New Marquette Law School Poll finds Clinton, Feingold leading; majorities have negative views of presidential candidates

MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School Poll finds Hillary Clinton with 42 percent and Donald Trump with 35 percent support among Wisconsin registered voters in a presidential race matchup. Seventeen percent say they will vote for neither candidate.

In the previous Marquette Law School Poll, in March, Clinton had 47 percent support and Trump 37 percent.

Among likely voters, i.e., those who say they are certain they will vote in November, Clinton receives 46 percent to Trump’s 37 percent in the new poll, with 13 percent saying they will support neither candidate.

While Clinton is the presumptive Democratic candidate, a head-to-head matchup between Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and Trump finds Sanders leading 56 percent to 31 percent among registered voters and 57 percent to 33 percent among likely voters.

In Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate race, among registered voters, Democratic candidate Russ Feingold is supported by 45 percent while Republican incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson receives 41 percent. In March, Feingold had 47 percent and Johnson 42 percent. Among likely voters in November’s election, Feingold has the support of 51 percent while Johnson is supported by 42 percent. Two percent say they will support neither and 5 percent say they don’t know whom they will support.

Differences between registered and likely voters reflect shifting enthusiasm among Republicans and Democrats. In this new poll, 78 percent of Republicans say they are certain they will vote in November, a drop of 9 percentage points from the 87 percent who said so in March. Meanwhile, Democratic intentions to vote have increased, rising in June to 84 percent certain to vote from 81 percent in March. These shifts in likely-voter intentions account for the stronger support for Democrats in both presidential and senate races among likely voters than among all registered voters. By contrast, in June 2012, 90 percent of Republicans said they were certain to vote in November, as did 80 percent of Democrats.

“The likelihood of voting reflects both personal involvement in politics and current campaign events,” said Charles Franklin, professor of law and public policy and director of the Marquette Law School Poll. “Studies have shown that this likelihood can fluctuate over the course of the campaign, only settling down as we move past Labor Day. However, the current data show the difficulty the Republican Party is currently facing with a sharp drop in enthusiasm for voting this November. After the national conventions in July, as both parties attempt to unify and rally their supporters, we will have a better idea how turnout will affect the election.”

The poll was conducted June 9-12, 2016. The full sample includes 800 registered voters interviewed by cell phone or landline, with a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percentage points. Results for likely voters are based on 666 respondents with a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percentage points.

Party unity and divisions
Each party faces divisions left over from the primary season. Among Democrats and independents who lean Democratic, supporters of Sanders remain reluctant to vote for Clinton in November. Sixty-seven percent of Sanders supporters say they will vote for Clinton, 4 percent say they will vote for Trump, while 24 percent say they will vote for neither and 5 percent say they don’t know. By comparison, 88 percent of Clinton supporters say they would vote for Sanders over Trump, who gets 5 percent of such supporters, with 7 percent saying they would support neither and 1 percent saying they don’t know.

Both parties face an unusually high percentage of their partisans who say they will vote for neither candidate. Among registered voters who describe themselves as Republicans or independents who lean Republican, 18 percent say they will vote for neither Trump nor Clinton, and an additional 5 percent say they don’t know how they will vote. Among Democrats and independents leaning Democrat, 13 percent say they will vote for neither candidate and 4 percent say they don’t know. For comparison, in June 2012, just 3 percent of Republicans and 2 percent of Democrats said they would not support either nominee.

Among Republicans and independent leaners, 12 percent say their party is currently united, 41 percent say it is divided now but will unite by November and 45 percent say the party will still be divided in November. Among Democrats and independent leaners, 18 percent say the party is united now, 53 percent say it is divided now but will unite by November and 26 percent believe the party will remain divided. Among Republicans who think their party will remain divided, Trump gets 63 percent of the vote. Among Democrats who think their party will still be divided in November, Clinton gets 58 percent support.

Asked about House Speaker Paul Ryan’s endorsement of Trump, 38 percent of all respondents say it was the right decision while 54 percent say it was a mistake. Among Republicans and independent leaners, however, 69 percent say the endorsement was the right decision and 23 percent say it was a mistake.

Images of presidential candidates
Trump and Clinton are both viewed negatively by a majority of voters. Among registered voters, 64 percent have an unfavorable view of Trump while 26 percent have a favorable view. Clinton is seen unfavorably by 58 percent and favorably by 37 percent. Within their parties, both candidates are seen more positively, with 52 percent of Republicans holding a favorable view of Trump and 35 percent unfavorable. Among Democrats, 67 percent have a favorable view of Clinton while 27 percent view her unfavorably.

Sanders has the most favorable image of the candidates, with an overall 53 percent favorable and 36 percent unfavorable rating. Among Democrats, he is seen favorably by 81 percent and unfavorably by 10 percent.

Voters were asked how comfortable they would be with the idea of each candidate as president. For Clinton, 38 percent say they would be very or somewhat comfortable while 61 percent said very or somewhat uncomfortable, including 42 percent saying very uncomfortable. For Trump 28 percent say very or somewhat comfortable with 72 percent saying very or somewhat uncomfortable, including 55 percent saying very uncomfortable. Fifty-three percent say they would be very or somewhat comfortable with Sanders while 44 percent say very or somewhat uncomfortable, including 29 percent very uncomfortable.

Traits of the presumptive nominees
Respondents were asked whether each of four traits described Clinton and Trump. Clinton is described as “someone who is honest” by 28 percent while Trump is seen as honest by 32 percent.

Forty-two percent say Clinton is someone who “cares about people like me” while 27 percent say this describes Trump.

Forty-eight percent say Clinton is someone who “could handle a national crisis well” while 31 percent say this is true of Trump.

Asked if each candidate “has the qualifications to be president,” 56 percent say this is true of Clinton while 30 percent say it is true of Trump.

Respondents were asked if the FBI investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as Secretary of State was something that bothers them about Clinton. Sixty-one percent say this bothers them while 38 percent say it does not.

Sixty-three percent say they are bothered by pending lawsuits against Trump for his Trump University real estate seminars while 34 percent say this does not bother them.

Thirty-five percent of respondents say they are bothered by both of these matters while 10 percent are bothered by neither. Twenty-seven percent are bothered by the Trump University issue but not by the Clinton email issue, while 24 percent are bothered by the emails but not by Trump University.

U.S. Senate candidates
In Wisconsin’s race for U.S. Senate, Feingold is viewed favorably by 40 percent of registered voters and unfavorably by 33 percent. Another 26 percent say they haven’t heard enough or don’t know how they feel about him. In March, Feingold’s ratings were 41 percent favorable, 35 percent unfavorable and 25 percent not able to rate him.

Johnson is seen favorably by 33 percent of registered voters and unfavorably by 31 percent, with 35 percent saying they have not heard enough or don’t know how they feel. In March, Johnson’s ratings were 32 percent favorable and 31 percent unfavorable, with another 36 percent unable to rate him.

Views on issues
The parties are sharply divided on several issues surveyed in this month’s poll.

Sixty percent of registered voters favor an eventual path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S., while 18 percent prefer a permanent guest worker status and 17 percent say these immigrants should be required to leave the country. Among Republicans, 44 percent favor a path to citizenship, 24 percent prefer a guest status and 26 percent would require undocumented immigrants to leave. Among Democrats, 75 percent favor eventual citizenship, 14 percent prefer a guest worker option and 8 percent would favor removal from the country.

Fifty-four percent of respondents favor an increase in the minimum wage while 42 percent think it should not be raised. Among Republicans, 24 percent support a hike in the minimum wage while 73 percent oppose an increase, while 79 percent of Democrats support and 17 percent oppose an increase.

Support for allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally stands at 64 percent while 28 percent are opposed. Among Republicans, 43 percent favor while 48 percent oppose same-sex marriage. Among Democrats, 84 percent are in favor while 11 percent are opposed.

Sixty-three percent of registered voters say they would favor increasing taxes on wealthy Americans and large corporations in order to reduce income inequality, while 33 percent are opposed to this. Among Republicans, 33 percent favor such a tax increase to reduce inequality while 63 percent oppose it. Fully 90 percent of Democrats favor reducing inequality by increasing taxes on the wealthy, while just 8 percent are opposed.

However, when asked a slightly different question, opinion shifts substantially. Asked if “it is the responsibility of the government to reduce the differences in income,” 40 percent say they agree while 55 percent disagree. Eighteen percent of Republicans say this is government’s responsibility while 81 percent say it is not. Among Democrats, 60 percent say this is government’s role, while 33 percent say it is not.

The subject of free trade is one issue where partisan views appear to be shifting from traditional party positions. Forty-one percent say free trade agreements have in general been a good thing for the United States, while 44 percent say they have been a bad thing. Republicans now take a more negative view of free trade than do Democrats. Thirty-six percent of Republicans say trade agreements have been a good thing while 52 percent say they have been bad for the U.S. Among Democrats, 46 percent say trade agreements have been good for the U.S. while 37 percent say they have been bad.

More voters see trade agreements as costing the United States jobs. Fifty-three percent say trade agreements have cost the U.S. jobs, while 22 percent say they make no difference and 11 percent say trade leads to more job creation. Among Republicans, 58 percent say trade costs jobs, 20 percent say it has no effect and 13 percent say trade creates jobs. Of Democrats, 49 percent say trade costs jobs, 24 percent see no impact and 10 percent say trade increases jobs.

State of the state
Forty-six percent of registered voters say Wisconsin is headed in the right direction while 50 percent say it has gotten off on the wrong track. When last asked in February, 44 percent said the state was moving in the right direction and 52 percent that it was on the wrong track. Fifty percent or more have said wrong track in each of four polls asking this question since January 2015. In the nine combined polls taken in 2014, 53 percent said the state was headed in the right direction while 42 percent said it was on the wrong track. More than 50 percent in each of those nine 2014 polls said Wisconsin was going in the right direction.

Thirty-seven percent say the state budget is in worse shape than a few years ago, 31 percent say it is in better shape and 25 percent say it is about the same. Combining five polls taken in 2015 and 2016, 38 percent say the budget is in worse shape, 32 percent say better shape and 24 percent about the same. Combining eight polls that asked the question in 2014 shows 44 percent thought the budget was in better shape and just 25 percent said it was worse, with 25 percent saying about the same.

Twenty-nine percent of respondents think the economy got worse over the past year while 25 percent say it got better and 44 percent say it has remained about the same. This is little changed from March, when 28 percent said the economy had worsened, 25 percent saw improvement and 45 percent saw no change.

Looking ahead to the next 12 months, 25 percent expect the economy to improve, 23 percent think it will worsen and 43 percent expect no change. In March, 29 percent expected improvement, 18 percent thought the economy would worsen and 44 percent thought it would not change much.

Approval of how Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is handling his job stands at 39 percent, with disapproval at 57 percent. In March, approval was 43 percent and disapproval was 53 percent.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is viewed favorably by 37 percent of respondents and unfavorably by 33 percent, while 31 percent say they haven’t heard enough or don’t have an opinion. When last measured in August of 2015, Baldwin had a 36 percent favorable and 40 percent unfavorable rating, with 24 percent unable to give an opinion.

Speaker Ryan is viewed favorably by 49 percent of registered voters and unfavorably by 32 percent. Eighteen percent do not have an opinion of him. In March, 48 percent had a favorable opinion, 31 percent unfavorable and 21 percent were unable to say.

President Obama’s job approval stands at 51 percent, with 43 percent disapproval. In March, 50 percent approved and 45 percent disapproved. As in national polling, Obama’s job approval has moved slightly upward since 2014. With all 2014 surveys combined, Obama had a 44 percent approval to 49 percent disapproval rating in the Marquette Law School Poll. In 2015, combined polling put approval at 49 percent with disapproval at 47 percent. In combined 2016 polls, approval is 50 percent and disapproval 45 percent.

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 9-12, 2016. The margin of error is +/- 4.4 percentage points for the full sample. For likely voters, the sample size is 666, with a margin of error of +/-4.9 percentage points.

The partisan makeup of this full registered voter sample, including those who lean to a party, is 41 percent Republican, 49 percent Democratic and 8 percent independent. The long-term estimate over the previous 34 statewide Marquette polls, with 29,740 respondents, is 42 percent Republican and 47 percent Democratic, with 9 percent independent. The partisan makeup of this sample, excluding those who lean to a party, is 26 percent Republican, 30 percent Democratic and 41 percent independent, compared to the long-term estimate of 27 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 38 percent independent.

New Marquette Law School Poll finds Cruz, Sanders ahead in Wisconsin presidential primaries; Bradley leads state Supreme Court race

MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School Poll finds Ted Cruz ahead in the Wisconsin Republican presidential primary race, supported by 40 percent of likely voters to 30 percent for Donald Trump and 21 percent for John Kasich, while 8 percent don’t know whom they will support. Among likely voters in the Wisconsin Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders holds a 49 percent to 45 percent edge over Hillary Clinton, with 6 percent undecided. In the election for Wisconsin Supreme Court, Rebecca Bradley is supported by 41 percent with JoAnne Kloppenburg at 36 percent and 18 percent undecided.

In the previous Marquette Law School Poll released in February, Trump was supported by 30 percent of Republican primary voters, with Cruz at 19 percent and Kasich at 8 percent. Other candidates who have since dropped out had a total of 31 percent. In the Democratic race in February, Sanders received 44 percent and Clinton 43 percent. The Supreme Court election in February found 37 percent support for Bradley and 36 percent support for Kloppenburg among likely voters, with 30 percent each among all registered voters.

Among likely voters in this new (March) poll, 54 percent say they will vote in the Republican primary while 46 percent choose the Democratic primary. Ninety-nine percent of Republicans say they will vote in the Republican primary with 1 percent choosing the Democratic contest. Among Democrats, 95 percent say they will vote in that party’s primary, with 5 percent crossing over to the GOP. Independents, including those leaning to either party, choose the Republican primary over the Democratic primary by 60 percent to 40 percent.

The poll was conducted March 24-28, 2016. The full sample includes 1,405 registered voters interviewed by cell phone or landline, with a margin of error of +/- 3.3 percentage points. Results for the Republican primary are based on 471 likely voters who say they are certain they will vote in the Republican primary in April. That sample has a margin of error of +/-5.8 percentage points. Results for the Democratic nomination are based on 405 likely voters who say they will vote in the Democratic primary, with a margin of error of +/- 6.3 percentage points. For the April 5 Wisconsin Supreme Court election there are 957 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percentage points. All results reported here are for likely voters except where registered voters are used for November elections.

U.S. Senate Race
In Wisconsin’s race for U.S. Senate, Russ Feingold is supported by 47 percent of registered voters, with Republican incumbent Ron Johnson receiving 42 percent. In February, Feingold was at 49 percent and Johnson was at 37 percent. Among those likely voters who say they are certain to vote in November’s election, Feingold receives 48 percent and Johnson 45 percent.

Johnson is viewed favorably by 32 percent of registered voters, unfavorably by 31 percent and 36 percent say they haven’t heard enough or don’t know how they feel about him. In February Johnson’s ratings were 29 percent favorable, 33 percent unfavorable and 38 percent were not able to rate him.

Feingold is seen favorably by 41 percent of registered voters, unfavorably by 35 percent with 25 percent saying they have not heard enough or don’t know how they feel. In February Feingold’s ratings were 43 percent favorable, 31 percent unfavorable and 26 percent were unable to rate him.

Supreme Court candidates
More than a third of likely voters say they do not know enough about the Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates to have a favorable or unfavorable opinion. Forty-one percent lack an opinion of Bradley and 35 percent lack an opinion of Kloppenburg. Thirty-two percent have a favorable view of Bradley while 28 percent have an unfavorable opinion of her. Thirty percent hold a favorable view of Kloppenburg while 35 percent have an unfavorable view.

Support for the Supreme Court candidates is strongly related to choice in the presidential primary. Among likely Republican primary voters, Bradley receives 69 percent support while Kloppenburg receives 11 percent, with 17 percent undecided and 4 percent saying they will vote for neither candidate. Among Democratic primary voters, 64 percent support Kloppenburg while 12 percent support Bradley, 17 percent are undecided and 7 percent say they will vote for neither court candidate.

Presidential perceptions and matchups
Republican primary voters were asked who they think is most likely to win the Republican nomination, regardless of whom they personally support. Sixty-five percent see Trump as the most likely nominee, followed by Cruz at 23 percent and Kasich at 5 percent. In February, after the Iowa and New Hampshire votes, 46 percent expected Trump to be the nominee, 25 percent said Cruz would be and 1 percent said Kasich.

On the Democratic side, 77 percent think Clinton is the most likely nominee, with 19 percent saying Sanders is most likely to win the nomination. Prior to Iowa and New Hampshire voting, 60 percent said Clinton and 33 percent said Sanders was most likely to win the Democratic nomination.

In possible matchups among registered voters for the November general election in Wisconsin, Sanders leads Kasich by 2 points, Cruz by 13 and Trump by 19. Clinton trails Kasich by 9 and ties with Cruz while holding a 10‑point margin over Trump. Results are for all registered voters.

  • Sanders 46 percent, Kasich 44 percent.

(Not asked previously.)

  • Sanders 52 percent, Cruz 39 percent.

(February: Sanders 53 percent, Cruz 35 percent.)

  • Sanders 54 percent, Trump 35 percent.

(February: Sanders 54 percent, Trump 34 percent.)

  • Kasich 48 percent, Clinton 39 percent.

(Not asked previously)

  • Clinton 44 percent, Cruz 44 percent.

(January: Clinton 43 percent, Cruz 43 percent.)

  • Clinton 47 percent, Trump 37 percent.

(February: Clinton 47 percent, Trump 37 percent.)

Views of presidential candidates
Voters were asked how comfortable they would be with the idea of each candidate as president. While there is considerable discomfort across party lines, among likely Republican primary voters 23 percent say they are very uncomfortable with the idea of Trump as president and 14 percent say the same for Cruz while 5 percent are very uncomfortable with Kasich. Among likely Democratic primary voters, 3 percent are very uncomfortable with Sanders and 8 percent with Clinton.

Candidate Percent Very Uncomfortable
Among all Likely Voters
Among Republican
Primary Voters
Among Democratic
Primary Voters
Kasich

10

5

17

Cruz

37

14

64

Trump

55

23

89

Sanders

36

67

3

Clinton

47

82

8

Walker endorsement
The Tuesday-morning endorsement of Cruz by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker aligns with how voters were leaning prior to the endorsement, when the poll was taken. Among the 80 percent of likely Republican primary voters who approve of the job Walker is doing as governor, Cruz has the support of 45 percent, Trump 27 percent and Kasich 18 percent, with 9 percent undecided. Among the 17 percent who disapprove of Walker’s job performance, 44 percent back Trump, 38 percent Kasich and 16 percent Cruz, with just 1 percent undecided.

Regional support for candidates
Among likely Republican primary voters, Cruz does best in Milwaukee County and the larger Milwaukee media market while doing least well in the Madison market. Trump is strongest in the north and west of the state, although Cruz is now a single point behind there. Kasich is strongest in the Madison market, followed by the Milwaukee market.

Region

Cruz

Kasich

Trump

Milwaukee City and County

53

22

15

Rest of Milwaukee Media Market

43

21

27

Madison Media Market

19

37

33

Green Bay Media Market

41

15

32

Rest of the state (north and west)

40

17

41

In the Democratic primary, among likely voters, Sanders’ lead is strongest in Madison and the north and west, with other areas closely competitive. In the City of Milwaukee, Clinton leads 51‑42 among all registered voters but Sanders has the edge 47-46 among likely voters, an indication of the potential effect of turnout on the results.

Region

Clinton

Sanders

Milwaukee City and County

45

49

Rest of Milwaukee Media Market

48

46

Madison Media Market

42

52

Green Bay Media Market

48

46

Rest of the state (north and west)

42

54

Demographics and vote
In the Republican primary electorate, Trump wins 35 percent of the vote of likely primary voters without a college degree compared to 21 percent among those with a college degree. However, Cruz now captures 37 percent support from those with less than a college degree and 45 percent among those with a college degree. Kasich receives 20 percent from those without and 23 percent from those with a degree.

Among men in the Republican primary electorate, Trump is the choice of 35 percent compared to 24 percent among women, while Cruz receives 40 and 39 percent respectively. Kasich is supported by 18 percent of men and 25 percent of women.

Among likely Democratic primary voters, there are large differences in preference by age, with Sanders winning 83 percent among those 18-29, 59 percent among 30-44 year olds, 43 percent among those age 45-59 and 31 percent among those 60 and over. For Clinton the corresponding percentages are 12 percent among ages 18-29, 37 percent among ages 30-44, 51 percent among ages 45-59 and 63 percent among those 60 and over.

Among likely Democratic primary voters: Clinton receives the support of 48 percent of women and 40 percent of men, while Sanders is backed by 46 percent of women and 54 percent of men. Sanders holds a 51 to 42 percent lead over Clinton among white likely primary voters while Clinton leads Sanders 58 to 42 percent among non-white voters.

Populist appeals
Views on free trade divide likely voters of both parties. Overall, 37 percent say free trade agreements have been mostly a good thing for the country, while 46 percent say mostly a bad thing and 17 percent say they don’t know. Among Republicans, 32 percent say free trade agreements have been a good thing, while 48 percent say they have been bad and 19 percent don’t know. Among Democrats, 43 percent say a good thing, 42 percent say a bad thing and 14 percent don’t know.

Among likely Republican voters who think free trade has been a good thing, Cruz receives 48 percent, Kasich 24 percent and Trump 21 percent. Among those who think trade agreements have been a bad thing, Trump receives 41 percent, Cruz 33 percent and Kasich 19 percent.

For Democrats who think trade agreements have been mostly a good thing, Clinton is supported by 54 percent to 42 percent for Sanders. Those Democrats who think the agreements have been mostly bad back Sanders by 60 percent to 36 percent.

Primary voters differ on whether hard work and playing by the rules is still sufficient to make a decent living. Among Republicans, 74 percent say hard work is enough and 24 percent say it is not, while among Democrats 38 percent say hard work is enough and 57 percent say it is no longer enough.

Among those who say hard work is no longer enough for a decent living, Trump receives 46 percent of the GOP primary vote, while he is supported by 25 percent of those who say hard work continues to provide a decent living. Cruz receives 35 percent and 41 percent respectively while Kasich is supported by 12 percent of those saying hard work is no longer sufficient and 24 percent of those who say it is.

On the Democratic side, Sanders is backed by 57 percent of those saying hard work is no longer enough, while 40 percent of those who say it is enough support him. Clinton receives 37 percent from those who say it is not enough and 56 percent from those saying hard work is enough.

Fifty-five percent of Republican and 53 percent of Democratic primary voters say they have a comfortable financial situation, while 45 percent and 47 percent respectively say they are just getting by or are struggling.

Among those in the Republican primary who say they are comfortable, Trump receives 23 percent support, compared to 39 percent among those just getting by or struggling. Cruz receives 39 and 41 percent from the respective groups, while Kasich is supported by 27 percent of those saying they are comfortable and 15 percent of those getting by or struggling.

Among those in the Democratic primary, Sanders is supported by 44 percent of those who say their situation is comfortable and 55 percent of those just getting by or struggling. Clinton receives 50 percent among those who are comfortable and 39 percent among those just getting by.

Thirty-eight percent of Republican primary voters say they think a terrorist attack on the U.S. is very likely, 48 percent say somewhat likely and 12 percent say not very or not at all likely. Among Democratic primary voters, 12 percent say an attack is very likely, 46 percent say somewhat likely and 40 percent not very or not at all likely.

Among those Republican primary voters who think a terrorist attack is very likely, 41 percent support Cruz, 39 percent Trump and 15 percent Kasich. Of those who say an attack is somewhat likely, 41 percent back Cruz, 25 percent Trump and 23 percent Kasich. Of those who think an attack is less likely, 32 percent support Cruz, 26 percent Trump and 34 percent Kasich.

Of Democratic primary voters, too few think an attack is very likely for a reliable estimate of the vote, although it appears evenly split in this small group of 55 respondents. Among the larger sample who say an attack is somewhat likely, Clinton is supported by 51 percent to Sanders’ 43 percent. Among those thinking an attack is less likely, Clinton receives 37 percent to Sanders’ 55 percent.

Walker Job Approval
Among all registered voters approval of how Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is handling his job stands at 43 percent, with 53 percent disapproving. In February, 39 percent approved and 55 percent disapproved.

About the Marquette Law School Poll
The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. This poll interviewed 1,405 registered Wisconsin voters, by both landline and cell phone, March 24-28, 2016. The margin of error is +/- 3.3 percentage points for the full sample. For Republican presidential primary likely voters, the sample size is 471, with a margin of error of +/-5.8 percentage points. For Democratic presidential primary likely voters, the sample size is 405, with a margin of error of +/-6.3 percentage points. For the April 5 Wisconsin Supreme Court election there are 957 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percentage points. All results reported here are for likely voters except where registered voters are used for November elections.

The partisan makeup of this full registered voter sample, including those who lean to a party, is 44 percent Republican, 48 percent Democratic and 7 percent independent. The long-term estimate over the previous 33 statewide Marquette polls, with 28,335 respondents, is 42 percent Republican and 47 percent Democratic, with 9 percent independent. The partisan makeup of this sample, excluding those who lean to a party, is 28 percent Republican, 32 percent Democratic and 36 percent independent, compared to the long-term estimate of 27 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 39 percent independent.

New Marquette Law School Poll finds tight Democratic race, Trump maintaining Republican lead in Wisconsin

MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School Poll finds a tight race for the Democratic presidential nomination in Wisconsin and Donald Trump maintaining his lead for the Republican nomination. In the Democratic race, Bernie Sanders receives support from 44 percent to Hillary Clinton’s 43 percent among those who say that they will vote in April Democratic primary. In the January Marquette poll, Clinton was supported by 45 percent, with Sanders at 43 percent. In November, Clinton had a nine-point advantage, 50 percent to 41 percent. The margin of error for Democratic primary voters is +/-6.9 percentage points.

On the Republican side, Trump is supported by 30 percent, followed by Marco Rubio at 20 percent and Ted Cruz at 19 percent, among respondents who say that they will vote in the Republican primary. John Kasich and Ben Carson receive 8 percent each. Jeb Bush, who suspended his campaign while this poll was being conducted, has the support of 3 percent, while 10 percent say they don’t know for whom they will vote. In January, Trump was the choice of 24 percent, Rubio of 18 percent and Cruz of 16 percent. The margin of error for Republican primary voters is +/-7.5 percentage points.

In the race for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Rebecca Bradley and JoAnne Kloppenburg each receive 30 percent support, while 31 percent say they don’t know how they will vote. Among those who say they are absolutely certain they will vote in the April 5 election, Bradley is backed by 37 percent while Kloppenburg is backed by 36 percent, with 23 percent saying they don’t know how they will vote. The overall margin of error is +/- 4.5 percentage points for all registered voters and +/- 5.8 percentage points among those most likely to vote.

Both Supreme Court candidates are unfamiliar to a majority of registered voters. Sixty percent say they are unable to say if they have a favorable or unfavorable view of Bradley while 57 percent say the same of Kloppenburg. Bradley is viewed favorably by 22 percent and unfavorably by 18 percent. Kloppenburg is seen favorably by 22 percent and unfavorably by 21 percent.

Among Republicans and independents who lean to the Republican party, Bradley receives 52 percent and Kloppenburg 9 percent, with 31 percent saying they don’t know how they will vote. Among Democrats and independents who lean Democratic, Kloppenburg is supported by 49 percent and Bradley by 15 percent, with 30 percent saying they don’t know. Among independents, 19 percent support Bradley, 22 percent support Kloppenburg and 30 percent say they don’t know how they will vote. An additional 27 percent of independents say they will not vote or will vote for neither candidate.

The poll was conducted Feb. 18-21, 2016. The full sample includes 802 registered voters interviewed by cell phone or landline, with a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percentage points. Results for the Republican nomination are based on 297 respondents who say they will vote in the Republican primary in April. That sample has a margin of error of +/-7.5 percentage points. Results for the Democratic nomination are based on 343 respondents who say they will vote in the Democratic primary, with a margin of error of +/- 6.9 percentage points. All interviews were conducted after the primary election for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Sixty-six of the 802 interviews (8.2 percent) were conducted after the Nevada Democratic caucus and South Carolina Republican primary on Feb. 20.

In Wisconsin’s race for U.S. Senate, Russ Feingold is supported by 49 percent of registered voters, with Republican incumbent Ron Johnson receiving 37 percent. In January, Feingold was at 50 percent and Johnson was at 37 percent. There has been little movement in the Senate race since November when Feingold received 49 percent and Johnson 38 percent.

Presidential perceptions and matchups
Republican primary voters were asked who they think is most likely to win the Republican nomination, regardless of whom they personally support. Forty-six percent see Trump as the most likely nominee, followed by Cruz at 25 percent and Rubio at 11 percent. Those perceptions are little changed from January, before the Iowa and New Hampshire votes, when 49 percent expected Trump to be the nominee, 20 percent said Cruz would be and 10 percent said Rubio.

On the Democratic side, 60 percent think Clinton is the most likely nominee, with 33 percent saying Sanders is most likely to win the nomination. Prior to Iowa and New Hampshire voting, 65 percent said Clinton and 27 percent said Sanders was most likely to win the Democratic nomination.

In possible matchups for the November general election in Wisconsin, Sanders leads Rubio by 18 points, Cruz by 18 and Trump by 20. Clinton edges Rubio by 1 and ties with Cruz, while holding a 10‑point margin over Trump:

  • Sanders 53 percent, Rubio 35 percent.
    (January: Sanders 49 percent, Rubio 38 percent.)
  • Sanders 53 percent, Cruz 35 percent.
    (January: Sanders 50 percent, Cruz 38 percent.)
  • Sanders 54 percent, Trump 34 percent.
    (January: Sanders 52 percent, Trump 34 percent.)
  • Clinton 44 percent, Rubio 43 percent.
    (January: Clinton 45 percent, Rubio 44 percent.)
  • Clinton 43 percent, Cruz 43 percent.
    (January: Clinton 45 percent, Cruz 44 percent.)
  • Clinton 47 percent, Trump 37 percent.
    (January: Clinton 47 percent, Trump 38 percent.)

U.S. Supreme Court nomination
Following the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, 51 percent say the Senate should hold hearings and a vote on a nominee to fill the vacancy this year, while 40 percent say the Senate should wait until 2017, after the presidential election. Fifty-four percent think that leaving the seat vacant for more than a year will hurt the Court’s ability to do its job, while 40 percent say that the Court can function as usual despite the vacancy.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents say they would be willing for their senator to vote for a highly qualified nominee with whom the respondent disagreed on a number of policies. Thirty percent say they would want their senator to vote against any nominee with whom the respondent disagreed, regardless of how well-qualified the nominee might be.

Supporters of Senate candidates Johnson and Feingold take opposite positions on filling the Court vacancy. Among Johnson supporters, 65 percent say the Senate should not act until 2017 while 28 percent say it should hold hearings and vote. Among Feingold supporters, 70 percent say the Senate should hold hearings and vote while 22 percent say it should wait until 2017.

State issues
Voters support a proposal to allow counties to add a one-half percent sales tax for four years to be used for road maintenance, if approved by a referendum. Sixty-four percent support such a proposal while 32 percent oppose it.

Voters are divided on allowing landlords more freedom to evict tenants for a variety of reasons, with 46 percent supporting such an approach while 40 percent say tenants should have more rights in disputes with their landlords. Among those who rent their home, 64 percent say tenants should have more rights while 26 percent say landlords should have more freedom to evict tenants. Renters make up 25 percent of registered voters in this sample. Among homeowners, 53 percent support expanded landlord eviction options while 32 percent say tenants should have more rights.

Respondents are also divided on the value of housing subsidies for the poor. Fifty percent say rent subsidies would help stabilize low-income families while 41 percent say such subsidies will have little effect on the situation of low-income families. Those who rent their homes say subsidies would help, by a 62 percent to 28 percent margin, while those who own their homes split evenly 45-45 on the value of rent subsidies.

Among those with family incomes below $40,000 per year, 56 percent think rent subsidies would help, while 34 percent think they would not. Among those with incomes between $40,000 and $75,000, results are similar, with 55 percent saying subsidies would help and 38 percent saying no. Those with incomes above $75,000 are more skeptical that rent subsidies would improve outcomes for low-income families, with 44 percent saying subsidies would help and 48 percent saying they would have little effect.

Eighty-four percent of registered voters know that photo identification will be required to vote in elections, with 10 percent saying the IDs are not required and six percent saying they do not know. In April 2015, 66 percent knew that photo identification would be required while 34 percent said it would not or did not know.

State of the state
Fifty-two percent say Wisconsin has gotten off on the wrong track while 44 percent say it is headed in the right direction. That is little-changed since August 2015, when 52 percent said wrong track and 46 percent said right direction. In October 2014, 51 percent said right direction and 44 percent said wrong track.

Thirty-six percent say the state’s budget is in worse shape now than several years ago, while 28 percent say the budget is in better shape now and 28 percent say it is about the same. In November 2015, 39 percent said the budget was worse, 30 percent said better and 24 percent about the same. In October 2014, 43 percent said the budget was in better shape, 27 percent said worse and 23 percent said about the same.

Approval of how Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is handling his job stands at 39 percent, with 55 percent disapproving. In January, 38 percent approved and 57 percent disapproved.

Retiring U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble is little-known statewide, where 76 percent are unable to give a favorable or unfavorable opinion of him, with 11 percent favorable and 13 percent unfavorable. In the Green Bay media market, which largely overlaps his 8th Congressional District, Ribble’s favorable rating is 40 percent, unfavorable 23 percent, and 37 percent are unable to give an opinion.

Views of presidential candidates
Subtracting a candidate’s unfavorable ratings from the favorable ratings gives a “net favorability” that sheds light on a candidate’s overall popularity. Four of the six leading candidates for president have net negative favorability ratings. Kasich (+6) and Sanders (+11) are net positive among all registered voters while Rubio (-8), Cruz (-18), Clinton (-18) and Trump (-43) are all net negative.

Within their parties, all are net positive — except Trump, who has a net favorability of zero, with 45 percent favorable and 45 percent unfavorable among Republican voters. Independents have net negative views of all but Kasich and Sanders while opposition-party views are negative to all candidates.

Candidate Net favorable Net within party Net among independents Net within other party
Kasich 6 9 11 -4
Rubio -8 47 -12 -46
Sanders 11 51 21 -56
Cruz -18 46 -31 -56
Clinton -18 55 -29 -89
Trump -43 0 -43 -76

Voters similarly expressed varying levels of comfort with the idea of each candidate as president. Fifty-three percent said they were very uncomfortable with the idea of Trump as president, including 23 percent very uncomfortable among Republicans and 52 percent among independents. Forty-one percent said they were very uncomfortable with Clinton as president, with 6 percent of Democrats and 42 percent of independents saying so.

Candidate Very Uncomfortable Among Republicans Among Democrats Among Independents
Kasich 20 13 29 20
Rubio 27 2 52 23
Sanders 30 66 12 24
Cruz 35 7 61 33
Clinton 41 81 6 42
Trump 53 23 82 52

About the Marquette Law School Poll
The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. This poll interviewed 802 registered Wisconsin voters, by both landline and cell phone, February 18-21, 2016. The margin of error is +/- 4.5 percentage points for the full sample. For Republican presidential primary voters, the sample size is 297, with a margin of error of +/-7.5 percentage points. For Democratic presidential primary voters, the sample size is 343, with a margin of error of +/-6.9 percentage points.

The partisan makeup of this sample, including those who lean to a party, is 40 percent Republican, 49 percent Democratic and 10 percent independent. The long-term estimate over the previous 32 statewide Marquette polls, with 27,533 respondents, is 42 percent Republican and 47 percent Democratic, with 9 percent independent. The partisan makeup of this sample, excluding those who lean to a party, is 26 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 40 percent independent, compared to the long-term estimate of 27 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 39 percent independent.