall and online through the results of polling done from July 7 to 10.

A lot of the numbers on the presidential race, the US Senate race in Wisconsin, and other matters did not change much in recent weeks, even as major events focused on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump occurred.

Overall, Clinton continued to lead Trump in Wisconsin among both all registered voters and those who are likely to vote. Democrat Russ Feingold continued to lead Republican Ron Johnson in the Senate race. Margins were in single digits, but Franklin said there was enough movement in answers to some questions to indicate both races are tightening.

And even if the numbers didn’t change much, the light that the poll results shine on what is happening remains strong. Franklin pointed to several important themes people should keep in mind as the campaign season unfolds in Wisconsin and nationwide. Among them: Continue reading “New Poll Results: Even “Smidgens” of Change Provide Insight”

Voter Unhappiness Comes Through in New Law School Poll Results

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“Here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into.”

Maybe the famous line that the comedy team of Laurel & Hardy used in several movies in the 1920s and ‘30s will emerge as a key theme for voter opinion of the 2016 presidential election.

A new round of results from the Marquette Law School Poll, released on Wednesday, offers an eye-catching set of facts about voter unhappiness with both of the presumptive choices for major party nominations for president. In fact, the results suggested that slipping enthusiasm about voting, particularly among Republicans, may become a major factor in the outcome in November.

How unhappy are voters? Here are a few pieces of the bigger picture that emerged from interviews between June 9 and 12 with 800 registered voters across Wisconsin (666 who were labeled likely voters, based on saying they were certain to vote): Continue reading “Voter Unhappiness Comes Through in New Law School Poll Results”

At a Time of High-Charged Events, New Law School Poll Sheds Even-Handed Light

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There are ways in which the volatility of the current political scene seeped into the release Wednesday of the latest round of Marquette Law School Poll results. But there are more ways it didn’t.

An extraordinary time in American politics has brought an extraordinary week in Wisconsin politics, with the state’s presidential primary on April 5 standing as the next major event on the political calendar. All five of the remaining major candidates for president have spent at least two days in the state this week, with several developments of national significance occurring on our home turf.

The passions of thousands attending events with Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, the political drama of the battle (including insults) between Trump and Ted Cruz, the search by Hillary Clinton for ways to build more fire behind her support in Wisconsin, a three-hour “town hall meeting” with Trump, Cruz, and John Kasich, telecast by CNN from Milwaukee’s Riverside Theater – this is just aa partial list of events in Wisconsin this week.

So stakes are high as Wisconsin returns to being a battleground in the presidential race. High stakes bring high tension and high levels of partisanship.

And then there was a release of the poll at Eckstein Hall, with Professor Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll, and Mike Gousha, distinguished fellow in law and public policy at the Law School, leading a tour of the new results. Calm. Level-headed. Insightful. Strictly non-partisan. Much the same as several dozen poll-release events since the Marquette Law School Poll started in 2012.   Continue reading “At a Time of High-Charged Events, New Law School Poll Sheds Even-Handed Light”

Finally, a Little Good News for Governor Walker

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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. Continue reading “Finally, a Little Good News for Governor Walker”

New Poll Results Illuminate a Year That Goes Beyond “Interesting”

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Goodness, those Donald Trump poll numbers – they do take my breath away. And the Hillary Clinton numbers do much the same.

The release Thursday of a new set of Marquette Law School Poll results brought a wave of interesting insights into public opinion in Wisconsin, as it always does.

But the degree to which Trump and Clinton are polarizing figures, the subject of both great support and great opposition, goes beyond the word “interesting.” It’s vivid history being made in front of our eyes, especially with each in good position to win nomination. A Clinton-Trump showdown for the presidency in the fall – it’s an amazing but somewhat likely prospect. Continue reading “New Poll Results Illuminate a Year That Goes Beyond “Interesting””

New Law School Poll Results: What Does the Present Say About the Future?

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It was baseball great (and quotation legend) Yogi Berra who said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

And as Professor Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll, says, a poll is only a snapshot of public opinion at the time the questions were asked.

So let;s not get carried away with assuming what lies ahead, based on the results of the Marquette Law School Poll that was released on Thursday.

But the fresh round of poll results offers some windows for looking toward what is going to happen in Wisconsin politics, not only in 2016 but in following years. Continue reading “New Law School Poll Results: What Does the Present Say About the Future?”

Empirical Evidence of Voter Anger Found in New Law School Poll

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At a time when there is so much talk about angry voters, what’s the reality?

The Marquette Law School Poll released on Thursday showed that “outsider” candidates for president such as Republicans Ben Carson and Donald Trump, are doing well at this point in Wisconsin. So is Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, who, although he is a senator, embraces the term “socialist” and is running a campaign heavy on criticism of Wall Street interests. Many commentators have linked their success to voters who are frustrated with politicians who have been part of the governing establishment.

The new set of poll results provided empirical evidence to support the talk of angry voters.

Charles Franklin, director of the poll and the Law School’s professor of law and public policy, told the audience at the “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at which the poll results were released that there really were signs of anger toward government as a whole, as well as some signals that voters weren’t as  alienated from candidates with more traditional backgrounds.    Continue reading “Empirical Evidence of Voter Anger Found in New Law School Poll”

Marquette Poll Reveals Support for Rehabilitation of Prisoners

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For the past four years, Darren Wheelock and I have collaborated with Charles Franklin and the Marquette Law School Poll on a series of surveys of public attitudes toward sentencing and corrections policy in Wisconsin. Our 2015 results, released last week, seem to show remarkably high levels of support for prisoner rehabilitation. Of those who were asked, more than 80% expressed support for each of the following:

  • Expanding counseling programs for prisoners
  • Expanding job training programs for prisoners
  • Expanding educational programs for prisoners
  • Helping released offenders find jobs

At the same time, there are also indications of substantial, if somewhat lower, levels of support for various punitive policies:

  • About 47% supported making sentences more severe for all crimes
  • About 45% supported locking up more juvenile offenders
  • About 62% supported increasing the use of mandatory minimum sentences for repeat offenders
  • About 45% supported trying more juvenile offenders as adults

It is puzzling that many respondents expressed support for both pro-rehabilitation and tough-on-crime policies. We have also seen this phenomenon in earlier rounds of our polling.   Continue reading “Marquette Poll Reveals Support for Rehabilitation of Prisoners”

Walker Poll Ratings Hit a New Low — Again

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Through all the tumultuous politics of 2012 (the recall election for governor), 2013 (passage of a controversial state budget) and 2014 (a successful campaign for re-election), Gov. Scott Walker’s numbers in the Marquette Law School Poll barely budged. About half of voters had favorable opinions of him and just under half had unfavorable opinions. It was close, but it was a winning picture for the Republican governor.

But 2015, with a front-running, then troubled, then failed presidential bid for Walker, with long periods of Walker being out of the state, and with another round of budget controversies, has been a different story.

Results of the third Law School Poll of the year, released Wednesday, brought favorable opinions about Walker to a new low. It wasn’t a big difference from a poll released in August. Walker’s favorable rating was 39 percent a month ago and 37 percent this time. In April, 41 percent gave Walker a favorable rating. Continue reading “Walker Poll Ratings Hit a New Low — Again”

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

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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.   Continue reading “Walker Leading in Wisconsin Republican Nomination Race, but His Job Approval Falls”

Broad Support for Regional Economic Cooperation Found in New Law School Poll

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A substantial majority of people in the Chicago “megacity” – the region stretching from the Milwaukee area, across metropolitan Chicago, and into northwest Indiana – want to see their political leaders make a priority of action that benefits the region as a whole, and not just actions focused on the needs of their own area.

But what does that mean when you get into details? How does that translate into reality?

That main finding of broad support for regional cooperation and those two questions shaped a groundbreaking conference at Marquette Law School on Tuesday. “Public Attitudes in the Chicago Megacity: Who are we and what are the possibilities?” focused on the results of what is believed to be the first extensive poll of residents of the sections of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana that are part of the “megacity.”  The conference was sponsored by the Law School and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Describing the broad conclusions, Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll and the Law School’s professor of law and public policy, said, “What we see is a substantial majority, over 70% in Illinois and Indiana, and 61% in Wisconsin, who say they would rather see cooperation among the governors and the elected officials,” than for political leaders to focus only on their own states’ concerns. Continue reading “Broad Support for Regional Economic Cooperation Found in New Law School Poll”