The Marquette poll recently released its latest iteration helping us gauge the overall state political climate as we officially enter the election year. The poll measured the status of the Governor’s race as well as some of the hot button issues the legislature is facing. The major change from the last Marquette poll (done in October) to this one is that Mary Burke is the only candidate measured on the Democratic side as potential challenger Kathleen Vinehout previously announced she would not run against her in a primary.
Good news for Walker
In these types of polls, the pundits will pay attention to a few key factors as they assess what the numbers mean in relation to an incumbent’s vulnerability. Walker’s head-to-head against Burke improved from 47-45 in October to 47-41 in the most recent poll. While his top number didn’t increase, his margin did, and so did some other key numbers. Walker’s job approval rose from 49 percent in October, to 51 percent in this January.
Burke is still an unknown quantity
Mary Burke is basically unknown to 70% of those polled, but that won’t last long. How voters, or more importantly independent voters, come to perceive her will go a long way in determining her viability. While Burke trails in the poll, and will always lag in fundraising there is still a silver lining. The poll was in the field the week the Governor rolled out the surplus news and tax cut plan in his state of the state, unemployment is down, and voters are not going to take him to task for missing his job mark yet his head-to-head number still sits at 47. This does show some vulnerability.
Job creation and economic growth are once again expected to be a hot topic during the 2014 election, similar to 2010. During 2010, Walker promised the state would add 250,000 jobs by 2014, but only 100,000 have been created at this point. Only 14% of people polled believe the state will reach Walker’s goal.
Interestingly, even though a vast majority of Wisconsinites believe that Walker’s job growth promise won’t be met, he does not seem to suffer any electoral blowback. Again, 54% of poll respondents believe the state is headed in the right direction, and his approval numbers are steady. Still, views on state and economic growth are largely partisan. A majority of Democrats say the state is lagging in job creation, but only twenty percent of Republicans agree. 100% of Hamilton Consulting lobbyists agree, jobs and the economy will remain at the top of the list for election issues in 2014.
In Governor Walker’s State of the State address, Walker detailed plans for $400 million property tax cut, an income tax cut, and a state tax withholding freeze. 42 percent of those polled favor property tax reductions over other taxes. Another 32% of those polled stated they would like to see a reduction to income taxes, and 22% prefer a reduction to sales tax.
The Governor will have a solid track record on income and property tax cuts going into the 2014 Election and if this remains a top issue in the midns of voters it will certainly continue to play to his strengths.