Marquette Poll Shows Wisconsin Governor, US Senate Races
Voters weigh in on Wisconsin’s US Senate, 2022 midterm gubernatorial races.
Wisconsin voters are expressing which issues are most important to them ahead of the Nov. 8 general election.
Ebony Cox, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Wisconsin’s two major political races are up for grabs, according to a Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday, as the Nov. 8 election goes down to the wire.
In a closely watched race that could determine party control of the US Senate, Republican incumbent Ron Johnson holds a 2-point lead among likely voters over Democratic candidate Mandela Barnes, who has been within the poll’s margin of error for the past three weeks.
Johnson had 50% and Barnes 48% among likely voters.
“The true characterization is that this is clearly a toss-up race at this point,” poll director Charles Franklin said.
The governor’s race, which had been tight for months, has become a dead heat among likely voters.
Democratic incumbent Tony Evers and Republican businessman Tim Michels were tied, 48% to 48%.
So close to the election, pollsters are focusing on likely voters, those who either voted or say they will on Election Day.
Perhaps even more important than the poll record, Franklin said the polls show that voter turnout could reach the level reached in 2018. About 2.7 million Wisconsinites went to the polls, an unprecedented number for a middle sister at the time.
Franklin noted that the Senate survey showed “Democrats are coming home to Mandela Barnes. It’s not a big change, but a change in his favor.”
Johnson had a 7-point lead among independents.
The Senate race has seen significant movement throughout the campaign. Barnes emerged from the August primary with a 7-point lead over Johnson among registered voters. But by early September, Johnson had built a 1-point lead.
In mid-October, Johnson took command, by a 6-point margin among likely voters, winning 52% to Barnes’ 46%.
Franklin said the poll numbers for the governor’s race are “eerily similar” to 2018, when Evers trounced Republican Gov. Scott Walker as Walker’s “very moderate lead evaporated to a clean tie in the last poll.”
“That’s what we’re seeing this time,” Franklin said. “So, a clean throw. I don’t know what else to call it.”
In the governor’s race, a Marquette poll showed Evers leading Michels since June. But it is significant that the Democratic governor did not cross the 50% mark. In mid-October, he had a lead of 1 point.
One wildcard in the governor’s race could be independent candidate Joan Beglinger, who remains on the ballot despite dropping her campaign and endorsing Michels. She had 2% in the poll.
The survey data in the two major races comes as Democrats continue to face significant political obstacles, with just 34% of respondents saying the state is on the right track, while 58% said the state is on the wrong track.
Only 41% of voters approve of the job President Joe Biden is doing, and 54% disapprove.
The new research results fueled Michels’ campaign.
“These numbers tell us what we’ve known all along — the race is going to be extremely close,” said Michels’ campaign manager Patrick McNulty.
In terms of favorability, Evers was rated favorably by 44% and unfavorably by 46%, while Michels’ favorable-unfavorably balance was balanced at 39% each.
In the Senate race, Barnes was a net negative of 4 points (40% favorable, 44% unfavorable), while Johnson was a net negative of 3 points (43% favorable, 46% unfavorable).
Inflation (68%) remains the number one issue for voters, followed by public schools (62%), crime (57%), gun violence (56%) and accurate vote counting (56%).
“Abortion policy (52%) is way down the list,” Franklin said, although the issue remains vital to 81% of Democrats, who listed it as their top concern.
Thirty-seven percent were in favor of the US Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, while 55% opposed it.
Eighty-four percent said abortion in Wisconsin should be allowed in cases of rape or incest. A state law from 1849 prohibits abortion in most cases.
Looking ahead to the next state budget, 29% supported increasing state support for students to attend private schools, while 63% were in favor of increasing public school funding.
“Just remember polls don’t vote. People vote. It’s up to you. It’s not up to the vote,” Franklin said.
The survey of 802 registered voters in Wisconsin was conducted Oct. 24-Nov. 1 with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 percentage points. For 679 likely voters, the margin of error is plus or minus 4.8 percentage points.
The sample was 30% Republican, 28% Democrat and 41% independent.
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