Poll Shows Wisconsin Voters Still Undecided Before August Partisan Primaries

Jul 18, 2018

A new poll reveals that Wisconsin voters are still undecided before the Aug. 14 partisan primaries. Thirty percent of Republican primary voters and 38 percent of Democratic primary voters are still unsure who to vote for, according to the new Marquette Law School Poll.

The poll shows more than half of those likely to vote Democratic in the primary have no opinion of the eight Democratic gubernatorial candidates.

Those are voters who say they currently don’t have enough information about the candidates to even have a favorable or unfavorable opinion.

Poll Director Charles Franklin says that the voters polled lacked knowledge about candidates at percentages similar to the last poll in June.

He also says, "Tony Evers remains the best known at 60 percent unable to rate or recognize, and the rest of the field is in the 70s, 80s or even 90s."

Of those saying they will vote in the Democratic primary, 31 percent say they will vote for Tony Evers. That’s more than all other candidates combined – no other candidate is above 6 percent – and up 13 percent since the March poll.

Even so, Franklin says it's not certain Evers will win in the Democratic gubernatorial primary on Aug. 14.

“I think Evers has shown not only the fact that he stands out, away from the crowd, in each of our three surveys, but has also increased his advantage over that period. but that said, a 31 percent of the vote now with 38 percent undecided is hardly a commanding lead. But none of the rest of the field has started to emerge, at least in the voter’s responses of breaking out into the teens for example or showing a real surge in voter awareness.”

Franklin isn't taken aback by the results. “And for a party primary, over a hot, or vacation-y summer, it’s not that surprising to see that we’re still where we are. Having said that, it puts all the more pressure on the campaign and frankly on voters, to tune in and make up their minds between now and August.”

One of the voters who still needs to make up her mind is Mary Jo McDonald, who watched Franklin give his presentation Wednesday. She says she plans to vote in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, but she doesn't yet know for whom.

“I guess I listened to the debate the other night on channel 4, and the candidates didn’t seem to distinguish themselves very much,” she says. “They all seemed to say ‘we agree on this issue or that issue,’ so I’m still working on it.”

McDonald says she’s seeking more information about the candidates before she decides.

Just 6 percent of all voters have no opinion of Gov. Scott Walker. Fourty-seven percent approve of Walker, while 45 percent disapprove, both down from June.

About two-thirds of all registered voters say they don’t have an opinion of either candidate for the Republican Senate primary, while more than half of Republicans and likely Republicans don’t have an opinion about either candidate.

However, the poll shows the race has tightened since March, with Leah Vukmir leading Kevin Nicholson 34 percent and 32 percent, respectively.

Eighteen percent of all voters have no opinion of Sen. Tammy Baldwin. Her approval ratings are up from March, with 41 percent approval and 40 percent disapproval.

In terms of where the state is headed, voters remain the same as the June poll. Fifty-two percent say it’s going in the right direction, while 42 percent say it’s going in the wrong direction.

The poll included responses from 800 registered Wisconsin voters and was conducted July 11 – 15.

The next Marquette Law School Poll will come out after the primary elections. Director Franklin says the survey will ask voters how the winners in the primaries stack up against the incumbents.