Poll Release

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.

New Marquette Law School Poll finds many Wisconsin primary voters remain undecided, unfamiliar with candidates

MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School Poll finds one in three Wisconsin voters remains undecided on August primary candidates in each party. Among Democratic primary voters, 34 percent say that they don’t know which of 10 candidates they will support for the gubernatorial nomination to run against Gov. Scott Walker in November. In the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, 30 percent of primary voters are undecided on who should face Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

In the previous poll, Feb. 25-March 1, 2018, 44 percent were undecided in the Democratic primary. Among Republican primary voters, 49 percent were undecided.

The non-incumbent candidates are not yet well known to registered voters in Wisconsin. Among Democratic gubernatorial candidates, the percentage who say they haven’t heard enough or don’t know if they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of each candidate is shown below.

  • Tony Evers: 61 percent
  • Matt Flynn: 77 percent
  • Andy Gronik: 87 percent
  • Mike McCabe: 83 percent
  • Mahlon Mitchell: 86 percent
  • Josh Pade: 94 percent
  • Kelda Roys: 88 percent
  • Paul Soglin: 72 percent
  • Kathleen Vinehout: 73 percent
  • Dana Wachs: 85 percent

The Republican Senate candidates are also not well-known.

  • Kevin Nicholson: 69 percent
  • Leah Vukmir: 72 percent

In contrast, relatively few respondents lack an opinion of the incumbents in each race.

  • Walker: 3 percent
  • Baldwin: 15 percent

Primary preferences

Among those who say they will vote in the Democratic primary, Tony Evers is the choice of 25 percent, while all other candidates are in single digits.

Table 1: Democratic gubernatorial primary

Candidate Percent
Tony Evers 25
Matt Flynn 7
Andy Gronik 4
Mike McCabe 7
Mahlon Mitchell 4
Josh Pade 1
Kelda Roys 2
Paul Soglin 7
Kathleen Vinehout 5
Dana Wachs 2
Someone else (volunteered) 1
Don’t know 34
Refused 1

Among those who say they will vote in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, Kevin Nicholson receives 37 percent and Leah Vukmir receives 32 percent.

Table 2: Republican Senate primary

Candidate Percent
Kevin Nicholson 37
Leah Vukmir 32
Someone else (volunteered) 1
Don’t know 30
Refused 1

The poll was conducted June 13-17, 2018. The sample included 800 registered voters in Wisconsin, interviewed by cell phone or landline, with a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points. For the Democratic primary sample, the margin of error is +/- 6.4 percentage points, and for the Republican primary sample, the margin of error is +/- 6.9 percentage points. The gubernatorial matchups for Evers versus Walker and Roys versus Walker were asked of the full sample, with a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points. The other gubernatorial matchups were asked of half the sample and have a margin of error of +/- 5.6 percentage points.

November matchups

Looking ahead to possible November matchups, Baldwin receives 50 percent to 39 percent for Nicholson, with 7 percent undecided and 4 percent saying they would vote for neither. When matched against Vukmir, Baldwin receives 49 percent to 40 percent for Vukmir, with 8 percent undecided and 4 percent saying they would vote for neither.

The gubernatorial matchups are shown in Table 3. Walker’s support ranges from 44 to 49 percent, while Democratic candidates receive between 36 and 44 percent. Among Democrats, Evers has the highest vote percentage, at 44 percent to 48 percent for Walker. McCabe has the closest margin with Walker, 42 percent to 44 percent.

Table 3: Gubernatorial matchups

  Democrat Scott Walker Neither Don’t know
Evers v Walker 44 48 3 5
Flynn v Walker 42 46 2 10
Gronik v Walker 41 46 3 11
McCabe v Walker 42 44 4 9
Mitchell v Walker 41 45 3 11
Pade v Walker 36 49 4 11
Roys v Walker 40 48 4 7
Soglin v Walker 39 48 4 8
Vinehout v Walker 39 48 3 9
Wachs v Walker 38 49 4 9

State issues

Walker’s job approval stands at 49 percent, with 47 percent disapproving. The trend in approval in 2017 and 2018 is shown in Table 4. This is the first time since Oct. 23-26, 2014, that Walker’s approval has been higher than his disapproval in the Marquette Law School Poll. Approval was also 49 percent to 47 percent disapproval in that 2014 poll.

Table 4: Scott Walker Job Approval Trend, 2017-18

  Approve Disapprove Don’t know
June 2018 49 47 3
March 2018 47 47 6
June 2017 48 48 4
March 2017 45 48 6

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. In March, 53 percent said right direction and 44 percent said wrong track.

Views of the Foxconn incentive package and the effects of the new manufacturing center to be built in Racine County are little-changed from the March 2018 poll. Forty-six percent think the state is paying more than the Foxconn plant is worth, while 40 percent think the plant will provide at least as much value as the state is investing in the plant. Thirteen percent say they don’t know if the plant will be worth it or not. In the March poll, 49 percent said the state was paying too much and 38 percent said it was worth it.

A majority—56 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 10 percent say they don’t know. In the March poll, 57 percent said the Milwaukee area would benefit while 35 percent did not think so.

When asked if businesses where the respondent lives will benefit from Foxconn, 29 percent say businesses will benefit directly from the Foxconn plant, while 61 percent say their local businesses will not benefit and 9 percent don’t know. In the March poll, 25 percent said their local businesses would benefit, while 66 percent did not think so.

Given a choice of reducing property taxes or increasing spending on public schools, 59 percent answer public schools and 35 percent answer property taxes. When first asked in March 2014, 49 percent preferred to reduce property taxes while 46 percent favored increased spending for public schools. In March 2018, 63 percent preferred higher school spending versus 33 percent who preferred lower property taxes.

Act 10, the law that sharply limited collective bargaining for most public employees in Wisconsin, remains a major divide in the state. Forty-three percent favor keeping Act 10 as it is, while 47 percent favor a return to collective bargaining. When asked in March 2018, 46 percent favored Act 10 and 41 percent supported collective bargaining.

National issues

President Trump has a 44 percent approval rating, with 50 percent disapproving. In the previous Marquette Law School Poll in March, his approval was 43 percent, with 50 percent disapproving.

Asked about the results of the Singapore summit, 38 percent say it is likely to reduce nuclear weapons in North Korea while 52 percent say it is unlikely to do so. Ten percent say they don’t know.

Twenty-nine percent think increased tariffs on steel and aluminum imports will improve the U.S. economy, while 55 percent think tariffs will hurt the economy. Fifteen percent say they don’t know.

On free-trade agreements in general, 51 percent think these agreements have been a good thing for the U.S. economy, while 28 percent think they have been bad for the economy. Twenty percent say they don’t know.

Forty percent favor building a wall along the Mexico border while 55 percent oppose a wall. Four percent say they don’t know.

Confidence in the ability of the Mueller investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election and other matters to be fair and impartial has become more polarized since June 2017. Both the number of voters saying they have “a great deal of confidence” and the number saying they have “no confidence at all” have grown. Twenty-nine percent say they have a great deal of confidence, while 32 percent say they have no confidence. The trend in confidence since June 2017 is shown in Table 5.

Table 5: Trend in Confidence in Mueller Investigation, 2017-18

  A great deal Some Only a little No confidence at all Don’t know
June 2018 29 18 15 32 5
March 2018 24 22 20 23 10
June 2017 20 31 17 21 11

With respect to the FBI, 34 percent of Wisconsin voters say they have a great deal of confidence in the FBI and another 34 percent say they have some confidence. There are 17 percent who say they have little confidence in the FBI and 13 percent who say they have no confidence.

Thirty-eight percent say they trust President Trump more than they trust the news media to tell the truth on important issues, while 45 percent say they trust the news media more than Trump. Fourteen percent say they trust neither.

Enthusiasm for voting

In total, 61 percent of registered voters say they are very enthusiastic about voting in this year’s elections, with 27 percent somewhat enthusiastic and 11 percent either not too or not at all enthusiastic. Among Republicans, 67 percent are very enthusiastic, while among Democrats, 71 percent are. Among independents, 51 percent say they are very enthusiastic about voting this year. In March, 54 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of Democrats were very enthusiastic, while the figure was 46 percent among 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, June 13-17, 2018. The margin of error is +/-4 percentage points for the full sample. For the Democratic primary sample, the margin of error is +/- 6.4 percentage points, and for the Republican primary sample, the margin of error is +/- 6.9 percentage points. The gubernatorial matchups for Evers versus Walker and Roys versus Walker were asked of the full sample, with a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points. The other gubernatorial matchups were asked of half the sample and have a margin of error of +/- 5.6 percentage points.

The partisan makeup of the sample, including those who lean to a party, is 47 percent Republican, 44 percent Democratic and 8 percent independent. The long-term total for the previous 44 statewide Marquette polls, with 38,552 respondents, is 43 percent Republican and 47 percent Democratic, with 9 percent independent. The partisan makeup of the current sample, excluding those who lean to a party, is 29 percent Republican, 27 percent Democratic and 44 percent independent, compared to the long-term totals of 27 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 41 percent independent.

The entire questionnaire, methodology statement, full results and breakdowns by demographic groups are available at law.marquette.edu/poll/results-and-data.