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”
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”
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”
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”
Given the long list of controversial and major decisions to be made soon as the process of setting Wisconsin’s state budget for the next two years comes to a head, it was remarkable how much agreement there was among speakers at the wide-ranging conference on kindergarten through twelfth grade education policy Monday at Eckstein Hall.
“Pivotal Points: A Forum on Key Wisconsin Education Issues as Big Decisions Approach” brought together key figures involved in politics, schools, and education policy before a full-house audience in the Appellate Courtroom.
Yes, there were differences. But speakers covering a spectrum of views found a lot in common, including the need for stable, adequate funding of schools and stable, effective approaches to dealing with assessing students and tackling the challenges of schools where success is not common.
The four-hour conference opened with welcoming remarks from Marquette University President Michael R. Lovell and ended with something close to agreement by a Republican and Democrat involved in State Assembly education policy that “low performing” schools need support and help more than they need to be closed. Continue reading “Sampling the Strong Stew of Thoughts at Eckstein Hall Education Conference”
The passage of time was one of the reasons why the release of a new round of Marquette Law School Poll results on Thursday drew such strong interest. It was the first round of Law School polling since shortly before the general election almost six months ago.
But the passage of time since the last poll was only one factor driving the rapid dissemination of the results across Wisconsin and well beyond. A governor who has emerged as a leading all-but-announced candidate for president, controversial proposals connected to the state budget being shaped currently, a first look at a likely US Senate race in Wisconsin in 2016, a proposal for public funding for part of the cost of a new arena in downtown Milwaukee — there are a lot of hot subjects where finding out what the public as a whole thinks is both interesting and potentially influential.
To mention a few of the broad themes of the results:
— Job approval of Republican Gov. Scott Walker dipped to lower levels than seen previously in Law School Polls in 2012, 2013, and 2014. Continue reading “New Law School Poll Results Generate Great Interest Quickly”
Perhaps Kathleen Cepelka effectively summed up a half-day conference Wednesday on the future of Catholic kindergarten through twelfth grade schools simply by describing the state of the schools in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
Cepelka, the superintendent of schools in the archdiocese, told the full-house audience in the Appellate Courtroom of Eckstein Hall about the strengths of schools in Milwaukee, about positive developments in enrollment, and about the many praiseworthy people and organizations involved in making the schools as good as they are.
But, she said, the quality of some of the schools isn’t what it needs to be and there are weak levels of achievement among students in some schools. “We are not satisfied,” she said.
That mix — loyalty and pride in Catholic schools with an understanding of the pressing need to improve — was voiced frequently during the conference, “The Future of Catholic K-12 Education: National and Milwaukee Perspectives,” sponsored by Marquette Law School and the Marquette College of Education. Maybe “we are not satisfied” could have been the slogan for the event. Continue reading “Calls for Doing Better Set Tone for Catholic Schools Conference”
And in the end, we are at the point where we started – a state that is narrowly divided when it comes to the total number of people on each side of its politics and deeply divided when it comes to how strongly people feel about key issues.
That’s the way it was in 2011 and 2012 in the tumultuous events that led to a recall election for governor. That’s the way it was in an analysis of voting patterns in Wisconsin, and especially in the Milwaukee area, by Craig Gilbert, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Washington Bureau chief, which was the cover story of the current Marquette Lawyer magazine. That’s what the Marquette Law School Poll showed at the start of 2014, as the run-up began to the election for governor, to be held on Tuesday.
And as Charles Franklin, professor of law and public policy and director of the Marquette Law School Poll, said Wednesday, that’s what the final pre-election results showed. Franklin spoke at the conclusion of the “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” session at which the last poll data prior to the Nov. 4 election was released. Continue reading “The Continuing Story of a Strongly Divided Electorate”
It probably shouldn’t be such a surprise that independent votes would show their independence. But the Marquette Law School Poll results released Wednesday in an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” session at Eckstein Hall clearly caught people in the room, as well as far beyond the room, by surprise. Independent voters were largely the reason why.
Two weeks ago, the poll put Republican Gov. Scott Walker ahead of Democratic challenger Mary Burke by five percentage points among likely voters. This time, the two were in such a dead heat among likely voters that the exact same number of poll respondents picked Walker and Burke (380 each). That made for a 47%-47% tie, with the scattered responses making up the remainder.
What changed? Among voters who labeled themselves independents, Walker led in the prior Marquette Law School Poll, conducted late September, by 53% to 40%. But in the new poll, conducted from Oct. 9 through 12, Burke was favored by 45% of independents and Walker by 44%. Professor Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll, considered that a significant shift and an indication that there were still voters out there who are persuadable by either candidate – potentially enough to decide the election. Continue reading “Independence of Voters Yields Surprises in Law School Poll Results”
The big story coming out of the release Wednesday of a new round of results from the Marquette Law School Poll was that Republican Gov. Scott Walker had opened up a bit more distance over Democratic challenger Mary Burke that was seen in recent rounds of polling. Among likely voters, Walker was supported by 50% and Burke by 45%. As Professor Charles Franklin, director of the poll said, this is still a close race. But there were indicators of some trends in Walker’s direction.
Both in the news media (for sure in Wisconsin and, in some cases, nationally) and within the world of political activists, the poll results will be analyzed carefully to see what people are saying. The Marquette Law School Poll has become the principle source of information on Wisconsin public opinion on major issues, especially political races.
But instead of focusing on what people are saying, permit me here to focus on what people are not saying. Politics, even in the midst of a heated election season, is not of interest to everyone. So here are a few examples of non-involvement: Continue reading “The Marquette Law School Poll’s Version of the Sounds of Silence”