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Marquette Poll Shows Tight Races for President Among Democrats, State Supreme Court

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A new Marquette Law School poll finds a couple of tight races in Wisconsin, heading into the April 5 election. Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are running neck and neck; so are the two contenders for Wisconsin Supreme Court.

What is not tight, is the GOP presidential race. Business mogul Donald Trump leads the GOP field in Wisconsin - with 30 percent of Republican voters favoring him. Marco Rubio took second, trailing by 10 points. Poll Director Charles Franklin says although Trump’s numbers have increased here over the past couple months, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll run away with the state’s nomination.

“So much will depend on how the next few primaries shape up in March to determine the shape of the race and whether we still have three candidates or it’s down to two by the time we get to our April primary or possibly we’ll be down to just one candidate,” Franklin says.

On the Democratic side, the poll shows presidential candidate Bernie Sanders besting Hillary Clinton by a hair, the second straight month where the two are running neck and neck. Jay Morgenroth of Whitefish Bay attended the poll’s release. He says he’s surprised by Sanders’ success in Wisconsin.

“Is he more progressive than Hillary Clinton? Is that what the state is looking for? It’s amazing how he’s hanging in there and he’s doing well, the old curmudgeon guy from Vermont,” Morgenroth says.

Another person in the audience is Peggy Creer. She says she’s interested in the race for state Supreme Court between Incumbent Rebecca Bradley and challenger Joanne Kloppenburg. The poll shows the two virtually tied, with plenty of voters still undecided. Creer thinks the numbers indicate the race will come down to the wire, similar to 2011 when the liberal-leaning Kloppenburg ran against conservative Justice David Prosser.

“I think the reason Joanne Kloppenburg has recognition is when she challenged Justice Prosser. There’s name recognition there and that was a very contentious, partisan event,” Creer says.

The race was contentious because it was considered a referendum on Gov. Walker and Act 10, the bill which stripped public unions of collective bargaining rights.

Other results of the Marquette poll show a couple trends continuing. Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson still lags behind Democratic challenger Russ Feingold, this time by 12 points. And Gov. Walker’s approval rating hasn’t changed much – it’s still hovering around 39 percent.

Marti was a reporter with WUWM from 1999 to 2021.