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Detailed results of the Marquette Law School Poll, August 15 – 19, 2018

New Marquette Law School Poll finds roughly one in three Wisconsin voters still undecided one month before primaries

MILWAUKEE — A new Marquette Law School Poll finds that, with four weeks to go until the Wisconsin primary elections, approximately one in three voters in the state remains undecided on candidates. In the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, 30 percent of primary voters are undecided. Among Democratic primary voters, 38 percent say that they don’t know which of 8 candidates they will support for the gubernatorial nomination.

The numbers are little changed from the previous poll, conducted June 13-17, where in these races 30 percent of Republican primary voters and 34 percent of Democratic voters were undecided on the candidates.

These non-incumbent candidates are not yet well known to registered voters in Wisconsin. Two-thirds of registered voters are unable to say if they have a favorable or unfavorable view of the Republican Senate candidates, although the candidates are somewhat better-known among Republicans and among Republican primary voters. Nonetheless, even among primary voters, more than half lack an opinion of either candidate. Table 1 gives results for all registered voters, for those who say they are Republicans or lean to the Republican party, and for those who say they will vote in the Republican primary.

Table 1: percentage unable to give favorable or unfavorable opinion of Republican candidates

  All Reg. Voters Rep & Lean Rep Rep Primary Voters
Kevin Nicholson 69 61 56
Leah Vukmir 66 58 51

With the Democratic gubernatorial candidates, the percentage of respondents saying they haven’t heard enough or don’t know if they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of each candidate is shown in Table 2. The Democratic candidates are only a little better known, if at all, among fellow Democrats or among Democratic primary voters than among all registered voters.

Table 2: percentage unable to give favorable or unfavorable opinion of Democratic candidates

  All Reg. Voters Dem & Lean Dem Dem Primary Voters
Tony Evers 60 54 51
Matt Flynn 74 77 78
Mike McCabe 84 86 84
Mahlon Mitchell 85 86 82
Josh Pade 93 96 95
Kelda Roys 89 88 87
Paul Soglin 71 69 65
Kathleen Vinehout 75 71 69

In contrast, relatively few registered voters lack an opinion of the incumbents, with 6 percent lacking an opinion of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and 18 percent lacking an opinion of Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

Primary preferences

The Republican primary for U.S. Senate has tightened since March, with Vukmir now at 34 percent and Nicholson at 32 percent. Nicholson held an advantage in the March and June polls, as shown in Table 3.

Table 3: Republican senate primary

  Feb-March June July
Kevin Nicholson 28 37 32
Leah Vukmir 19 32 34

Among those who say they will vote in the Democratic primary for governor, Evers receives 31 percent of the vote, while all other candidates are in single digits, as shown in Table 4.

Table 4: Democratic gubernatorial primary

  Feb-March June July
Tony Evers 18 25 31
Matt Flynn 7 7 5
Mike McCabe 6 7 3
Mahlon Mitchell 4 4 6
Josh Pade NA 1 0
Kelda Roys 0 2 3
Paul Soglin 9 7 4
Kathleen Vinehout 5 5 6

Evers’ percentage has increased from 18 percent in the March poll to 25 percent in June and to 31 percent in the current poll.

The poll was conducted July 11-15, 2018. The sample included 800 registered voters in Wisconsin, interviewed by cell phone or landline, with a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percentage points. For the Democratic primary, the sample size is 305 and the margin of error is +/- 6.6 percentage points. For the Republican primary, the sample size is 266 and the margin of error is +/- 7 percentage points.

Ten issue questions were asked of half the sample and have a margin of error of +/- 5.9 percentage points. The half-sample items are listed at the end of this release.

Effects of trade tariffs

Twenty-four percent think increased tariffs on steel and aluminum imports will improve the U.S. economy, while 55 percent think tariffs will hurt the economy. Twenty-one percent say they don’t know. In the June poll, twenty-nine percent said tariffs would improve the economy, while 55 percent said tariffs would hurt the economy.

Partisan differences in views of tariffs are sharp, with a plurality (44 percent) of Republicans saying tariffs are good for the U.S. economy, while 29 percent say they are bad for the economy and 26 percent say they don’t know. A large majority of Democrats say tariffs are bad for the economy, as do a majority of independents.

Table 5: view of tariffs by Party ID

  Rep Dem Ind
Good for Econ 44 7 22
Bad for Econ 29 79 54
Don’t know 26 14 24

Harley-Davidson Motorcycles recently announced that some production would be moved out of the U.S. due to European tariffs. Thirty-seven percent say the increased European tariffs are the reason Harley-Davidson is moving some production out of the U.S., while 47 percent say that production would have left the U.S. regardless of tariff issues. There is a sharp partisan split on views of the impact of tariffs, with 21 percent of Republicans saying the production change was due to tariffs, while 67 percent say the change would have happened anyway. Among Democrats, 56 percent say the shift is due to tariffs, while 31 percent say production would have left the U.S. in any case. Independents fall between the partisans, with a plurality saying production would have moved in any case.

Table 6: reason for Harley production move, by party ID

  Rep Dem Ind
Due to tariffs 21 56 31
Would move in any case 67 31 40
Don’t know 12 13 28

State of the state and incumbent ratings

Fifty-two percent of Wisconsin voters see the state as headed in the right direction, while 42 percent think the state is off on the wrong track. This is unchanged since June.

Walker’s job approval stands at 47 percent, with 45 percent disapproving. The trend in approval in 2018 is shown in Table 7.

Table 7: Scott Walker Job Approval Trend in 2018

  Approve Disapprove Don’t know
July 2018 47 45 7
June 2018 49 47 3
March 2018 47 47 6

Baldwin is viewed favorably by 41 percent of registered voters and unfavorably by 40 percent, with 18 percent not able to give a rating. In June she had a 41 percent favorable and 43 percent unfavorable rating. In March her rating was 37 percent favorable and 39 percent unfavorable.

State issues
Fifty-nine percent of registered voters say the quality of roads and highways where they live is only fair or poor, while 40 percent rate the quality of their roads excellent or good.

Those in the northern and western regions of the state, including the Green Bay, Wausau, Eau Claire and La Crosse areas, have a somewhat less favorable view of road quality, with 34 percent saying roads are excellent or good while 66 percent rate roads as fair or poor. In the southern parts of the state, including the Milwaukee and Madison areas, 48 percent say roads are excellent or good, while 52 percent rate roads as fair or poor.

Views of the Foxconn incentive package and the effects of the new manufacturing center are little changed from the June poll. Forty-six percent think the state is paying more than the Foxconn plant is worth, while 39 percent think the plant will provide at least as much value as the state is investing in the plant. Fourteen percent say they don’t know if the plant will be worth it or not. In the June poll, 46 percent said the state was paying too much and 40 percent said it was worth it.

A majority (53 percent) of registered voters statewide believe the Foxconn plant will substantially improve the economy of the larger Milwaukee area, while 33 percent do not think it will and 14 percent say they don’t know. In the June poll, 56 percent said the Milwaukee area would benefit and 33 percent did not think so.

When asked if businesses where the respondent lives will benefit from Foxconn, 30 percent say businesses will benefit directly from the Foxconn plant, while 58 percent say their local businesses will not benefit and 12 percent don’t know. In the June poll, 29 percent said their local businesses would benefit and 61 percent did not think so.

National issues

Respondents were asked, “Would you be willing to see your senator vote for a Supreme Court nominee who was highly qualified but with whom you disagree on a number of policies, or would you want your senator to vote against any nominee you disagree with, no matter how well qualified they may be?” Fifty-five percent said they would support a qualified nominee despite disagreement, while 29 percent said they would oppose such a nominee regardless of qualifications. In February 2016, after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia but before President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Court, 57 percent said they would support a qualified nominee despite disagreements while 30 percent said they would oppose a nominee despite their qualifications.

In 2016, with a Democratic president nominating someone to serve as a justice, almost three-quarters of Democrats said they would support a qualified nominee despite disagreements, while a plurality of Republicans said they would oppose a nominee despite the nominee’s qualification.

Table 8: 2016 support or oppose nominee by party ID

  Rep Dem Ind
Support despite disagreement 38 72 62
Oppose despite qualification 48 19 18

In 2018, those views are reversed. With a Republican president nominating a Supreme Court justice, two-thirds of Republicans say they would support a qualified nominee despite disagreements while Democrats are now evenly divided on this question. In both years close to 60 percent of independents said they would support a qualified nominee despite disagreements.

Table 9: 2018 support or oppose nominee by party ID

  Rep Dem Ind
Support despite disagreement 66 44 58
Oppose despite qualification 19 42 21

Initial reaction to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, whose nomination was announced two days before the poll began interviewing, finds 27 percent with a favorable opinion, 22 percent with an unfavorable opinion and 50 percent who say they haven’t heard enough or don’t know. Partisan differences in reaction are substantial, as shown in Table 10.

Table 10: opinion of Kavanaugh by party ID

  Rep Dem Ind
Favorable 52 5 16
Unfavorable 1 45 22
Not heard/don’t know 46 49 62

The vacancy on the Supreme Court has raised the saliency of abortion as an issue, although opinion has changed little over the last six years in Wisconsin. Table 11 shows the trend in opinion since 2012.

Table 11: abortion opinion 2012-2018

  10/25-28/12 10/21-24/13 10/23-26/14 7/11-15/18
Legal in all cases 28 26 24 27
Legal in most 32 36 34 36
Illegal in most 23 25 24 18
Illegal in all cases 12 10 15 11
Don’t know 4 2 3 6

Trump job approval
President Trump has a 42 percent approval rating with 50 percent disapproving. In the previous Marquette Law School Poll, in June, his approval was 44 percent with 50 percent disapproving. Partisans are deeply divided on Trump’s job performance.

Table 12: Trump job approval by party ID

  Rep Dem Ind
Approve 86 3 28
Disapprove 8 93 45

On Trump’s handling of the issue of immigration, 40 percent approve, while 53 percent disapprove. There are sharp partisan differences, as with his overall approval rating.

Table 13: Trump handling of immigration approval by party ID

  Rep Dem Ind
Approve 74 4 37
Disapprove 17 91 55

Enthusiasm for voting

Overall, 58 percent of registered voters say they are very enthusiastic about voting in this year’s elections, with 27 percent somewhat enthusiastic and 12 percent either not very or not at all enthusiastic. Among Republicans, 62 percent are very enthusiastic, while among Democrats 69 percent are. Among independents, 51 percent say they are very enthusiastic about voting this year. In June, 67 percent of Republicans and 71 percent of Democrats were very enthusiastic, along with 51 percent of independents.

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, July 11-15, 2018. The margin of error is +/-4.1 percentage points for the full sample. For the Democratic primary, the sample size is 305 and the margin of error is +/- 6.6 percentage points. For the Republican primary, the sample size is 266 and the margin of error is +/- 7 percentage points.

Ten issue questions were asked of half the sample and have a margin of error of +/- 5.9 percentage points. The issues asked of half the sample are tariffs, Harley-Davidson, condition of roads, the three Foxconn items, support for a Supreme Court nominee, favorability to Kavanaugh, approval of Trump’s handling of trade and opinion on abortion policy.

The partisan makeup of the sample, including those who lean to a party, is 43 percent Republican, 43 percent Democratic and 12 percent independent. The long-term total for the previous 45 statewide Marquette polls, with 40,152 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 28 percent Republican, 26 percent Democratic and 44 percent independent, compared to the long-term totals of 27 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 41 percent independent.