March 1, 2024

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Gov. Evers approval rating up, Marquette Law School Poll says | Wisconsin Law Journal

11 min read

By Steve Schuster

[email protected]

A Marquette University Law School Poll released Wednesday revealed a survey of Wisconsin voters finds 57% approve of the job Gov. Tony Evers is doing as governor and 39% disapprove. The poll also shows 31% supporting former President Donald Trump and 30% supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

In October 2022, 46% approved and 47% disapproved of Evers. Despite the governor’s approval, 57% think the state is on the wrong track, while 40% say it is headed in the right direction—a minimal change from the October survey.

Presidential 2024

  • Among Republicans and independents who lean Republican, the GOP presidential primary is a near-even divide, with 31% supporting former President Donald Trump and 30% supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Former Vice President Mike Pence is the choice of 6% and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott receives 5%.
  • If the election were held today and DeSantis were the GOP nominee against Biden, it would be a very close race, with 49% for Biden, 47% for DeSantis, and 4% declining to choose. Biden has a materially larger lead over Trump in a hypothetical matchup, with 52% for Biden to Trump’s 43% and 4% undecided.

According to Marquette, the survey was conducted June 8-13, 2023, interviewing 913 Wisconsin registered voters, with a margin of error of +/-4.3 percentage points.

The sample includes 419 Republicans and independents who lean Republican and were asked about their preferences in the Republican presidential primary, with a margin of error of +/-6.5 percentage points. The Democratic primary preference was asked of 453 Democrats and independents who lean Democratic, with a margin of error of +/-6 percentage points.

State approval

Table 1 shows approval of Governor Evers by partisanship in the current poll and, for comparison, in October 2022. (All results in the tables are stated as percentages; the precise wording of the questions can be found in the online link noted above.)

Table 1: Evers approval, by party identification

(a) June 2023

Party ID Approve Disapprove Don’t know Refused
Republican 17 79 4 0
Independent 60 35 5 0
Democrat 93 4 1 1

 

(b) October 2022

Party ID Approve Disapprove Don’t know Refused
Republican 5 90 4 0
Independent 44 45 8 3
Democrat 94 2 3 0

 

Among registered voters, 57% think the state is on the wrong track, while 40% say it is headed in the right direction. In October 2022, 58% said the state was on the wrong track and 34% said it was moving in the right direction. Partisan differences on this question are shown in Table 2. Opinion is slightly less polarized by party in June than was the case on the eve of the 2022 election.

Table 2: Wisconsin headed in right direction or wrong track, by party identification

(a) June 2023

Party ID Right direction Wrong track Don’t know Refused
Republican 23 77 0 0
Independent 44 53 3 0
Democrat 53 43 4 0

 

(b) October 2022

Party ID Right direction Wrong track Don’t know Refused
Republican 12 84 4 1
Independent 34 59 7 0
Democrat 57 28 13 3

 

Voters remain negative about how government in Wisconsin is working, with 64% saying it is “broken” and 32% saying it is working as intended. Unlike many measures of political opinion, there is very little difference by partisanship in this view, as shown in Table 3, with about two-thirds of each partisan group saying government is broken.

 

 

Table 3: Wisconsin government working as intended or broken, by party identification

Party ID Working as intended Is broken Don’t know Refused
Republican 30 68 2 0
Independent 34 64 2 1
Democrat 31 64 5 0

 

Biden approval

Approval of how Joe Biden is handling his job as president is 45%, with disapproval at 53%. In October 2022, 41% approved and 54% disapproved. Table 4 shows approval remains highly polarized by party, with independents becoming somewhat more approving of Biden since October.

Table 4: Biden approval by party identification

(a) June 2023

Party ID Approve Disapprove Don’t know Refused
Republican 1 97 1 0
Independent 46 52 1 0
Democrat 89 9 1 1

 

(b) October 2022

Party ID Approve Disapprove Don’t know Refused
Republican 3 96 2 0
Independent 36 56 7 2
Democrat 90 9 1 0

 

Presidential primary outlook

Among Republicans and independents who lean Republican, the GOP presidential primary is a near-even divide, with 31% supporting former President Donald Trump and 30% supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Former Vice President Mike Pence is the choice of 6% and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott receives 5%. The full list of candidates is shown in Table 5. A substantial 21% say they have not decided whom to support.

 Table 5: Republican presidential primary preferences, among Republicans and independents who lean Republican (* = less than 0.5%)

Response Percent
Donald Trump 31
Ron DeSantis 30
Mike Pence 6
Tim Scott 5
Nikki Haley 3
Vivek Ramaswamy 3
Chris Christie 1
Asa Hutchinson *
Larry Elder *
Doug Burgum 0
Haven’t decided 21

 

When Republicans were asked whom they would pick if the choice were only between Trump and DeSantis, DeSantis is the choice of 57% and Trump is the pick of 41%. Table 6 shows how preferences divide when respondents are limited to only Trump and DeSantis. When forced to choose, those whose first choice is someone other than DeSantis or Trump pick DeSantis by 74% to Trump’s 25%. Among those who said they were undecided among the full slate (Table 5), 65% choose DeSantis and 28% choose Trump, while 7% continue to not choose.

Table 6: Choice of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents when limited to picking Trump or DeSantis

GOP 1st choice Donald Trump Ron DeSantis Don’t know
DeSantis 1 98 1
Trump 98 2 0
Other candidate 25 74 1
Undecided 28 65 7

 

The survey asked favorability of DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Pence, and Trump. Among Republicans and independents who lean Republicans, the results are shown in Table 7. Trump and DeSantis have nearly equal favorability ratings, but DeSantis has a better (lower) unfavorable rating and more responses of “haven’t heard enough.” Pence is better known than DeSantis or Haley, and all candidates are viewed more favorably than unfavorably among GOP voters.

 

 Table 7: Favorability ratings, among Republicans and independents who lean Republican

Candidate Favorable Unfavorable Haven’t heard enough Don’t know/refused
Trump 68 30 2 1
DeSantis 67 14 20 0
Pence 52 34 13 2
Haley 38 10 47 5

 

Among Democrats and independents who lean Democratic, Biden is the first choice of 49%, followed by 9% who prefer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and 3% who choose Marianne Williamson. A sizable 39% say they are undecided.

While many Democratic voters say they are undecided, Biden’s favorability rating is 83%, and his unfavorability is 15%, among all Democrats and independents who lean Democratic. Table 8 shows Biden favorability by choice of primary candidate. He is rated more favorably than unfavorably even among those supporting Kennedy or Williamson and among those who are undecided.

Table 8: Biden favorability, by first choice in primary, among Democrats and independents who lean Democratic

First choice Favorable Unfavorable Haven’t heard enough
Biden 97 2 1
Kennedy or Williamson 60 39 1
Undecided 73 24 4

 

2024 general election

If the election were held today and DeSantis were the GOP nominee against Biden, it would be a very close race in Wisconsin, with 49% for Biden, 47% for DeSantis, and 4% declining to choose. These responses include those initially undecided who were then asked “if you had to choose.”

Biden has a larger lead over Trump in a similar hypothetical matchup, with 52% for Biden to Trump’s 43% and 4% undecided. These responses, too, include those who were initially undecided but were then asked “if you had to choose.”

Table 9 shows the breakdown of vote choices by party identification. Republicans are virtually equal in their support of either DeSantis or Trump. Independents prefer Biden over DeSantis, but Biden does even better among independents when Trump is the nominee.

 

 Table 9: General-election vote, by party identification

(a) DeSantis vs. Biden

Party ID Ron DeSantis Joe Biden Haven’t decided Don’t know/Refused
Republican 94 2 2 1
Independent 44 52 2 3
Democrat 3 94 2 1

 

(b) Trump vs. Biden

Party ID Donald Trump Joe Biden Haven’t decided Don’t know/Refused
Republican 93 5 1 0
Independent 38 56 4 3
Democrat 2 97 1 1

 

Favorability for Wisconsin political figures

Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who is up for reelection in 2024, is viewed favorably by 40% and unfavorably by 37%, while 22% say they haven’t heard enough to have an opinion. In October 2022, she was seen favorably by 37% and unfavorably by 37%, with 17% saying they didn’t know enough. Table 10 shows her favorability by party identification.

Table 10: Baldwin favorability, by party identification

Party ID Favorable Unfavorable Haven’t heard enough
Republican 9 75 15
Independent 37 34 29
Democrat 76 4 19

 

Potential Republican opponents to Baldwin have yet to declare their intention to run. The survey asked about Rep. Tom Tiffany, Madison businessman Eric Hovde, and former Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke. The poll also asked about Rep. Mike Gallagher, who stated while polling was underway that he would not be a candidate.

None of these candidates is as well-known as Baldwin, which is not surprising at this stage of a race. Even sitting members of Congress are not well known outside their districts. Table 11 shows the favorability ratings of these four Republican figures, first among all registered voters and then among Republicans and independents who lean Republican. Clarke is the best known of the four, while Hovde is least known. Hovde ran in the GOP Senate primary in 2012. None of the four is substantially better known among Republicans (including leaners) than in the larger electorate, but they are all viewed more favorably in their party (including leaners) among those who say they have heard enough to have an opinion than they are in the comparable group in the larger electorate.

 

 

Table 11: Favorability ratings of possible GOP Senate candidates

(a) Among all registered voters

Candidate Favorable Unfavorable Haven’t heard enough
Tom Tiffany 12 13 73
Mike Gallagher 15 11 71
Eric Hovde 4 8 85
David Clarke 25 23 50

 

(b) Among Republicans and independents who lean Republican

Candidate Favorable Unfavorable Haven’t heard enough
Tom Tiffany 22 4 73
Mike Gallagher 27 2 70
Eric Hovde 7 7 84
David Clarke 48 8 42

 

Sen. Ron Johnson, who won reelection to a third term in November 2022, is seen favorably by 37% and unfavorably by 50%, with 12% saying they haven’t heard enough about him. In October 2022, just before the election, Johnson was rated favorably by 43% and unfavorably by 46%, with 7% not having heard enough. Table 12 shows Johnson’s current favorability by party identification.

Table 12: Johnson favorability, by party identification

Party ID Favorable Unfavorable Haven’t heard enough
Republican 82 9 8
Independent 29 53 17
Democrat 3 87 7

 

Policy issues

There has been modest change in views of abortion policy since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, as shown in Table 13. There have been a slight increase in the percent saying abortion should be legal in all cases and a similar decline in the percent saying it should be illegal in all cases. In the current survey, 66% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and 31% say it should be illegal in all or most cases, Marquette officials said.

 

Table 13: Abortion policy trend, June 2022-June 2023

Poll dates Legal in all cases Legal in most cases Illegal in most cases Illegal in all cases Don’t know Refused
6/14-20/22 27 31 24 11 5 2
8/10-15/22 30 35 25 5 3 1
6/8-13/23 32 34 25 6 1 1

 

Similarly, 64% say they oppose the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe, while 31% favor that decision. Table 14 shows the breakdown by party identification. A majority of Republicans favor the Court’s decision, while a majority of independents and a large majority of Democrats oppose the ruling.

Table 14: Favor or oppose overturning Roe v. Wade, by party identification

Party ID Favor Oppose
Republican 63 33
Independent 27 69
Democrat 5 92

The Wisconsin legislature approved and Evers signed a bill to increase state aid to counties and municipalities, which is known as shared revenue. A majority of registered voters, 70%, support increasing such aid, while 20% are opposed to an increase. Table 15 shows support by party identification, with a majority of each partisan group favoring an increase.

Table 15: Favor or oppose increasing shared revenue, by party identification

Party ID Favor Oppose Don’t know
Republican 53 39 8
Independent 73 17 9
Democrat 85 6 8

 

Support for increasing shared revenue is high across the regions of the state, and especially so in Milwaukee County, as shown in Table 16.

Table 16: Favor or oppose increasing shared revenue, by region

Region Favor Oppose Don’t know
Milwaukee County (includes city) 78 18 4
Rest of Milwaukee media market 64 27 8
Madison media market 72 16 11
Green Bay media market 71 20 7
Rest of north & west of state 71 18 10

The public is divided over giving cities and counties the ability to increase sales taxes to support local government programs. Forty-three percent favor allowing such tax increases, while 53% are opposed. As shown in Table 17, the regional differences are notable on this policy, which is directed to the City of Milwaukee and to Milwaukee County. A slight majority of respondents in Milwaukee County (as always, including the city) favor allowing a sales tax increase, but the sample size is small, 120 respondents, with a correspondingly large margin of error of +/-11.7 percentage points.

Table 17: Favor or oppose allowing sales tax increase, by region

Region Favor Oppose Don’t know
Milwaukee County (includes city) 52 48 0
Rest of Milwaukee media market 36 59 4
Madison media market 56 37 5
Green Bay media market 41 57 2
Rest of north & west of state 35 60 3

 

More registered voters say they prefer to reduce property taxes, 50%, than say they would like to increase spending on public schools, 47%. Since 2018, the percent more concerned about taxes has moved up while those favoring school spending has declined. The full trend on this question since 2013 is shown in Table 18.

Table 18: Which is more important, reducing property taxes or increasing public school spending

Poll dates Reducing property taxes Increasing spending on public schools Don’t know
3/11-13/13 49 46 4
5/6-9/13 49 46 4
4/7-10/15 40 54 5
2/25-3/1/18 33 63 3
6/13-17/18 35 59 5
8/15-19/18 32 61 5
9/12-16/18 38 57 5
10/3-7/18 37 57 6
10/24-28/18 40 55 4
1/16-20/19 39 55 6
1/8-12/20 41 55 4
2/19-23/20 38 56 5
8/3-8/21 42 52 5
4/19-24/22 46 50 4
8/10-15/22 43 52 5
9/6-11/22 41 51 5
10/3-9/22 42 52 5
10/24-11/1/22 46 48 5
6/8-13/23 50 47 3

Satisfaction with public schools in the community is shown in Table 19. About two-thirds say they are very satisfied or satisfied, while 31% are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.

Table 19: Satisfaction with public schools in your community

Poll dates Very satisfied Satisfied Dissatisfied Very dissatisfied Don’t know
4/26-29/12 23 43 17 10 4
5/9-12/12 23 44 18 7 5
5/23-26/12 23 48 17 7 4
4/7-10/15 25 50 16 5 2
3/13-16/17 25 49 14 6 4
9/12-16/18 18 46 17 8 6
1/8-12/20 15 44 22 11 6
8/3-8/21 22 47 15 6 7
10/26-31/21 25 35 18 13 8
4/19-24/22 16 47 19 13 4
9/6-11/22 19 43 20 11 7
6/8-13/23 13 53 23 8 2

 

A majority, 54%, favor allowing all students statewide to use publicly funded vouchers to attend private or religious schools, while 44% are opposed to this. Support for vouchers varies by region of the state, but the Madison media market is the only area without a majority in favor, as shown in Table 20.

Table 20: Support or oppose vouchers, by region

Region Favor Oppose Don’t know
Milwaukee County 59 41 0
Rest of Milwaukee media market 62 35 2
Madison media market 36 62 1
Green Bay media market 50 48 2
Rest of north & west of state 59 40 1

While a majority support vouchers, when asked if it were a choice between increasing state support for students to attend private schools and increasing support for public schools, a majority, 71%, favor increased support for public schools, while 28% prefer increasing support for attending private schools. On this choice, majorities in each region of the state prefer support for public schools, as shown in Table 21.

 

 Table 21: Increase state support for private or public schools, by region

Region Private schools Public schools
Milwaukee County 26 74
Rest of Milwaukee media market 32 67
Madison media market 25 74
Green Bay media market 25 74
Rest of north & west of state 30 68

 

About half of registered voters say they are very concerned (22%) or somewhat concerned (29%) about the safety of the water supply in their community, while 31% are not too concerned and 19% are not at all concerned. Concern is highest in Milwaukee County, and lowest in the Madison media market, shown in Table 22.

Table 22: Concern about safety of water supply, by region

Region Very concerned Somewhat concerned Not too concerned Not at all concerned
Milwaukee County 26 32 34 8
Rest of Milwaukee media market 20 28 31 21
Madison media market 16 27 37 20
Green Bay media market 25 31 28 16
Rest of north & west of state 24 26 27 23

 

Somewhat higher percentages are concerned about long-lasting chemicals, known as PFAS, contaminating their drinking water, with 34% very concerned, 35% somewhat concerned, 19% not too concerned, and 9% not at all concerned. Concern specifically about PFAS is higher in each region, as shown in Table 23, than general concern about safety of the water supply (Table 22), officials added.

Table 23: Concern about PFAS contamination of drinking water, by region

Region Very concerned Somewhat concerned Not too concerned Not at all concerned
Milwaukee County 38 39 18 5
Rest of Milwaukee media market 34 29 26 9
Madison media market 35 34 20 7
Green Bay media market 29 43 12 10
Rest of north & west of state 34 33 17 13

               

About the Marquette Law School Poll

The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. The survey was conducted June 8-13, 2023, interviewing 913 Wisconsin registered voters, with a margin of error of +/-4.3 percentage points. The sample includes 419 Republicans and independents who lean Republican who were asked about their preferences in the Republican presidential primary, with a margin of error of +/-6.5 percentage points. The Democratic primary preference was asked of 453 Democrats and independents who lean Democratic, with a margin of error of +/-6 percentage points.

The survey was conducted with a hybrid sample of 715 respondents selected from the Wisconsin voter registration list and 198 selected from the SSRS Opinion Panel, the latter group drawn from postal addresses across the state and invited to take part in surveys online. The interview was conducted online with 666 respondents and by telephone with a live interviewer with 247 respondents. Full details of the methodology are contained in the methodology statement at the link below.

The partisan makeup of the sample is 29% Republican, 28% Democratic, and 41% independent. Since January 2020, the long-term partisan balance has been 30% Republican and 28% Democratic, with 41% independent.

The entire questionnaire, methodology statement, full results, and breakdowns by demographic groups are available at law.marquette.edu/poll/results-and-data.

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