All posts by Charles Franklin

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.