Poll Release

Marquette Law School Poll shows Barrett leads Falk in recall primary; Walker and Barrett within single percentage point

Obama leads Romney by 9 points

Milwaukee, Wis. – With less than a week until the primary in the historic Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election, a new Marquette Law School Poll shows Tom Barrett leading Kathleen Falk 38 percent to 21 percent, with 8 percent for Doug La Follette and 6 percent for Kathleen Vinehout. In a June general election between Barrett and Governor Scott Walker, Barrett leads by one percentage point, 47-46, among all registered voters, while Walker leads by one percentage point, 48-47, among likely voters. Both results are well within the margin of error of the poll. Walker leads former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk 49 percent to 42 percent among registered voters and 49 percent to 43 percent among likely voters.

Looking ahead to the November election, President Barack Obama leads former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney 51 percent to 42 percent, a small change from the 48-43 matchup in March just prior to Romney’s win in the Wisconsin Republican primary.

The Democratic primary margin has widened since the March 22-25 Marquette Law School poll, in which Barrett held 36 percent to Falk’s 29 percent with La Follette and Vinehout at 8 percent each. A significant number of Democratic primary voters are still undecided, 19 percent in the latest poll, up slightly from 17 percent in March. Undecided voters were asked which candidate they lean towards. Including those leaning voters, the primary results become Barrett at 45 percent, Falk at 23 percent, La Follette at 8 percent and Vinehout at 8 percent, with 9 percent still saying they are undecided.

Likelihood of voting makes little difference for the Democratic primary. Among likely voters Barrett has 38 percent to Falk’s 20 percent with La Follette at 8 percent and Vinehout at 7 percent.

Marquette Law School Poll Director Charles Franklin noted, “Despite Barrett’s late entry into the race, he has improved his position both among Democratic primary voters and in the general recall contest against Walker. Barrett trailed Walker by 6 percentage points in January but cut that to two points in March. The contest is now essentially a tie.”

Issues important to Democratic primary voters
Democratic primary voters ranked “creating new jobs,” picked by 46 percent, as the most important consideration in their choice of a nominee. Twenty-five percent said “defeating Scott Walker,” while 14 percent said “reducing political divisions in the state.” Twelve percent picked “restoring collective bargaining rights for public employees.”

Thirty-seven percent of Democratic primary voters said they favored a pledge to veto the state budget if it did not restore collective bargaining for state employees, while 48 percent opposed such a pledge. Fifty-two percent said they favored calling a special session of the legislature to restore collective bargaining rights, while 39 percent opposed doing so.

Open primary voters and “fake” candidates
Wisconsin’s open primary system allows any voter to participate in a primary regardless of party. According to the Marquette Law School Poll, voters in the April Republican Presidential primary included 17 percent Democrats, 42 percent Republicans and 39 percent independents. Those saying they will vote in the May 8 Democratic recall primary are a virtual mirror image of that: 17 percent Republicans, 44 percent Democrats, and 36 percent independents.

A majority of all registered voters, 59 percent, said so-called “fake” or “protest” candidates should not be allowed on the ballot while 29 percent said they should be allowed. A majority of each partisan category said such candidates should not be allowed, including 53 percent among Republicans, 72 percent among Democrats and 54 percent among independents.

Voters highly involved in the election process
Wisconsin voters have been substantially engaged in the political process over the past 16 months. Fully half, 50 percent, said they had talked to other people and tried to show them why they should vote for or against a candidate. Just over a quarter, 26 percent, said they had put up a yard sign or bumper sticker, and 20 percent had contributed money to a candidate. Eighteen percent said they had attended a rally or demonstration. Thirty-eight percent said they had signed a recall petition over the past sixteen months, including last summer’s state senate recalls and those this year for senate, governor, or lieutenant governor. Fifty-eight percent say they talk about politics with family or friends at least once a week, and 39 percent say they do so with co-workers.

The political involvement and conflict of the last year have also taken a toll on conversation. Twenty-nine percent say there is someone they’ve stopped talking to about politics due to disagreements over the recall or the governor.

Jobs and the economy
Voters have become more negative in their perceptions of the jobs situation in the state over the last month. In March, 24 percent said the state had lost jobs over the previous 12 months, while 34 percent said the state had gained jobs. That was reversed in this late April polling, with 38 percent saying jobs had been lost and 21 percent saying the state added jobs. The remainder, 39 percent in March and 38 percent in April, said the number of jobs was about the same. In February perceptions were similar to April, with 30 percent saying jobs had been lost and 22 percent seeing gains in jobs.

The public is closely divided on which party is better at creating jobs in the state, with 46 percent saying the Democrats are better and 44 percent saying Republicans are better.

On the national economic outlook, 44 percent expect the economy to get better over the next year, with 15 percent expecting a worse economy and 36 percent saying it will stay about the same. Asked about the impact of the recession on their personal financial situation, 24 percent say they have still not recovered from a major impact of the recession, 34 percent say they were affected but have recovered, and 40 percent say the recession did not have a major effect on their situation.

Presidential race
The presidential race remains competitive in Wisconsin, with Obama holding a 51 percent to 42 percent lead over Romney, up slightly from 48-43 in March. Obama’s job approval in April stood at 50 percent approve and 46 percent disapprove. In March it was 48 percent approve and 47 percent disapprove. Since January, Obama’s approval has varied between 47 and 50 percent approval and 43 to 47 percent disapproval.

Obama’s personal favorability in April was 55 percent favorable, 43 percent unfavorable. Romney’s favorable rating stood at 33 percent with 46 percent unfavorable in the new poll results,, which was somewhat improved from February during the Republican primary campaign, when his favorable rating fell to 27 percent, with 50 percent unfavorable.

About the Marquette Law School Poll
The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive independent statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. Running monthly through the 2012 election, it provides a snapshot of voter attitudes from across the state on the possible gubernatorial recall election and the campaigns for president and U.S. Senate, in addition to gauging opinion on major policy questions.

The results of today’s poll were discussed at “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” at Marquette Law School. Similar events will be held at the release of polls throughout the year.

The poll interviewed 705 registered Wisconsin voters by both landline and cell phone April 26-29, 2012. The margin of error is +/- 3.8 percentage points for the full sample. For the 451 respondents who said they would vote in the Democratic recall primary, the margin of error is +/- 4.7 percentage points. As for results for “likely voters,” those who said they were certain to vote, the sample for the June recall is 561 respondents with a margin of error of +/- 4.2 percentage points. There were 399 likely voters in the May 8 Democratic primary, with a margin of error of +/- 5.0 percentage points. The entire questionnaire, full results and breakdowns by demographic groups are available at http://law.marquette.edu/poll.

Marquette Law School Poll shows Romney leading Santorum in GOP primary; Walker slightly ahead in close recall race

Barrett leads in Democratic primary if he enters race for governor

Milwaukee, Wis. – With just one week until the April 3 Wisconsin presidential primary, the Marquette Law School Poll shows Governor Mitt Romney with a 39 percent to 31 percent lead over Senator Rick Santorum, reversing Santorum’s lead in February polls. Looking ahead to the November election, Romney trails President Barack Obama by 43 percent to 48 percent. In February Obama led by double digits. The new poll shows the rest of the Republican field also trailing Obama: 51 percent to Santorum’s 39 percent, 50 percent to Ron Paul’s 40 percent, and 53 percent to Newt Gingrich’s 36 percent.

In the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall, the poll shows a very close race. Governor Scott Walker holds a 47 percent to 45 percent margin over Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and a 49 percent to 45 percent edge over former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk. These matchups have tightened since January, when Walker led Barrett by 6 percentage points and Falk by 7 percentage points. State Senator Kathleen Vinehout trails Walker 41 percent to 49 percent and Secretary of State Doug La Follette trails 42 percent to 49 percent.

In a potential Democratic primary, Barrett has the support of 36 percent to Falk’s 29 percent, with Vinehout and La Follette each at 8 percent. A substantial 17 percent say they remain undecided. If Barrett is not a candidate, Falk holds a wide lead among Democratic primary voters, with 54 percent to 15 percent for La Follette and 12 percent for Vinehout, with 18 percent undecided.

Marquette Law School Poll Director Charles Franklin said the sharp swings in this year’s primaries are reflected in the poll results. “In February Santorum was at the high point of his campaign following wins in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado. Since that time Romney has come from behind to win in Michigan and Ohio, while Santorum has done well in southern states. Wisconsin represents Santorum’s most important chance to win another Midwest victory, while for Romney continued success here would set up a showdown in Santorum’s home state of Pennsylvania.”

Republican presidential candidate qualities
Asked what quality is most important in a presidential nominee, Republican primary voters picked having a strong moral character at 32 percent, with having the right experience to be president next at 30 percent. The ability to defeat Obama was ranked third at 19 percent, with being a true conservative last with just 14 percent. Among those naming strong moral character as most important, Santorum took 42 percent of the vote to Romney’s 29 percent. Romney was the choice of 48 percent of those citing experience as most important, to Santorum’s 20 percent. Those whose top priority is defeating Obama chose Romney by 54 percent to 22 percent over Santorum. Among those whose priority was nominating a true conservative, Santorum was the choice of 43 percent to 26 percent to Romney.

Republican primary voters saw a virtual tie on the question of which candidate best understands the problems of average Americans: Santorum was picked by 25 percent and Romney by 24 percent, with Ron Paul at 20 percent and Newt Gingrich at 10 percent.

Gubernatorial candidates
The potential Democratic gubernatorial candidates have gained some visibility since January, when 56 percent said that they didn’t know enough about Falk to say if they had a favorable or unfavorable view of her. In February, that edged down to 50 percent. But after a substantial recent advertising campaign, in March only 34 percent were unable to rate her. For Barrett, who has yet to announce whether he will enter the race, the trend was from 39 percent unable to rate him in January to 43 percent in February and 38 percent in March. Seventy-seven percent were unable to rate Vinehout in March, unchanged from 76 percent in February. La Follette was not rated by 69 percent in March, his first survey since entering the race.

Among Democratic primary voters, Barrett’s favorable to unfavorable ratings were 47 percent to 19 percent, while Falk’s were 39 percent to 29 percent. Vinehout’s ratings were 12 percent favorable to 10 percent unfavorable, while La Follette’s were 20 percent to 13 percent.

Walker’s favorable to unfavorable rating in March was 50 percent to 45 percent, up from 46 percent to 48 percent in February and matching his January standing. Walker’s job approval rating also improved in March, to 50 percent approve and 47 percent disapprove, from 47 percent to 47 percent tie in February.

Gas Prices
In the week that saw gasoline prices reach all-time record highs in the Milwaukee area, voters were evenly divided on the ability of a president to affect gas prices: 46 percent say that a president can do a lot to affect gas prices while 46 percent say this is beyond the control of any president. There is a strong partisan cast to the perception of presidential control over gas prices, with 63 percent of Republicans thinking the president can do a lot about gas prices, while 62 percent of Democrats believe this is beyond any president’s control. Among independents the split is 50 percent saying a president can do a lot, while 44 percent say it is beyond his control. Among those independents thinking the president has some control, 66 percent disapprove of the way Obama is handling his job as president. Among those independents who say no president can control gas prices, an identical proportion (66 percent) approve of how Obama is handling his job.

About the Marquette Law School Poll
The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive independent statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. Running monthly through the 2012 election, it will provide a snapshot of voter attitudes from across the state on the possible gubernatorial recall election and the campaigns for president and U.S. Senate, in addition to gauging opinion on major policy questions.

The results of today’s poll were discussed at “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” at Marquette Law School. Similar events will be held at the release of each poll throughout the year.

The poll interviewed 707 registered Wisconsin voters by both landline and cell phone March 22-25, 2012. The margin of error is +/- 3.8 percentage points for the full sample. For the 349 respondents who said they would vote in the GOP presidential primary, the margin of error is +/- 5.4 percentage points. For the 370 respondents who said they would vote in the Democratic primary in the gubernatorial recall election, the margin of error is +/- 5.2 percentage points. The entire questionnaire, full results and breakdowns by demographic groups are available at http://law.marquette.edu/poll.

Obama Leads GOP Field as Santorum Surges in Primary

See all questions and results under the Results & Data tab above.

Released: February 22, 2012

Marquette Law School Poll shows Obama leading GOP Field, Santorum leading in Wisconsin Republican primary 

A split decision in the U.S. Senate race; “John Doe,” jobs, mining also polled 

Milwaukee, Wis. — President Barack Obama leads each of his Republican rivals in Wisconsin, according to the new Marquette Law School Poll. Obama leads former Senator Rick Santorum 51 percent to 40 percent and leads former governor Mitt Romney by 53 percent to 38 percent. In January, Obama’s lead over Romney was 48 percent to 40 percent. The president holds a 52 percent to 36 percent lead over Rep. Ron Paul and a 56 percent to 33 percent margin over former Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Santorum leads among those who said they would vote in the Republican primary in Wisconsin on April 3 with 34 percent. Romney has the support of 18 percent while Paul has 17 percent. Gingrich trails at 12 percent, with 17 percent saying they are undecided. Santorum has recently surged in national polls and in Michigan polling. Among only Republican respondents who said they would vote in the primary, Santorum received 44 percent to Romney’s 20 percent. Wisconsin’s open primary allows any registered voter to participate.

In other results the poll found 72 percent of the public had heard or read of the “John Doe” investigation of former aides and associates of Governor Scott Walker while he was Milwaukee County executive. Of those who were aware of the investigation, 52 percent said that the investigation is “really something serious,” while 40 percent said that it is “just more politics.”

In the race for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin, former Governor Tommy Thompson has a small lead of 48 percent to 42 percent over Rep. Tammy Baldwin. Baldwin has a slight lead over former Rep. Mark Neumann, 44 percent to 40 percent, and a somewhat larger lead over state Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, 45 percent to 37 percent.

Governor Walker’s favorability rating slipped in February to 46 percent with 48 percent unfavorable. In January his favorable rating was 50 percent with 45 percent unfavorable.

The Marquette Law School Poll of 716 Wisconsin registered voters was conducted February 16-19 by both landline and cellular telephone.

Professor Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll and visiting professor of law and public policy at Marquette Law School, noted, “The highly competitive Republican presidential primary has prevented the GOP from uniting behind a single candidate, helping Obama’s performance in the trial heats. The latest surge by Santorum is reflected in Wisconsin, and Romney’s slippage against Obama since January shows that his quest for the Republican nomination faces some serious challenges.”

“John Doe” Investigation

Recent developments in the Milwaukee prosecutor’s “John Doe” investigation of former aides and associates of Scott Walker while he was county executive have caught the attention of nearly three quarters of respondents to the poll. Seventy-two percent said they had heard or read about the investigation, while 23 percent said they had not. Among those aware of the investigation, 52 percent said the investigation is “really something serious” while 40 percent said it is “just more politics.”

Among both Democrats and Republicans, 75 percent were aware of the investigation, while only 56 percent of independents were aware. Partisan differences were much larger on the question of the seriousness of the investigation. Sixty-eight percent of Republicans said it is “just more politics,” with 25 percent saying it is “something serious,” compared to 16 percent of Democrats who see it as “just more politics” and 80 percent “something serious.” Among those independents who had heard of the investigation, 45 percent said it was “just more politics” while 32 percent said it was “something serious.

Possible Recall Election

The still-developing field of potential Democratic candidates for a possible recall election against Walker shows little change in name recognition or favorability since January. Kathleen Falk is viewed favorably by 22 percent and unfavorably by 28 percent, with 47 percent saying they don’t know enough to have an opinion. That compares to 19 percent favorable, 25 percent unfavorable and 51 percent with no opinion in January.

Recently announced candidate, state Senator Kathleen Vinehout has 9 percent favorable, 14 percent unfavorable and 68 percent with no opinion. Vinehout was not included in the January poll.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who has said he is seriously considering entering the race, polled 30 percent favorable, 27 percent unfavorable and 40 percent unable to rate, compared to 34 percent favorable, 27 percent unfavorable and 35 percent unable to rate in January.

Also included in the poll were former Congressman David Obey with 22 percent favorable, 19 percent unfavorable and 55 percent unable to rate, and Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, who has occasionally been mentioned as a possible candidate, with 12 percent favorable, 12 percent unfavorable and 70 percent unable to rate.

Governor Walker’s rating was 46 percent favorable, 48 percent unfavorable and 4 percent unable to rate. In January his ratings were 50 percent favorable, 45 percent unfavorable and 3 percent unable to rate.

Jobs

Respondents were also asked about jobs in the state. More respondents said Wisconsin had fared better in the recession than the country as a whole, 27 percent, than thought it had fared worse, 13 percent. A majority of 56 percent thought the recession had hit Wisconsin about the same as the rest of the county. But when asked about job growth in the last year, respondents were somewhat more negative about Wisconsin than about the nation as a whole. Twenty-two percent said jobs had increased in Wisconsin, compared to 31 percent who saw jobs increasing nationally. Thirty percent said jobs had declined in Wisconsin, while 28 percent saw a national decline. Forty-five percent saw no change in Wisconsin, while 39 percent saw no national change.

Iron-ore mine

The potential development of an iron-ore mine in northwestern Wisconsin has been the subject of recent public debate and legislative consideration. The question posed to respondents described the issue: “There is a proposal to develop an iron-ore mine in northwestern Wisconsin. Supporters argue that the mine will create 700 jobs and long-term economic benefits. Opponents argue that not enough environmental protections are in place to preserve water and air quality. Do you support or oppose developing the mine?” Fifty-two percent said they support developing the mine, while 33 percent opposed the mine and 15 percent hadn’t heard of the mine or didn’t have an opinion.

 

About the Marquette Law School Poll

The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive independent statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. Running monthly through the 2012 election, it will provide a snapshot of voter attitudes from across the state on the possible gubernatorial recall election and the campaigns for president and U.S. Senate, in addition to gauging opinion on major policy questions.

Members of the public are invited to attend “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” at 12:15 p.m. today at Marquette Law School, where Professor Franklin will provide further context on the poll results. Similar events will be held at the release of each poll throughout the year.

The poll interviewed 716 registered Wisconsin voters by both landline and cell phone February 16-19, 2012. The margin of error is +/- 3.7 percentage points for the full sample. The Republican primary subsample had 424 respondents and a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percentage points. The entire questionnaire, full results and breakdowns by demographic groups are available at http://law.marquette.edu/poll.