New Marquette Law School Poll finds Biden leading Trump in head-to-head presidential match in Wisconsin: Biden is most popular choice in the Democratic primary field, while full sample of voters split sharply by partisanship on Trump and the economy

MILWAUKEE —With 14 months to go until the 2020 presidential election, former Vice President Joe Biden is favored by 51 percent and President Donald Trump by 42 percent among Wisconsin registered voters in a potential match. Four percent say they would not support either candidate and 2 percent say they don’t know. This is the first Marquette Law School Poll of 2019 that has asked head-to-head vote choices for potential 2020 nominees.

In a match with Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sanders receives 48 percent and Trump 44 percent, with 5 percent supporting neither and 2 percent who don’t know.

When matched against Trump, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is the choice of 45 percent and Trump is the choice of 45 percent, with 5 percent supporting neither and 5 percent saying they don’t know.

Sen. Kamala Harris is supported by 44 percent to Trump’s 44 percent, while 6 percent support neither and 6 percent say they don’t know.

A summary of the general election matches is shown in Table 1.

Table 1: General Election Matches

Match Pct Match Pct Match Pct Match Pct
Joe Biden 51 Bernie Sanders 48 Elizabeth Warren 45 Kamala Harris 44
Donald Trump 42 Donald Trump 44 Donald Trump 45 Donald Trump 44
Neither 4 Neither 5 Neither 5 Neither 6
Don’t know 2 Don’t know 2 Don’t know 5 Don’t know 6

The poll was conducted Aug. 25-29, 2019. The sample included 800 registered voters in Wisconsin interviewed by cell phone or landline, with a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points.

Democratic presidential candidate preference items were asked of Democrats, independents who lean Democratic, and independents who do not lean to either party. That sample size is 444 with a margin of error of +/-5.3 percentage points.

Four issue-related questions were asked of half the sample (Form A) and four were asked of the other half-sample (Form B). Questions on Form A have a sample size of 400 and a margin of error of +/- 5.6 percentage points. Questions on Form B have a sample size of 400 and a margin of error of +/- 5.5 percentage points.

Democratic Presidential Primary Candidates

Among Democrats, independents who lean Democratic, and independents who do not lean to either party (hereafter “the Democratic primary sample”), Biden receives the most support for the April 2020 presidential primary. Biden is the first choice of 28 percent, followed by Sanders at 20 percent, Warren at 17 percent and Pete Buttigieg at 6 percent. Harris receives 3 percent, while all other candidates receive 2 percent or less.

The complete results for the Democratic primary are shown in Table 2.

Table 2: First and second choice in the Democratic primary sample (Democrats, independents who lean Democratic and independents without a partisan lean).
Response First Choice Second Choice
Joe Biden 28 18
Bernie Sanders 20 13
Elizabeth Warren 17 20
Pete Buttigieg 6 10
Kamala Harris 3 11
Andrew Yang 2 2
Cory Booker 1 3
Kirsten Gillibrand 1 1
Amy Klobuchar 1 2
Tom Steyer 1 0
Steve Bullock 1 0
Beto O’Rourke 1 1
Tulsi Gabbard 0 2
John Delaney 0 1
Michael Bennet 0 0
Tim Ryan 0 0
Julián Castro 0 1
Marianne Williamson 0 0
Bill de Blasio 0 0
Wayne Messam 0 0
Joe Sestak 0 0
Someone else (VOL) 1 0
Would not vote (VOL) 2 1
Don’t know 13 13
Refused 1 0

Among the Democratic primary sample, favorability of five candidates is shown in Table 3.

Table 3: Favorability ratings of five candidates among Democratic primary sample

  Favorable Unfavorable Haven’t heard enough Don’t know
Joe Biden 70 20 8 2
Bernie Sanders 63 21 11 5
Elizabeth Warren 53 12 27 7
Pete Buttigieg 37 7 45 11
Kamala Harris 35 14 41 10

Economic outlook and issues

Wisconsin registered voters hold a net positive view of the performance of the economy over the past 12 months, with 37 percent saying the economy has improved over the past year, 25 percent saying it has worsened, and 34 percent saying it has stayed the same.

By contrast, the outlook for the next year is not net positive, with 26 percent saying the economy will improve, while 37 percent think it will get worse and 33 percent saying the economy will remain the same.

The outlook for the coming year among those polled in 2019 is less favorable than among those polled in 2018 as more respondents now see the prospect of a worsening economy. The August poll is the second in 2019 that has seen net pessimism about the economic outlook. The previous net negative reading was in January 2019, during the federal government shutdown.

In 2018, the average future outlook was 14.7 percent net positive, while in 2019 the average outlook has been net negative -3 percent.

The full results since February 2018 are shown in Table 4.

Table 4: Outlook for the economy over next year

Poll Date Get better Get worse Stay the same Don’t know Net
2018-02-25 37 20 38 5 17
2018-06-13 35 25 37 3 10
2018-8-15 38 25 31 5 13
2018-9-12 37 24 34 5 13
2018-10-3 42 20 32 7 22
2018-10-24 38 25 29 8 13
2019-1-16 29 34 30 6 -5
2019-4-3 34 27 34 5 7
2019-8-25 26 37 33 5 -11

Forty-five percent approve of the job Trump is doing as president, with 53 percent disapproving. That is little changed from April when 46 percent approved and 52 percent disapproved.

Forty-nine percent of those polled approve of Trump’s handling of the economy, while 50 percent disapprove.

Partisanship strongly affects views of both the economy and Trump’s handling of it. In Table 5, 41 percent of Republican and independents who lean Republican think the economy will improve over the next 12 months, 42 percent think it will stay the same and 12 percent think it will worsen.

In contrast, among Democrats and independents who lean Democratic, 12 percent think the economy will improve, 23 percent think it will remain the same, and 63 percent think the economy will worsen.

Twenty-one percent of independents who do not lean to a party expect the economy to improve, 37 percent think it will stay the same and 33 percent expect an economic downturn.

Table 5: Economic Outlook (Next 12 Months) by Party Identification

  Get better Get worse Stay the same Don’t know
Republican 41 12 42 5
Democrat 12 63 23 2
Independent 21 33 37 9

Table 6 shows approval of Trump’s handling of the economy by party. While Republicans and Democrats are near-mirror images of each other, independents on balance disapprove of Trump’s handing of the economy.

Table 6: Trump Economic Job Approval by Party Identification

  Approve Disapprove Don’t know
Republican 88 11 0
Democrat 9 89 1
Independent 43 51 6

Tariffs on Chinese imports were raised on Sept. 1, after the poll was completed, although the tariff increase was announced by Trump on Twitter on Aug. 23 before interviews began on Aug. 25. Respondents were asked if imposing tariffs or fees on products imported from other countries helps the U.S. economy, hurts the economy or doesn’t make much of a difference either way. Thirty percent say tariffs help the economy, 46 percent say they hurt the economy, and 17 percent say tariffs don’t make much difference either way.

Table 7 shows views of tariffs by party identification, including leaners as partisans.

Table 7: Impact of tariffs on economy by party identification

  Helps US economy Hurts US economy Doesn’t make much difference Don’t know
Republican 47 21 22 8
Democrat 12 72 13 3
Independent 34 47 15 3

Gun legislation and opinion

This poll was completed after the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 3 and in Dayton, Ohio, on Aug. 4, but before the mass shooting in Odessa and Midland, Texas, on Aug. 31. Opinion on potential changes to gun laws has changed little from previous polling on gun issues.

Table 8 shows the trend in support and opposition to universal background checks for firearm sales.

Table 8: Trend in support or opposition to background checks

Poll Date Support Oppose Don’t know
2013-3-13 81 17 2
2013-5-9 71 26 2
2016-1-24 85 12 2
2018-02-25 81 16 2
2019-8-25 80 16 3

Note: a Prior to 2019 options were ‘Favor’ or ‘Oppose’

Households with guns are only a little less supportive of background checks than those without a gun. Seventy-five percent of respondents from households with a gun support background checks, while 88 percent of those without a gun do so. Those who refuse to say if there is a gun in the household are more opposed to background checks. Six percent of respondents refused to say if there was a gun in the household. These results are shown in Table 9.

Table 9: Support or oppose background checks by gun in household (August 2019)

Gun Household Support Oppose Don’t know
Yes 75 22 3
No 88 8 3
Refused 69 27 5

“Red-flag” laws that would allow police to take away guns from people who have been found by a judge to be a danger to themselves or others are supported by 81 percent and opposed by 12 percent. Eighty-one percent of respondents in households with a gun support such red-flag laws as do 86 percent of those without a gun in the household. Those refusing to say if there is a gun in the household are less supportive of red-flag laws, as shown in Table 10. This question has not been asked before in the Marquette Law School Poll.

Table 10: Support or oppose red-flag law by gun in household (August 2019)

Gun Household Support Oppose Don’t know
Yes 81 13 7
No 86 9 6
Refused 46 25 29

Support for a ban on “assault-style weapons” is lower than support for background checks or red-flag laws. Table 11 shows the trend in support or opposition to a ban on assault-style weapons, and Table 12 shows the views of residents in households with or without a gun.

Table 11: Trend in support or opposition to ban on `assault-style weapons’

Poll Date Support Oppose Don’t know
2013-3-13 54 43 3
2018-02-25 56 40 3
2019-8-25 57 40 3

Note: a Prior to 2019 options were ‘Favor’ or ‘Oppose’

Table 12: Support or oppose ban on `assault-style weapons’ by gun in household (August 2019)

Gun Household Support Oppose Don’t know
Yes 49 50 2
No 71 26 3
Refused 16 66 14

Feelings toward the National Rifle Association (NRA) were measured on a 100-point “feeling thermometer” where 100 means very warm or favorable feelings, zero means very cold or unfavorable feelings, while a score of 50 means neither favorable nor unfavorable feelings. Respondents can assign any score between 0 and 100.

Overall, the average score for the NRA was 50.2.

Average feelings toward the NRA are shown in Table 13 for men and women in urban, suburban and rural areas.

The average rating of the NRA is the approximately the same for urban and suburban men, and several points higher among rural men. Women in urban areas are about 10 points less favorable to the NRA than are urban men. Suburban women are 12 points less favorable than suburban men. Women in rural areas, however, are equally favorable to the NRA as are rural men.

Table 13: Average ‘feeling thermometer’ score for the National Rifle Association by gender and urban-suburban-rural residence

  Urban Suburban Rural
Male 52.3 51.7 57.8
Female 41.7 39.7 58.4

Views of a diverse society and immigrants

Sixty-five percent of respondents think an increasingly diverse population of different races, ethnic groups and nationalities makes the United States a better place to live. Four percent think this makes the U.S. a worse place, and 27 percent think it doesn’t make much difference. When last asked in October 2016, 53 percent said an increasingly diverse population made the U.S. better, 9 percent said it made the country worse, and 35 percent said it made little difference.

Asked to rate immigrants on the 0-to-100 point “feeling thermometer,” the average score given to “legal immigrants” was 78.8, while the average rating for “illegal immigrants” was 42.5.

The average thermometer score given to “Muslims” was 63.1, while that given to “evangelical Christians” was 58.6. Muslims were rated on average between 59 and 68 on the “feeling thermometer” by each of four religious groups, while evangelicals were rated over 75 by evangelicals, but at 33 by those without a religion. Mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic respondents gave evangelical Christians similar 59 and 61 average ratings respectively.

Views of racial disparity

A majority of respondents, 53 percent, agree that there is a lot of discrimination against blacks in the U.S., while 45 percent disagree.

A larger majority, 62 percent, disagree with a statement that racial disparities are only a matter of effort and that “if blacks would only try harder they could be just as well off as whites.” Thirty percent agree with a statement that black disadvantage is a matter of effort.

A minority, 41 percent, agree with a statement that blacks have gotten less than they deserve over the past few years, with 51 percent disagreeing with that statement.

A majority of respondents, 58 percent, say that Hispanic people have the same chance of getting ahead as people from most other ethnic backgrounds. Twenty-seven percent say Hispanic people have a worse chance of getting ahead, and 10 percent say they have a better chance.

Water-quality issues

Forty-three percent of respondents say they are very or somewhat concerned about the safety of their community’s water supply, while 57 percent say they are not too concerned or not at all concerned.

Fifty-two percent say the state of Wisconsin is doing an excellent or good job protecting the safety of public drinking water, while 39 percent say the state is doing a fair or poor job.

A substantial majority of respondents, 74 percent, say the state should provide financial support for replacing lead pipes between water mains and residences because of the health risks posed by lead pipes. Sixteen percent say this cost should be paid entirely by the owner of the residence.

Opinion of the governor and legislature

Governor Tony Evers’ job approval stands at 54 percent, with disapproval at 34 percent. Ten percent say they don’t have an opinion. In April, 47 percent approved, 37 percent disapproved, and 15 percent lacked an opinion.

Approval of the job the Wisconsin legislature is doing is 52 percent and disapproval is 38 percent, with 8 percent saying they don’t know. In April, 50 percent approved, 38 percent disapproved, and 11 percent lacked an opinion.

State of the state

Fifty-five percent of respondents say the state is headed in the right direction, while 37 percent say it is off on the wrong track. In April, 52 percent said the state was going in the right direction and 40 percent said it was on the wrong track.

Table 14 presents the favorability ratings of elected officials in Wisconsin and the percentage of respondents who haven’t heard enough or say they don’t know.

Table 14: Favorability ratings of elected officials

  Favorable Unfavorable Haven’t heard enough Don’t know
Tony Evers 49 35 11 5
Tammy Baldwin 44 40 13 3
Donald Trump 42 53 1 3
Ron Johnson 40 29 25 6
Scott Fitzgerald 19 20 49 12
Robin Vos 15 20 52 13

About the Marquette Law School Poll

The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. This poll interviewed 800 registered Wisconsin voters by landline or cell phone, Aug. 25-29, 2019. The margin of error is +/-3.9 percentage points for the full sample.

The Democratic presidential candidate preference items were asked of Democrats, independents who lean Democratic and independents who do not lean to either party. That sample size is 444 with a margin of error of +/-5.3 percentage points.

Four questions were asked of half the sample (Form A) and four were asked of the other half-sample (Form B). Questions on Form A have a sample size of 400 and a margin of error of +/- 5.6 percentage points. Questions on Form B have a sample size of 400 and a margin of error of +/- 5.5 percentage points. (The small difference in margin of error is due to rounding of the 2nd decimal point after weighting the half-samples.)

Form A questions were right direction or wrong track for the state and three items on water quality issues. Form B questions were approval of the state legislature and three gun-related issues.

The partisan makeup of the sample, including those who lean to a party, is 46 percent Republican, 45 percent Democratic and 8 percent independent. The partisan makeup of the sample, excluding those who lean to a party, is 26 percent Republican, 28 percent Democratic and 46 percent independent.

Since January 2017, the long-term partisan balance, including those who lean to a party, in the Marquette poll has been 45 percent Republican and 45 percent Democratic, with 9 percent independent. Partisanship, excluding those who lean, has been 30 percent Republican and 29 percent Democratic, with 40 percent independent. The entire questionnaire, methodology statement, full results, and breakdowns by demographic groups, are available at law.marquette.edu/poll/results-and-data.

New Marquette Law School Poll finds little change in views of Trump as Mueller probe ends: Opinions shift on confidence in Mueller; on state issues, majorities support legal marijuana, higher special education spending, oppose increase in gas tax

MILWAUKEE — Following the announcement that the federal investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller has concluded, a new Marquette University Law School Poll finds a range of reactions to what is known of those conclusions, as well as modest changes in evaluations of President Donald Trump.

Forty-six percent of registered voters in Wisconsin approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 52 percent disapprove. In January, 44 percent approved and 52 percent disapproved.

Support for reelecting the president is also little changed since January — 28 percent say that they would definitely vote to reelect Trump, and 14 percent would probably vote to reelect him. Another 8 percent say that they would probably vote for someone else, and 46 percent would definitely vote for someone else. In January, 27 percent said that they would definitely vote to reelect Trump, 12 percent said that they would probably vote for him, 8 percent that they would probably vote for someone else and 49 percent that would definitely vote for someone else.

Based on what respondents have heard about Mueller’s report so far, 42 percent say they have a great deal of confidence that the investigation was fair and impartial, 25 percent say they have some confidence, 10 percent have only a little confidence and 14 percent say they have no confidence at all in the fairness of the investigation. When the question was last asked in early October 2018, 31 percent said they had a great deal of confidence in the fairness of the investigation, 19 percent had some confidence, 13 percent had only a little confidence and 26 percent said they had no confidence at all.

Confidence in the Mueller investigation rose among Republicans and independents, while it declined among Democrats. Among Republicans, the percentage expressing a great deal of confidence rose from 12 percent in October to 43 percent in April, while those having no confidence at all declined from 38 percent in October to 19 percent in April. Among independents, the proportion of those who said they had a great deal of confidence increased from 29 percent in October to 41 percent in April. Independents with no confidence in the investigation declined from 25 percent to 14 percent. Among Democrats, those expressing a great deal of confidence declined from 58 percent in October to 45 percent in April, but those Democrats with no confidence also declined from 13 percent to 8 percent, as more Democrats picked the “some confidence” or “only a little confidence” options.

While the full Mueller report had not been released at the time of the April poll, respondents express a range of conclusions based on what they have heard about the report.

A majority, 60 percent, think that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election, while 32 percent think Russia did not interfere.

Thirty-five percent think the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election, while a majority, 53 percent, think the campaign did not collude.

Opinion is evenly divided on whether Trump tried to obstruct the investigation, with 45 percent saying he did and 45 percent saying he did not.

While 39 percent say the investigation clears Trump of any wrongdoing, 54 percent say they believe questions still exist concerning the president’s behavior.

Support for beginning hearings on impeachment stands at 29 percent, down from 33 percent in January. Those saying that there is not enough cause for impeachment hearings rose to 65 percent in April from 59 percent in January.

Those who say “honest” describes President Trump rose to 35 percent in this April poll from 31 percent in January. Fifty-nine percent in the new poll say “honest” does not describe him, compared to 62 percent in January.

The poll was conducted April 3-7, 2019. The sample included 800 registered voters in Wisconsin interviewed by cell phone or landline, with a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points. Eight questions were asked of one half of the sample and seven were asked of the other half. Questions on Form A have a sample size of 404 and a margin of error of +/- 5.7 percentage points. Questions on Form B have a sample size of 396 and a margin of error of +/- 5.7 percentage points. The half-sample items are listed at the end of this release. The Democratic presidential candidate preference items were asked of Democrats and independents who do not lean to the Republican party. That sample size is 411 with a margin of error of +/-5.6 percentage points.

Democratic presidential candidates

Among 12 current or potential Democratic presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden are top choices among Democrats or independents who do not lean to the Republican party, with Sanders a top choice of 32 percent and Biden a top choice of 29 percent. Elizabeth Warren is a top choice of 17 percent. In January, Sanders was a top choice of 23 percent, Biden a top choice of 32 percent and Warren a top choice of 15 percent.

Support for all 12 candidates included in the survey is shown in Table 1. Respondents were asked for each candidate if that person would be a top choice, an acceptable choice, someone they would not support, or if they haven’t heard enough about the candidate yet.

Table 1: Support for Democratic candidates, in order of “a top choice”

  A top choice An acceptable choice Would not support Haven’t heard enough
Sanders 32 39 20 7
Biden 29 43 19 6
Warren 17 35 18 28
Harris 11 27 13 45
O’Rourke 10 27 14 45
Booker 9 29 12 46
Klobuchar 8 26 12 50
Buttigieg 7 18 8 63
Castro 4 18 11 63
Inslee 2 11 8 72
Gillibrand 2 21 16 57
Hickenlooper 1 15 10 67

The January poll asked about eight of these candidates. Those results are shown in Table 2.

Table 2: January support for Democratic candidates, in order of “a top choice”

  A top choice An acceptable choice Would not support Haven’t heard enough
Biden 32 44 16 7
Sanders 23 38 28 9
Warren 15 36 17 30
O’Rourke 12 21 8 56
Booker 8 24 8 56
Harris 8 23 11 54
Klobuchar 5 20 8 62
Castro 4 16 10 65

Opinion of the governor and legislature

After three months in office, Gov. Tony Evers’ job approval stands at 47 percent, with disapproval at 37 percent. Fifteen percent say they don’t have an opinion. In January, 39 percent approved, 22 percent disapproved and 38 percent lacked an opinion.

Fifty percent say they approve of the job the Wisconsin legislature is doing, while 38 percent say they disapprove and 11 percent say they do not know. In January, 52 percent approved, 31 percent disapproved and 16 percent lacked an opinion.

Asked about cooperation between the governor and legislative leaders, 48 percent say Evers is trying to cooperate with legislative leaders, while 37 percent say he really isn’t interested in cooperating. Twenty-five percent say legislative leaders are trying to cooperate with Evers, while 57 percent say they are not really interested in cooperating. In January, 47 percent said Evers was trying to cooperate and 25 percent said he was not, while 22 percent said legislative leaders were trying to cooperate and 46 percent said they were not interested in cooperating.

State issues

Fifty-nine percent of voters say marijuana use should be legal, while 36 percent say it should not be legal. A substantial majority, 83 percent, say use of marijuana for medical purposes with a doctor’s prescription should be legal, with 12 percent saying it should not be.

Seventy-four percent support a major increase in state aid for special education, while 19 percent oppose such an increase.

Forty-one percent support a freeze on the number of students in voucher schools and a suspension of new independent charter schools, while 46 percent are opposed.

Seventy percent say the state should accept federal funds to expand Medicaid coverage, while 23 percent oppose the expansion.

More respondents prefer to keep gas taxes and registration fees at the current level (57 percent) than support increasing the gas tax and fees in order to increase spending on roads and highways (39 percent).

Support for an increase in the minimum wage stands at 57 percent, with 38 percent opposing an increase.

Opinion has recently fluctuated concerning Foxconn. Forty-one percent say the state subsidies to Foxconn will be worth the cost, while 47 percent think the project will cost more than it is worth. When asked in late-October 2018, 41 percent said support of the project would be worth it and 40 percent said it would not be worth the cost. In an early-October 2018 poll, 38 percent said it would be worth the cost and 48 percent said it would not be worth it.

Criminal justice issues

Forty-nine percent support raising the age at which defendants are considered adults in criminal cases from 17 to 18, while 45 percent oppose increasing the age.

Seventy-one percent favor eliminating mandatory minimum sentences, giving judges the ability to set sentences on a case-by-case basis, while 20 percent oppose eliminating mandatory minimum sentences.

Sixty-five percent support allowing offenders to petition judges to expunge or clear their record after their sentences are completed in cases of nonviolent, lower-level offenses. Twenty-six percent oppose this proposal.

Fifty-five percent agree that after serving two-thirds of a sentence, a prisoner should be released from prison to less costly supervision if the prisoner can demonstrate he or she is no longer a threat to society. Thirty-five percent oppose such early release from prison.

Expanding job training for prisoners is supported by 88 percent and opposed by 9 percent.

Increased use of treatment programs and of alternatives to jail for offenders with drug or alcohol issues is supported by 78 percent and opposed by 16 percent.

Increased state spending for prosecutors and public defenders is supported by 50 percent, with 37 percent opposing a spending increase.

State of the state

Fifty-two percent of respondents say the state is headed in the right direction, while 40 percent say it is off on the wrong track. In January, 57 percent said the state was going in the right direction and 33 percent said it was on the wrong track.

Table 3 presents the favorability ratings of elected officials in Wisconsin and the percentage of respondents who haven’t heard enough or say they don’t know.

Table 3: Favorability ratings of elected officials

  Favorable Unfavorable Haven’t heard enough Don’t know
Tony Evers 48 35 12 5
Donald Trump 45 51 1 2
Tammy Baldwin 44 43 10 3
Ron Johnson 40 32 24 5
Scott Fitzgerald 22 22 46 10
Robin Vos 14 21 56 10

About the Marquette Law School Poll

The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. This poll interviewed 800 registered Wisconsin voters by landline or cell phone, April 3-7, 2019. The margin of error is +/-4 percentage points for the full sample.

The Democratic presidential candidate preference items were asked of Democrats and independents who do not lean to the Republican party. That sample size is 411 with a margin of error of +/-5.6 percentage points.

Eight issue questions were asked of half the sample (Form A) and seven were asked of the other half-sample (Form B). Questions on Form A have a sample size of 404 and a margin of error of +/- 5.7 percentage points. Questions on Form B have a sample size of 396 and a margin of error of +/- 5.7 percentage points.

Form A questions covered legalization of marijuana, Medicaid expansion, opinion of Foxconn, minimum wage increase, increasing funding for special education, increasing spending for prosecutors and public defenders, increasing gas taxes, and a freeze on vouchers. Form B items covered medical marijuana, early release from prison, mandatory minimum sentences, expungement of criminal records, treatment alternatives for those with drug and alcohol issues, expanding job training for prisoners, and raising the age to charge juveniles as adults.

The partisan makeup of the sample, including those who lean to a party, is 45 percent Republican, 44 percent Democratic and 10 percent independent. The partisan makeup of the current sample, excluding those who lean to a party, is 30 percent Republican, 29 percent Democratic and 40 percent independent.

Since January 2017, the long-term partisan balance, including those who lean to a party, in the Marquette poll has been 45 percent Republican and 45 percent Democratic, with 9 percent independent. Partisanship excluding those who lean to a party has been 30 percent Republican and 29 percent Democratic, with 40 percent independent.

The entire questionnaire, methodology statement, full results and breakdowns by demographic groups are available at law.marquette.edu/poll/results-and-data.

New Marquette Law School Poll finds some issues less divisive amid continuing partisan divide

MILWAUKEE — Just as there is a partisan split at the top of Wisconsin’s state government, partisan divisions remain a key fact of public opinion in Wisconsin, according to a new Marquette Law School Poll. 

The first poll since the November election finds voters split generally along party lines on state issues such as whether Wisconsin should drop out of a lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act, often known as Obamacare, increase the minimum wage or prioritize increasing school spending over holding down property taxes.

However, opinion on some issues was less divided, including support for having legislative district boundaries be determined by a nonpartisan commission, support for increases in state funding for special education and support for Wisconsin’s accepting federal money to expand Medicaid.

In other state issues: Determining a plan to pay for road improvements that attracts majority support remains a challenge. And many voters have not yet reached an opinion, favorable or unfavorable, on new Gov. Tony Evers or other new statewide officeholders.

On national issues, a majority oppose a border wall with Mexico, and more voters blame President Donald Trump than congressional Democrats for the partial shutdown of the federal government. A majority also say there is not enough cause to begin impeachment hearings against Trump.

The poll was conducted January 16-20, 2019. The sample included 800 registered voters in Wisconsin, interviewed by cell phone or landline, with a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points. Ten questions were asked of half the sample. Questions on Form A have a sample size of 399 and a margin of error of +/- 5.5 percentage points. Questions on Form B have a sample size of 401 and a margin of error of +/- 5.5 percentage points. The half-sample items are listed at the end of this release.

Forty-eight percent of registered voters think that Wisconsin should withdraw from a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, while 42 percent think that the state should continue to participate in the suit. Nine percent say they do not have an opinion.

A majority, 62 percent, say the state should accept federal funds to expand Medicaid, which is called Badgercare in Wisconsin, while 25 percent oppose the expansion, and 12 percent say they do not know.

Views on the Affordable Care Act lawsuit are sharply divided along partisan lines, with 75 percent of Republicans and independents who lean Republican (hereafter “Republicans including leaners”) saying the state should continue in the lawsuit, while 20 percent want the state to withdraw. Among Democrats including leaners, 11 percent would continue in the suit, while 81 percent want the state to withdraw. Among independents who do not lean to a party, 32 percent want to continue and 39 percent want to withdraw from the suit. Twenty-four percent of independents say they have no opinion on the lawsuit, as do 5 percent of Republicans including leaners and 7 percent of Democrats including leaners.

Partisans are less divided on expanding Medicaid. Among Republicans including leaners, 43 percent say the state should expand Medicaid coverage while 41 percent reject the expansion. Among Democrats including leaners, 88 percent support the expansion while 7 percent oppose it. Among independents who do not lean to a party, 55 percent support the expansion while 28 percent oppose expanding Medicaid. Seventeen percent of independents and 16 percent of Republicans including leaners say they do not have an opinion, while 5 percent of Democrats including leaners are without an opinion.

Fifty-five percent of respondents prefer increasing spending on K-12 public schools, while 39 percent say they prefer reducing property taxes. Sixty-two percent of Republicans including leaners prefer reducing property taxes, while 32 percent support increased school spending. Among Democrats including leaners, 18 percent prefer reduced taxes, while 76 percent favor additional spending on schools. Thirty-six percent of independents prefer lower taxes and 57 percent prefer increased spending on schools.

Majorities across partisan groups support a major increase in state aid for special education. Overall, 73 percent favor such an increase, with 20 percent opposed. Among Republicans including leaners, 62 percent support and 30 percent oppose increased aid for special education. Among Democrats including leaners, 89 percent support and 7 percent oppose more spending for special education. Among independents, 65 percent support and 25 percent oppose more such spending.

Voters are reluctant to raise taxes and fees for roads and highways. Fifty-two percent prefer to keep gas taxes and fees where they are, while 42 percent favor increasing taxes and fees to pay for increased spending on roads. Among Republicans including leaners, 69 percent oppose a tax and fee increase for highway spending, while 27 percent favor such an increase. Thirty-six percent of Democrats including leaners oppose raising taxes and fees to increase spending on roads, while 58 percent favor it. Among independents, 51 percent oppose a tax and fee increase and 34 percent support an increase.

Fifty-five percent of respondents say that they support increasing the minimum wage in Wisconsin, while 39 percent oppose raising it. Thirty-two percent of Republicans including leaners favor an increase, while 64 percent are opposed. Among Democrats including leaners, 82 percent favor raising the minimum wage and 9 percent are opposed. Fifty percent of independents favor an increase and 43 percent are opposed.

Criminal justice reform

Voters are willing to consider releasing some prisoners before they have completed their full sentence, but support depends on how much of the sentence has been served. Half the sample was asked if they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “Once a prisoner has served at least half of their sentence, they should be released from prison and given a less costly form of punishment if they can demonstrate that they are no longer a threat to society.” The other half of those polled were asked a question that specified release after two-thirds of the sentence was completed. For those asked about release after half of the sentence was served, 42 percent agreed with early release while 43 percent opposed early release. When the time served was set at two-thirds of the sentence, 51 percent supported early release and 34 percent were opposed.

Redistricting

Seventy-two percent of voters say they prefer redistricting of legislative and congressional districts to be done by a nonpartisan commission, while 18 percent prefer redistricting be done by the legislature and governor. Majorities in each partisan group favor a nonpartisan commission for redistricting, with 63 percent of Republicans including leaners, 83 percent of Democrats including leaners, and 76 percent of independents favoring a nonpartisan commission. Less than 30 percent of each group preferred redistricting be done by the legislature and governor, with support for the current system coming from 27 percent of Republicans including leaners, 10 percent of Democrats including leaners, and 10 percent of independents.

Marijuana legalization

Fifty-nine percent of respondents say that use of marijuana should be made legal, while 35 percent oppose legalization. When this question was last asked in September 2014, 46 percent favored legalization and 51 percent were opposed.

An alternative wording of the question produced similar results. When asked if marijuana should be “fully legalized and regulated like alcohol,” 58 percent favored legalization and 36 percent opposed.

Lame-duck legislation

Fifteen percent of voters strongly approve of the limits placed on the governor and attorney general by the lame-duck session of the legislature, with 16 percent approving somewhat. Forty-one percent strongly disapprove and 14 percent disapprove somewhat. Fourteen percent lack an opinion.

Concerning former Gov. Scott Walker’s decision to sign the lame duck legislation, 18 percent strongly approve, 15 percent somewhat approve, 11 percent somewhat disapprove and 41 percent strongly disapprove. Fourteen percent lack an opinion.

After leaving office, Walker said in interviews that he might consider a future run for office in Wisconsin. Thirty-seven percent say they would like to see him run for governor or senator in 2022, while 53 percent say they do not want him to run.

Cooperation between governor and legislature

Forty-seven percent say that Gov. Tony Evers is trying to cooperate with Wisconsin legislative leaders, while 25 percent say Evers really is not interested in cooperating. Twenty-eight percent say they do not know.

Twenty-two percent of respondents say Wisconsin legislative leaders are trying to cooperate with Evers, while 46 percent say the leaders are not really interested in cooperating. Thirty-two percent say they do not know.

National issues

Forty-four percent of respondents favor building a wall along the border with Mexico, while 51 percent oppose the wall. In March 2017, when the question was first asked, 37 percent favored and 59 percent opposed building a wall. When asked most recently, in August 2018, 41 percent favored and 54 percent opposed building a wall.

Twenty-nine percent of respondents support the partial shutdown of the federal government over the issue of funding a border wall, with 66 percent opposed to the shutdown. Fifty-five percent of Republicans including leaners support the shutdown, while 41 percent oppose it. Five percent of Democrats including leaners support the shutdown, while 92 percent oppose it. Among independents, 25 percent support the shutdown, with 69 percent opposed.

Respondents were asked, “Regardless of how you feel about the shutdown, who do you think is most responsible for it?” Forty-three percent say Trump, 7 percent say Republicans in Congress, 34 percent say Democrats in Congress and 14 percent say all are equally responsible.

Opinions of President Trump

Forty-four percent approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 52 percent disapprove. When last asked October 24-28, 2018, 47 percent approved and 50 percent disapproved.

Forty-two percent say the phrase “cares about people like me” describes Trump, while 55 percent say this does not describe him. When last asked in August 2018, 39 percent said “cares about people like me” described Trump and 57 percent said it did not.

Thirty-one percent say “honest” describes Trump, while 62 percent say this does not describe him. When last asked in June 2017, 35 percent said “honest” described Trump and 59 percent said it did not.

Twenty percent say Trump has changed the Republican party for the better, 44 percent say he has changed it for the worse, and 31 percent say he has not changed the party either way. In late October 2018, 28 percent said he had changed the party for the better, 47 percent said he had changed it for the worse, and 21 percent said he had not changed the party either way.

Asked if there is “enough cause right now” for Congress to begin hearings on whether to impeach Trump, 33 percent say there is enough cause and 59 percent say there is not enough cause to begin hearings.

Among all registered voters, 27 percent say they would definitely vote to reelect Trump if the 2020 elections were held today, 12 percent say they would probably vote to reelect him. Eight percent would probably vote for someone else and 49 percent would definitely vote for someone else.

Democratic presidential primary outlook

Democrats and independents were asked about eight announced and potential candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination. With more than a year to go until the Wisconsin presidential primary, many of these candidates are little known to voters.

For each candidate, respondents were asked if this would be a top choice for them, an acceptable choice, someone they would not support, or if they did not know enough about them yet. The results are shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Opinion of potential Democratic candidates

  Top Choice Acceptable Not support Not heard enough
Joe Biden 32 44 16 7
Bernie Sanders 23 38 28 9
Elizabeth Warren 15 36 17 30
Kamala Harris 8 23 11 54
Cory Booker 8 24 8 56
Beto O’Rourke 12 21 8 56
Amy Klobuchar 5 20 8 62
Julian Castro 4 16 10 65

State of the state

Fifty-seven percent of Wisconsin registered voters see the state as headed in the right direction, while 33 percent think the state is off on the wrong track. In late October 2018, 55 percent said right direction and 40 percent said wrong track.

In the first Marquette Law School Poll since he took office, Evers’ job approval among registered voters stands at 39 percent, with 22 percent disapproving and 38 percent saying they do not have an opinion.

The Wisconsin legislature has a 52-percent approval rating, with 31 percent disapproval and 16 percent without an opinion.

Evers is viewed favorably by 41 percent and unfavorably by 24 percent. Another 28 percent say they have not heard enough about him, and 6 percent say they do not know.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is viewed favorably by 13 percent and unfavorably by 17 percent, with 59 percent saying they have not heard enough about him and 11 percent saying they do not know.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald is viewed favorably by 24 percent and unfavorably by 19 percent, with 47 percent saying they have not heard enough about him and 10 percent saying they do not know.

For Attorney General Josh Kaul, 16 percent have a favorable view and 7 percent have an unfavorable view. Sixty-seven percent say they have not heard enough about him and 10 percent say they do not know.

For Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, the numbers are 16 percent favorable, 7 percent unfavorable, 67 percent who say they have not heard enough about him, and 9 percent who say they do not know.

About the Marquette Law School Poll

The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. This poll interviewed 800 registered Wisconsin voters by landline or cell phone, January 16-20, 2019. The margin of error is +/-3.9 percentage points for the full sample.

Ten issue questions were asked of half the sample. Questions on Form A have a sample size of 399 and a margin of error of +/- 5.5 percentage points. Questions on Form B have a sample size of 401 and a margin of error of +/- 5.5 percentage points. Form A items include marijuana legalization, early prison release after half of sentence, possible Walker candidacy in 2022, preference for property tax cuts or more school spending, and preference for holding gas tax and fees at current level or increasing them to pay for roads. Form B items include marijuana legalization (with regulation like alcohol), early prison release after two-thirds of sentence, expansion of Medicaid, minimum wage increase and an increase in aid for special education.

The partisan makeup of the sample, including those who lean to a party, is 45 percent Republican, 43 percent Democratic and 11 percent independent. The long-term total for the previous 50 statewide Marquette polls, with 44,952 respondents, is 43 percent Republican and 47 percent Democratic, with 9 percent independent. The partisan makeup of the current sample, excluding those who lean to a party, is 29 percent Republican, 28 percent Democratic and 42 percent independent, compared to the long-term totals of 28 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 40 percent independent.

The entire questionnaire, methodology statement, full results and breakdowns by demographic groups are available at law.marquette.edu/poll/results-and-data.