New Marquette Law School Poll finds reduced but majority support for COVID-19 restrictions, while partisan divisions increase

MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School Poll surveying Wisconsin registered voters finds increased division over response to the coronavirus pandemic, although majorities continue to support social distancing and other restrictions.

In the May survey, 69 percent say that it was appropriate to close schools and businesses and restrict public gatherings, while 26 percent say this was an overreaction to the pandemic. In late March, 86 percent said closures were appropriate, and 10 percent said this was an overreaction.

Approval of Gov. Tony Evers’ handling of the coronavirus issue has also declined, with 64 percent approving and 32 percent disapproving. In March, 76 percent approved and 17 percent disapproved.

Approval of President Donald Trump’s handing of the coronavirus outbreak has also declined to 44 percent, with 51 percent disapproval, compared to March when approval was 51 percent and disapproval 46 percent.

Concern about the pandemic has also lessened, with 50 percent saying they are very concerned, 31 percent saying somewhat concerned, 12 percent saying not very concerned, and 7 percent saying not at all concerned. The number who are very concerned has decreased by 18 percentage points since March when 68 percent were very concerned, 25 percent somewhat concerned, 5 percent not very concerned and 2 percent not at all concerned.

Similarly, worry over personal risk from COVID-19 has declined. Twenty-five percent say they are very worried and 35 percent are somewhat worried, while 20 percent are not very worried and 19 percent say they are not at all worried. In March, 30 percent were very worried, 40 percent somewhat worried, 18 percent not very worried, and 11 percent not at all worried.

The poll was conducted May 3-7, 2020. The sample included 811 registered voters in Wisconsin, interviewed by cell phone or landline, with a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.

While concern over the virus and support for policies to reduce the spread of the disease have declined over the last six weeks, Wisconsin voters nonetheless now expect a much longer epidemic before things return to normal. Eighteen percent now think the coronavirus outbreak will be under control by the end of May, 20 percent say by the end of August, and 15 percent by sometime next fall. Twenty-six percent say it will take about a year and 10 percent say it will take more than a year to control the epidemic. In March, many more, 44 percent, thought the epidemic would be under control by the end of May and 27 percent said by the end of August. Eleven percent said the epidemic would be under control sometime next fall, while 7 percent thought it would take about a year and 2 percent said more than a year. Table 1 shows the responses for March and May polls.

There is substantial awareness of how many deaths have resulted from the COVID-19 epidemic. As of the first day of polling, May 3, the New York Times reported 67,784 deaths in the United States. That total passed 70,000 on the third day of polling, May 5, when it reached 71,077. On the last day of polling, May 7, the reported total deaths were 75,744. This means the “correct” number of deaths varied by day of interview. If we consider answers of over 60,000, but below 80,000, to be correct, 40 percent gave an approximately correct answer. Another 12 percent underestimated by saying the number was between 50,000 and 60,000, while 27 percent substantially underestimated, saying there had been fewer than 50,000 deaths. Fourteen percent said the toll had been greater than 80,000, and 7 percent said they didn’t know how many had died.

Awareness of the number of deaths responded to the changing estimates of deaths over the five days of the survey as shown in Table 2. The percentage saying “over 60,000 but under 70,000” dropped as the actual total moved over 70,000, and the percentage choosing the 70,000 to 80,000 category was small until the total reached this level, at which point the percentage choosing this category rose.

Views on reopening

A majority of Wisconsin voters, 53 percent, say they trust the governor more than the legislature to decide when to begin reopening and relaxing restrictions on public gatherings, while 33 percent say they trust the legislature more to make these decisions.

Recent demonstrations calling for reopening of the state are supported by 31 percent and are opposed by 63 percent of registered voters.

Both of these opinions are sharply divided on partisan grounds, as shown in Tables 3 and 4 below.

More people, 56 percent, say they are more concerned that Wisconsin will reopen too soon than say they are more concerned that the state will not reopen soon enough, 40 percent.

There is considerable variation in what activities people say they would be comfortable doing if the “Safer at Home” order were lifted “tomorrow.” A substantial 77 percent say they would be comfortable visiting a friend or family member’s home, while 21 percent would not be comfortable doing this.

Fifty-six percent say they would be comfortable shopping at a mall or large retail store such as Target or Walmart, although 42 percent would not be comfortable shopping.

Forty-five percent would be comfortable attending worship services, while 52 percent would be uncomfortable.

Eating out at a restaurant is something 42 percent would be comfortable with, while 57 percent would not be comfortable with that.

Most people would be uncomfortable with attending sports events, such as baseball, basketball, or football, or a concert or play: 25 percent would be comfortable and 73 percent would not be comfortable attending large gatherings of these kinds.

Vote by mail

Looking ahead to the November election, 36 percent favor having all voting done by mail, but a majority, 57 percent, say it is important to have in-person voting along with a vote-by-mail absentee option.

As for how people think they personally will vote, 43 percent say they will vote absentee by mail, 11 percent say they will vote early in-person, and 39 percent say they plan to vote in-person on election day.

Economic impact

Reported job loss is higher in the May survey than in late March, with 15 percent saying they have lost a job. Thirty-three percent say someone in their family, other than themselves, has suffered a job loss. In March, 9 percent reported having lost a job and 26 percent said someone else in their family had lost a job. The two polls are compared in Table 5.

Work hours have been reduced for 24 percent of those polled. Forty-three percent say some other family member has had work hours reduced. These results are little changed from March, as shown in Table 6.

Twenty-seven percent say they have had to work from home, and 47 percent say this has happened to some other family member. These results have not changed much since March, as shown in Table 7.

Views of the direction of the economy have turned sharply down, with many more people saying the economy has gotten worse over the past year. But voters’ outlook for the next 12 months remains positive and has not changed since March. Tables 8 and 9 show the recent trends in these measures.

While many respondents have lost jobs or had working hours cut, there has not been a surge in reports of financial distress. However, those who have lost jobs or had family members lose jobs report substantially higher levels of financial insecurity as shown in Tables 10 and 11.

Those who have had work hours reduced also report less financial security than those who have not had hours reduced. This result is shown in Table 12.

Black people have been especially hard hit by the economic consequences of the pandemic. Combining the March and May polling, 29 percent have lost a job and an additional 48 percent have had a family member other than themselves lose a job.

These job losses have pushed the financial situation of blacks into greater insecurity. In January and February, 41 percent of blacks said they were living comfortably, 48 percent said they were just getting by, and 10 percent said they were struggling. In the combined March and May data, the percentage living comfortably was only a little lower, 38 percent, but those just getting by fell to 37 percent and those struggling rose to 25 percent.

Blacks in Wisconsin have also suffered disproportionately high COVID-19 infection and death rates compared to other groups, and this is reflected in higher concern about the coronavirus pandemic and personal worry about being affected by the disease. Among blacks in the combined March and May data, 75 percent say they are very concerned about the pandemic and 46 percent are very worried about the consequences of being infected with COVID-19. Among whites, 58 percent are very concerned, and 27 percent are very worried.

Home life

Forty-seven percent say their life has been disrupted a lot by the coronavirus epidemic, and 34 percent say it has been disrupted some, while 15 percent say only a little and 4 percent say there has been no disruption at all.

Of those with children under 18 living at home, almost half, 47 percent, say handling childcare has been very easy during the coronavirus outbreak, and 23 percent say it has been somewhat easy, while 20 percent say childcare has been somewhat difficult and 5 percent say it has been very difficult.

Of those with school-age children, 74 percent say their child has continued to receive instruction during the coronavirus closure. Nineteen percent say there has been limited instruction, and 4 percent say their child has not received any instruction. An additional 2 percent say their child has been home-schooled.

Differences in opinion by partisanship

Partisan differences have substantially increased from March to May. In March, three-quarters or more of every partisan group said that closing schools and businesses was an appropriate response to the pandemic. By May, Republicans were about evenly divided, with over 40 percent saying this was an overreaction.

Partisan division over Evers’ general handling of the pandemic has also increased sharply. In March, over 60 percent of all partisan groups approved of his handling of the response to the virus, but, by May, over 60 percent of Republicans disapproved.

Approval of how Trump has handled the coronavirus epidemic is sharply partisan, as it was in March, but with some decline in approval among Republicans, independents who lean Republican, and independents with no partisan leaning. Democrats who were strongly disapproving in March are slightly more so in May.

The levels of concern over coronavirus in the United States show significant partisan differences. However, declining concern about the pandemic has occurred across all partisan categories from March to May.

The outlook for when the virus may be under control and things return to normal also shows partisan differences. Across all partisan groups, there is a substantial shift away from believing that the pandemic will be under control by August or sooner, and an increase in the percentage that believe the outbreak will continue into the fall or beyond.

General-election matchup

A general-election matchup between Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee former Vice President Joe Biden indicates a close race. In the May poll Biden receives 46 percent and Trump receives 43 percent. In March, Biden had the same edge with 48 percent to Trump’s 45 percent.

The full trend in general-election support is shown in Table 23 for Biden vs. Trump.

Biden holds an advantage over Trump among the youngest voters, 18-29 years old, and the oldest, 60 years or older, while those 30-59 years old favor Trump, a pattern that has held in most of the Marquette Law School polls since August 2019. Vote by age is shown in Table 24 for the May survey.

Differences by sex and education among white voters have been particularly pronounced in approval of Trump and in vote choice. Table 25 shows the vote choice by sex, education, and race. There are too few non-white respondents to allow breaking those groups out by sex and education.

In 2016, according to exit polls, Trump won a substantial majority of voters who had a negative opinion of both Hillary Clinton and Trump. In the four Marquette Law School polls conducted in 2020, a different pattern is apparent. Among those with a favorable opinion of both Biden and Trump, Trump receives 61 percent to Biden’s 27 percent. For voters with unfavorable views of both candidates, Biden receives 62 percent to 15 percent for Trump. Four percent hold favorable views of both candidates, and 12 percent have unfavorable views of both. Unsurprisingly, those with favorable views of one and unfavorable views of the other candidate give the favored candidate over 97 percent of their votes.

Trump Job Approval

Forty-seven percent approve of the job Trump is doing as president, with 49 percent disapproving. That is little changed from March, when 48 percent approved and 49 percent disapproved.

Trump’s recent job approval trend is shown in Table 26.

Trump’s job approval is high among Republicans and low among Democrats, with a majority of independents approving, as shown in Table 27.

Fifty-four percent of those polled approve of Trump’s handling of the economy, while 40 percent disapprove. In March, 54 percent approved and 41 percent disapproved.

The trend in approval of Trump’s handling of the economy is shown in Table 28.

Governor and legislature job approval

Evers’ job approval stands at 59 percent, with disapproval at 33 percent. Seven percent say they don’t have an opinion. In March, 65 percent approved and 29 percent disapproved.

The trend in job approval of the governor is shown in Table 29.

The trend in approval of the legislature, which is not asked in every survey, is shown in Table 30.

Favorability of Evers, Johnson and Baldwin

Tables 31-33 present the recent favorability ratings of Evers, Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin, and Republican Sen. Ron Johnson.

About the Marquette Law School Poll

The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. This poll interviewed 811 registered Wisconsin voters by landline or cell phone from May 3-7, 2020. The margin of error is +/-4 percentage points for the full sample.

The partisan makeup of the sample, including those who lean to a party, is 44 percent Republican, 45 percent Democratic, and 9 percent independent. The partisan makeup of the sample, excluding those who lean to a party, is 29 percent Republican, 28 percent Democratic, and 41 percent independent.

Since January 2017, the long-term partisan balance, including those who lean to a party, in the Marquette Law School Poll has been 45 percent Republican and 45 percent Democratic, with 9 percent independent. Partisanship exuding 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 strong support for coronavirus closings, even as it shows substantial economic impact

MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School poll of Wisconsin registered voters finds strong support for government actions to control the coronavirus pandemic, even as the poll also shows these actions to be having a substantial financial impact on voters.

Eighty-six percent say that it was appropriate to close schools and businesses, and restrict public gatherings, while 10 percent say that this was an overreaction to the pandemic. Fifty-one percent strongly approve of legislation providing direct cash payments to individuals, and 28 percent somewhat approve, while 9 percent somewhat disapprove and 6 percent strongly disapprove.

A large majority of voters approve of Gov. Tony Evers’ handling of the coronavirus issue, with 76 percent saying they approve and 17 percent saying they disapprove. A majority, 51 percent, approve of President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic, while 46 percent disapprove.

The economic impact is clear in this poll with 9 percent saying they have lost a job or been laid off. An additional 21 percent say someone else in the family has lost employment. Sixty-eight percent say there has not been a job loss in the family.

Work hours have been reduced for 22 percent of respondents. A further 29 percent say someone else in the family has had work hours reduced while 48 percent say no one in their family has had hours reduced.

Twenty-six percent say they have had to work from home. An additional 30 percent say someone else in the family has begun to work from home while 43 percent say no one in the family has been required to work from home.

Fifty-seven percent say their life has been disrupted a lot by the coronavirus epidemic and 28 percent say it has been disrupted some, while 12 percent say only a little and 3 percent say there has been no disruption at all.

The poll was conducted March 24-29, 2020. The sample included 813 registered voters in Wisconsin interviewed by cell phone or landline, with a margin of error of +/- 4.2 percentage points.

Seventy-six percent say they are following the news about coronavirus very closely, and 22 percent are following the news somewhat closely. One percent are following the news not very closely, and 1 percent are not following coronavirus news at all.

Concern about the coronavirus pandemic itself is also high, with 68 percent saying they are very concerned about the epidemic in the United States, 25 percent saying they are somewhat concerned, 5 percent saying they are not very concerned and 2 percent saying they are not at all concerned.

With respect to both the risk of contracting and the seriousness of the coronavirus illness, 30 percent say they are very worried about getting the illness and 40 percent are somewhat worried, while 18 percent are not very worried and 11 percent say they are not at all worried.

Forty-four percent think the coronavirus outbreak will be under control by the end of May, 27 percent say by the end of August, and 11 percent say it will be under control sometime next fall. Seven percent say it will take about a year and 2 percent say it will take more than a year to control the epidemic.

Sixty-two percent think the Democratic National Convention, scheduled to meet in Milwaukee in July, should not be held as an in-person event, while 22 percent say it should meet as planned.

Opinion is divided on holding the April 7 spring election as scheduled, with 51 percent saying the date should be moved and 44 percent saying it should be held as scheduled.

Difference in opinion by partisanship

There is strong support for school and business closures across party lines, though Democrats are more supportive than are Republicans.

Approval of how Tony Evers has handled the coronavirus outbreak is high across partisan groups though there remain differences.

Approval of how Donald Trump has handled the coronavirus epidemic is sharply partisan.

Concern over coronavirus in the U.S. reflects significant partisan differences, despite high overall concern.

Democratic presidential primary

Since the last Marquette Law School poll in February, the Democratic primary field has shrunk to two candidates, Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Table 5 shows how support for each candidate has changed each month since November 2019. Biden held a small lead in November through January, while Sanders moved into first place in February. Those results are much different in the March poll, with Biden at 62 percent and Sanders at 34 percent. Among those who say they are absolutely certain to vote, or have already voted, in the Democratic primary, Biden receives 65 percent and Sanders 32 percent. Given the uncertainty created by historically high levels of absentee voting and the unknown levels of election day turnout, these findings should be viewed with more than the usual caution.

Democratic presidential primary preference items were asked of those who said they will vote in the Democratic primary in April. That sample size is 394, with a margin of error of +/-5.9 percentage points.

General election matchups

General election matchups between Trump and both Democratic candidates indicate a very close race. In the March poll, Biden receives 48 percent and Trump receives 45 percent. In the other matchup, Sanders is the choice of 45 percent and Trump the choice of 47 percent.

The full trend in general election support is shown in Table 6 for Biden vs. Trump and in Table 7 for Sanders vs. Trump.

Health care policy

Support for a “Medicare for all policy,” which would provide a single government program for all health coverage, has declined from October to March, as shown in Table 8.

There has been no change in support for a government-provided public option in competition with private insurance, as shown in Table 9. (Strength of support was not measured in October, so only support and opposition are shown in the table for comparability.)

Trump Job Approval

Forty-eight percent of Wisconsin voters approve of the job Trump is doing as president, with 49 percent disapproving. That is little changed from February, when 48 percent approved and 48 percent disapproved.

Trump’s recent job approval trend is shown in Table 10.

Trump’s job approval is high among Republicans and low among Democrats, with a majority of independents approving, as shown in Table 11.

Fifty-four percent of those polled approve of Trump’s handling of the economy, while 41 percent disapprove. In February, 56 percent approved and 41 percent disapproved.

The trend in approval of Trump’s handling of the economy is shown in Table 12.

The trend in foreign policy approval is shown in Table 13.

Economic outlook

Despite the coronavirus-induced economic downturn, Wisconsin registered voters hold a positive view of the performance of the economy over the past 12 months, with 41 percent saying the economy has improved over the past year, 31 percent saying it has worsened, and 25 percent saying it has stayed the same. The net (the “better” total minus the “worse” total) turned sharply down in March, however. The trend in economic evaluations since the start of 2019 is shown in Table 14.

Voters remain optimistic about the economy over the next year. Forty-four percent say the economy will improve, while 34 percent think it will get worse and 13 percent say the economy will remain the same. Both positive and negative expectations rose in March, leaving a net positive outlook. The trend in economic outlook is shown in Table 15.

The overall picture for family financial situations has slightly worsened in March, with a small decline in the percent living comfortably and a small increase in those who say they are struggling. In light of the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak measured above, it is very likely that the full impact of this economic shock has not yet been fully felt by respondents. The trend in this measure is shown in Table 16.

State of the state

In the new poll, 61 percent say the state is headed in the right direction, while 30 percent say it has gotten off on the wrong track. This is a notable rise in the right-direction percentage, perhaps reflecting the positive reaction, seen above, to measures taken to confront the coronavirus pandemic.

The trend in opinion is shown in Table 17.

Evers job approval

Gov. Tony Evers’ job approval stands at 65 percent, with disapproval at 29 percent. Six percent say they don’t have an opinion. This is a sharp rise. In February, 51 percent approved and 38 percent disapproved.

The trend in job approval of the governor is shown in Table 18.

Table 19 presents the favorability ratings of three elected officials in Wisconsin and the percentage of respondents who haven’t heard enough or say they don’t 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 813 registered Wisconsin voters by landline or cell phone, March 24-29, 2020. The margin of error is +/-4.2 percentage points for the full sample.

The Democratic presidential candidate preference items were asked of those who said they would vote in the Democratic primary. That sample size is 394, with a margin of error of +/-5.9 percentage points. The margin of error for those Democratic primary voters who say they are absolutely certain to vote or have already voted is +/-6.6 percentage points based on 315 cases.

The partisan makeup of the sample, including those who lean to a party, is 46 percent Republican, 46 percent Democratic and 7 percent independent. The partisan makeup of the sample, excluding those who lean to a party, is 29 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 39 percent independent.

Since January 2017, the long-term partisan balance, including those who lean to a party, in the Marquette Law School 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 Sanders’ support rising among Democrats and tight races between Trump and each Democratic candidate for president

MILWAUKEE — A new Marquette University Law School poll of Wisconsin registered voters finds that Sen. Bernie Sanders leads in the Democratic primary with support from 29 percent of those saying they will take part in the April 7 voting. Of the six Marquette polls conducted since August 2019, this is the first in which Sanders has held the top spot.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg is supported by 17 percent, and Vice President Joe Biden is the first choice of 15 percent. Mayor Pete Buttigieg is at 13 percent, Sen. Amy Klobuchar is at 11 percent, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren is at 9 percent.

In January, Sanders was the choice of 19 percent, Bloomberg held 6 percent and Biden held first place with 23 percent.

The complete results for first and second choices in the Democratic primary are shown in Table 1.

Table 1: First and second choice in the Democratic primary (among Democratic primary voters)

Table 2 shows how support for each candidate has changed each month since November 2019. Support for Sanders has increased while support for Biden has declined. After entering the race in the late fall, Bloomberg rose to second place in February. Klobuchar’s support has more than doubled her support from January, while Warren has declined over the past four months.

Table 2: First choice in the Democratic primary, Nov.-Feb. (among Democratic primary voters)

Fifty-six percent of Democratic primary voters say they might change their minds about their primary choice, while 42 percent say their mind is made up. Table 3 shows that Democratic primary voters have become more certain of their primary preferences since November.

Table 3: Have voters made up their mind for president? (among Democratic primary voters)

The poll was conducted Feb. 19-23, 2020. The sample included 1000 registered voters in Wisconsin interviewed by cell phone or landline, with a margin of error of +/- 3.6 percentage points.

Democratic presidential primary preference items were asked of those who said they will vote in the Democratic primary in April. That sample size is 490, with a margin of error of +/-5.1 percentage points.

Among the Democratic primary sample, the percentage of those saying they have favorable or unfavorable opinions of each candidate is shown in Table 4. Bloomberg, despite his second place standing in vote preference, is the only primary candidate with more unfavorable than favorable ratings among Democratic primary voters. Elizabeth Warren holds the third-highest favorable rating, despite her sixth place standing in vote preference.

Table 4: Favorability ratings of six candidates among Democratic primary sample

Democratic primary voters who describe themselves as liberal or very liberal are more likely to support Sanders or Warren than those who describe themselves as moderate or conservative, as seen in Table 5. The reverse pattern holds for Bloomberg and Biden, each of whom does better with moderate or conservative primary voters than with more liberal ones. Buttigieg and Klobuchar draw support more evenly across ideological identities.

In this sample, 56 percent of Democratic primary voters described themselves as moderate or conservative while 41 percent considered themselves liberal or very liberal.

Table 5: Primary choice by voter ideology among Democratic primary voters.

Sanders has consistently received more support from younger voters than from older ones. That pattern continues to hold in the February data, but he has increased support across all age groups since the January poll, as shown in Table 6.

Table 6: Sanders support by age

Table 7 shows that Sanders, Bloomberg, Klobuchar and Warren each do a little better among those who say they are absolutely certain to vote in the Democratic primary than among those who are not so certain they will vote. Biden does substantially less well among those certain to vote than with those less likely to do so. Buttigieg is also slightly weaker among the most likely to vote.

Table 7: Primary choice by likelihood of voting in primary among Democratic primary voters

Respondents were asked how likely they were “to vote in the April 7 election for state Supreme Court, presidential primaries, and other offices” and were asked in a separate question in which presidential primary they would participate.

The likelihood of voting on April 7 is shown by party identification in Table 8. Democrats are a little more likely than Republicans to say they are certain to vote, with independents least certain of participating.

Table 8: Likelihood of voting April 7 by party identification

Of those who say they are certain to vote, a majority say they will vote in the Democratic primary, while just over a third say they will vote in the Republican primary, as shown in Table 9.

Table 9: Vote in which primary by likelihood of voting April 7

While most partisans say they will participate in their own party’s primary, about 10 percent of Republicans say they will vote in the Democratic presidential primary, while no Democrats say they will cross over to the Republican primary, as in Table 10 (President Donald J. Trump is the only candidate listed on the Republican primary ballot. Crossover voting is permitted in Wisconsin.). About a third of independents say they will vote in the Democratic primary, though more say either they won’t vote or don’t know which primary they might vote in.

Table 10: Vote in which primary April 7 by party identification

“Electability” has been a topic of discussion for primary voters. We asked respondents, “Regardless of who you think would win, which of the current Democratic candidates do you think would run the strongest race against Donald Trump in November’s presidential election?” Responses by party identification are shown in Table 11.

Among Democrats, Sanders is seen as the strongest against Trump, with Bloomberg and Biden a distant second and third. Republicans see Bloomberg as the strongest, closely followed by Sanders with Biden a distant third. Independents give similar responses to Republicans, although they rate Biden as a weaker candidate than do Republicans.

Table 11: Who would be the strongest Democrat against Trump in the general election?

General-election matchups

General-election matchups between Trump and six Democratic candidates all indicate very close races. Sanders holds a two-percentage point edge over Trump while Biden, Buttigieg and Klobuchar tie with Trump. Bloomberg trails Trump by one point and Warren trails by three points. Each of these margins is well within the margin of error for this poll. Table 12 presents the matchups.

Table 12: General-election matchups

Trends in the matchups since August are shown in Tables 13-18. The matchup with Buttigieg was not asked in August. Klobuchar was asked only in November (half-sample) and February. The matchup with Bloomberg was first asked in February.

Table 13: Biden vs. Trump trend
Table 14: Bloomberg vs. Trump
Table 15: Buttigieg vs. Trump trend
Table 16: Klobuchar vs. Trump trend
Table 17: Sanders vs. Trump trend
Table 18: Warren vs Trump trend

Favorability of Trump and six Democrats among all registered voters is shown in Table 19. The Democratic candidates are all less favorably perceived than is Trump. With the exception of Klobuchar, all candidates have more unfavorable than favorable evaluations among all registered voters.

Table 19: Favorability ratings of Trump and six Democratic candidates among all registered voters

Favorability varies strongly by party identification, with partisans holding sharply negative views of candidates of the other party. Democrats are more divided over some of their potential nominees and some Democrat candidates remain less well known even among Democratic partisans. Tables 20-26 show favorability by party identification for each candidate. (Democrats in these tables includes all those who identify as Democrats or independents who lean Democratic, while favorability among Democratic primary voters above includes independents and Republicans planning to vote in the Democratic primary and excludes those who do not intend to vote in the primary.)

Table 20: Trump favorable or unfavorable views by party ID
Table 21: Sanders favorable or unfavorable views by party ID
Table 22: Biden favorable or unfavorable views by party ID
Table 23: Warren favorable or unfavorable views by party ID
Table 24: Buttigieg favorable or unfavorable views by party ID
Table 25: Klobuchar favorable or unfavorable views by party ID
Table 26: Bloomberg favorable or unfavorable views by party ID

Trump job approval

Forty-eight percent approve of the job Trump is doing as president, with 48 percent also disapproving. This is the first Marquette Law School Poll since Trump took office in which Trump’s disapproval is not higher than his approval. In January, 48 percent approved and 49 percent disapproved.

Trump’s job approval trend is shown in Table 27.

Table 27: Trump job approval trend
Table 27: Trump job approval trend
(continued)

Trump’s job approval is extremely high among Republicans, extremely low among Democrats and split among independents and those who lean to a party, as shown in Table 28.

Table 28: Trump job approval by party identification

Fifty-six percent of those polled approve of Trump’s handling of the economy, while 41 percent disapprove. In December, 55 percent approved and 42 percent disapproved.

 The trend in approval of Trump’s handling of the economy is shown in table 29.

Table 29: Approval of Trump’s handling of the economy trend

The trend in foreign policy approval is shown in Table 30.

Table 30: Approval of Trump’s handling of foreign policy

Opinions about impeachment

Views about Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine changed very little following the U.S. Senate vote not to convict Trump based on impeachment counts approved by the U.S. House of Representatives. In the new results, forty-one percent say that Trump did something seriously wrong in his dealings with Ukraine, 13 percent say he did something wrong but not seriously so and 36 percent say Trump did nothing wrong. Nine percent say they don’t know. In January, 40 percent said he did something seriously wrong, 14 percent said it was wrong but not serious and 37 percent said he did nothing wrong.

The trend in views of Trump’s dealing with Ukraine is shown in Table 31.

Table 31: Did Trump do something wrong in his dealing with Ukraine

Following the Senate vote to acquit Trump, 42 percent say the Senate should have convicted Trump and removed him from office, while 52 percent say the Senate should have acquitted him of the charges. Five percent say they don’t know. These views are little changed from the January poll which asked, before the Senate proceedings, what the Senate should do. Tables 32 and 33 show the results for January and February respectively.

Table 32: Should Senate vote to remove
Table 33: Should Senate have voted to remove

National policy issues

With the presidential election on the horizon, we asked about two social issues that divide the parties and are often subject of campaign debate.

Opinions about abortion have been a longstanding issue in elections and legislation. In the current February poll, 18 percent say abortions should be legal in all circumstances, with 37 percent saying it should be legal in most circumstances. Twenty-two percent say it should be illegal in most circumstances, while 15 percent say it should be illegal in all circumstances. The full trend for this question is shown in Table 34.

Table 34: Abortion position

Views of same-sex marriage have changed considerably over time. The recent trend in Wisconsin, shown in Table 35, shows over two-thirds support for the legal status of same-sex marriage, with about a quarter continuing to oppose it.

Table 35: View of same-sex marriage

What United States policy should be regarding undocumented immigrants already in the country is another long-running issue. Table 36 shows the trend in opinion on this issue. Over time, there has been majority support for a policy allowing a path to citizenship and this majority has grown in recent years.

The number of those who believe that undocumented immigrants should be required to leave the United States has modestly declined over time.

Table 36: What to do with undocumented

Free-trade agreements have been a focus of recent policy, with the recent adoption of the United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement to replace NAFTA. The percentage who see free-trade agreements as good for the United States has grown in recent years, as shown in Table 37.

Table 37: Free trade agreements

Views of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, have remained about evenly divided since 2017, as shown in Table 38.

Table 38: Opinion of ACA/Obamacare

A proposed “Medicare for all” program in which all Americans would receive health coverage through a single government-run Medicare program divides the public, with 46 percent strongly or somewhat in favor of such a program and 51 percent strongly or somewhat opposed. Opposition has risen from 41 percent in October 2018, as shown in Table 39.

Table 39: Medicare for all by poll dates

An alternative to Medicare for all is the so-called “public option” in which government medical coverage would compete with private insurance and be available for any who chose to sign up for the government alternative. Sixty-one percent support a public option, with 32 percent opposed. The trend is shown in Table 40.

Table 40: Public option

State issues

Voters see the state budget as stable, with 48 percent saying the budget is in about the same shape as in recent years, as shown in Table 41. Eighteen percent say it is in better shape, and 20 percent say it is in worse shape, than in recent years.

Table 41: State budget better, same, or worse

More than half, 56 percent, say it is more important to increase spending on public schools than it is to reduce property taxes, while 38 percent say reducing property taxes is more important. Support for increased school spending peaked in early 2018, while support for cutting property taxes was at its highest in 2013, as shown in Table 42.

Table 42: Cut property taxes or provide more funding for public schools

A majority of respondents, 57 percent, say that they would be inclined to vote for a local referendum that raised taxes to support public schools, while 34 percent would be inclined to vote against it. This is little changed since the question was last asked in 2016, as shown in Table 43. These results are statewide and are not connected to any specific referendum.

Table 43: Support or oppose referendum to raise taxes for public schools

Voters favor a non-partisan approach to redistricting over the current process in which the legislature and governor are responsible for drawing legislative and congressional districts. This item was also asked in January 2019, as shown in Table 44.

Table 44: Redistricting by governor and legislature or by non-partisan commission

Economic outlook and issues

Wisconsin registered voters hold a positive view of the performance of the economy over the past 12 months, with 47 percent saying the economy has improved over the past year, 15 percent saying it has worsened and 36 percent saying it has stayed the same. The trend in economic evaluations is shown in Table 45.

Table 45: Economic evaluation of past year

Looking ahead to the next year, 36 percent say the economy will improve, while 21 percent think it will get worse and 37 percent say the economy will remain the same. The trend in economic outlook is shown in Table 46.

Table 46: Economic outlook for next year
Table 46: Economic outlook for next year (continued)

Respondents are asked each survey about their family’s financial situation. In February, 62 percent said they are “living comfortably,” while 29 percent said they are “just getting by,” and 8 percent said they are “struggling.” This trend is shown in Table 47.

Table 47: Family financial situation by poll date

State of the state

In February, 52 percent say the state is headed in the right direction, while 39 percent say it has gotten off on the wrong track. The trend in opinion is shown in Table 48.

Table 48: Right direction or on wrong track trend

Gov. Tony Evers’ job approval stands at 51 percent, with disapproval at 38 percent. Ten percent say they don’t have an opinion. The trend in job approval of Evers is shown in Table 49.

Table 49: Evers’ job approval trend

Approval of the state legislature’s handling of its job stands at 46 percent with disapproval at 40 percent. Thirteen percent say they don’t have an opinion.

Table 50: Approval of legislature trend

Table 51 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 51: Favorability ratings of governor and senators

About the Marquette Law School Poll

The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. This poll interviewed 1,000 registered Wisconsin voters by landline or cell phone from Feb. 19-23, 2020. The margin of error is +/-3.6 percentage points for the full sample.

The Democratic presidential candidate preference items were asked of those who said they would vote in the Democratic primary. That sample size is 464, with a margin of error of +/-5.1 percentage points.

Three questions were asked of half the sample (Form A), and three were asked of the other half-sample (Form B). Questions on Form A have a sample size of 500 and a margin of error of +/- 5.2 percentage points. Questions on Form B have a sample size of 500 and a margin of error of +/- 5.1 percentage points.

Form A questions were approval of the state legislature, condition of the state budget and how to conduct redistricting. Form B questions concerned abortion, undocumented immigrants, and same-sex marriage.

The partisan makeup of the sample, including those who lean to a party, is 45 percent Republican, 44 percent Democratic and 9 percent independent. The partisan makeup of the sample, excluding those who lean to a party, is 31 percent Republican, 29 percent Democratic and 39 percent independent.

Since January 2017, the long-term partisan balance, including those who lean to a party, in the Marquette Law School Poll has been 45 percent Republican and 44 percent Democratic, with 9 percent independent. Partisanship, excluding those who lean, has been 30 percent Republican and 28 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.