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Marquette Poll Shows Governor Walker's Approval Ratings Still Below 50 Percent

Eric Thayer/Getty Images

Thelatest Marquette Law School poll shows Gov. Walker hasn’t been able to move the needle on his approval ratings this election year. That’s despite his efforts to land the massive Foxconn factory in southeastern Wisconsin. The poll also gives us a glimpse at how Democrats are faring in their effort to unseat Walker.

It was the first statewide Marquette Law School poll since June of last year. 47 percent of those surveyed approve of the job Gov. Walker is doing – down one point from nine months ago. Poll Director Charles Franklin says there’s no need for Walker to panic – as ratings that hover around 50 percent have been the norm for him.

“This is a governor whose elections have been won with 52 percent, 53 percent and 52 percent so he wins elections by modest margins. That he goes into an election year with favorable/unfavorable or approve/disapprove dead even, is more or less where he’s been most of his time in office. Over the long haul, he’s averaged about 49 percent approval and about a 45 disapproval,” Franklin says.

The poll numbers stood in contrast to what voters think of Walker’s pet project – Foxconn. The survey shows most people think the $3 billion in state incentives to lure Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn to Wisconsin are not worth the cost. Walker championed the project, which could result in 13,000 jobs at the LCD screen manufacturing plant in Racine County.

There are 16 Democrats trying to unseat Walker. The poll asked for opinions about the nine with active campaigns. State School Superintendent Tony Evers received 18 percent of the vote among those saying they’ll cast ballots in the August Democratic primary.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin placed second with nine percent. Former Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Matt Flynn rounded out the top three with seven percent. Franklin says he’s not surprised the numbers are low for the Democratic hopefuls at this stage.

“Regardless of party, voters are not yet tuned in, these campaigns are not yet visible enough with regular Sunday morning TV advertising or enough penetration of public concern about the election for them to become known,” Franklin says.

One person attending the unveiling of the poll results was Kathleen Miller of Milwaukee. She says she plans to vote Democrat in the governor’s race. But, she acknowledges it could be an uphill battle defeating incumbent Scott Walker.

“I think there are some very interesting candidates and I’m particularly interested in two of them, and yet the real issue is how those candidates speak to the larger state population,” Miller says.

For instance, Miller wonders whether Democrats popular in Milwaukee or Madison can get statewide name recognition.

In other poll results – Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s approval rating is 37 percent as she mounts her re-election bid. That’s down a point from June of last year – while most voters don’t know enough about her Republican challengers to form an opinion of them. State Sen. Leah Vukmir and Delafield businessman Kevin Nicholson will square off in the August primary for Baldwin’s seat.

Marti was a reporter with WUWM from 1999 to 2021.