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.
But the results of the three polls this year, combined with other results in the new poll, raise serious questions about Walker’s standing in the eyes of the Wisconsin public. For example, only 35% of voters polled said they wanted to see Walker run for re-election in 2018, although support among Republicans for another Walker bid was 79%.
When Walker dropped out of the presidential race a week ago, he said he was doing it with hopes of strengthening candidates other than Donald Trump. So who emerged as the leading choice for nominee among Wisconsin Republicans, now that Walker, who led polls in the state, wasn’t involved? Trump. He had support of 20 percent of Republicans, trailed by Ben Carson at 16 percent, Marco Rubio at 14 percent, and Carly Fiorina at 11 percent.
And among Republicans who said they had supported Walker, who was the new top choice for nominee? Trump led also, with 22 percent of former Walker supporters saying he was their candidate now.
The new poll showed Democrat Russ Feingold doing better against Republican incumbent Ron Johnson in the 2016 Senate race than was the case in August. But with a large number of voters having no opinion about either or both of the candidates, the shape of that race is likely to keep changing, Marquette Law School Professor Charles Franklin, director of the poll, said.
Other results showed a bit more pessimistic view than in August on how the economy is doing and more favorable views of Pope Francis, who just completed a visit to the United States.