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MU Law School poll: Gov. Walker holds 50-43% lead over Burke among likely voters

MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School Poll finds Republican Gov. Scott Walker leading Democratic challenger Mary Burke 50 percent to 43 percent among likely voters in the Wisconsin governor’s race. Another 3 percent say that they are undecided or that they do not know whom they will support, while 1 percent say that they will vote for someone else. Likely voters are those who say that they are certain to vote in the November election.

Among registered voters in the poll, Walker receives 46 percent and Burke 45 percent, with 4 percent undecided and 1 percent saying that they will vote for someone else.

The poll interviewed 1,409 registered voters, including 1,164 likely voters, by landline and cell phone Oct. 23-26. For the full sample of 1,409 registered voters, the margin of error is +/- 2.7 percentage points. The margin of error for the sample of 1,164 likely voters is +/- 3.0 percentage points. This is the final Marquette Law School Poll before the Nov. 4 election.

The previous Marquette Law School Poll, conducted Oct. 9-12, found the race tied among likely voters, with the candidates holding 47 percent each, while 48 percent of registered voters supported Walker to Burke’s 45 percent support.

In the race for attorney general, among likely voters Republican Brad Schimel receives support from 43 percent and Democrat Susan Happ receives support from 39 percent, with 14 percent saying that they are undecided or don’t know for whom they will vote. Among registered voters, both candidates receive 40 percent support, with 16 percent yet to choose a candidate.

Turnout differences

“Shifting turnout intentions have provided most of the dynamics of the race this fall,” said Marquette Law School Poll director Charles Franklin. “While the results among all registered voters have varied between a tie and a 3-point Walker edge, the likely-voter results have ranged from a 2-point Burke advantage to the current 7-point Walker lead.”

In the current poll, 93 percent of Republicans say that they are certain to vote, while 82 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of independents say the same. Two weeks ago 82 percent of Republicans, and 80 percent of both Democrats and independents, said that they were certain to vote. By comparison, in the final Marquette Law School Poll before the 2012 gubernatorial recall election, 92 percent of Republicans, 77 percent of Democrats and 84 percent of independents said that they were certain to vote.

In August, 82 percent of Democrats said they were certain to vote while 77 percent of Republicans said so. In early September this reversed, with 80 percent of Republicans and 73 percent of Democrats saying they were certain to vote. Late in September, 80 percent of Republicans and 77 percent of Democrats said they were certain to vote. Independent intentions held steady in August and September between 67 and 69 percent.

Thirteen percent of registered voters said they had already voted either by absentee or in-person early voting, including 11 percent of Republicans, 16 percent of Democrats and 12 percent of independents.

Gender gap and independent voters

After narrowing to just 2 percentage points in the previous poll, the gender gap in vote choice has returned. Among registered voters, Burke leads 50-40 among women and Walker leads 53-39 among men. Among likely voters, Burke’s lead among women is 49-43 while Walker’s lead among men is 58-36. In the six Marquette Law School Polls since July, Burke has averaged a 49-42 lead among women and Walker a 52-40 lead among men for registered voters. Among likely voters, Burke has averaged a 52-42 lead among women and Walker a 55-40 advantage among men.

Registered voters who described themselves as independents support Walker by 46 percent to 40 percent over Burke. Likely voters who are independents support Walker over Burke by 52 percent to 37 percent. Two weeks ago, among independents, Walker had a 45-42 advantage with registered voters, and Burke had a 45-44 edge with likely voters. In six polls since July, Walker has averaged a 46-42 advantage among registered voters who describe themselves as independents and a 50-42 margin among likely voters in this group.

Ninety-two percent of Republicans support Walker and 88 percent of Democrats support Burke among both registered and likely voters. Over the past six polls, among registered voters, 92 percent of Republicans support Walker and 90 percent of Democrats support Burke. Among likely voters in these polls, 94 percent of Republicans back Walker and 93 percent of Democrats favor Burke.

Images of the candidates

Burke’s favorability ratings have turned down in the latest poll, with 38 percent of registered voters viewing her favorably while 45 percent have an unfavorable view. In earlier polls in September and October, her favorable-unfavorable ratings were 36-35, 36-37 and 40-43. Among likely voters, her current favorable-unfavorable rating is 39-49, with the ratings in the three earlier polls since the beginning of September being, oldest to newest, 41-39, 40-44 and 44-44. Among registered voters, 17 percent lack an opinion of Burke, down from 69 percent in January. Among likely voters, 12 percent say they haven’t heard enough or don’t know their view of Burke.

Walker’s favorable rating in the latest poll is 48 percent, with 47 percent unfavorable, among registered voters. His previous ratings since the beginning of September are 49-45, 47-47 and 48-48. Among likely voters he is currently seen favorably by 51 percent and unfavorably by 46 percent. His ratings among likely voters in the three most recent polls are, in chronological order, 52-46, 52-46 and 50-48.

Asked if “cares about people like you” describes Burke, 47 percent of registered voters say it does, while 41 percent say it does not and 12 percent say they don’t know. The previous poll found 49 percent saying “cares about you” described her while 36 percent said it did not and 14 percent said they didn’t know. Among likely voters, 47 percent say “cares” describes Burke while 43 percent say it does not, with 10 percent saying they don’t know. The previous poll had 52 percent of likely voters saying “cares” described Burke with 37 percent saying it did not.

For Walker, 46 percent of registered voters say “cares about you” describes him, while 50 percent say it does not and 3 percent say they don’t know. In the previous poll, 46 percent said this described him while 50 percent said it did not and 4 percent lacked an opinion. Among likely voters, 49 percent say “cares” describes Walker while 48 percent say it does not. Two weeks ago, 48 percent said this described him while 50 percent said it did not.

When it comes to being “able to get things done,” 42 percent of registered voters say this describes Burke while 41 percent say it does not, with 16 percent saying they don’t know. Two weeks ago, 44 percent said this described her while 38 percent said it did not, with 18 percent unable to say. Among likely voters, 43 percent say Burke can get things done while 43 percent say this does not describe her. The previous poll found 46 percent saying this described her with 39 percent saying it did not.

For Walker, 63 percent of registered voters say he is someone who is able to get things done while 33 percent disagree, with 3 percent unable to say. In the previous poll, 65 percent said he was someone able to get things done while 31 percent disagreed, with 3 percent unable to say. Among likely voters in the current poll, 65 percent say Walker can get things done, with 32 percent saying this does not describe him. Two weeks earlier, 67 percent said this described him while 30 percent said it did not.

Evaluation of conditions in the state

Fifty-one percent of registered voters say the state is headed in the right direction while 44 percent say it is off on the wrong track. Among likely voters, 54 percent say right direction and 42 percent say wrong track.

Asked if “all the changes in state government” over the last few years will make the state better or worse off in the long run, 51 percent of registered voters say better and 42 percent say worse. Among likely voters, 53 percent say better and 40 percent say worse.

Among registered voters, 44 percent say the state budget is in better shape than four years ago, while 27 percent say worse and 23 percent say it is in the same shape. Among likely voters, 48 percent say better, 26 percent say worse and 20 percent say it is the same.

Thirteen percent of registered voters say the state is creating jobs faster than other states, 38 percent say it is doing about the same as other states and 42 percent say Wisconsin is lagging behind other states. Among likely voters, 14 percent say it is creating jobs faster, 38 percent the same and 42 percent say it is lagging behind. Since January, those saying the state is lagging in job creation have varied between 40 and 48 percent of registered voters and between 42 and 51 percent among likely voters. Those thinking it is adding jobs faster or keeping pace have ranged from 41 to 52 percent among registered voters and from 40 to 52 percent among likely voters.

Among registered voters, 49 percent approve of the way Walker is handling his job as governor while 47 percent disapprove. Among likely voters, 52 percent approve and 46 percent disapprove. Two weeks ago, 48 percent approved and 49 percent disapproved among registered voters, while among likely voters 50 percent approved and 48 percent disapproved.

Issues

Public views are wide-ranging across a variety of issues discussed during the campaign and show only slight differences between registered and likely voters. Among registered voters:

  • Sixty percent say the state should accept federal funds to expand Medicaid coverage while 25 percent say it should reject that expansion.
  • Fifty-nine percent say the state should increase support to K-12 schools while 35 percent say current funding is sufficient.
  • Fifty-seven percent support increasing the minimum wage while 39 percent oppose it.
  • Fifty-six percent favor permitting same-sex marriage with 34 percent opposed.
  • Fifty-two percent oppose requiring an ultrasound for a woman seeking an abortion while 41 percent support requiring it.
  • Sixty percent support requiring a photo ID to vote, with 36 percent opposed.
  • Fifty-five percent support requiring drug tests for recipients of food stamps and unemployment benefits while 41 percent oppose such testing.
  • Fifty-four percent say people are unemployed due to a lack of skills while 36 percent say it is due to a lack of jobs.
  • Fifty-four percent have an unfavorable view of existing health care reform and 34 percent hold a favorable view of it.
  • Fifty percent say the limitations on unions due to Act 10 should be retained while 43 percent say collective bargaining should be restored for public employees.
  • Forty-nine percent support expanding private school vouchers statewide with 44 percent opposed.
  • Fifty-six percent say first-offense drunk driving should be a criminal misdemeanor, while 39 percent say it should result in a non-criminal ticket as is currently the law.
  • Forty-two percent support a casino in Kenosha with 37 percent opposed, almost the same as a year ago when 41 percent supported and 38 percent opposed. Support for a casino was as high as 50 percent, with 39 percent opposed, in mid-September.

Supporters of Walker and Burke hold sharply differing views on most of these issues. The greatest difference concerns the issue of Act 10 and collective bargaining. Seventy-nine percent of Burke voters would restore collective bargaining while just 9 percent of Walker supporters agree. Eighty-nine percent of Walker supporters favor requiring a photo ID to vote, a view held by 28 percent of Burke’s supporters. On minimum wage, 87 percent of Burke supporters favor an increase while 28 percent of Walker supporters do so. Eighty-eight percent of Burke supporters, versus 33 percent of Walker supporters, would accept federal funds to expand Medicaid. Eighty-six percent of Burke supporters think state funding for elementary and high schools should be increased, while 32 percent of Walker supporters favor this. On vouchers for private schools, 70 percent of Walker supporters favor expanding the voucher program, compared to 27 percent of Burke backers.

Two issues, approval of a casino in Kenosha and how to penalize first-offense drunk driving, stand out for their small differences between the two candidate’s supporters. Sixty-two percent of Burke supporters and 52 percent of Walker supporters favor criminal penalties for first offense OWI. Among Burke supporters, 39 percent support and 37 percent oppose the casino, while among Walker voters 44 percent favor and 36 percent oppose the casino.

Attorney general candidates

With less than two weeks to go until the election, the candidates for attorney general remain largely unknown to voters. Seventy-one percent of registered voters say they haven’t heard enough of or don’t have an opinion of Brad Schimel, while 68 percent of likely voters lack an opinion. Seventy-two percent lack an opinion of Susan Happ, as do 68 percent of likely voters.

Schimel is viewed favorably by 16 percent and unfavorably by 13 percent of registered voters, compared to poll results of 18 percent favorable and 14 percent unfavorable among likely voters. Happ receives 14 percent favorable and 14 percent unfavorable views among registered voters, while likely voters split, 16 percent favorable and 15 percent unfavorable.

On one issue the candidates have debated, 37 percent of registered voters say the attorney general should appeal when a court strikes down a state statute or constitutional provision while 46 percent say the attorney general should use his or her judgment as to whether an appeal is likely to be successful. Among likely voters, opinion divides almost the same, 38-47 percent.

Party composition of the sample

In this poll, Republicans make up 26 percent of the registered voter sample and 30 percent of the likely voter sample, with Democrats at 32 percent of both registered and likely voters. Independents are 39 percent of registered voters and 36 percent of likely voters.

Over all Marquette Law School Polls conducted in 2014, Republicans have averaged 26 percent of registered and 28 percent of likely voters, while Democrats have averaged 30 percent in both registered and likely voter samples. Independents have averaged 40 percent of registered and 38 percent of likely voters. In the previous poll, conducted Oct. 9-12, Republicans were 28 percent of registered and 29 percent of likely voters while Democrats were 31 percent of both registered and likely voters. Independents were 37 percent of both registered and likely voters.

About the Marquette Law School Poll

The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive independent statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. This poll interviewed 1,409 registered Wisconsin voters, by both landline and cell phone, Oct. 23-26, 2014. The margin of error is +/- 2.7 percentage points for the full sample. The sample included 1,164 likely voters. The margin of error for likely voters is +/- 3.0 percentage points. The entire questionnaire, full results and breakdowns by demographic groups are available at http://law.marquette.edu/poll.

In response to the Marquette University Law School’s final pre-election poll numbers, Brad Schimel Campaign Manager Johnny Koremenos issued the following statement:

"We continue to court votes in every corner of the state and are confident that Brad Schimel will win on Tuesday if his bipartisan supporters go to the polls. In the last two weeks, Brad Schimel has been in Lake Geneva, Milwaukee, Racine, Wisconsin Dells, Ripon, Kenosha, Madison, Manitowoc, Johnson Creek, Oshkosh, Burlington, Cedarburg, Appleton, Janesville, and Green Bay. As this race has evolved, voters are making the determination that Brad Schimel is not only law enforcement's choice, but their choice to be the state's top cop. Voters are realizing that Susan Happ is a lenient activist who is not ready to lead the Wisconsin Department of Justice."

Susan Happ issued this statement on the Marquette University Law School Poll:

"Brad Schimel and the right-wing’s relentless stream of false attacks and negative ads have failed to give him the advantage that he’ll say anything to get," said Happ campaign manager Josh Lease. "We’ve always known this race would be close, but as the voters hear Susan Happ’s positive message for Wisconsin we’re confident that her support will continue to grow in these last crucial days.”

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10 comments

  • get real

    I’m confident Governor Walker will win reelection. He has lowered our taxes, made Wisconsin #4 in job creation in the midwest ahead of our neighbors in Minnesota and Illinois and eliminated a 3.6 billion dollar budget deficit that he inherited from his predecessors Jim Doyle & Mary Burke.
    Just today we learned that Mary Burke was fired from Trek by her own brother. She has not held a job in the past 7 years.
    She would be terribly unqualified to lead Wisconsin !

    • Jesse

      And if that isn’t enough to convince anyone not to give the Democratic party the helm, the Lt. Gov. candidate, John Lehman, had a felony conviction for draft dodging during the Vietnam War when others had the courage to do their patriotic duty… no matter how they felt about the conflict/war.

  • WIJoe

    Well … ah …. it’s …just …a … poll, which … ah…. my … opponent …. knows … ah … doesn’t …. ah …. mean …. anything. Sure hope OVomit’s visit from yesterday drags Burke down even farther. What African American in their right mind could vote for a candidate backed by the worst president ever who has done nothing for the black man but pit black against white?

  • ACHILEUS ASTRALUPITHICUS AFRIKANUS

    It is time to put our differences away after Gov. Walker is re elected. Don’t forget to vote because fo the polls, it might be a liberal ploy to show he is going to win and suppress the would be conservative voters…don’t stop until the game ends.

  • Jon Shapiro

    I am a firm believer that polls are getting more and more unreliable. Many people do not have land lines and many do not accept unfamiliar cell phone calls. The fluctuation of polls all over the country makes one wonder how accurate they are. The leaders in US Senate races change almost every day. Walker could be in a dead heat or ahead by 10 points, but factors influencing polls have greatly changed in the last few years. It will truly come down to who votes and that cannot be determined accurately until the evening of November 4th.

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