Marquette Poll: Walker/Evers, Baldwin/Vukmir Races Start Out as Dead Heats

On Aug. 22, Marquette University (MU) Law School released its first poll analyzing 2018 election candidates after the August primary elections. The poll went into the field the day after the primary from Aug. 15-19.

Among likely voters, President Donald Trump had his highest job approval rating in the MU poll since he took office at 47 percent. 50 percent still do not approve of the president. The poll showed most voters have strong opinions about Trump. 33 percent strongly approve and 45 percent strongly disapprove, while 14 percent somewhat approve and only 6 percent somewhat disapprove.

Walker maintained a 50 percent approval rating and 47 percent disapproval rating, numbers generally unchanged from previous polls. Likely voters also feel strongly about the governor. 39 percent strongly approve and 39 percent strongly disapprove, compared to 12 percent who somewhat approve and 8 percent who somewhat disapprove.

Walker’s opponent Tony Evers had 38 percent favorable and 27 percent unfavorable rating, with 28 percent saying they have not heard enough to form an opinion about him. Walker’s numbers were 49 percent favorable, 47 percent unfavorable, with only one percent not knowing enough about the governor to answer. In a head-to-head among likely voters, Walker and Evers were tied at 46 percent. (Walker had a two-point lead over Evers among registered voters.)

While the MU poll is considered the “gold standard” by many Wisconsin insiders, in the past several weeks other polls have shown Evers with a lead over incumbent Walker. Democratic firm Public Policy Polling showed Evers with a five-point lead in the two days following the primary election, according to Wisconsin Public Radio. An NBC/Marist poll released just before the primary showed Evers up by double-digits. Around the same time, an Emerson College poll showed Evers up by seven points.

Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s favorability ratings increased in August. 44 percent of registered voters had a favorable opinion of Johnson, and 35 percent had an unfavorable opinion, compared to 40 percent favorable and 36 percent unfavorable in the July MU poll.

Johnson’s Wisconsin counterpart in the U.S. Senate, Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin also improved her ratings to 46 percent favorable and 42 percent unfavorable, compared to 41 percent favorable and 40 percent unfavorable in July.

Baldwin’s Republican opponent in November, state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield) had a 30 percent favorable, 29 percent unfavorable rating among likely voters, although 33 percent still have not heard enough to form an opinion about her.

In a head-to-head among likely voters, Vukmir gained significant ground on Baldwin, trailing by two points with 47 percent to Baldwin’s 49 percent. (Baldwin maintained a seven-point lead among registered voters.) In the June Marquette poll’s head-to-head before the primary election, Vukmir trailed Baldwin by nine points.

In the attorney general race, many voters have not heard enough about the attorney general candidates to indicate their favorability. 74 percent of likely voters had not heard enough about Josh Kaul, and 47 percent had not heard enough about incumbent Attorney General Brad Schimel.

The poll showed the most important issues to likely voters are jobs and the economy, K-12 education, and health coverage. For the fifth time in a row, the poll showed that by a significant margin people in Wisconsin believe the state is heading in the right direction. 53 percent think Wisconsin is going in the right direction, while 43 percent think the state is on the wrong track.