New Marquette Law School Poll finds Wisconsin governor’s race tied

MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School Poll finds that the Wisconsin governor’s race has tightened to a dead heat, with both Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke receiving the support of 46 percent of registered voters, while 6 percent are undecided or say they do not know whom they would support.

That represents a significant tightening of the race from the most recent Marquette Law School Poll in March, which Walker led 48-41.

Turnout in the fall election is likely to play an important role. While the race is tied among all registered voters, among likely voters—those who say they are absolutely certain to vote in November—Walker receives 48 percent to Burke’s 45 percent, which is inside the +/-3.5 percentage point margin of error for the poll. Among those who are both certain to vote and who say they are excited about voting, Walker receives 50 percent to Burke’s 45 percent.

The poll interviewed 805 Wisconsin registered voters by landline and cell phone May 15-18.

“Turnout is one of the biggest unknowns of the fall election,” said Charles Franklin, professor of law and public policy and director of the Marquette Law School Poll. “Between now and Election Day, some voters will become more engaged by the election, while others may lose interest. These results show that the election outcome can change depending on turnout as both parties seek to mobilize their supporters.”

Demographic divisions

Partisans are strongly united behind their candidates, with 94 percent of Republicans supporting Walker and 88 percent of Democrats backing Burke. Independents split 49 percent for Walker to 40 percent for Burke.

In the March poll, Walker received 92 percent of the Republican vote while Burke got 84 percent from Democrats, and independents split 48 percent for Walker to 37 percent for Burke. The small amount of crossover voting declined to 3 percent of Republicans for Burke from 5 percent in March. Eight percent of Democrats said they would vote for Walker, down from 9 percent in March.

In May the gender gap finds Walker leading among men by 52 percent to 42 percent while Burke leads among women by 49 percent to 41 percent. In March, Walker won men by 52 to 37 percent while Burke and Walker tied among women with 44 percent each.

Voters age 18 through 44 support Burke over Walker by 51 percent to 41 percent, reversing a 49 percent to 38 percent Walker advantage in March. Among voters 45 and older, support has been more stable, with Walker receiving 49 percent to Burke’s 42 percent, as compared to Walker’s 47-43 margin over Burke in March.

Party affiliations

Democratic partisanship has grown in May to 32 percent from 27 percent in March, while Republicans make up 24 percent of the May sample and 25 percent of the March sample. Independents are 41 percent in May and were 44 percent in March.

In the 20 Marquette Law School polls since January 2012, surveying more than 17,000 Wisconsin registered voters, Democrats have averaged 31 percent, Republicans 27 percent and independents 38 percent.

Among those saying they are certain to vote in November, Republicans make up 26 percent, Democrats 31 percent and independents 40 percent. Among those certain to vote and most excited about voting in November, Republicans are 29 percent, Democrats 30 percent and independents 39 percent.

State’s direction

Approval of Walker’s handing of his job as governor has risen slightly in May to 49 percent, with 46 percent disapproving. In March, 47 percent approved and 47 percent disapproved.

Fifty-two percent of voters say Wisconsin is headed in the right direction, while 42 percent say it is off on the wrong track, little changed from 54 percent right direction and 42 percent wrong track in March. Forty-eight percent of voters see the state budget as being in better shape now than a few years ago, while 22 percent see it about the same and 25 percent say it is in worse shape now. When the question was last asked in January, 49 percent said the budget was in better shape, 26 percent the same and 20 percent worse than a few years ago.

Voters remain divided about job creation in the state. Forty-three percent say Wisconsin is lagging behind other states in job creation, 38 percent say the state is keeping up with others and 13 percent say Wisconsin is creating jobs faster than other states. In March, 45 percent said lagging, 37 percent keeping up and 12 percent said Wisconsin was creating jobs faster than other states.

Personal perceptions
Burke continues to become more familiar to voters. In May, 51 percent of voters say they either haven’t heard enough about her or don’t know if they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of her, down from 59 percent in March and 70 percent in January. Twenty-seven percent have a favorable opinion and 22 percent an unfavorable opinion of her. In March, 19 percent were favorable and 22 percent unfavorable.

Walker receives a 47 percent favorable and 48 percent unfavorable rating, with 5 percent not giving a rating. In March, 49 percent rated him favorably and 47 percent unfavorably, with 4 percent not rating him.

Voters were asked if the phrase “cares about people like you” describes Walker and Burke. Forty-four percent say “cares about people like you” describes Walker, while 52 percent say that does not describe Walker. For Burke, 39 percent say the phrase describes her while 29 percent say it does not. Thirty-one percent are not able to say if this describes Burke, while 4 percent are unable to say if it describes Walker.

When asked if “able to get things done” describes Walker, 68 percent says it does, while 28 percent say it does not, with 4 percent unable to say. For Burke, 36 percent say “able to get things done” describes her, while 26 percent say it does not and 38 percent were unable to say.

Voters see business experience as an important qualification for governors. The new poll included this question: “Which is more important for someone to have before becoming governor: extensive political experience or extensive business experience?” Fifty-nine percent say business experience is more important while 27 percent choose political experience. Among Republicans, 75 percent say business experience is more important while 17 percent say political experience. For Democrats, 46 percent prefer business experience to 38 percent for political experience. Independents prefer business experience by 61 percent to 25 percent.

Vote fraud
In the wake of recent legislation limiting early voting and legal challenges to photo ID requirements for voting, some members of the public believe there is a substantial amount of vote fraud in the state, committed by both individuals or election officials.

Voters were asked if they believe vote fraud affects “a few thousand votes,” “a few hundred,” “a few dozen” or “less than a dozen” votes each election in Wisconsin. In the situation of one person’s claiming to be someone else, or in-person voter impersonation, 20 percent say this happens a few thousand times or more each election, 23 percent say a few hundred times, 21 percent a few dozen times, and 26 percent say this happens less than a dozen times each election.

For absentee ballots submitted in someone else’s name, 20 percent say this happens a few thousand times, 28 percent a few hundred, 19 percent a few dozen, and 22 percent less than a dozen times in an election.

Similarly, for voting by non-citizens or non-Wisconsin residents, 20 percent say this happens a few thousand times or more, 24 percent say a few hundred times, 19 percent a few dozen times and 26 percent say it happens less than a dozen times.

As for election officials submitting false vote counts, 17 percent believe this affects a few thousand votes, 27 percent a few hundred votes, 18 percent a few dozen votes and 25 percent say it affects less than a dozen votes each election.

Across the four different types of possible vote fraud, 39 percent of respondents say at least one type of fraud affected a few thousand votes or more each election. Only 7 percent say fraud accounted for less than a dozen votes on all four types of possible fraud.

Among partisans, 54 percent of Republicans believe fraud affects a few thousand votes or more for at least one type of fraud, while 41 percent of independents and 25 percent of Democrats say so. Partisans are somewhat different in the type of fraud they perceive. Thirty-six percent of Republicans think voter impersonation, the type of fraud photo ID requirements are supposed to prevent, affects a few thousand or more votes, while just 7 percent of Democrats and 20 percent of independents agree. But on fraud by election officials reporting incorrect results, the partisan differences are less, with 16 percent of Republicans, 14 percent of Democrats, and 21 percent of independents thinking that this affects a few thousand votes or more each election.

The belief that vote fraud is substantial is related to support for a photo ID requirement for voting. Overall, 60 percent support a photo ID requirement while 36 percent oppose it, a margin that has hardly moved in more than two years of polling on the issue. Among those who think voter impersonation affects a few thousand or more votes, 86 percent support a photo ID requirement. Of those who think a few hundred votes are affected, support for photo ID falls to 74 percent. For those seeing a few dozen ballots affected, support drops to 52 percent, and among those who say voter impersonation affects less than a dozen votes, support for photo ID drops to 29 percent. This pattern is nearly identical for absentee and non-citizen fraud questions.

Views on government
Voters also express considerable distrust of political institutions. Two out of three voters, 67 percent, agree or strongly agree that “you really can’t trust the government to do the right thing.” Twenty-nine percent disagree or strongly disagree.

Eighty-two percent agree or strongly agree that “government is pretty much run by a few big interests looking out for themselves.” Seventeen percent disagree or strongly disagree.

Fully 90 percent agree or strongly agree that “government wastes a lot of money we pay in taxes.” Nine percent disagree or strongly disagree.

Distrust of government crosses partisan divides. A majority of each partisan camp—Republicans, Democrats, and independents—agree or strongly agree with each of the foregoing three items.

Voters were also asked, “How much attention do you feel the state government in Wisconsin pays to what the people in your community think when it decides what to do?” Forty-four percent say none or only a small amount, 42 percent say a moderate amount and 12 percent say a large or very large amount.

Asked to agree or disagree that “people like me don’t have any say about what the government does,” 48 percent agree or strongly agree; 17 percent neither agree nor disagree; and 33 percent disagree or strongly disagree. Partisan differences are modest. Forty-three percent of Republicans, 44 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of independents agree or strongly agree. Forty-two percent of Republicans, 35 percent of Democrats and 29 percent of independents disagree or strongly disagree.

Other issues
Funding for transportation faces a public reluctant to pay more for highway construction and maintenance. Forty percent are willing to raise gas taxes and vehicle registration fees to pay for highway projects, while 58 percent are unwilling. Thirty-two percent are willing to have the state borrow money to pay for highway projects, with 65 percent unwilling. And only 28 percent are willing to take money from other programs to pay for highways, while 65 percent are unwilling to do so. In contrast, support for using tolls to pay for highway projects commands majority support, with 56 percent willing to use tolls and 42 percent unwilling to do so.

Despite the reluctance to pay for highway projects, 71 percent of voters agree that “the economic benefits from good quality highways, railroads and airports outweigh the cost to taxpayers,” with 18 percent disagreeing and 11 percent saying they don’t know.

Opinion on same-sex marriage has been changing, and with it has come a change in the poll’s wording of a question on the subject. From 2004 through 2012, many national pollsters asked a question on same-sex unions that allowed three options: marriage, civil unions, and no legal recognition for same-sex couples. This is the form of the question the Marquette Law School Poll has used.

However, as public opinion has changed and as court rulings have evolved, the civil union option has become an increasingly unlikely policy. In this poll, we asked voters both the older three-option question and the two-option version phrased, “Do you favor or oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally?”

The older item was asked early in the interview, while the new two-option item was asked some 19 questions later. With the three-option question, 49 percent support marriage, 25 percent support civil unions and 18 percent prefer no legal recognition. When offered only two options, 55 percent favor allowing marriage while 37 percent oppose marriage and 6 percent say they do not know. Of those originally favoring civil unions on the three-part question, 26 percent shift to supporting marriage on the two-option question while 65 percent say they oppose marriage and 8 percent say they don’t know.

Presidential perceptions
Do Wisconsin voters want to see Walker run for president in 2016? In the new results, 27 percent would like to see him run while 67 percent would not.

Among Republicans, 50 percent would like him to run while 39 percent would not. For independents, 27 percent want him to run and 68 percent do not. Only 9 percent of Democrats want him to run, with 87 percent opposing a run for president.

For Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, 38 percent would like him to run for president with 51 percent opposed. Two out of three Republicans, 65 percent, would like Ryan to run, with 23 percent opposed. Thirty-eight percent of independents want him to run, with 51 percent opposed, and 19 percent of Democrats would like to see Ryan run with 71 percent opposed.

Asked, “Do you think any governor can run for president and still handle their duties as governor?,” 31 percent say “yes,” while 65 percent say no governor could handle both. Among Republicans, 45 percent say a governor can do both while 52 percent say “no.” Independents split 29 percent to 66 percent and Democrats divide 23 percent to 74 percent.

Two-term Democratic state representative Brett Hulsey announced his candidacy for governor in late April. Among registered voters, 87 percent say they haven’t heard of him or don’t know if they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of him, while 2 percent say they have a favorable and 9 percent an unfavorable impression.

Paired against Walker in a trial heat, and identified as “Brett Hulsey, the Democrat,” Hulsey receives 39 percent to Walker’s 48 percent. Those who say they will vote in the Democratic primary were given the choice of the four candidates currently registered with the Government Accountability Board. In that group, Burke is supported by 66 percent, Hulsey by 3 percent, Hari Trivedi by 1 percent, and Marcia Mercedes Perkins by 1 percent, while 24 percent say they are undecided or don’t know how they would vote.

President Barack Obama’s job approval is at 48 percent with 45 percent disapproval. In March, 47 percent approved and 49 percent disapproved.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker holds lead over challenger Mary Burke in new Marquette Law School Poll

MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School Poll finds Republican Gov. Scott Walker leading Democratic candidate Mary Burke, 48 to 41 percent, in the run-up to Wisconsin’s gubernatorial election this November. Walker held a 47 to 41 percent advantage in the most recent Marquette Law School Poll, taken in January.

The poll of 801 Wisconsin registered voters was conducted by cell phone and landline March 20-23 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.

Forty-seven percent of respondents approve of the job Walker is doing as governor while an equal 47 percent disapprove, with 5 percent saying they don’t know. In January, Walker’s approval rating stood at 51 percent, with 42 percent disapproving.

Voters have mixed views of the direction of the state, policy issues and the economy. Fifty-four percent say the state is headed in the right direction while 42 percent say it is on the wrong track; this is little changed from January’s 54-40 percent split.

 

A majority, 55 percent, favor the $500 million tax cut enacted by the legislature and signed into law by Walker, while 34 percent oppose the tax reduction. While approving of the tax cut, 58 percent say tax cuts do more to benefit the wealthy, while 25 percent see the middle class and 9 percent see the poor as benefiting more.

Asked how Wisconsin compares to other states in job creation, 45 percent say Wisconsin is lagging behind other states, 37 percent say it is keeping pace with other states and 12 percent think Wisconsin is creating jobs faster than other states. In January, 40 percent said lagging, 41 percent said keeping pace and 11 percent said Wisconsin was adding jobs faster.

Thirteen percent believe Wisconsin will reach the 250,000 new jobs Walker pledged in his 2010 campaign, while 80 percent say the state will fall short of that number. Twenty-nine percent say this issue is very important to their vote, 44 percent say somewhat important, 14 percent not very important and 12 percent say the jobs pledge is not at all important for their vote.

Candidate images

Burke is viewed favorably by 19 percent and unfavorably by 22 percent, with 59 percent saying they either don’t know enough about her or can’t say if they have a favorable or unfavorable view of her. In January, 70 percent were unable to give an opinion about her; those expressing an opinion split 12 percent favorable and 18 percent unfavorable.

By contrast, only 5 percent are unable to rate Walker, with 49 percent favorable and 47 percent unfavorable. In January, Walker was seen favorably by 49 percent and unfavorably by 44 percent with 6 percent unable to give an opinion.

Asked if each candidate “cares about people like you,” 43 percent say Walker does while 51 percent say he does not, with 5 percent saying they didn’t know. For Burke, 36 percent say she cares about them while 29 percent say she does not and 34 percent say they don’t know.

Sixty-seven percent of voters say they have read or heard about the release of some 27,000 pages of emails from employees in Walker’s office when he was Milwaukee County Executive, while 31 percent have not. Of those who have read or heard about them 43 percent say the emails give them a less favorable view of Walker while 53 percent say the emails made no difference and 3 percent say they have a more favorable view.

Legislative issues

As the state legislature approaches the end of its session, voters have a mixture of views about major legislative issues. Voters favor requiring a government-issued photo ID in order to vote by a 60 to 36 percent margin, essentially unchanged from the 61-37 margin when last asked in May 2012.

On early voting, also called in-person absentee voting, 39 percent favor allowing three weeks, including three weekends, for early voting; 27 percent support a two-week period including one weekend; 12 percent support a limit of two weeks with no weekend voting; and 20 percent prefer to eliminate early voting entirely.

Voters diverge over when local governments should be allowed to regulate mining and minimum wages in their communities. Fifty-three percent say local governments should be allowed to regulate sand mining in their communities while 35 percent think only the state should set such regulations. In contrast, 42 percent believe local governments should be able to set minimum wages, with 50 percent saying they should not be able to do so.

Legalization of marijuana is supported by 42 percent while 52 percent say it should remain illegal. That reverses the October poll that found 50 percent favoring legalization with 45 percent opposed.

Other issues

Forty-eight percent of respondents favor allowing marriage of gay couples, 24 percent support civil unions but not marriage and 24 percent prefer no legal recognition for same sex couples. In January, 53 percent supported marriage, 24 percent civil unions and 19 percent no legal recognition. Since September 2012, support for marriage has varied between 42 and 53 percent, support for civil unions between 24 and 27 percent and support for no legal status has varied between 19 and 28 percent.

In 2006, Wisconsin approved a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage by a 59-41 percentage point margin. Asked if that amendment were brought up for a new vote today, 36 percent would continue the ban while 59 percent would vote to repeal the amendment.

Voters support an increase in the minimum wage to help low-income workers, even when reminded that some argue this would lead some businesses to cut jobs. Sixty-three percent favor increasing the minimum wage while 33 percent oppose an increase.

A random half of the sample was asked if they would be more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate who supports increasing the minimum wage. Thirty-four percent say more likely while 16 percent say less likely and 49 percent say it would make no difference. The other half of voters were asked if they would be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who opposes increasing the minimum wage. For this group, 21 percent say more likely while 34 percent say less likely and 44 percent say it would make no difference.

With respect to the federal health care reform act, sometimes called Obamacare, 39 percent say they have a favorable view of it while 50 percent have an unfavorable view. In January 35 percent said favorable and 56 percent unfavorable. Before the troubled rollout of the federal health care exchange website in October, 42 percent said favorable and 48 percent unfavorable.

Despite this view of health care reform, voters prefer reform of the law rather than repeal. Eight percent would keep the law as it is; 52 percent would keep the law but improve it; 18 percent would repeal it but replace it with an alternative; and another 18 percent would repeal it and not replace it. Half the sample was asked if they would be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who “supports the federal health care law,” with 25 percent saying more likely, 28 percent less likely and 45 percent saying it would make no difference.

The other half of the sample was asked if they would be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who “calls for the complete repeal of the federal health care law.” Twenty-four percent say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who would repeal the law while 35 percent say they are less likely to vote for that candidate and 39 percent say it would make no difference.

Other political figures

President Barack Obama’s job approval stands at 47 percent to 49 percent disapproval. In January 44 percent approved and 50 percent disapproved.

Sen. Ron Johnson is viewed favorably by 29 percent and unfavorably by 27 percent while 44 percent say they either don’t know enough about him or can’t give a rating. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is rated favorably by 35 percent and unfavorably by 35 percent with 30 percent unable to give an opinion. Rep. Paul Ryan receives a 39 percent favorable rating and 35 percent unfavorable with 25 percent unable to rate him.

About the Marquette Law School Poll
The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive independent statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. In 2012, the poll provided highly accurate estimates of election outcomes, in addition to gauging public opinion on a variety of major policy questions.

This poll interviewed 801 registered Wisconsin voters by both landline and cell phone March 20-23, 2014. The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points for the full sample. The four half-sample items on minimum wage and health care reform have a margin of error of +/- 5.2 percentage points. The entire questionnaire, full results and breakdowns by demographic groups are available at http://law.marquette.edu/poll.

New Marquette Law School Poll examines WI governor’s race, direction of the state and jobs outlook

MILWAUKEE – The first Marquette Law School Poll of the 2014 election year finds Gov. Scott Walker leading Democratic candidate Mary Burke, 47 to 41 percent. The poll also finds that most voters think the state is headed in the right direction and believe the state budget to be in better shape than a few years ago. But they do not believe the state will add the 250,000 jobs Gov. Walker promised in his 2010 campaign.

The poll interviewed 802 Wisconsin registered voters by both landline and cell phone Jan. 20-23.

Asked about the direction of the state, 54 percent say that the state is headed in the right direction, while 40 percent say it is off on the wrong track and 6 percent say they don’t know or did not respond. Two years ago, in Jan. 2012, 50 percent said right direction and 46 percent wrong track. The last time the question was asked, two weeks before the June 2012 recall election, 52 percent said right direction and 44 percent said wrong track.

In interviews conducted in the week following an announcement of unexpectedly high state revenue projections, 49 percent say that the state budget is in better shape now than it was a few years ago, 26 percent say that it is about the same and 20 percent say that the budget is in worse shape now. Polling was completed for all but one-eighth of the sample before the State of the State speech Jan. 22, which announced a plan for tax cuts funded by the greater-than-previously-forecast revenue.

In the October Marquette Law School Poll, Walker held 47 percent support to 45 percent for Burke, a Madison school board member and former Trek Bicycle executive.

Burke still largely unknown

Voters remain largely unfamiliar with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Burke, who announced her candidacy Oct. 7. Seventy percent of respondents say they haven’t heard enough about her to have an opinion or didn’t know if their view was favorable or not. Twelve percent say they have a favorable view of Burke while 18 percent have an unfavorable view. In the Marquette Law poll conducted Oct. 21-24, 17 percent had a favorable view, 14 percent unfavorable and 70 percent were unable to say.

Burke is almost equally unknown among partisan groups, with 66 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of Republicans unable to say if they have favorable or unfavorable opinions. Seventy-three percent of independents lack an opinion.

Partisans split sharply when they do have an opinion, with 26 percent favorable to 8 percent unfavorable among Democrats, but 3 percent favorable among Republicans to 30 percent unfavorable. Nine percent of independents have a favorable view of Burke, and 18 percent an unfavorable view.

Far more respondents are familiar with Walker, and the partisan split there is also sharp. Overall, Walker is seen favorably by 49 percent, unfavorably by 44 percent and 6 percent lack an opinion. Among Democrats, 16 percent are favorable and 76 percent unfavorable, with 8 percent unable to say. For Republicans 89 percent are favorable and 10 percent unfavorable, with just 1 percent unable to say. For independents, 48 percent have a favorable view and 43 percent an unfavorable one, with 8 percent lacking an opinion.

Walker and jobs

Walker’s job approval rose in the January poll to 51 percent approval while 42 percent disapprove. In October, his approval stood at 49 percent with 47 percent disapproving. Over the past two years, Walker’s approval has averaged 49.9 percent with disapproval averaging 45.6 percent.

Voters have mixed views of the jobs situation in Wisconsin. Eleven percent of voters think Wisconsin is adding jobs faster than most other states, 41 percent say about the same rate and 40 percent think Wisconsin is lagging behind other states.

These perceptions have shifted a bit over the past eight months. In May 2013, 49 percent said lagging while 9 percent said faster and 35 percent said about the same. In October, 41 percent said lagging while 14 percent said faster and 37 percent said about the same.

Partisans have sharply differing views of the jobs picture. Fifty-three percent of Democrats say the state is lagging in job creation while only 20 percent of Republicans agree. Forty-five percent of independents think the state is lagging. Twenty percent of Republicans say the state is adding jobs faster than other states and 54 percent say the same rate. Among Democrats six percent say faster and 36 percent say at the same rate. For independents, ten percent say faster and 37 percent say the same rate.

Only 14 percent think the state will have added 250,000 jobs over four years by the end of 2014, while 79 percent say the state will fall short of that figure. In the 2010 campaign, Walker said the state would be able to add a quarter-million jobs in his first term. Majorities of each partisan group doubt the state will reach the jobs total. Sixty-three percent of Republicans, 81 percent of independents and 91 percent of Democrats do not expect the state to reach the 250,000 jobs mark.

Partisans also disagree on how important it is to their vote whether the state reaches the 250,000 jobs benchmark. Overall, 29 percent say very important, 39 percent somewhat important, 17 percent not very important and 14 percent not at all important. For Republicans, 16 percent say very important and 35 percent somewhat important. Among independents, 28 percent say very important and 38 percent say somewhat important. For Democrats, 41 percent say very important and 43 percent somewhat important.

Personal finances and taxes

Voters see their personal financial situation as a bit better than two years ago. While one in four, or 23 percent, say their financial situation still has not recovered from the recession, 35 percent say they have recovered after a significant amount of damage during the recession. Forty percent say the recession did not have a major impact on their financial situation. Two years ago, in January 2012, 32 percent said they were still suffering from the recession’s effects, 27 percent said they had largely recovered while 38 percent said they had not been affected.

Voters would most like to see reductions in property taxes over other taxes. Asked which tax they would most like cut if the state could reduce just one tax, 42 percent say property taxes, 34 percent say income taxes and 22 percent say sales tax. When it comes to property tax cuts, income plays a small role. Among those in the bottom third of income, with family income under $40,000 per year, 40 percent would most like property taxes cut, while 41 percent of the middle third ($40,000-$75,000 in family income) and 43 percent of the top third, earning over $75,000, would cut property taxes first.

Income matters more for preferences on sales and income taxes. Among those in the bottom third of income, 30 percent would cut sales taxes first while 17 percent of the middle third and 18 percent of the top third rank sales tax cuts as most important. Conversely, 37 percent of the top third of earners would most like income taxes cut while 40 percent of the middle third and 29 percent of the bottom third agree.

Among homeowners, 48 percent would most like to cut property taxes while only 25 percent of renters agree. Thirty-one percent of homeowners would cut income taxes first and 19 percent would cut sales taxes. Among renters, income taxes are the top priority for 39 percent and sales taxes are the most important to cut for 33 percent.

Voters are reluctant to restructure taxes by raising the sales tax in exchange for either property or income tax reductions. Thirty-nine percent would be willing to increase the sales tax in order to cut property taxes, while 56 percent are unwilling to do so. Similarly, 39 percent would accept increased sales tax for lowered income taxes while 57 percent are unwilling. However, 64 percent are willing to increase income taxes on those earning over $250,000 in order to lower property taxes while 32 percent are unwilling to do that.

Fifty-nine percent of voters also see tax cuts as primarily benefiting the wealthy, while 21 percent say the middle class benefits and 11 percent say tax cuts do more for the poor.

Voters do not see sales taxes as falling unduly harshly on the poor, however. Asked if sales taxes are unfair because they take a larger percentage of the income of the poor, or are fair because everyone pays it when they buy things, a substantial majority, 69 percent, say sales taxes are fair because everyone pays. Twenty-eight percent say sales taxes are unfair for taking a larger share of the income of the poor.

Many voters unclear on “Common Core” education issues

While the new statewide standards for what students should learn in reading and math have stirred recent controversy, including legislative hearings, almost half of voters say they know little or nothing about the Common Core State Standards, as the learning targets are called.

Thirty-six percent say they have heard nothing about the Common Core and an additional 10 percent say they have just heard the name. Thirty-four percent say they have heard some and 20 percent said they know quite a bit about the standards. Of those who have heard something, 5 percent are very favorable, 45 percent favorable, 26 percent unfavorable and 8 percent very unfavorable towards the standards, with 15 percent saying they don’t have an opinion.

About a third, 32 percent, say Wisconsin currently sets education standards at about the right place, while 15 percent say standards are too high. Almost half, 47 percent, say Wisconsin standards are too low. As to who should set standards, 41 percent say local school districts should set standards, 23 percent say this should be done at the state level, 8 percent say groups of states should agree on standards, and 23 percent say standards should apply nationwide.

Kenosha casino and other issues

The public remains about evenly split on whether the governor should approve or reject a new casino in Kenosha, with 42 percent urging approval and 41 percent wanting the casino rejected. In October 41 percent favored the casino while 38 percent opposed it.

In national issues, support for health care reform has dropped in the aftermath of the rollout of health care exchanges in the fall. Thirty-five percent have a favorable view of health care reform while 56 percent have an unfavorable view. In October, before the problems with the health care website became a focus of attention, 42 percent had a favorable view of health care reform while 48 percent were unfavorable.

President Barack Obama’s job approval ratings also have suffered since the health care rollout. In January, his job approval fell to 44 percent, with disapproval at 50 percent, down from 49 percent approval and 46 percent disapproval in October. Over the past two years Obama’s approval has averaged 49.3 percent with disapproval averaging 45.2 percent.

A majority of voters favor an increase in the minimum wage, even when reminded that some people “say raising the minimum wage will lead some businesses to cut jobs.” Sixty-two percent say the minimum wage should be increased while 35 percent oppose an increase. After a reminder of the respondent that the current minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, 25 percent say it should remain where it is, 33 percent say it should be increased to about $9 per hour, 25 percent say it should be around $10 per hour, 5 percent say about $11 per hour and 10 percent say it should be $12 or more per hour.

Wisconsin voters also support extending federal unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless, with 53 percent supporting and 42 percent opposing an extension.

Looking ahead to the 2016 presidential race, 60 percent of Republicans would like to see Walker run for president, with 34 percent opposed. Twenty-eight percent of independents and 13 percent of Democrats support a Walker presidential bid while 66 percent of independents and 84 percent of Democrats would not like him to run.

Among Republicans, sixty-six percent would like Congressman Paul Ryan from Janesville to run, with 25 percent opposed. Thirty-seven percent of independents support a Ryan run with 53 percent opposed. For Democrats, 23 percent would like Ryan to run while 69 percent would not like to see him run.

About the Marquette Law School Poll
The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive independent statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. In 2012, the poll provided highly accurate estimates of election outcomes, in addition to gauging public opinion on a variety of major policy questions.

This poll interviewed 802 registered Wisconsin voters by both landline and cell phone Jan. 20-23, 2014. The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points for the full sample. The entire questionnaire, full results and breakdowns by demographic groups are available at http://law.marquette.edu/poll.