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Marquette Poll Reveals Wisconsin Voters Still Uncertain About Candidates Heading Into Primaries

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Gov. Scott Walker

The August primaries are less than two months away, and a recent Marquette Law School Poll reveals that Gov. Walker’s approval rating is still below 50 percent. It is the first time, however, in four years, that his approval rating has been higher than his disapproval ratings.

The poll also breaks down how the ten Democratic candidates for governor are faring with Wisconsin voters and how they match up with Walker.

Back in March, Marquette Law School’s last poll showed Gov. Walker’s approval and disapproval ratings both at 47 percent among Wisconsin voters. The numbers didn’t change much in three months. 

The latest poll shows Walker with a 49 percent approval rating, and a disapproval rating holding firm at 47 percent. One might wonder if that could be detrimental to Walker in an election year. Poll Director Charles Franklin says these numbers aren’t uncommon for the governor, especially around this time.

“Small margins, just like his job approval rating, have typically been a little more approved than disapproved, likewise his vote margins have tended to be small margins that struggled to reach 50 percent in the polling, but a point or two or three ahead of his challengers most of the time, but not always," Franklin says.  

Ten Democrats are gunning for his seat in the upcoming primary. The poll gauged how familiar voters were with those candidates, and who they would prefer in the primary. It shows Wisconsin voters are a bit more familiar with the candidates since March, but not a significant amount.

Tony Evers led the pack in March, and he remains ahead today, as Franklin explains: “In the Democratic primary, Tony Evers is at 25 percent among Democratic primary voters. He’s the only one above ten percent, everyone else is at seven percent or below.  And we don’t see any evidence of any one candidate breaking out of that field.”

The poll also looked ahead to potential November matchups. The Democratic candidates were compared with Walker to determine who had more voter support.

Franklin says Evers has 44 percent of voter support, to the 48 percent for Walker. “You’re going to see a lot of stability in the Democratic votes and in the Walker vote because people have largely made up their minds about this incumbent.”

That holds true for Milwaukee resident Esperanza Garcia Mendez. 

“I’ve been watching his performance and I haven’t been happy with what I’ve been seeing. It’s been leaning more towards corporations and companies versus individuals and citizens, and I believe that our infrastructure is falling apart. We need to boost it and support it,” she says.

Garcia Mendez was sitting in the audience as the results of the poll were revealed.  She says she’s likely leaning more toward Evers, because she says his views on support for public education are similar to hers.

According to the poll, however, 34 percent of Democrats say they don’t know which of the ten candidates they’d vote for to run against Walker. That’s also an issue for Republican Senate Candidates, Kevin Nicholson and Leah Vukmir.  The poll shows they are less well-known than the incumbent, Democrat Tammy Baldwin. 

The survey included 800 registered voters, and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

Teran is WUWM's race & ethnicity reporter.
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