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MU Law School poll: Gov. Scott Walker, Tony Evers tied in governor’s race

MILWAUKEE -- The Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday, Oct. 31 shows a tie in the race for Wisconsin governor between Democrat Tony Evers and Republican incumbent Scott Walker. Each pulled in 47 percent support among likely voters.

The poll, conducted between Oct. 3 and Oct. 7 had Walker just ahead of Evers, 47 percent to 46 percent.

In race for US Senate, the poll found 54 percent support for Democrat Tammy Baldwin and 43 percent support for Republican Leah Vukmir among likely voters.

In election for Wisconsin attorney general, Republican incumbent Brad Schimel is supported by 47 percent, while Democratic challenger Josh Kaul is supported by 45 percent among likely voters.

When asked what the most important issue is in this election, the poll found among likely voters, 25 percent said health coverage, 20 percent said K-12 education, 20 percent said jobs and economy, and 12 percent said roads.

Below are complete poll details as released by MU Law School officials:

A new Marquette Law School Poll of Wisconsin voters finds a tie in the state’s race for governor, with incumbent Republican Scott Walker and Democrat challenger Tony Evers each receiving 47 percent support among likely voters. Libertarian candidate Phil Anderson receives 3 percent, and only 1 percent say they lack a preference or do not lean to a candidate. One percent declined to respond to the question. Likely voters are defined as those who say they are certain to vote in the Nov. 6 election. In the most recent Marquette Law School Poll, conducted Oct. 3-7, Walker was supported by 47 percent, Evers by 46 percent and Anderson by 5 percent among likely voters.

In the race for Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate seat, Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin leads among likely voters with 54 percent supporting her, while 43 percent support Republican challenger Leah Vukmir. Only 2 percent say they lack a preference or do not lean toward a candidate and 1 percent did not respond. In early October, Baldwin was supported by 53 percent and Vukmir by 43 percent.

In the race for Wisconsin attorney general, Republican incumbent Brad Schimel is the choice of 47 percent and Democrat Josh Kaul is the choice of 45 percent of likely voters. Seven percent lack a preference in this race and 2 percent did not respond. In the early October poll, Schimel held 47 percent and Kaul 43 percent of likely voters.

Among all registered voters surveyed in the poll, Walker receives 47 percent in the race for governor, with Evers receiving 44 percent and Anderson at 5 percent.

In the Senate race, among all registered voters, Baldwin receives 52 percent and Vukmir 42 percent.

For attorney general, registered voters give Schimel 45 percent and Kaul 43 percent.

The poll was conducted Oct. 24-28, 2018. The sample included 1,400 registered voters in Wisconsin interviewed by cell phone or landline, with a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points. For likely voters, the sample size is 1,154 and the margin of error is +/- 3.2 percentage points.

How turnout could affect election results

The results for likely voters are based on the definition that the Marquette Law School Poll has used since it began in 2012: those who say they are certain they will vote in November. Alternative models of likely voters could be broader, including those saying they are less than certain to vote, or could include enthusiasm and attention to politics. Table 1 shows the vote for governor by alternative measures of likelihood of turnout averaging over certainty of voting, enthusiasm and attention to politics. Evers’ percentage of the vote generally rises when turnout is projected to be lower,  while Walker’s vote percentage changes little in different projections of turnout.

Table 1: Vote for governor by alternative likely voter models

Evers Walker Anderson
All Registered 44 47 5
90% of Registered 47 47 4
80% of Registered 47 48 3
Standard Likely Voter 47 47 3
70% of Registered 48 48 2

Vote for the Senate using different assumptions about voter turnout is shown in  Table 2.

Table 2: Vote for Senate by alternative likely voter models

Baldwin Vukmir
All Registered 52 42
90% of Registered 54 43
80% of Registered 53 44
Standard Likely Voter 54 43
70% of Registered 53 45

Vote for attorney general by different likely voter criteria is shown in Table 3.

Table 3: Vote for attorney general by alternative likely voter models

Kaul Schimel
All Registered 43 45
90% of Registered 45 46
80% of Registered 45 47
Standard Likely Voter 45 47
70% of Registered 45 48

Favorability and awareness of candidates

Table 4 shows favorable, unfavorable and unable-to-rate percentages in the early and late October polls.

Table 4: Favorability and awareness of candidates, Oct. 24-28 and Oct. 3-7, among likely voters

Oct 24-28: Fav Oct 24-28: Unfav Oct 24-28: Not Heard/DK Oct 3-7: Fav Oct 3-7: Unfav Oct 3-7: Not Heard/DK
Evers 42 41 17 41 38 20
Vukmir 33 43 24 30 43 27
Kaul 16 12 72 10 8 81
Anderson 3 4 92 4 5 91
Walker 48 49 3 48 49 2
Baldwin 49 43 8 49 42 9
Schimel 29 25 45 32 22 46

Most important issues

Among likely voters, 25 percent say health coverage is their most important issue, followed by 20 percent choosing K-12 education and 20 percent picking jobs and the economy. The condition of roads ranks fourth, with 12 percent choosing it as most important.

Asked for their second-most-important issue, the condition of roads rises to the top 3, with K-12 education first at 20 percent, health coverage at 18 percent and the condition of roads at 16 percent. Jobs and the economy is picked by 13 percent.

The full set of most-important-issue responses is shown in Table 5.

Table 5: Most important issues facing Wisconsin

Most important 2nd most important 1st or 2nd
Health coverage 25 18 43
K-12 education 20 20 40
Jobs and the economy 20 13 33
Condition of state roads, highways and bridges 12 16 28
Cutting taxes 7 10 17
Prisons and the criminal justice system 5 10 15
Something else 5 4 9
The UW System 2 5 7
Don’t know 3 2 5
State aid to local government 2 3 5
Refused 0 0 0

Among those ranking health coverage as their most important issue, Evers is supported by 65 percent and Walker by 32 percent. For those saying K-12 education is their top issue, 70 percent support Evers and 21 percent back Walker. Those who say jobs and economy are most important give Walker 74 percent to Evers’ 20 percent. Those most concerned about roads support Evers with 50 percent and Walker with 47 percent.

In the Senate race, among those ranking health coverage as their most important issue, Baldwin receives 70 percent and Vukmir 27 percent. For those saying K-12 education is their top issue, 73 percent support Baldwin and 24 percent back Vukmir. Those who say jobs and economy is most important give Vukmir 71 percent to Baldwin’s 26 percent. Those most concerned about roads support Baldwin with 63 percent and Vukmir with 36 percent.

Voting groups

The electorate has become increasingly segmented by gender and education among white voters, with longer-standing differences by race. Table 6 shows preference for governor among white males and females by education, and for non-whites or Hispanic likely voters. The sample size for non-white or Hispanic voters is too small to analyze by gender and education.

Table 6: Vote for governor by race, gender and education among likely voters

White, Male, Noncollege White, Female, Noncollege White, Male, College White, Female, College Nonwhite or Hispanic
Evers 39 49 47 54 53
Walker 58 44 52 42 37
Anderson 2 3 1 3 7

Evers receives his strongest support from white, female college graduates and from nonwhite and Hispanic voters, while Walker does best with white, male noncollege graduates and has a smaller lead among white males with a college degree. Non-college white females give the edge to Evers.

Partisans are strongly supporting their party’s candidate, but independents are currently favoring Evers by 7 percentage points, as shown in Table 7.

Table 7: Vote for governor by Party ID among likely voters

Rep Dem Ind
Evers 3 93 49
Walker 96 3 42
Anderson 0 3 5

Preferences in the contest for U.S. Senate by race, gender and education are shown in Table 8. Baldwin does best with white, female college graduates, but also holds a substantial advantage among non-college white females. White college males tilt slightly to Baldwin, and Vukmir has a substantial advantage with non-college white males. Baldwin has a substantial lead among non-white and Hispanic voters.

Table 8: Vote for senate by race, gender and education among likely voters

White, Male, Noncollege White, Female, Noncollege White, Male, College White, Female, College Nonwhite or Hispanic
Baldwin 43 56 51 62 65
Vukmir 56 40 48 35 30

The senate vote by party is shown in Table 9. Partisan alignments are strong, although Vukmir’s support among Republicans is not as strong as Baldwin’s is among Democrats. Independents favor Baldwin.

Table 9: Vote for senate by party ID among likely voters

Rep Dem Ind
Baldwin 8 97 59
Vukmir 91 2 37

In the attorney general race, the poll results are shown in Table 10 and Table 11. Schimel has a lead among both non-college and college white males, while Kaul has an advantage with both college and non-college white females and among non-white and Hispanic voters.

Table 10: Vote for attorney general by race, gender and education among likely voters

White, Male, Noncollege White, Female, Noncollege White, Male, College White, Female, College Nonwhite or Hispanic
Kaul 38 49 41 51 51
Schimel 58 42 53 41 37

Table 11: Vote for attorney general by party ID among likely voters

Rep Dem Ind
Kaul 6 87 45
Schimel 89 9 42

Schimel holds 89 percent of Republican support while Kaul receives 87 percent support from Democrats. Independents give Schimel 42 percent and Kaul 45 percent. Both candidates for attorney general remain less well-known than the gubernatorial and senate candidates.

State issues

Fifty-five percent of registered Wisconsin voters see the state as headed in the right direction while 40 percent think the state is off on the wrong track. In early October, 54 percent said right direction and 40 percent said wrong track. In late October 2014, 51 percent said the state was headed in the right direction and 44 percent said it was on the wrong track.

Among likely voters in the current poll, 54 percent say the state is headed in the right direction and 42 percent think the state is off on the wrong track.
Thirty-seven percent of registered voters think the state budget is in better shape than a few years ago, while 29 percent say it is about the same and 25 percent say the budget is in worse shape. In late October 2014, 44 percent said the budget was in better shape than a few years earlier, 23 percent said it was about the same and 27 percent said the budget was in worse shape.

Taxes and spending

When asked to balance property taxes with spending for public schools, registered voters say they would rather increase spending on public schools than reduce property taxes, by a 55 percent to 40 percent margin. Support for additional spending on public schools has increased since the question was first asked in 2013. The full trend on this issue is shown in Table 12.

Table 12: Trend in property tax vs school spending opinion, 2013-2018 among registered voters

Cut property taxes Increase school spending
3/11-13/13 49 46
5/6-9/13 49 46
4/7-10/15 40 54
2/25-3/1/18 33 63
6/13-17/18 35 59
8/15-19/18 32 61
9/12-16/18 38 57
10/3-7/18 37 57
10/24-28/18 40 55

For those likely voters who rank K-12 education as their most important issue, 84 percent would increase school spending while 14 percent would hold down property taxes. For those who do not rank K-12 education as the most important issue, 49 percent would increase spending while 45 percent would hold down taxes.

Fifty-eight percent of registered voters think that salary and benefits for teachers in Wisconsin should be higher, 32 percent say they are about right and 4 percent think salary and benefits for teachers should be lower than they are now.

Asked what would be their first priority for improving student success in Wisconsin schools, 28 percent choose improved parenting while 25 percent pick more resources for schools. Twelve percent say more options for choosing schools and 11 percent say improved teaching. Improved early childhood programs is the choice of 9 percent, and 7 percent say better school leadership.

Roads

While respondents would pay higher taxes to increase spending on public schools, they are unwilling to increase gas taxes and vehicle registration fees in order to increase spending on roads.

Fifty-nine percent say it is more important to keep gas taxes and vehicle registration fees where they are now, while 36 percent say it is more important to raise gas taxes and registration fees in order to spend more on roads and highways. In early October, 61 percent preferred to keep taxes and fees down while 32 percent said they would increase taxes in order to spend more on roads.

Among likely voters who rank roads as their most important issue, 51 percent are willing to increase gas taxes and registration fees. Among those who do not rank roads as the most important issue, 60 percent are not willing to change taxes and registration fees. This is shown in Table 13.

Table 13: Increase gas tax/fees by rank roads as most important issue for likely voters

No gas tax/fee increase Increase tax, spending on roads DK
Roads most important issue 48 51 1
Other most important issue 60 35 4

Foxconn

Forty-one percent of registered voters think the Foxconn plant will provide at least as much value as the state is investing in the plant, while 40 percent think the state is paying more than the Foxconn plant is worth. Eighteen percent say they don’t know if the plant will be worth it or not. This question was first asked in March 2018, and this is the first time that more voters said Foxconn would be worth as much as the state is providing in support.

A majority (58 percent) of registered voters statewide believe the Foxconn plant will substantially improve the economy of the greater Milwaukee area, while 27 percent do not think it will and 15 percent say they don’t know.

When asked if businesses where the respondent lives will benefit from Foxconn, 33 percent say businesses will benefit directly from the Foxconn plant, while 55 percent say their local businesses will not benefit and 12 percent don’t know.

Opioids

Eleven percent of registered voters say the state has done a lot to address the issue of opioid addiction, with 29 percent saying the state has done a fair amount about the issue. Thirty-two percent say the state has done only a little and 18 percent say it has done almost nothing. Ten percent say they don’t know what the state has done with respect to the opioid issue.

Scott Walker

Walker job approval

Fifty percent of registered voters say they approve of how Walker is doing his job, while 46 percent disapprove. The trend in approval since June 2018 is shown in Table 14. In October 2014, 48 percent approved and 49 percent disapproved.

Table 14: Scott Walker job approval trend among registered voters

Approve Disapprove Don’t know
June 2018 49 47 3
July 2018 47 45 7
August 2018 48 45 6
September 2018 44 50 5
October 3-7 2018 48 47 5
October 24-28 2018 50 46 3

Tammy Baldwin

Baldwin favorability

Among all registered voters (see Table 4, above, for likely voters), 45 percent have a favorable opinion of Baldwin and 40 percent are unfavorable. Baldwin is not rated by 14 percent. The trend in Baldwin favorability since June is shown in Table 15.

Table 15: Tammy Baldwin favorability trend among registered voters

Favorable Unfavorable Haven’t heard enough/DK
June 2018 41 43 15
July 2018 41 40 18
August 2018 43 40 17
September 2018 45 39 16
October 3-7, 2018 45 40 14
October 24-28, 2018 45 40 14

Health coverage

A large majority of registered voters, 82 percent, say the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that preexisting conditions be covered by insurance companies is very important to them. Thirteen percent say such coverage is somewhat important, with 2 percent saying it is not too important and 1 percent saying it is not at all important.

Views of President Trump

President Donald Trump has a 47 percent approval rating, with 50 percent disapproving. In the previous Marquette Law School Poll in early October, his approval was 46 percent, with 51 percent disapproving. Partisans are deeply divided on President Trump’s job performance, as shown in Table 16.

Table 16: President Trump job approval by party ID among registered voters

Rep Dem Ind
Approve 92 6 41
Disapprove 6 94 55
DK 2 0 3

President Donald Trump

President Trump’s influence on, and divisions within, the Republican party

Asked if President Trump has changed the Republican party—and if so, how—28 percent say he has changed it for the better, while 47 percent say he has changed it for the worse and 21 percent say he hasn’t changed it much either way.

Partisans have differing views of President Trump’s effect on his party, as seen in Table 17.

Table 17: How President Trump has changed GOP, by party ID among registered voters

Rep Lean Rep Ind Lean Dem Dem
For better 63 38 13 4 1
For worse 9 20 45 75 86
Not changed 24 34 33 20 10

Political interaction

Twenty-seven percent of registered voters say they have tried to convince someone to vote for or against a particular candidate, while 72 percent say they have not done so.

Forty-six percent say they talk with family and friends about politics more than once a week and 23 percent talk about politics once a week. Thirteen percent talk once or twice a month and 9 percent talk a few times a year. Nine percent say they never talk politics with family or friends.

Thirty-three percent say they have stopped talking about politics with someone because of disagreements about the elections. In October 2014, 27 percent said the same.

Attention to campaign events

Registered voters are paying varying amounts of attention to campaign events and debates in Wisconsin. Table 18 shows the attention paid to President Trump’s campaign rallies and to the debates for governor, senator and attorney general.

Table 18: Attention paid to campaign rallies and debates

Watch at least some live Followed news closely Saw some coverage but don’t follow closely Did not pay much attention
President Trump rallies 18 24 28 29
Governor debates 12 13 21 51
Senate debates 13 12 20 53
Attorney general debates 1 7 11 78

Enthusiasm for voting

Overall, 70 percent of registered voters say they are very enthusiastic about voting in this year’s elections, with 19 percent somewhat enthusiastic and 10 percent either not very or not at all enthusiastic.

Among Republicans, 74 percent are very enthusiastic, while among Democrats 81 percent are. Among independents, 58 percent say they are very enthusiastic about voting this year. In early October, 70 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of Democrats were very enthusiastic, with 59 percent of independents.