Poll Release

New Marquette Law School Poll finds increased support for Trump impeachment hearings since the spring, while opinions about Trump have changed little

MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School poll of Wisconsin registered voters finds that 46 percent think that there is enough cause now for Congress to hold hearings on impeachment of President Donald Trump, while 49 percent say there is not enough cause and 5 percent say they do not know.

In April 2019, 29 percent said there was sufficient reason for impeachment hearings and 65 percent said there was not. The April poll was completed after Attorney General William Barr’s letter describing the Mueller report but before the report was publicly released. Earlier, in January 2019, 33 percent supported and 59 percent opposed hearings.

Table 1: Do you think there is or is not enough cause right now for Congress to hold hearings into whether President Trump should be impeached? (Jan-Apr wording: Do you think there is or is not enough cause right now for Congress to begin hearings into whether or not President Trump should be impeached?)

  Enough cause Not enough cause Don’t know
Jan. 16-20, 2019 33 59 8
April 3-7, 2019 29 65 6
Oct. 13-17, 2019 46 49 5

When asked if Trump should be impeached and removed from office, 44 percent say that Trump should be removed, 51 percent say he should not be impeached and removed and 4 percent say they don’t know. This question has not been asked in Marquette Law School polling before.

Twenty-three percent say it is proper for Trump to ask China and Ukraine to conduct investigations of U.S. citizens, while 67 percent say that it is improper and 8 percent say they don’t know or declined to answer. An additional 1 percent volunteered that they did not believe that Trump had asked China or Ukraine to conduct such an investigation.

The poll was conducted Oct. 13-17, 2019. The sample included 799 registered voters in Wisconsin interviewed by cell phone or landline, with a margin of error of +/- 4.2 percentage points. Democratic presidential candidate preference items were asked of respondents who said they would vote in the April Democratic presidential primary. That sample size is 379, with a margin of error of +/-6.3 percentage points.

Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s leader

Forty percent say they have read the rough transcript of Trump’s conversation with the president of Ukraine that the White House released, while 59 percent said they had not read the transcript.

Very similar percentages of Republicans and Democrats say they have read the conversation transcript, although independents are less likely to have read it, as shown in Table 2.

Table 2: Read Ukraine call transcript by party identification

  Yes, have read No, have not read
Republican 42 57
Lean Republican 42 57
Independent 26 74
Lean Democrat 43 57
Democrat 41 59

Among those who have read the transcript, 51 percent think there is enough reason to hold impeachment hearings, compared to 42 percent among those who have not read the transcript. Forty-six percent of those who have read the transcript think there is not enough reason to hold hearings, compared to 50 percent among those who have not read the transcript.

Table 3: Hold impeachment hearings by read Ukraine transcript or not

  Enough cause Not enough cause Don’t know
Yes, have read 51 46 2
No, have not read 42 50 7

The results are similar for opinion on impeachment and removal from office among those who have or have not read the transcript, as shown in Table 4.

Table 4: Impeach and remove from office by read Ukraine transcript or not

  Impeach & remove Don’t think so Don’t know
Yes, have read 50 47 2
No, have not read 40 54 6

Table 5 shows support for hearings by party identification, and Table 6 shows support for impeachment and removal from office by party identification.

Table 5: Enough cause for impeachment hearings by party identification

  Enough cause Not enough cause Don’t know
Republican 12 86 2
Lean Republican 15 77 8
Independent 35 53 7
Lean Democrat 77 15 8
Democrat 84 12 4

Table 6: Support for impeachment and removal by party identification

  Impeach & remove Don’t think so Don’t know
Republican 6 92 2
Lean Republican 9 88 3
Independent 33 55 10
Lean Democrat 78 16 6
Democrat 88 8 3

Trump’s handling of international affairs

In this survey, 37 percent approve and 59 percent disapprove of Trump’s handling of foreign policy, while 4 percent say they don’t know.

For comparison, Trump’s overall job approval stands at 46 percent approval and 51 percent disapproval, with 2 percent who don’t know. In the August Marquette Law School Poll, 45 percent approved and 53 percent disapproved of the president’s handling of his job.

This survey was conducted in the week following the announcement that the U.S. would withdraw its forces from northeastern Syria and the subsequent beginning of Turkish military operations on Oct. 9.

Asked if Trump’s foreign policies have helped or hurt America’s standing in the world, 32 percent say they have helped, while 58 percent say they have hurt. Two percent say they have not affected America’s standing, while 6 percent say they don’t know.

On Oct. 5, U.S. and North Korean talks on nuclear weapons were halted shortly after they had begun. Twenty-four percent of respondents say they believe that the U.S. and North Korea will reach an agreement on reducing nuclear weapons in the next year or two, while 66 percent say this will not happen and 10 percent say they don’t know.

Republicans give Trump higher approval on his handling of foreign policy than do independents or Democrats, as shown in Table 7. Republican approval on foreign policy is lower than Republican overall job approval, as shown in Table 8.

Table 7: Trump handling of foreign policy by party identification

  Approve Disapprove
Republican 77 19
Lean Republican 62 34
Independent 26 59
Lean Democrat 6 90
Democrat 3 97

Table 8: Trump overall job approval by party identification

  Approve Disapprove
Republican 91 8
Lean Republican 76 17
Independent 48 38
Lean Democrat 6 92
Democrat 2 96

Views of Trump

Respondents are evenly divided over whether Trump is keeping his campaign promises or not, as shown in Table 9 of results from Marquette Law School polls since Trump took office in 2017.

Table 9: Trump keeping campaign promises trend

  Yes, keeping promises No, not keeping promises
June 22-25, 2017 49 46
Feb. 25-March 1, 2018 50 46
Aug. 15-19, 2018 55 41
Aug. 25-29, 2019 48 48
Oct. 13-17, 2019 47 46

The degree to which “cares about people like me” describes Trump is shown in Table 10 for polls taken since 2017.

Table 10: Trump cares about people like me trend

  Describes Does not describe
March 13-16, 2017 40 55
June 22-25, 2017 40 55
Feb. 25-March 1, 2018 43 54
Aug. 15-19, 2018 39 57
Jan. 16-20, 2019 42 55
Aug. 25-29, 2019 40 56
Oct. 13-17, 2019 40 57

The trend for those saying Trump is someone who is honest is shown in Table 11. This question was not asked in 2018.

Table 11: Trump is someone who is honest

  Describes Does not describe
June 22-25, 2017 35 59
Jan. 16-20, 2019 31 62
April 3-7, 2019 35 59
Oct. 13-17, 2019 30 65

2020 presidential election preferences

This poll asked about four potential Democratic challengers to Trump in the 2020 presidential election, as shown in Table 12.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is favored by 50 percent and Trump by 44 percent, while 3 percent say they would not support either candidate and 3 percent say they don’t know. In August, Biden received 51 percent and Trump 42 percent.

Sen. Bernie Sanders receives 48 percent and Trump 46 percent, with 4 percent supporting neither and 2 percent who don’t know. In August, Sanders received 48 percent and Trump 44 percent.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is the choice of 47 percent and Trump gets 46 percent, with 4 percent supporting neither and 2 percent saying they don’t know. In August, Warren received 45 percent and Trump 45 percent.

This is the first time the Marquette Law School Poll has matched Mayor Pete Buttigieg against Trump. Buttigieg is supported by 43 percent to Trump’s 45 percent, while 5 percent support neither and 7 percent say they don’t know.

Table 12: General Election Matches

Match Pct Match Pct Match Pct Match Pct
Biden 50 Sanders 48 Warren 47 Buttigieg 43
Trump 44 Trump 46 Trump 46 Trump 45
Neither 3 Neither 4 Neither 4 Neither 5
Don’t know 3 Don’t know 2 Don’t know 2 Don’t know 7
Table 13: First and second choice in Democratic primary (among those saying they will vote in the Democratic presidential primary).
Response First Choice Second Choice
Joe Biden 31 19
Elizabeth Warren 24 27
Bernie Sanders 17 13
Pete Buttigieg 7 10
Kamala Harris 5 9
Amy Klobuchar 3 4
Andrew Yang 3 2
Tulsi Gabbard 2 2
Cory Booker 1 4
Marianne Williamson 1 0
Tom Steyer 0 0
Beto O’Rourke 0 2
Steve Bullock 0 0
Michael Bennet 0 0
Julián Castro 0 0
John Delaney 0 0
Wayne Messam 0 0
Tim Ryan 0 0
Joe Sestak 0 0
Someone else (VOL) 1 1
Would not vote (VOL) 0 1
Don’t know 4 4
Refused 0 0

Democratic presidential primary

Among those who say they will vote in the Democratic presidential primary in April, Biden is the first choice of 31 percent, followed by Warren at 24 percent, Sanders at 17 percent and Pete Buttigieg at 7 percent. Sen. Kamala Harris receives 5 percent, while all other candidates receive 3 percent or less.

The complete results for the Democratic primary are shown in Table 13.

Among the Democratic primary sample, favorability of candidates is shown in Table 14.

Table 14: Favorability ratings of five candidates among Democratic primary sample

  Favorable Unfavorable Haven’t heard enough Don’t know
Joe Biden 67 18 10 4
Bernie Sanders 67 26 5 1
Elizabeth Warren 63 17 13 6
Kamala Harris 48 16 24 12
Pete Buttigieg 43 13 33 12

Economic outlook

Wisconsin registered voters hold a net 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, 20 percent saying it has worsened and 36 percent saying it has stayed the same.

The outlook for the next year is net negative, with 25 percent saying the economy will improve, 30 percent saying it will get worse and 39 percent saying it will remain the same.

The outlook for the coming year among those polled in 2019 is less positive than it was among those polled in 2018, as more respondents see the prospect of a worsening economy. This poll is the third in 2019 that has seen net pessimism about the economic outlook.

In 2018, the average future outlook was 14.7 percent net positive while in 2019 the average outlook has been net negative at -3.5 percent.

The full results since February 2018 are shown in Table 15.

Table 15: Outlook for the economy over next year

Poll Date Get better Get worse Stay the same Don’t know Net
2018-03-01 37 20 38 5 17
2018-06-17 35 25 37 3 10
2018-08-19 38 25 31 5 13
2018-09-16 37 24 34 5 13
2018-10-07 42 20 32 7 22
2018-10-28 38 25 29 8 13
2019-01-20 29 34 30 6 -5
2019-04-07 34 27 34 5 7
2019-08-29 26 37 33 5 -11
2019-10-17 25 30 39 6 -5


Fifty-one percent of those polled approve of Trump’s handling of the economy, while 45 percent disapprove. In August, 49 percent approved and 50 percent disapproved.

State and national issues

A proposed mandatory buy-back of assault weapons from owners is opposed by 54 percent and supported by 42 percent, with 3 percent saying they don’t know. Those with a gun in the household tend to oppose such a policy while those without a gun in the household tend to support it, as shown in Table 16.

Table 16: Assault weapon buy-back opinion by gun in household

  Support Oppose
Gun 30 68
No gun 59 35

There are partisan differences in views of an assault-weapon buy-back policy, as shown in Table 17.

Table 17: Assault weapon buy-back opinion by party identification

  Support Oppose
Republican 13 83
Democrat 76 20
Independent 42 57

Proposals for changes to national health care programs include, among others, a national single-payer program and a public option that would compete with but not replace private insurance. The full wording of the questions, and the responses are shown in Tables 18 and 19.

Table 18: Do you support or oppose having a national health plan, sometimes called Medicare-for-all, in which all Americans would get their insurance from a single government plan?

Response Percent
Support 51
Oppose 42
Don’t know 7
Refused 1


Table 19: Do you support or oppose having a government-administered health plan, sometimes called a public option, that would compete with private health insurance plans and be available to all Americans?

Response Percent
Support 60
Oppose 32
Don’t know 6
Refused 1

A large majority (82 percent) of respondents said they had heard of Bernie Sanders’ heart attack, while 18 percent had not.

Respondents were asked about age as an issue in voting for president. Some were asked that question before being asked the question about Sanders’ heart attack and some after, but the order of questions made no statistically significant difference. Thirty-two percent say age matters in their choice for president, while 66 percent say age is unimportant as a consideration.

With deer season approaching, 40 percent say they have heard a lot about Chronic Wasting Disease, which afflicts the deer population, with 35 percent saying they have heard some, 13 percent saying they have not heard much and 11 percent saying they have heard nothing about CWD.

Twenty-seven percent think that CWD has been increasing in Wisconsin deer, 46 percent think it has remained about the same and 7 percent think it has been decreasing.

Among Wisconsin respondents, 38 percent say they or someone in their household is a deer hunter, while 62 say no one in the household hunts deer.

The survey notes that Wisconsin lost nearly 700 dairy farms in 2018. Sixty-three percent say the federal government should support small farms, while 30 percent say this is not the job of the federal government. There is no difference in response between those who farm or have family members who farm (61 percent) and those who do not have a farming connection (63 percent) in the percent favoring government support.

State of the state

Governor Tony Evers’ job approval stands at 52 percent, with disapproval at 34 percent. Thirteen percent say they don’t have an opinion. In August, 54 percent approved, 34 percent disapproved and 10 percent lacked an opinion.

Fifty-three percent of respondents say the state is headed in the right direction while 39 percent say it is on the wrong track. In August, 55 percent said the state was going in the right direction and 37 percent said it was on the wrong track.

Table 20 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 20: Favorability ratings of elected officials

  Favorable Unfavorable Haven’t heard enough Don’t know
Tony Evers 47 35 13 5
Tammy Baldwin 46 39 11 3
Donald Trump 43 52 1 3
Ron Johnson 40 29 24 6

About the Marquette Law School Poll

The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. This poll interviewed 799 registered Wisconsin voters by landline or cell phone, Oct. 13-17, 2019. The margin of error is +/-4.2 percentage points for the full sample.

The Democratic presidential candidate preference items were asked those who said they would vote in the April Democratic presidential primary. That sample size is 379 with a margin of error of +/-6.3 percentage points.

Two questions were asked of half the sample (Form A) and two were asked of the other half-sample (Form B). Questions on Form A have a sample size of 400 and a margin of error of +/- 6 percentage points. Questions on Form B have a sample size of 399 and a margin of error of +/- 5.9 percentage points.

Form A questions were right direction or wrong track for the state and Medicare for all as a single payer. Form B questions were an assault weapon buy-back law and an public option for medical coverage competing with private insurance plans

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 40 percent independent.

Since January 2017, the long-term partisan balance, including those who lean to a party, in the Marquette Law 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 nationwide Marquette Law School Poll finds confidence in U.S. Supreme Court overall, though more pronounced among conservatives

MILWAUKEE — A Marquette Law School Poll of voters nationwide provides wide-ranging measures of public understanding and opinion of the United States Supreme Court. Among the findings: A majority of respondents have more confidence in the Court than in other parts of the federal government; few see the Court as taking extremely liberal or extremely conservative positions, although views of the Court differ by partisanship; and a majority of the public opposes increasing the number of justices even as a majority supports limiting how long justices may serve.

Other findings include that while there is broad support for the Court as a whole, political conservatives are more favorable to the current make-up and decisions of the Court than liberals are. And majorities support some decisions or potential decisions involving abortion, gay rights, and banning semi-automatic rifles that are generally labeled liberal; at the same time, majorities favor decisions of the Court, including a right to possess firearms and allowance of public funds to support students in religious schools, that are generally considered conservative.

Awareness of the individual justices remains fairly low. Only 34 percent of those polled offered an opinion on at least five of the nine justices, and 28 percent had no opinion on any of them.

A majority of those polled said they want decisions to be nonpartisan and to be generally “fair.” A majority (57 percent) also said that they support the Court’s using “evolving” interpretations of the U.S. Constitution rather than interpretations based solely on the intent of the Constitution’s framers.

The survey was conducted Sept. 3-13, 2019; 1,423 adults were interviewed nationwide, with a margin of error of +/-3.6 percentage points.

Confidence in the Court and other institutions

Confidence in the Supreme Court is higher than that for other branches of the federal government and some other institutions. Confidence in the respondent’s state supreme court ranks second highest. Confidence in the presidency shows some polarization, with more very-low and very-high ratings, while Congress receives the lowest confidence rating.

Here is a list of institutions in American society. How much confidence do you have in each one?

  None Very little Some Quite a lot A great deal
U.S. Supreme Court 4 16 43 29 8
State Supreme Court 5 17 46 27 5
Presidency 25 22 25 15 13
Criminal Justice System 8 26 46 17 3
Congress 13 38 40 8 2

When respondents are asked to rank the three branches of the federal government, the Supreme Court inspires the most confidence by a substantial margin. This finding, consistent with much other public opinion research, points to the strength of the Court in the public mind in relation to the other branches of the federal government.

Of the three branches of U.S. government, which one do you trust the most?

Response Percent
The U.S. Supreme Court (the judicial branch) 57
The U.S. Congress (the legislative branch) 22
The Presidency (the executive branch) 21

Those who are more aware of the U.S. Supreme Court generally express greater confidence in it. Familiarity breeds support in the case of the Court. General attention to politics is associated with greater confidence. (In this table, “none” and “very little” confidence are combined as “low confidence,” and “quite a lot” and “a great deal” are combined as “high” confidence.)

Confidence in the Court by attention to politics

  Low Confidence Medium Confidence High Confidence
Low Attention 32 48 20
Medium Attention 17 46 37
High Attention 18 36 46

Partisanship and ideology are related to confidence in the Court. Independents have lower confidence than partisans, while Republicans have higher confidence than Democrats.

Confidence in the Court by party identification

  Low Medium High
Republican 14 32 54
Lean Republican 15 42 43
Independent 31 46 23
Lean Democrat 23 56 21
Democrat 21 44 34

High confidence in the Court is also associated with conservative ideology, whereas it is not as high among those with very liberal beliefs.

Confidence in the Court by liberal-conservative ideology

  Low Medium High
Very Conservative 13 36 52
Conservative 17 37 46
Moderate 21 46 34
Liberal 21 46 33
Very Liberal 36 34 31

Perceptions of the Supreme Court as moderate to conservative

The poll finds that, despite partisan battles over the U.S. Supreme Court in recent decades, the largest group, 50 percent, considers the Court to occupy a “moderate” position on the liberal-conservative continuum. Considerably more, 39 percent, consider the Court conservative than the 12 percent who consider it liberal. Few respondents see the Court as extreme in either ideological direction, with only 9 percent combined saying that it is either very conservative or very liberal.

In general, would you describe the U.S. Supreme Court as very conservative, conservative, moderate, liberal or very liberal?

Response Percent
Very conservative 6
Conservative 33
Moderate 50
Liberal 9
Very liberal 3

Those who pay the most attention to politics are more likely to see the Court as conservative or very conservative, with 41 percent saying that it is moderate. For the less attentive, majorities place the Court at the middle of the ideological scale.

Perceived ideology of the Court by attention to politics

  Very conservative Conservative Moderate Liberal Very liberal
Low 3 24 62 7 5
Medium 5 29 55 10 1
High 7 41 41 8 3

A majority of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic see the Court as conservative or very conservative. Independents and Republicans are much more likely to call the Court moderate, with about 60 percent of each of those two groups placing the Court at the middle on ideology. None of the partisan categories sees an especially extreme court, showing that the Court is seen as being to the middle, with the public view tilting a bit more one way or the other depending on attention to politics or partisanship.

Perceived ideology of the Court by party identification

  Very conservative Conservative Moderate Liberal Very liberal
Republican 4 23 58 11 3
Lean Republican 2 27 61 9 2
Independent 2 23 64 6 5
Lean Democrat 10 50 35 5 0
Democrat 8 42 38 9 2

While most people think the next appointment to the Court is important, one in five think that it is not too important or not at all important (combined as “not important” in tables below).

Importance of next court appointment

Response Percent
Not important 22
Somewhat 31
Very important 47

Those who pay the most attention to politics in general are much more likely to say the next appointment to the Court is very important.

Importance of next court appointment by attention to politics

  Not important Somewhat Very important
Low 50 32 18
Medium 22 41 37
High 7 23 70

Institutional change

There has been public discussion of changing the institutional structure of the Court. A majority oppose increasing the number of justices, although more than one in three somewhat favor an increase and 8 percent strongly favor a change.

[Increase the number of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court] How much do you favor or oppose the following proposals affecting the Supreme Court?

Response Percent
Strongly favor 8
Favor 35
Oppose 40
Strongly oppose 17

There is majority support for setting a fixed term for justices to serve on the Court, replacing the current life tenure.

[Have judges serve a fixed term on the court rather than serving life terms] How much do you favor or oppose the following proposals affecting the Supreme Court?

Response Percent
Strongly favor 34
Favor 38
Oppose 20
Strongly oppose 8

Restricting the power of judicial review is supported by 38 percent while 62 percent oppose this.

[Limit the ability of the Supreme Court to review and set aside acts of Congress as unconstitutional] How much do you favor or oppose the following proposals affecting the Supreme Court?

Response Percent
Strongly favor 8
Favor 30
Oppose 43
Strongly oppose 19

Partisanship plays a role in willingness to make changes to the number of justices, with Democrats more supportive than Republicans, although even among strong Democrats support for expansion is evenly divided.

Favor expanding the Court by party identification

  Strongly favor Favor Oppose Strongly oppose
Republican 3 28 42 27
Lean Republican 4 31 35 30
Independent 14 40 33 14
Lean Democrat 8 35 48 9
Democrat 10 40 40 10

Support for fixed terms is independent of partisanship, with similar support across all party groups.

Favor fixed terms for justices by party identification

  Strongly favor Favor Oppose Strongly oppose
Republican 34 35 22 8
Lean Republican 34 35 20 11
Independent 32 40 19 9
Lean Democrat 33 38 24 5
Democrat 34 41 19 6

There are modest differences between partisans in support for limiting judicial review, with Republicans a little more supportive than Democrats.

Favor limiting judicial review by party identification

  Strongly favor Favor Oppose Strongly oppose
Republican 13 32 38 17
Lean Republican 6 21 49 24
Independent 11 34 37 18
Lean Democrat 5 23 51 21
Democrat 4 33 44 19

Opposition to nominees

The confirmation of nominees to both the Supreme Court and lower federal courts has grown far more contentious over the past several decades. During this period, opposition based on expected policy differences and based on partisanship, which once was rare, has become common.

While partisan and policy differences have come to dominate elite debate over nominations, substantial majorities of the public say that these are not sufficient reasons to reject an otherwise qualified nominee.

Fewer than 40 percent say that a senator would be justified in rejecting an otherwise qualified nominee, with no ethical problems, based on how the senator believes the nominee would decide cases. More than 60 percent say that this is not a justification for rejecting a nominee.

If a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court is qualified and has no ethical problems, would U.S. senators be justified or not justified in voting against that nominee simply because of how they believe the justice would decide cases on issues such as abortion, gun control, or affirmative action?

Response Percent
Justified 38
Not justified 62

Partisan objections to a nominee are seen as even less justified, with more than 80 percent saying that rejecting a qualified nominee simply because of party is not justified, while 19 percent say that this is reason enough for a vote against confirmation.

If a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court is qualified and has no ethical problems, would U.S. senators be justified or not justified in voting against that nominee simply because the senator is from a different political party?

Response Percent
Justified 19
Not justified 81

Rejection due to partisan (i.e., party) differences is equally disapproved across party identification, ideology, and strength of party identification or ideology. While party and policy are inextricably linked, the public does not support partisan differences as the sole basis of confirming or rejecting court nominees.

Rejecting nominees based on how they are believed likely to rule on cases is somewhat more dependent on the respondent’s party and ideology. While Democratic and Republican differences are not statistically significant, independents are significantly more likely to say that rejection based on policy differences is not justified.

Reject nominee over policy by party identification

  Justified Not justified
Republican 37 63
Lean Republican 34 66
Independent 26 74
Lean Democrat 43 57
Democrat 44 56

Those who say that the next appointment is important are more likely to say that rejecting a nominee on policy grounds is justified. This does not carry over to rejection on partisan grounds, however, where there are no significant differences among respondents based on the importance that they attach to the next appointment. Even among those who rate the next appointment as very important, less than half say that rejection of a nominee is justified on policy grounds, and only one in five say so on party grounds.

Rejecting nominee over policy by importance of next appointment

  Justified Not justified
Not important 29 71
Somewhat 38 62
Very important 42 58

Rejecting nominee over party by importance of next appointment

  Justified Not justified
Not important 15 85
Somewhat 20 80
Very important 21 79

Those who are most attentive to politics are also more willing to justify rejection of a nominee on policy grounds, but not willing to do so over partisan differences. As with the importance assigned to the next nominee, more than half of those who pay the most attention to politics say that rejecting a qualified nominee on policy grounds is not justified, and more than 80 percent say this with respect to partisan grounds.

Rejecting nominee over policy by attention to politics

  Justified Not justified
Low 29 71
Medium 38 62
High 42 58

Rejecting nominee over party by attention to politics

  Justified Not justified
Low 20 80
Medium 22 78
High 17 83

Confirmations during an election year

The decision by Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader, in 2016 not to hold hearings on any nominee by President Barack Obama to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia was controversial. For the mass public this action was, in retrospect at least, not the right thing to do.

In February 2016, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the Senate would not consider or hold hearings on any nominee President Obama might name during an election year. In March, Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. The Senate did not hold a hearing and the nomination expired in January 2017. Was not holding a hearing on the nomination the right thing or the wrong thing to do?

Response Percent
Right thing to do 27
Wrong thing to do 73

The possibility of a nomination during the 2020 election year faces the question of consistency with the 2016 precedent. Most respondents believe that a nomination in 2020 should result in hearings. However, nearly one in three now believe that hearings should not be held in an election year.

If there is a vacancy on the Supreme Court during the 2020 presidential election year and President Trump nominates someone, what should the Senate do?

Response Percent
Hold hearings 69
Not hold hearings 31

Views of the lack of hearings in 2016 are strongly related to partisanship, with Republicans more likely than others to say that the refusal to consider a nomination was the right thing to do. But, even among Republicans, a majority say that it was the wrong decision, as do nearly nine in 10 Democrats.

No confirmation hearings in 2016, by party identification

  Right thing to do Wrong thing to do
Republican 45 55
Lean Republican 34 66
Independent 30 70
Lean Democrat 13 87
Democrat 13 87

As for holding hearings if a 2020 vacancy were to occur, Republicans strongly support hearings in the presidential election year, while nearly four in 10 Democrats say that no hearings should occur.

Hold confirmation hearings in 2020 by party identification

  Hold hearings Not hold hearings
Republican 72 28
Lean Republican 81 19
Independent 76 24
Lean Democrat 62 38
Democrat 63 37

Preferences on past and potential decisions

We asked about a total of 14 cases. We described seven past decisions and seven possible future decisions. In the latter group, we based some descriptions on actual cases, while others were hypothetical, and we did not indicate whether such a description was based on an actual as opposed to hypothetical case. Our choice of topics reflects recent and current cases that have received widespread news coverage. In all cases, we adopted common journalistic language to describe the outcome or consequences of decisions, rather than attempting a fuller syllabus for each case. With the exception of Roe v. Wade, we did not identify cases by name.

Opinion of past cases

Past decisions describe rulings on same-sex marriage, use of race in college admissions, a ban on travel to the United States from Muslim-majority countries, coverage of birth control in employee health plans, campaign spending by corporations and unions, partisan gerrymandering, and an individual’s right to possess a firearm.

Public views of these actual or possible decisions vary. In some cases, a majority favor past decisions, while in others the majority oppose the decisions. With potential future decisions, there are some possible outcomes that receive more popular support than others.

The full question wording and the short description used in the table below follow.

  • Past decisions: “How much do you favor or oppose the following recent Supreme Court decisions?”
    • Corporate political spending: “Decided that corporations and unions can spend unlimited amounts of money to directly support or oppose political candidates.”
    • Race in admissions: “Decided colleges can use race as one factor in deciding which applicants to admit.”
    • Partisan gerrymanders: “Decided that federal courts lack the constitutional authority to rule on cases involving legislative and congressional district boundaries designed to favor one political party (known as gerrymanders).”
    • Exclude birth control coverage: “Decided that privately held, for-profit companies may choose not to pay for coverage of prescription birth control in their workers’ health plans if the company’s owner has religious objections.”
    • Upheld travel ban: “Upheld President Donald Trump’s travel ban against citizens of five Muslim-majority countries.”
    • Same-sex marriage: “Established a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry.”
    • Right to firearms: “The Second Amendment reads: ‘A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’ In 2008, the court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.”


Public views of past decisions.

  Strongly Oppose Oppose Favor Strongly Favor Don’t know
Corporate political spending 53 22 11 3 10
Race in admissions 57 21 11 4 7
Partisan gerrymanders 26 19 15 11 29
Exclude birth control coverage 44 19 13 14 10
Upheld travel ban 33 16 19 23 10
Same-sex marriage 23 13 20 36 9
Right to firearm 11 13 27 40 8

Possible future decisions

Some of the future decisions are taken from cases currently on the Court’s docket while others are hypothetical. These questions asked how much the respondent would favor or oppose the outcome as described. Possible decisions included overturning Roe v. Wade; striking down the Affordable Care Act; allowing business owners to deny services to gay people for religious reasons; allowing the Trump administration to end the DACA program; extending protections against employment discrimination to cover gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals; allowing public funds that support students attending private schools to also include those attending religious schools; and deciding that a ban on semi-automatic rifles violates the Second Amendment. The full question wording and the short description used in the table below follows.

  • Possible future decisions: “How much do you favor or oppose the following possible Supreme Court decisions?”
    • Overturn Roe v. Wade: “Overturn Roe versus Wade, thus striking down the 1973 decision that made abortion legal in all 50 states.”
    • End DACA: “Decide the administration can end the DACA program that allows young people who were brought to the United States illegally as children to register and avoid immediate deportation.”
    • Deny service to gay people: “Decide that a business owner’s religious beliefs or free speech rights can justify refusing some services to gay people.”
    • Public funds for religious school students: “Decide that a program that financially supports students attending private schools may also include religious schools without violating the constitution.”
    • Strike down ACA: “Strike down the 2010 health care reform law, also called Obamacare, by declaring it unconstitutional.”
    • Second Amendment prohibits semi-automatic rifle ban: “Decide that a ban on semi-automatic rifles violates the Second Amendment and thus is unconstitutional.”
    • Employment discrimination includes LGBTQ people: “Decide that laws prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sex also apply to discrimination based on sexual orientation of gay, lesbian, or transgender individuals.”

Public views of possible future decisions.

  Strongly Oppose Oppose Favor Strongly Favor Don’t know
Overturn Roe v. Wade 47 14 13 16 9
End DACA 37 16 20 17 9
Deny service to gay people 40 17 15 19 9
Public funds for religious school students 17 16 31 22 14
Strike down ACA 35 17 15 23 10
Second Amendment prohibits semi-automatic rifle ban 36 17 14 25 8
Employment discrimination includes LGBTQ 18 12 22 39 9

Awareness and perception of justices

We asked respondents if they had never heard of each justice, had heard of each justice but didn’t have an opinion, and if they were aware whether they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion.

There is considerable variation in awareness of the justices, from 84 percent unable to rate Justice Stephen Breyer to 42 percent for Justice Brett Kavanaugh and 41 percent for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The awareness and favorability ratings of the justices are shown in the table below.

Some justices of the Supreme Court are better known than others. For each of these names, have you never heard of them, heard of them but don’t know enough to have an opinion of them, have a favorable opinion, or have an unfavorable opinion?

  Unfavorable Unable to rate Favorable
Breyer 5 84 11
Kagan 7 78 15
Alito 8 78 15
Gorsuch 12 70 18
Roberts 9 66 25
Sotomayor 11 59 30
Thomas 23 49 28
Kavanaugh 32 42 26
Ginsburg 17 41 41

Just over one in four respondents lacked enough information to rate even a single justice, with an additional 11 percent able to rate only one justice. Just over a third of respondents said that they were able to rate a majority of the justices.

Number of justices able to rate, full scale

Response Percent
0 28
1 11
2 9
3 9
4 9
5 8
6 8
7 6
8 4
9 8

Factual knowledge

We measure knowledge of the Court and the Constitution through four items, assessing understanding of judicial review, the authority of the Court over the president, the location of the Bill of Rights within the Constitution, and which party’s presidents have appointed a majority of the current Court.

Does the Supreme Court have the power to review laws passed by Congress and to declare them invalid if they conflict with the Constitution?

Response Percent
Yes, the Supreme Court has this power 86
No, the Supreme Court does not have this power 14

If the Supreme Court rules against the president in a case, does the president have the power to ignore that ruling, or is the president required to do as the ruling says?

Response Percent
The president has the power to ignore the ruling 23
The president is required to do as the ruling says 77


Which part of the Constitution is called the ‘Bill of Rights’?

Response Percent
Article I 9
Article II 3
Article III 2
Amendments 1-10 52
Amendments 13-15 1
I don’t know 33

What is your guess as to whether a majority of the current U.S. Supreme Court justices were appointed by Democratic or Republican presidents?

Response Percent
Definitely Democratic Majority 4
Probably Democratic Majority 23
Probably Republican Majority 54
Definitely Republican Majority 19

(The correct answer is Republican. Five were appointed by Republican presidents and four by Democratic presidents.)

We can sum up the correct answers to create a knowledge score for each respondent, ranging from zero to four correct answers.

Knowledge of factual information, full scale

Response Percent
0 2
1 6
2 25
3 39
4 29

How the public thinks justices decide and how it thinks they should decide

While some see the Court as driven by politics, a near two-to-one majority say that justices base their decisions primarily on the law.

In general, what most often motivates Supreme Court justices’ decisions?

Response Percent
Mainly politics 36
Mainly the law 64

A majority say that justices should base their decisions on an evolving meaning of the Constitution rather than on what the Constitution was originally understood to mean.

How should Supreme Court justices base their decisions? On their interpretations of what the U.S. Constitution was understood to mean when it was originally written or on the Constitution as a document whose meaning may have evolved over time?

Response Percent
Original meaning 43
Evolving meaning 57

A majority of the public believes that a decision should produce a “fair” outcome rather than strictly follow the law if that would produce an unfair outcome.

Which is more important, a decision that leads to a fair outcome or one that follows the law, even if seemingly unfair?

Response Percent
That leads to a fair outcome 56
That follows the law, even if seemingly unfair 44

In thinking about the qualities important in a justice, the public puts greater emphasis on good judgment and empathy, followed by respect for existing decisions. Following a judicial philosophy was deemed least important. (In this table “not at all important” and “not very important” are combined as “unimportant.”)

  • “How important is it for a good Supreme Court justice to have each of these characteristics?”
    • “Be able to empathize with ordinary people; that is, to be able to understand how the law hurts or helps the people”
    • “Exercise good judgment and wisdom in the application of the law rather than only strict technical compliance with the law as it is written”
    • “Respect for existing Supreme Court decisions”
    • “Interpret the law according to the justice’s judicial philosophy, whether liberal or conservative”

How important is it for a good Supreme Court justice to have each of these characteristics?

  Unimportant Somewhat Very
Empathy 10 21 69
Good judgment 10 25 65
Respect precedent 12 44 44
Judicial philosophy 26 31 43

The Court and opinions of the president

Appointments to the Supreme Court emerged as an important element in the 2016 presidential campaign when then-candidate Donald Trump released a list of names from which he pledged to select nominees to the Court. With two subsequent appointments to the Court, this issue has remained salient as a congressional issue as well.

Asked how much they approve of President Trump’s handling of Supreme Court appointments, 43 percent approve, and 57 percent disapprove.

[Appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court] How much do you approve or disapprove of the way Trump is handling the following issues?

Response Percent
Strongly approve 22
Somewhat approve 21
Somewhat disapprove 19
Strongly disapprove 38

For comparison, 40 percent approve of President Trump’s handling of his job overall, while 60 percent disapprove, a slightly worse overall approval rating than for his handling of court nominations.

Overall, how much do you approve or disapprove of the way Trump is handling his job as president?

Response Percent
Strongly approve 20
Somewhat approve 20
Somewhat disapprove 14
Strongly disapprove 46

Asked about their confidence in a future Trump nominee, 32 percent say they have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence, 13 percent have some, while 56 percent say they have little or no confidence that the next nominee will be the right kind of person for the Court.

If there is another opening on the Supreme Court, how much confidence do you have that President Donald Trump will select the right kind of person to sit on the Supreme Court?

Response Percent
A great deal of confidence 19
Quite a lot of confidence 13
Some confidence 13
Very little confidence 19
None at all 37

Views of presidential performance overall and of judicial matters are, unsurprisingly, closely tied to partisanship, with nearly identical correlations of 0.74 and 0.73, respectively.

Approval of Trump’s handling of nominations to the Supreme Court by party identification

  Strongly approve Somewhat approve Somewhat disapprove Strongly disapprove
Republican 59 30 7 4
Lean Republican 39 41 12 8
Independent 7 28 31 34
Lean Democrat 1 5 31 63
Democrat 2 7 22 69

A multivariate model of overall Trump job approval, including the effects of partisanship and ideology, finds that approval of court nominations has a strong and statistically significant relationship with overall job approval. The favorability rating of Justice Kavanaugh is also a statistically significant predictor of job approval, while the rating of Trump’s other appointee, Justice Gorsuch, is not statistically significant.

Opinion on handling of nominations also has statistically significant effects on vote choice for president in 2020. A multivariate model that predicts vote if the final election is between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden and if the final election is between Trump and Sen. Elizabeth Warren results in similar conclusions. The model, which includes partisanship, ideology, and overall job approval, finds that there is an additional statistically significant effect of approval of court nominations, and of favorability to Kavanaugh, with no statistically significant effect for favorability to Gorsuch.

While other factors such as party, ideology, and overall performance are powerful predictors of vote choice, the statistical model supports the idea that court appointments are an additional factor in evaluations of presidential performance and in vote choice.

A more detailed analysis of the survey findings is available at https://law.marquette.edu/poll/category/results-and-data/

About the Marquette Law School Poll

The survey was conducted Sept. 3-13, 2019, interviewing 1,423 adults nationwide, with a margin of error of +/-3.6 percentage points. Interviews were conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) using its AmeriSpeak Panel, a national probability sample, with interviews conducted online. The detailed methodology statement, complete survey instrument, topline results, and crosstabs are available at https://law.marquette.edu/poll/category/results-and-data/

New Marquette Law School Poll finds Biden leading Trump in head-to-head presidential match in Wisconsin: Biden is most popular choice in the Democratic primary field, while full sample of voters split sharply by partisanship on Trump and the economy

MILWAUKEE —With 14 months to go until the 2020 presidential election, former Vice President Joe Biden is favored by 51 percent and President Donald Trump by 42 percent among Wisconsin registered voters in a potential match. Four percent say they would not support either candidate and 2 percent say they don’t know. This is the first Marquette Law School Poll of 2019 that has asked head-to-head vote choices for potential 2020 nominees.

In a match with Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sanders receives 48 percent and Trump 44 percent, with 5 percent supporting neither and 2 percent who don’t know.

When matched against Trump, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is the choice of 45 percent and Trump is the choice of 45 percent, with 5 percent supporting neither and 5 percent saying they don’t know.

Sen. Kamala Harris is supported by 44 percent to Trump’s 44 percent, while 6 percent support neither and 6 percent say they don’t know.

A summary of the general election matches is shown in Table 1.

Table 1: General Election Matches

Match Pct Match Pct Match Pct Match Pct
Joe Biden 51 Bernie Sanders 48 Elizabeth Warren 45 Kamala Harris 44
Donald Trump 42 Donald Trump 44 Donald Trump 45 Donald Trump 44
Neither 4 Neither 5 Neither 5 Neither 6
Don’t know 2 Don’t know 2 Don’t know 5 Don’t know 6

The poll was conducted Aug. 25-29, 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.

Democratic presidential candidate preference items were asked of Democrats, independents who lean Democratic, and independents who do not lean to either party. That sample size is 444 with a margin of error of +/-5.3 percentage points.

Four issue-related questions were asked of half the sample (Form A) and four were asked of the other half-sample (Form B). Questions on Form A have a sample size of 400 and a margin of error of +/- 5.6 percentage points. Questions on Form B have a sample size of 400 and a margin of error of +/- 5.5 percentage points.

Democratic Presidential Primary Candidates

Among Democrats, independents who lean Democratic, and independents who do not lean to either party (hereafter “the Democratic primary sample”), Biden receives the most support for the April 2020 presidential primary. Biden is the first choice of 28 percent, followed by Sanders at 20 percent, Warren at 17 percent and Pete Buttigieg at 6 percent. Harris receives 3 percent, while all other candidates receive 2 percent or less.

The complete results for the Democratic primary are shown in Table 2.

Table 2: First and second choice in the Democratic primary sample (Democrats, independents who lean Democratic and independents without a partisan lean).
Response First Choice Second Choice
Joe Biden 28 18
Bernie Sanders 20 13
Elizabeth Warren 17 20
Pete Buttigieg 6 10
Kamala Harris 3 11
Andrew Yang 2 2
Cory Booker 1 3
Kirsten Gillibrand 1 1
Amy Klobuchar 1 2
Tom Steyer 1 0
Steve Bullock 1 0
Beto O’Rourke 1 1
Tulsi Gabbard 0 2
John Delaney 0 1
Michael Bennet 0 0
Tim Ryan 0 0
Julián Castro 0 1
Marianne Williamson 0 0
Bill de Blasio 0 0
Wayne Messam 0 0
Joe Sestak 0 0
Someone else (VOL) 1 0
Would not vote (VOL) 2 1
Don’t know 13 13
Refused 1 0

Among the Democratic primary sample, favorability of five candidates is shown in Table 3.

Table 3: Favorability ratings of five candidates among Democratic primary sample

  Favorable Unfavorable Haven’t heard enough Don’t know
Joe Biden 70 20 8 2
Bernie Sanders 63 21 11 5
Elizabeth Warren 53 12 27 7
Pete Buttigieg 37 7 45 11
Kamala Harris 35 14 41 10

Economic outlook and issues

Wisconsin registered voters hold a net positive view of the performance of the economy over the past 12 months, with 37 percent saying the economy has improved over the past year, 25 percent saying it has worsened, and 34 percent saying it has stayed the same.

By contrast, the outlook for the next year is not net positive, with 26 percent saying the economy will improve, while 37 percent think it will get worse and 33 percent saying the economy will remain the same.

The outlook for the coming year among those polled in 2019 is less favorable than among those polled in 2018 as more respondents now see the prospect of a worsening economy. The August poll is the second in 2019 that has seen net pessimism about the economic outlook. The previous net negative reading was in January 2019, during the federal government shutdown.

In 2018, the average future outlook was 14.7 percent net positive, while in 2019 the average outlook has been net negative -3 percent.

The full results since February 2018 are shown in Table 4.

Table 4: Outlook for the economy over next year

Poll Date Get better Get worse Stay the same Don’t know Net
2018-02-25 37 20 38 5 17
2018-06-13 35 25 37 3 10
2018-8-15 38 25 31 5 13
2018-9-12 37 24 34 5 13
2018-10-3 42 20 32 7 22
2018-10-24 38 25 29 8 13
2019-1-16 29 34 30 6 -5
2019-4-3 34 27 34 5 7
2019-8-25 26 37 33 5 -11

Forty-five percent approve of the job Trump is doing as president, with 53 percent disapproving. That is little changed from April when 46 percent approved and 52 percent disapproved.

Forty-nine percent of those polled approve of Trump’s handling of the economy, while 50 percent disapprove.

Partisanship strongly affects views of both the economy and Trump’s handling of it. In Table 5, 41 percent of Republican and independents who lean Republican think the economy will improve over the next 12 months, 42 percent think it will stay the same and 12 percent think it will worsen.

In contrast, among Democrats and independents who lean Democratic, 12 percent think the economy will improve, 23 percent think it will remain the same, and 63 percent think the economy will worsen.

Twenty-one percent of independents who do not lean to a party expect the economy to improve, 37 percent think it will stay the same and 33 percent expect an economic downturn.

Table 5: Economic Outlook (Next 12 Months) by Party Identification

  Get better Get worse Stay the same Don’t know
Republican 41 12 42 5
Democrat 12 63 23 2
Independent 21 33 37 9

Table 6 shows approval of Trump’s handling of the economy by party. While Republicans and Democrats are near-mirror images of each other, independents on balance disapprove of Trump’s handing of the economy.

Table 6: Trump Economic Job Approval by Party Identification

  Approve Disapprove Don’t know
Republican 88 11 0
Democrat 9 89 1
Independent 43 51 6

Tariffs on Chinese imports were raised on Sept. 1, after the poll was completed, although the tariff increase was announced by Trump on Twitter on Aug. 23 before interviews began on Aug. 25. Respondents were asked if imposing tariffs or fees on products imported from other countries helps the U.S. economy, hurts the economy or doesn’t make much of a difference either way. Thirty percent say tariffs help the economy, 46 percent say they hurt the economy, and 17 percent say tariffs don’t make much difference either way.

Table 7 shows views of tariffs by party identification, including leaners as partisans.

Table 7: Impact of tariffs on economy by party identification

  Helps US economy Hurts US economy Doesn’t make much difference Don’t know
Republican 47 21 22 8
Democrat 12 72 13 3
Independent 34 47 15 3

Gun legislation and opinion

This poll was completed after the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 3 and in Dayton, Ohio, on Aug. 4, but before the mass shooting in Odessa and Midland, Texas, on Aug. 31. Opinion on potential changes to gun laws has changed little from previous polling on gun issues.

Table 8 shows the trend in support and opposition to universal background checks for firearm sales.

Table 8: Trend in support or opposition to background checks

Poll Date Support Oppose Don’t know
2013-3-13 81 17 2
2013-5-9 71 26 2
2016-1-24 85 12 2
2018-02-25 81 16 2
2019-8-25 80 16 3

Note: a Prior to 2019 options were ‘Favor’ or ‘Oppose’

Households with guns are only a little less supportive of background checks than those without a gun. Seventy-five percent of respondents from households with a gun support background checks, while 88 percent of those without a gun do so. Those who refuse to say if there is a gun in the household are more opposed to background checks. Six percent of respondents refused to say if there was a gun in the household. These results are shown in Table 9.

Table 9: Support or oppose background checks by gun in household (August 2019)

Gun Household Support Oppose Don’t know
Yes 75 22 3
No 88 8 3
Refused 69 27 5

“Red-flag” laws that would allow police to take away guns from people who have been found by a judge to be a danger to themselves or others are supported by 81 percent and opposed by 12 percent. Eighty-one percent of respondents in households with a gun support such red-flag laws as do 86 percent of those without a gun in the household. Those refusing to say if there is a gun in the household are less supportive of red-flag laws, as shown in Table 10. This question has not been asked before in the Marquette Law School Poll.

Table 10: Support or oppose red-flag law by gun in household (August 2019)

Gun Household Support Oppose Don’t know
Yes 81 13 7
No 86 9 6
Refused 46 25 29

Support for a ban on “assault-style weapons” is lower than support for background checks or red-flag laws. Table 11 shows the trend in support or opposition to a ban on assault-style weapons, and Table 12 shows the views of residents in households with or without a gun.

Table 11: Trend in support or opposition to ban on `assault-style weapons’

Poll Date Support Oppose Don’t know
2013-3-13 54 43 3
2018-02-25 56 40 3
2019-8-25 57 40 3

Note: a Prior to 2019 options were ‘Favor’ or ‘Oppose’

Table 12: Support or oppose ban on `assault-style weapons’ by gun in household (August 2019)

Gun Household Support Oppose Don’t know
Yes 49 50 2
No 71 26 3
Refused 16 66 14

Feelings toward the National Rifle Association (NRA) were measured on a 100-point “feeling thermometer” where 100 means very warm or favorable feelings, zero means very cold or unfavorable feelings, while a score of 50 means neither favorable nor unfavorable feelings. Respondents can assign any score between 0 and 100.

Overall, the average score for the NRA was 50.2.

Average feelings toward the NRA are shown in Table 13 for men and women in urban, suburban and rural areas.

The average rating of the NRA is the approximately the same for urban and suburban men, and several points higher among rural men. Women in urban areas are about 10 points less favorable to the NRA than are urban men. Suburban women are 12 points less favorable than suburban men. Women in rural areas, however, are equally favorable to the NRA as are rural men.

Table 13: Average ‘feeling thermometer’ score for the National Rifle Association by gender and urban-suburban-rural residence

  Urban Suburban Rural
Male 52.3 51.7 57.8
Female 41.7 39.7 58.4

Views of a diverse society and immigrants

Sixty-five percent of respondents think an increasingly diverse population of different races, ethnic groups and nationalities makes the United States a better place to live. Four percent think this makes the U.S. a worse place, and 27 percent think it doesn’t make much difference. When last asked in October 2016, 53 percent said an increasingly diverse population made the U.S. better, 9 percent said it made the country worse, and 35 percent said it made little difference.

Asked to rate immigrants on the 0-to-100 point “feeling thermometer,” the average score given to “legal immigrants” was 78.8, while the average rating for “illegal immigrants” was 42.5.

The average thermometer score given to “Muslims” was 63.1, while that given to “evangelical Christians” was 58.6. Muslims were rated on average between 59 and 68 on the “feeling thermometer” by each of four religious groups, while evangelicals were rated over 75 by evangelicals, but at 33 by those without a religion. Mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic respondents gave evangelical Christians similar 59 and 61 average ratings respectively.

Views of racial disparity

A majority of respondents, 53 percent, agree that there is a lot of discrimination against blacks in the U.S., while 45 percent disagree.

A larger majority, 62 percent, disagree with a statement that racial disparities are only a matter of effort and that “if blacks would only try harder they could be just as well off as whites.” Thirty percent agree with a statement that black disadvantage is a matter of effort.

A minority, 41 percent, agree with a statement that blacks have gotten less than they deserve over the past few years, with 51 percent disagreeing with that statement.

A majority of respondents, 58 percent, say that Hispanic people have the same chance of getting ahead as people from most other ethnic backgrounds. Twenty-seven percent say Hispanic people have a worse chance of getting ahead, and 10 percent say they have a better chance.

Water-quality issues

Forty-three percent of respondents say they are very or somewhat concerned about the safety of their community’s water supply, while 57 percent say they are not too concerned or not at all concerned.

Fifty-two percent say the state of Wisconsin is doing an excellent or good job protecting the safety of public drinking water, while 39 percent say the state is doing a fair or poor job.

A substantial majority of respondents, 74 percent, say the state should provide financial support for replacing lead pipes between water mains and residences because of the health risks posed by lead pipes. Sixteen percent say this cost should be paid entirely by the owner of the residence.

Opinion of the governor and legislature

Governor Tony Evers’ job approval stands at 54 percent, with disapproval at 34 percent. Ten percent say they don’t have an opinion. In April, 47 percent approved, 37 percent disapproved, and 15 percent lacked an opinion.

Approval of the job the Wisconsin legislature is doing is 52 percent and disapproval is 38 percent, with 8 percent saying they don’t know. In April, 50 percent approved, 38 percent disapproved, and 11 percent lacked an opinion.

State of the state

Fifty-five percent of respondents say the state is headed in the right direction, while 37 percent say it is off on the wrong track. In April, 52 percent said the state was going in the right direction and 40 percent said it was on the wrong track.

Table 14 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 14: Favorability ratings of elected officials

  Favorable Unfavorable Haven’t heard enough Don’t know
Tony Evers 49 35 11 5
Tammy Baldwin 44 40 13 3
Donald Trump 42 53 1 3
Ron Johnson 40 29 25 6
Scott Fitzgerald 19 20 49 12
Robin Vos 15 20 52 13

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, Aug. 25-29, 2019. The margin of error is +/-3.9 percentage points for the full sample.

The Democratic presidential candidate preference items were asked of Democrats, independents who lean Democratic and independents who do not lean to either party. That sample size is 444 with a margin of error of +/-5.3 percentage points.

Four questions were asked of half the sample (Form A) and four were asked of the other half-sample (Form B). Questions on Form A have a sample size of 400 and a margin of error of +/- 5.6 percentage points. Questions on Form B have a sample size of 400 and a margin of error of +/- 5.5 percentage points. (The small difference in margin of error is due to rounding of the 2nd decimal point after weighting the half-samples.)

Form A questions were right direction or wrong track for the state and three items on water quality issues. Form B questions were approval of the state legislature and three gun-related issues.

The partisan makeup of the sample, including those who lean to a party, is 46 percent Republican, 45 percent Democratic and 8 percent independent. The partisan makeup of the sample, excluding those who lean to a party, is 26 percent Republican, 28 percent Democratic and 46 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, 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.