All posts by Charles Franklin

New Marquette Law School Poll finds Wisconsin voters divided on benefits of Foxconn deal, but together in support of background checks for gun sales

MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School Poll finds Wisconsin voters divided in their opinions on the value of the Foxconn Technology Group’s planned flat-panel-display factory in the state. Forty-nine percent of voters think that the state is paying more in incentives than the Foxconn plant is worth, while 38 percent think that the plant will provide at least as much value as the state’s investment. Thirteen percent say they don’t know whether the plant will be worth it or not.

A majority—57 percent—of registered voters statewide believe that the Foxconn plant will substantially improve the economy of the greater Milwaukee area, while 35 percent do not think it will and 8 percent say they don’t know. It has been suggested that the plant, which will be built with state funding of $3 billion, will provide up to 13,000 direct jobs.

But in contrast to the expected economic impact on the Milwaukee area, only 25 percent statewide say businesses where they live will benefit directly from the Foxconn plant, while 66 percent say their local businesses will not benefit and 8 percent don’t know. This includes respondents in the Milwaukee area who also doubt existing businesses in their area will see a direct benefit from Foxconn.

Twenty-nine percent of statewide voters say they are very concerned that the Foxconn plant will have a negative impact on water and environmental quality, with an additional 33 percent saying they are somewhat concerned. Eighteen percent say they are not very concerned and 14 percent say they are not at all concerned about the environmental impact.

The poll was conducted Feb. 25-March 1, 2018. The sample included 800 registered voters in Wisconsin, interviewed by cell phone or landline, with a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percentage points. Some items were asked of half the sample and have a margin of error of +/- 6.4 percentage points or +/- 6.3 percentage points. Half-sample items and their margins of error are listed at the end of this release and online. Entries may not sum to 100 due to rounding.

There are regional differences in views of the value of the Foxconn plant as seen in Table 1, with the strongest support in the Milwaukee area outside of the City of Milwaukee. Residents of the city are much less likely than regional counterparts to think that the benefits will outweigh the state’s subsidy, as are residents of the Madison media market. The Green Bay area and the north/west region of the state (including the La Crosse/Eau Claire, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Duluth/Superior and Wausau media markets) have a common level of skepticism.

Table 1: Will Foxconn be worth state’s investment or not, percentage by region

  Worth it Not worth it DK
MKE City 30 56 14
Rest of MKE area 52 40 8
MSN 24 60 16
Green Bay 37 50 13
North/west 36 49 15

Across the regions of the state, majorities believe the Foxconn facility will substantially improve the Milwaukee area economy, as shown in Table 2 (below), although a majority of residents of the City of Milwaukee believe that it will not boost the region’s economy. Those living in the Milwaukee area outside the city are most optimistic about the economic impact, although 59 percent and 57 percent of residents of the Green Bay and the northwest region of the state, respectively, think that the Milwaukee area will benefit economically. A bare majority of Madison area residents, 51 percent, say Foxconn will substantially boost the Milwaukee economy.

Table 2: Will Foxconn substantially improve Milwaukee area economy, percentage by region

  Will improve economy Will not DK
MKE City 42 52 6
Rest of MKE area 65 30 4
MSN 51 41 8
Green Bay 59 33 9
North/west 57 30 12

Wisconsin voters are less likely to believe that businesses near where they live will directly benefit from the Foxconn development, and this is true for all regions of the state, as shown in Table 3. Fewer than 40 percent of residents in any region of the state think that Foxconn will directly benefit businesses in their area, with as few as 17 percent in the northwest region seeing a benefit.

Table 3: Will businesses near you directly benefit from Foxconn, percentage by region

  Will benefit Will not DK
MKE City 27 57 16
Rest of MKE area 37 58 5
MSN 20 72 8
Green Bay 22 69 9
North/west 17 74 9

Gun issues

In the aftermath of the recent school shooting in Florida, Wisconsin residents support background checks on private gun sales and sales at gun shows. Eighty-one percent support such background checks while 16 percent oppose them. When the question was last asked in June 2016, 85 percent supported and 12 percent opposed background checks.

Fifty-six percent favor a ban on assault-style weapons, while 40 percent oppose such a ban. That question was previously asked in March 2013, when 54 percent favored and 43 percent opposed a ban on assault weapons.

Of those with a gun in their household, a substantial majority, 78 percent, support background checks, while 18 percent oppose the checks. Among households without a gun, 86 percent favor and 13 percent oppose background checks.

A ban on assault-style weapons is opposed by 52 percent and favored by 43 percent of voters among households with a gun, while among households without a gun a ban is favored by 69 percent of voters and opposed by 28 percent.

Wisconsin voters are more divided on the effectiveness of possible new gun control laws in reducing mass shootings. Twelve percent think that new laws would reduce mass shootings a great deal, with another 22 percent saying this would reduce shootings a moderate amount. Nineteen percent say that additional gun control would reduce shootings only a little and 43 percent say that new laws would have no effect at all.

Voters in households with guns are most doubtful that gun control laws would reduce mass shootings, with 57 percent saying this would have no effect at all, 18 percent saying a little effect, 17 percent a moderate effect and 6 percent saying a great deal. Among households without a gun, 20 percent say that new gun laws would reduce shootings a great deal, with another 30 percent saying a moderate amount. Nearly as many of voters in households without guns express skepticism, with 16 percent saying gun laws would have only a little effect and 28 percent saying no effect at all.

Statewide, 44 percent of voters live in households with a gun, 48 percent do not and 8 percent say they don’t know or decline to say whether there is a gun in the house. Ownership is most common in the Green Bay media market and the north/west portion of the state, is equal as between Madison and the Milwaukee area outside the city and least common among City of Milwaukee residents.

 

Table 4: Gun households, percentage by region

  Gun household Not gun household DK Ref
MKE City 31 68 1 0
Rest of MKE area 39 51 1 10
MSN 39 51 3 8
Green Bay 57 37 0 6
North/west 50 42 3 5

 

Views of President Trump

President Donald Trump has a 43 percent approval rating, with 50 percent disapproving. In the Marquette Law School Poll in June 2017, his approval was 41 percent, with 51 percent disapproving.

Fifty percent think Trump is keeping the promises he made during his campaign, while 46 percent think he is not doing so. Last June, 49 percent said he was keeping his promises and 46 percent said he was not.

Forty-three percent describe Trump as someone who cares about people like them, while 54 percent say this does not describe him. In June, 40 percent said he cares and 55 percent said this does not describe him.

Thirty-seven percent say Trump shows good judgment and 59 percent say he does not. In June, 34 percent said he shows good judgment while 61 percent said he does not.

Views of President Trump are sharply divided along party lines, with 89 percent of Republicans approving and 8 percent disapproving. The numbers are reversed among Democrats, with 89 percent disapproving and 9 percent approving. Among independents, 34 percent approve and 53 percent disapprove.

State of the state

Fifty-three percent say Wisconsin is headed in the right direction while 44 percent say it is off on the wrong track. In June, 53 percent said it was headed in the right direction and 42 percent said it was on the wrong track.

Views of the state budget are about evenly divided, with 31 percent saying the budget is in better shape now than a few years ago, 35 percent saying it is about the same and 28 percent saying the budget is in worse shape now.

Voters say they would rather increase spending on public schools than reduce property taxes, by a 63 percent to 33 percent margin. When first asked in March 2014, 49 percent preferred to reduce property taxes while 46 percent favored increased spending for public schools.

Act 10, the law that sharply limited collective bargaining for most public employees in Wisconsin, remains a major divide in the state. Forty-six percent favor keeping Act 10 as it is, while 41 percent would favor a return to such collective bargaining. Views of Act 10 have changed little over time. When first asked in May 2012, 43 percent favored a return of collective bargaining and 50 percent preferred keeping Act 10. The most recent time the question was asked was October 2014, when 43 percent favored collective bargaining and 50 percent favored keeping Act 10.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s job approval stands at 47 percent and disapproval at 47 percent. The trend in approval for Walker in 2017 and 2018 is shown in Table 5.

Table 5: Scott Walker job approval percentage trend, 2017-18

  Approve Disapprove Don’t know Refused
March 2018 47 47 6 1
June 2017 48 48 4 0
March 2017 45 48 6 0
         

Knowledge of and favorability toward 2018 candidates

A substantial majority of the public has not yet developed an impression of either the Democratic candidates for governor or the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin. More than 60 percent, and often over 80 percent, of respondents say they haven’t heard enough or don’t know a candidate well enough to say if they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of him or her. The Democratic gubernatorial candidate favorability results are shown in Table 6 and the Republican Senate candidates are shown in Table 7.

Table 6: Democratic gubernatorial candidates’ favorability percentages

  Favorable Unfavorable Haven’t heard enough Don’t know
Evers 20 13 48 18
Flynn 13 8 57 21
Gronik 4 4 66 25
McCabe 9 5 62 23
Mitchell 7 4 61 28
Roys 4 3 65 27
Soglin 15 13 51 20
Vinehout 12 9 55 23
Wachs 7 4 62 26

 

Table 7: Republican senate candidates’ favorability percentages

  Favorable Unfavorable Haven’t heard enough Don’t know
Nicholson 7 7 60 25
Vukmir 10 6 58 25

 

In the race for Wisconsin Supreme Court, more than 75 percent of respondents are unable to rate the candidates, despite the primary election on Feb. 20. This is shown in Table 8.

Table 8: State Supreme Court candidates’ favorability percentage

  Favorable Unfavorable Haven’t heard enough Don’t know
Dallet 14 9 55 22
Screnock 10 9 57 24
         

Recent trend of incumbent favorability

Unlike the situation with the challengers, over 95 percent of respondents have an opinion of Walker. They are evenly divided between a favorable and an unfavorable view, as shown in Table 9.

Table 9: Scott Walker favorability percentage trend, 2017-18

  Favorable Unfavorable Haven’t heard enough Don’t know
March 2018 48 48 2 2
June 2017 48 47 3 2
March 2017 45 51 3 1

Over 75 percent of respondents have an opinion about Sen. Tammy Baldwin, whose rating in this poll is 37 percent favorable and 39 percent unfavorable. Baldwin’s trend over the past year is shown in Table 10.

Table 10: Tammy Baldwin favorability percentage trend, 2017-18

  Favorable Unfavorable Haven’t heard enough Don’t know
March 2018 37 39 20 3
June 2017 38 38 21 2
March 2017 40 35 21 3

The horse races in the primaries

Asked in which partisan primary they will vote, respondents split 32 percent for the Republican primary and 35 percent for the Democratic primary, with 17 percent saying they will not vote and 13 percent saying they don’t know.

Among those saying they will vote in the Democratic primary, nearly half, 44 percent, say they don’t know for whom they will vote. State school superintendent Tony Evers receives 18 percent of the vote, with no other candidate reaching 10 percent. Madison Mayor Paul Soglin receives 9 percent, while former Democratic state chair Matt Flynn rounds out the top three with 7 percent. The margin of error for the Democratic primary results is +/- 7.1 percentage points based on 318 respondents. The full set of results for the Democratic primary is shown in Table 11.

Table 11: Democratic gubernatorial primary

Candidate Percent
Tony Evers 18
Matt Flynn 7
Andy Gronik 3
Mike McCabe 6
Mahlon Mitchell 4
Kelda Roys 0
Paul Soglin 9
Kathleen Vinehout 5
Dana Wachs 4
Someone else (VOL) 1
Don’t know 44
Refused 0

 

Among those saying they will vote in the Republican senate primary, 49 percent say they don’t know for whom they will vote. Businessman Kevin Nicholson receives 28 percent of the vote and state senator Leah Vukmir receives 19 percent. The margin of error for the Republican primary results is +/- 8.2 percentage points based on 243 respondents. The full set of results for the Republican primary is shown in Table 12.

Table 12: Republican senate primary

Candidate Percent
Kevin Nicholson 28
Leah Vukmir 19
Someone else (VOL) 2
Don’t know 49
Refused 2

 

Enthusiasm about voting

Overall, 53 percent of registered voters say they are very enthusiastic about voting in this year’s elections, with 32 percent somewhat enthusiastic and 14 percent either not very or not at all enthusiastic. Among Republicans, 54 percent are very enthusiastic, while 64 percent of Democrats are. Among independents, 46 percent say they are very enthusiastic about voting this year.

In March 2014, in the last midterm election year, 48 percent said they were very enthusiastic, with 55 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of Democrats then saying so. Among independents, 42 percent were equally enthused.

Immigration

Most Wisconsin voters, 71 percent, support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently working in the United States, with 14 percent saying such individuals should stay as temporary guest workers and 9 percent saying they should be required to leave the country.

Support for citizenship of undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children and raised here is even higher, with 86 percent saying that such “DREAMers” should be able to stay and apply for citizenship, 8 percent saying they should stay as permanent residents but not be allowed to apply for citizenship and 4 percent saying they should be required to leave the country.

Wisconsin voters oppose building a wall along the entire border with Mexico by a 59 percent to 37 percent margin.

Russia and Mueller investigation

Voters are evenly divided in their confidence in special counsel Robert Mueller to conduct a fair and impartial investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, with 24 percent having a great deal of confidence, 22 percent having some confidence, 20 percent having only a little and 23 percent saying they have no confidence at all. When first asked in June, 20 percent had a great deal, 31 percent had some, 17 percent had only a little and 21 percent had no confidence at all in the Mueller investigation.

In this poll, 5 percent of Republicans had a great deal of confidence while 34 percent had none at all. In June, 13 percent had a great deal of confidence while 26 percent had none at all. Among Democrats, 43 percent now have a great deal of confidence while 12 percent have none at all. In June, it was 30 percent with a great deal of confidence while 12 percent had none at all.

More than half of Wisconsin voters say they are very (33 percent) or somewhat (22 percent) concerned about possible Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election, while 19 percent are not too concerned and 26 percent are not concerned at all.

Republicans feel less concerned about Russian influence, with 45 percent not at all concerned, 23 not too concerned, 23 somewhat concerned and 9 percent very concerned. Among Democrats, there is more concern with 59 percent very concerned, 26 percent somewhat concerned, 10 percent not too concerned and 6 percent very concerned. Independents fall in between, with 33 percent very concerned, 19 percent somewhat concerned, 22 percent not too concerned and 26 percent not at all concerned.

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, Feb. 25-March 1, 2018. The margin of error is +/-4.5 percentage points for the full sample. Some items were asked of half the sample. Those items on Form A (state items) were asked of 402 respondents and have a margin of error of +/-6.4, and those on form B (federal items) were asked of 398 respondents and have a margin of error of +/-6.3. Form A items include property tax cuts or increases for public schools and views of Act 10. Form B items include two item on immigration, whether to build a wall on the Mexico border, three items on guns, the Mueller investigation, concern for Russian influence in the 2016 election and whether Trump has kept campaign promises, cares about people like you and shows good judgment.

The partisan makeup of the sample, including those who lean to a party, is 41 percent Republican, 45 percent Democratic and 11 percent independent. The long-term total for the previous 43 statewide Marquette Law School polls, with 37,752 respondents, was 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 27 percent Republican, 25 percent Democratic and 46 percent independent, compared to the long-term totals of 27 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 41 percent independent.

Detailed results of the Marquette Law School Poll, Oct 9-17, 2017

This survey is part of the Milwaukee Area Project. It covers Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee, Washington, and Racine counties.

New poll shows Milwaukee area’s divided feelings on Foxconn, views on other topics as Marquette Law School launches expanded public policy program

MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School Poll of residents in Milwaukee and surrounding counties finds that 54 percent of adults believe a new Foxconn factory in Racine County will substantially improve the economy of the Milwaukee area, while 37 percent think it will not. At the same time, 48 percent think the $3 billion in state incentives to Foxconn to be more than the plant is worth, while 38 percent believe the factory will provide that much or more in benefits to the state. Twenty-nine percent of Milwaukee area respondents think they or their families will directly benefit from the Foxconn factory, with 65 percent saying they will not personally benefit.

The poll results on Foxconn and other important issues facing the Milwaukee metropolitan area were released Tuesday as Marquette Law School hosted the inaugural event for its Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education.

A half-day conference at the Law School included the debut of the Milwaukee Area Project (MAP), a long-term research effort of the Lubar Center, which will provide detailed information about metropolitan trends. The conference also featured speeches by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow, who addressed the region’s future, and keynote remarks from former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, President and CEO of The Minneapolis Foundation. The Lubar Center is supported by a $7 million gift to the Law School from Milwaukee philanthropists Sheldon and Marianne Lubar, who were honored at the event.

The polling results on Foxconn offer the first in-depth look at public sentiment in this region about the planned factory for building flat-screen televisions. The poll finds that 71 percent of Racine County residents say the Foxconn factory will improve the area’s economy and 23 percent don’t think so. In Ozaukee and Washington counties combined (hereafter “Ozaukee/Washington”), 67 percent expect an economic boost, as do 59 percent in Waukesha County, 55 percent in Milwaukee County outside the city (hereafter “suburban Milwaukee County”), and 40 percent in the City of Milwaukee. Those who doubt a substantial economic impact make up 27 percent in Ozaukee/Washington, 32 percent in Waukesha County, 35 percent in suburban Milwaukee County and 50 percent in the City of Milwaukee.

Those who think the plant will provide economic gain that comes to as much as or more than the $3 billion in state incentives make up 56 percent in Ozaukee/Washington, 48 percent in Waukesha County, 42 percent in Racine County, 37 percent in suburban Milwaukee County and 23 percent in the City of Milwaukee. Those who think the Foxconn factory will not be worth that much to the state are 34 percent in Ozaukee/Washington, 39 percent in Waukesha County, 47 percent in Racine County, 51 percent in suburban Milwaukee County and 58 percent in the City of Milwaukee.

Racine residents are most likely to say they or their families will directly benefit, at 49 percent, while 34 percent in Waukesha County, 29 percent in Ozaukee/Washington counties, 28 percent in suburban Milwaukee County and 20 percent in the City of Milwaukee expect to directly benefit. Those who say they will not directly benefit make up 47 percent in Racine County, 61 percent in Waukesha, 68 percent in Ozaukee/Washington, 68 percent in suburban Milwaukee County and 72 percent in the City of Milwaukee.

The Marquette Law School Poll of the Milwaukee area was conducted Oct. 9-17 with 1,200 adult residents of Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Washington and Waukesha counties. The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points for items based on the full sample. Margins of error for the individual counties and for the City of Milwaukee are larger. Full details are provided in the methodology statement below.

Economic conditions

Nine percent of those polled rate economic conditions in their community as excellent, with 42 percent saying conditions are good, 33 percent rating them only fair, and 14 percent calling economic conditions poor. Looking to the future, 11 percent think the economy will get much better over the next 10 years, 30 percent say somewhat better, and 32 percent think conditions will remain about the same, while 13 percent think conditions will become somewhat worse and 9 percent say much worse.

Nine percent of Milwaukee area residents rate job opportunities for young people in their communities as excellent, with 30 percent saying opportunities are good, 38 percent fair and 18 percent poor.

There are substantial differences in economic perceptions between the wealthy suburban counties and the less well-off parts of the Milwaukee area. Seventy-eight percent of Ozaukee/Washington and 76 percent of Waukesha residents rate their community economic conditions as excellent or good, compared to 22 and 25 percent respectively rating them fair or poor. Fifty-eight percent of suburban Milwaukee County residents say economic conditions are excellent or good, with 41 percent saying fair or poor. Thirty-seven percent of Racine County residents give an excellent or good rating while 63 percent say fair or poor. In the City of Milwaukee, 28 percent say economic conditions are excellent or good and 70 percent say they are fair or poor.

Asked about their personal financial situation, 53 percent of area residents say they are living comfortably, while 34 percent say they are just getting by and 12 percent report that they are struggling. Those numbers are virtually identical to a June statewide Marquette Law School poll that found 53 percent living comfortably, 32 percent just getting by and 14 percent struggling.

Family finances differ across the area, with 67 percent in Ozaukee/Washington counties and 67 percent in Waukesha County saying they are living comfortably, while 57 percent in suburban Milwaukee County and 53 percent in Racine County say the same. In the City of Milwaukee, 37 percent say they are living comfortably. Those just getting by make up 24 percent in Ozaukee/Washington, 26 percent in Waukesha County, 36 percent in Racine County, 32 percent in suburban Milwaukee County and 42 percent in the City of Milwaukee. Those who report struggling with their finances are 8 percent in Ozaukee/Washington, 7 percent in Waukesha County, 11 percent in Racine County, 9 percent in suburban Milwaukee County and 20 percent in the City of Milwaukee.

Milwaukee area residents prefer secure and stable jobs over pursuing opportunities, with 62 percent saying it is better to stay in a stable and reliable job and 33 percent saying it is better to change jobs often whenever a better opportunity is available. Here there are few differences across regions in the area, with between 31 and 37 percent saying one should pursue better opportunities while 58 to 66 percent say they prefer a stable job.

Regional policy issues

The diversion of water from Lake Michigan for use by the City of Waukesha, as an alternative to ground water with radium contamination, was supported by 63 percent of area residents, while 24 percent opposed the diversion. The diversion of water receives majority support in every region of the area, including 57 percent in Racine County, through which the Waukesha water would be returned to Lake Michigan, and 54 percent support from those living in the City of Milwaukee.

Residents in the Milwaukee area support giving municipalities the ability to raise the sales tax by as much as 1 cent so long as the additional tax is approved by referendum. Overall, 53 percent favor this option while 41 percent oppose allowing this. Majorities of 51 percent in Ozaukee/Washington counties, 58 percent in Waukesha, 60 percent in Racine and 61 percent in suburban Milwaukee County favored this tax option, while the City of Milwaukee split 43 percent in favor and 47 percent opposed.

The area is less supportive of special taxes for highways in the region, despite cuts in state support for projects such as the zoo interchange. Forty-one percent would support a special sales tax dedicated to area highways while 55 percent oppose such a tax. A majority, 50 percent or more, in each of the five area regions are opposed to a special sales tax for highways.

Area residents are skeptical that a streetcar line in downtown Milwaukee will deliver the economic benefits supporters expect. Sixty-nine percent say the streetcar is too expensive and won’t produce the economic benefits hoped for, while 25 percent think the streetcar will be worth the cost. There are small regional differences with 26 percent of Waukesha, 27 percent of Racine and 28 percent of City of Milwaukee residents saying the project will be worth it, while 18 percent of Ozaukee/Washington and 20 percent of suburban Milwaukee County residents agree.

Fifty-three percent of area residents would support a half-cent regional sales tax in the five counties to support cultural institutions such as the Zoo, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee Public Museum and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. Forty-four percent would oppose such a regional sales tax. Majorities are opposed in Ozaukee/Washington counties (61 percent) and Racine County (52 percent), while majorities support such a cultural-institutions tax in Waukesha County (55 percent), suburban Milwaukee County (55 percent) and the City of Milwaukee (59 percent.)

A special one-tenth of a cent tax to support the Miller Park baseball stadium was controversial when it was created two decades ago, but in the new poll, 68 percent think Miller Park was worth the tax, while 25 percent do not. Majorities of each region in the area say the tax was worth it, ranging from 78 percent in Waukesha County, 77 percent in Ozaukee/Washington counties and 73 percent in suburban Milwaukee County to 59 percent in Racine County and 58 percent in the City of Milwaukee.

While political divisions often separate parts of the Milwaukee area, a substantial majority of respondents profess to care about the region outside their own community. Eighteen percent either strongly agree or agree with the statement, “The most important thing to me is how well things are going where I live and I really don’t care what’s happening elsewhere in the Milwaukee area,” while 41 percent disagree and 39 percent strongly disagree. To take the question by region, 25 percent or fewer in each region of the Milwaukee area say they primarily care about where they live, while 72 percent or more in each region say they care about conditions elsewhere in the area.

Race relations and policing

Issues related to race remain important in shaping views in the Milwaukee area. Overall, 18 percent of respondents say race relations in their community are very good, 45 percent say somewhat good, 20 percent somewhat bad and 14 percent very bad. There is variation among the races in terms of perceptions of race relations. Among white respondents, 20 percent think race relations are very good. Only 8 percent of black respondents think the same, as do 12 percent of Hispanic respondents. At the opposite end, 10 percent of whites say race relations are very bad, compared to 26 percent of blacks and 19 percent of Hispanics.

In the middle categories, respondents say “somewhat good” more frequently than “somewhat bad” by more than a two-to-one rate, regardless of race. Among whites, 46 percent say “somewhat good” and 21 percent “somewhat bad.” Among blacks, 46 percent say “somewhat good” and 20 percent “somewhat bad.” Forty-six percent of Hispanics say relations are “somewhat good” and 22 percent say “somewhat bad.”

More respondents see a worsening of race relations over the past 20 years. Sixty-three percent think relations have gotten worse, while 30 percent think they have gotten better. Similar percentages of blacks and whites see some improvement, either “much better” or “somewhat better,” with 35 percent of blacks saying relations are better, 25 percent of whites saying they are better and 49 percent of Hispanics perceiving an improvement. Among blacks, 60 percent say race relations are somewhat or much worse, with 68 percent of whites and 48 percent of Hispanics saying relations are somewhat or much worse.

Perceptions of discrimination in housing also show substantial differences by race in the Milwaukee region. Overall, 63 percent of respondents say people can rent or purchase housing regardless of race, while 27 percent say there is significant racial discrimination in housing. Among blacks, however, only 41 percent say housing is free of discrimination while 48 percent say there is significant discrimination. In contrast, 71 percent of whites see housing opportunities as equal and 19 percent say there is significant discrimination. Among Hispanics, 52 percent say people can buy or rent housing without regard to race while 44 percent say there is significant discrimination.

Race also divides perceptions of the police. Fewer than half of all respondents, 43 percent, say the police in general are too willing to use deadly force, with 50 percent saying they are not. Among blacks, 70 percent say the police are too willing to use deadly force, and 25 percent say they are not. Thirty-four percent of whites see police as too ready to use force with 59 percent not seeing things this way. Hispanics fall in between, with 59 percent saying the police use force too willingly and 32 percent disagreeing.

With regard to recent fatal police shootings of black Americans in Wisconsin and nationally, 43 percent of all respondents say these are isolated incidents, while 46 percent say they are part of a larger pattern of police treatment of black Americans. Only 13 percent of blacks think these are isolated incidents, while 75 percent say they are part of a larger pattern. In contrast, 52 percent of whites say these are isolated incidents and 38 percent see a broader pattern. A majority of Hispanics, 59 percent, say these killings are part of a broader pattern, while 32 percent say they are isolated incidents.

Racial differences also arise in dealing with the criminal justice system. Overall, 31 percent of respondents say testifying about a serious crime would put them or their family in danger of retaliation, while 63 percent say they would feel safe testifying. Among blacks, 52 percent would feel in danger while 40 percent would feel safe. Forty-four percent of Hispanics would feel at risk, while 50 percent would not. Among whites, 24 percent say they would be in danger testifying while 71 percent would feel safe. Regardless of race, about one in five residents of Ozaukee/Washington (18 percent), Waukesha County (21 percent) and suburban Milwaukee County (23 percent) say they would feel at risk. In Racine, 30 percent and in the City of Milwaukee 46 percent say they would worry about testifying.

Community evaluations

Residents of the Milwaukee area are generally positive about the community in which they live, with 27 percent saying it is an excellent place to live, 41 percent a good place, 20 percent only fair and 11 percent saying it is a poor place. Asked specifically about their neighborhood, evaluations are a little more positive, with 38 percent saying their neighborhood is excellent, 39 percent saying it is good, 16 percent only fair and 7 percent rating their neighborhood poor.

Most area residents feel completely or pretty safe walking alone at night in their neighborhoods, with 40 percent saying they feel completely safe and 37 percent feeling pretty safe. However, 8 percent say they are afraid to walk alone at night and 15 percent say they never go out alone.

There are substantial differences in sense of security by sex, with 53 percent of men saying they feel completely safe while half as many women, 27 percent, say the same. Seven percent of men never go out alone while three times as many women, 22 percent, never go out alone.

Income also purchases a sense of security, with 58 percent of those in households earning over $75,000 per year saying they feel completely safe, which falls to 39 percent of those between $40,000 and $75,000 and just 23 percent among those with income below $40,000. Similarly, only 6 percent of those in the high-income group say they never go out alone, compared to 16 percent in the middle income and 21 percent in the lower income groups.

There are also sharp differences on this across regions within the Milwaukee area. Twenty-one percent of City of Milwaukee residents say they feel completely safe walking alone at night, as do 35 percent of suburban Milwaukee County residents and 38 percent of those in Racine County. In Waukesha County, 60 percent feel completely safe, and in Ozaukee/Washington counties this rises to 63 percent. At the opposite end, 25 percent of City of Milwaukee residents say they don’t go out alone, as do 12 percent of suburban Milwaukee County and 13 percent of Racine County residents. In Waukesha and Ozaukee/Washington counties, 9 percent and 5 percent respectively never go out alone.

Across the Milwaukee area, residents perceive crime as a problem in Milwaukee, but there are relatively modest differences in this perception across regions within the area. Asked how safe from serious crime the average person in Milwaukee is, overall 3 percent say very safe, 35 percent mostly safe, 37 percent mostly unsafe and 18 percent very unsafe. Those saying very or mostly safe ranged from 32 to 44 percent across each region in the area, with those saying mostly unsafe ranging from 32 percent to 40 percent. Those saying very unsafe ranged from 13 to 27 percent.

Education

Overall, residents of the Milwaukee area express satisfaction with public schools, although there are substantial regional differences. Twenty-nine percent of area residents are very satisfied with the public schools in their community, 34 percent are somewhat satisfied, 16 percent somewhat dissatisfied and 14 percent very dissatisfied. Satisfaction is highest in Waukesha and Ozaukee/Washington counties, with 80 percent and 81 percent respectively saying they are very or somewhat satisfied, and 13 and 15 percent respectively somewhat or very dissatisfied. Sixty-nine percent of suburban Milwaukee County residents are very or somewhat satisfied, with 22 percent somewhat or very dissatisfied. In Racine County, 58 percent are somewhat or very satisfied and 40 percent are somewhat or very dissatisfied. City of Milwaukee residents express 45 percent satisfaction and 48 percent dissatisfaction.

In addition to parochial schools, the Milwaukee area has had alternative education options though the school voucher and charter school programs for more than 20 years. Asked how satisfied they are that school children overall have access to affordable high-quality education, people express only modestly higher levels of satisfaction than people express regarding public schools specifically. Overall, 33 percent say they are very satisfied with access to quality education, 38 percent somewhat satisfied, 17 percent somewhat dissatisfied and 5 percent very dissatisfied. On this measure, 59 percent of City of Milwaukee residents say they are very or somewhat satisfied with access to quality education, with 34 percent not satisfied to some degree. In Racine County, 64 percent are satisfied with 30 percent dissatisfied. Seventy‑four percent of those in suburban Milwaukee County say they are satisfied and 18 percent not satisfied. In Waukesha and Ozaukee/Washington counties, 82 and 86 percent respectively say they are satisfied, with 11 and 8 percent respectively saying they are dissatisfied with access to a quality education.

Importance of sports and culture

A majority of respondents say it is very important that the Milwaukee area be the home of sports teams and cultural resources and events. Sixty-two percent say hosting Summerfest is very important, with 27 percent saying it is somewhat important. Ten percent say Summerfest is not very or not at all important.

Fifty-six percent say the Wisconsin state fair is very important to the area, 29 percent say it is somewhat important and 13 percent say it is not very or not at all important.

The Milwaukee Art Museum is rated very important by 53 percent, with 34 percent saying somewhat important and 13 percent saying it is not very or not at all important.

Fifty-two percent of residents rate professional sports teams such as the Brewers and Bucks as very important, 32 percent say somewhat important and 15 percent say not very or not at all important.

News consumption

Across the region’s residents, one half say they read a daily newspaper at least once a week, with 22 percent as daily readers, 15 percent a few times a week, and 13 percent reading just once a week. An additional 16 percent read a newspaper less than once a week, and 1 in 3 (34 percent) say they never read a paper. Generational differences are sharp, with over half, 53 percent, of those under 30 saying they never read a newspaper while 24 percent of those over 60 never read the news.

Consumption of television news, however, remains quite high. Just more than half, 52 percent, say they watch local TV news every day, 18 percent a few times a week, 7 percent just once a week, 10 percent less than once a week and 13 percent say they never watch local TV news. Among those under 30, 21 percent say they never watch TV news but about as many, 20 percent, say they watch every day. Viewership rises to 75 percent of those over 60 who watch every day, with just 7 percent of that age group never tuning in.

About the Marquette Law School Poll

The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. This poll interviewed 1,200 adults in the Milwaukee area by landline or cell phone, October 9-17, 2017. The sample includes residents of Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Washington and Waukesha counties. The sample sizes for each county are proportionate to their share of the population in the five counties.

The margin of error is +/-3.5 percentage points for the full sample. The individual regions within the sample have smaller sample sizes and larger margin of error. The sample sizes and margins of error for each region are City of Milwaukee, N=416, MOE=6.3; suburban Milwaukee County, N=218, MOE=8.0; Ozaukee/Washington counties combined, N=152, MOE=9.7; Racine County, N=133, MOE=10.2; and Waukesha County N=281, MOE=7.0.