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.
— Among registered voters in Wisconsin, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton leads each of five prominent figures in the Republican nomination race. In a Clinton-Walker head-to-head match, Clinton leads 52 to 40.
— If Russ Feingold, the Democratic US senator who was defeated in 2010 by Republican Ron Johnson, tries in 2016 to get the seat back from Johnson, Feingold will start with some advantages. He led Johnson 54% to 38% in this poll and had more favorable results on a question about people’s favorable or unfavorable ratings by voters.
— Use of public money for a basketball arena is strongly unpopular in the Milwaukee area, and even more unpopular out state.
— Some of Walker’s budget proposals, particularly cutting state spending on public schools by $127 million and cutting the University of Wisconsin budget by $300 million, are opposed by sizable majorities.
Word of the poll results spread quickly. Within minutes, even as the Eckstein Hall poll release session with Professor Charles Franklin, the poll director, and Mike Gousha, distinguished fellow in law and public policy, was underway, results were posted at the top of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Web site and Journal Sentinel reporters were conducting their own online discussion, analyzing the results. As the person who “live tweeted” the results as they were released, I could follow the hundreds of “retweets” that occurred rapidly, many of them from Twitter accounts of news organizations or political reporters.
Mark Murray, senior political editor for NBC News, re-tweeted several of the poll’s Tweets, and then posted a Tweet of his own: “Marquette Law poll — the gold standard in WI — is not good news for Walker, GOP in state.”
Reaction to the poll was widespread, including from the governor, who said his numbers will rebound after action on state budget is completed.