The first Marquette University Law School (MU) poll of 2019 was released on Jan. 24. This is the first MU poll since October (before the 2018 election). The poll surveyed 800 registered voters in Wisconsin on where the state is headed, Wisconsin politicians, policy proposals, and potential 2020 candidates.
Right direction/wrong track
The poll showed Wisconsinites have an increasingly positive view of where the state is headed. 57 percent of respondents said Wisconsin is headed in the right direction, compared to 54 percent in October. 33 percent said Wisconsin is on the wrong track, compared to 42 percent in October.
Governor & Wisconsin Legislature
So far, more voters than not approve of newly elected Democratic Gov. Tony Evers at 39 percent approve to 22 percent disapprove. However, 38 percent don’t know. Evers’s favorability rating remains about the same as the October poll at 41 percent. After a jump in voters viewing him as unfavorable in the October poll, Evers’s unfavorable rating dropped to just 24 percent.
The latest poll also asked respondents whether they approve of how the Republican-majority Wisconsin legislature is handling its job. 52 percent of voters approve, while 31 percent disapprove.
Most voters haven’t heard enough about legislative leadership to form an opinion. Voters view Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) as 13 percent favorable and 17 percent unfavorable, with 59 percent not having heard enough. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) is at 24 percent favorable and 19 percent favorable, with 47 percent not having heard enough.
The poll indicated that voters view Gov. Evers as more interested in cooperating than the legislature. 47 percent think Evers is trying to cooperate versus 25 percent who don’t think the governor is interested. 22 percent think the legislature is trying to cooperate versus 46 percent who don’t think the legislature is interested.
Most voters still haven’t heard enough about newly elected Attorney General Josh Kaul to form an opinion. Kaul’s favorability rating was 16 percent favorable and 7 percent unfavorable, with 67 percent not having heard enough.
Voters also gave their opinions on removing Wisconsin from the multistate lawsuit seeking to declare the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unconstitutional. In his State of the State address, Evers directed Kaul to withdraw from the lawsuit. After some back and forth about the AG’s authority to withdraw, Evers will seek approval to withdraw from the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee.
Voters are split along party lines on the ACA lawsuit issue, with 42 percent saying Wisconsin should continue the suit and 48 percent saying Wisconsin should withdraw. 75 percent of Republicans (including lean-Republicans) want the state to continue, and 81 percent of Democrats (including lean-Democrats) want to withdraw.
In a question about the extraordinary session legislation that limited the AG’s authority to withdraw, 41 percent of voters said they strongly disapproved.
The poll asked respondents several other policy questions. 59 percent think marijuana use should be made legal. 62 percent agree that Wisconsin should accept federal funds to expand Medicaid. 55 percent believe the minimum wage should be increased. 42 percent of voters indicated approval of raising the gas tax. 73 percent of voters support increasing special education funds. Gov. Evers has indicated he could include some of these provisions in his 2019-21 budget.
Although we’re still over a year away from the 2020 presidential election, the MU poll has begun seeking voter opinions on potential candidates.
49 percent of Wisconsin voters said they would definitely vote for someone other than Donald Trump in 2020. 27 percent said they would vote for Trump. Despite these negative re-election numbers, voter approval of Donald Trump has declined only slightly since the previous poll. Trump currently has a 44 percent approval rating, compared to 47 percent in October. Voters who disapprove of Trump remain at 52 percent.
On the Democratic side, the poll asked voters about potential primary candidates. Top choices for Wisconsin appear to be former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vermont). Other acceptable choices, according to responses, could be U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris (California), Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts), Cory Booker (New Jersey), and Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota), as well as former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Texas). Voters were slightly less interested in former federal Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro. However, over half of voters hadn’t heard enough to form an opinion on the candidates, with the exceptions of Biden, Sanders, and Warren.