New Marquette Law School Poll finds tight Democratic race, Trump maintaining Republican lead in Wisconsin
February 25, 2016
Please note: Complete poll results and methodology information can be found online at law.marquette.edu/poll
MILWAUKEE — A new Marquette Law School Poll finds a tight race for the Democratic presidential nomination in Wisconsin and Donald Trump maintaining his lead for the Republican nomination. In the Democratic race, Bernie Sanders receives support from 44 percent to Hillary Clinton's 43 percent among those who say that they will vote in April Democratic primary. In the January Marquette poll, Clinton was supported by 45 percent, with Sanders at 43 percent. In November, Clinton had a nine-point advantage, 50 percent to 41 percent. The margin of error for Democratic primary voters is +/-6.9 percentage points.
On the Republican side, Trump is supported by 30 percent, followed by Marco Rubio at 20 percent and Ted Cruz at 19 percent, among respondents who say that they will vote in the Republican primary. John Kasich and Ben Carson receive 8 percent each. Jeb Bush, who suspended his campaign while this poll was being conducted, has the support of 3 percent, while 10 percent say they don't know for whom they will vote. In January, Trump was the choice of 24 percent, Rubio of 18 percent and Cruz of 16 percent. The margin of error for Republican primary voters is +/-7.5 percentage points.
In the race for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Rebecca Bradley and JoAnne Kloppenburg each receive 30 percent support, while 31 percent say they don't know how they will vote. Among those who say they are absolutely certain they will vote in the April 5 election, Bradley is backed by 37 percent while Kloppenburg is backed by 36 percent, with 23 percent saying they don't know how they will vote. The overall margin of error is +/- 4.5 percentage points for all registered voters and +/- 5.8 percentage points among those most likely to vote.
Both Supreme Court candidates are unfamiliar to a majority of registered voters. Sixty percent say they are unable to say if they have a favorable or unfavorable view of Bradley while 57 percent say the same of Kloppenburg. Bradley is viewed favorably by 22 percent and unfavorably by 18 percent. Kloppenburg is seen favorably by 22 percent and unfavorably by 21 percent.
Among Republicans and independents who lean to the Republican party, Bradley receives 52 percent and Kloppenburg 9 percent, with 31 percent saying they don't know how they will vote. Among Democrats and independents who lean Democratic, Kloppenburg is supported by 49 percent and Bradley by 15 percent, with 30 percent saying they don't know. Among independents, 19 percent support Bradley, 22 percent support Kloppenburg and 30 percent say they don't know how they will vote. An additional 27 percent of independents say they will not vote or will vote for neither candidate.
The poll was conducted Feb. 18-21, 2016. The full sample includes 802 registered voters interviewed by cell phone or landline, with a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percentage points. Results for the Republican nomination are based on 297 respondents who say they will vote in the Republican primary in April. That sample has a margin of error of +/-7.5 percentage points. Results for the Democratic nomination are based on 343 respondents who say they will vote in the Democratic primary, with a margin of error of +/- 6.9 percentage points. All interviews were conducted after the primary election for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Sixty-six of the 802 interviews (8.2 percent) were conducted after the Nevada Democratic caucus and South Carolina Republican primary on Feb. 20.
In Wisconsin's race for U.S. Senate, Russ Feingold is supported by 49 percent of registered voters, with Republican incumbent Ron Johnson receiving 37 percent. In January, Feingold was at 50 percent and Johnson was at 37 percent. There has been little movement in the Senate race since November when Feingold received 49 percent and Johnson 38 percent.
Presidential perceptions and matchups
Republican primary voters were asked who they think is most likely to win the Republican nomination, regardless of whom they personally support. Forty-six percent see Trump as the most likely nominee, followed by Cruz at 25 percent and Rubio at 11 percent. Those perceptions are little changed from January, before the Iowa and New Hampshire votes, when 49 percent expected Trump to be the nominee, 20 percent said Cruz would be and 10 percent said Rubio.
On the Democratic side, 60 percent think Clinton is the most likely nominee, with 33 percent saying Sanders is most likely to win the nomination. Prior to Iowa and New Hampshire voting, 65 percent said Clinton and 27 percent said Sanders was most likely to win the Democratic nomination.
In possible matchups for the November general election in Wisconsin, Sanders leads Rubio by 18 points, Cruz by 18 and Trump by 20. Clinton edges Rubio by 1 and ties with Cruz, while holding a 10 point margin over Trump:
- Sanders 53 percent, Rubio 35 percent.
(January: Sanders 49 percent, Rubio 38 percent.)
- Sanders 53 percent, Cruz 35 percent.
(January: Sanders 50 percent, Cruz 38 percent.)
- Sanders 54 percent, Trump 34 percent.
(January: Sanders 52 percent, Trump 34 percent.)
- Clinton 44 percent, Rubio 43 percent.
(January: Clinton 45 percent, Rubio 44 percent.)
- Clinton 43 percent, Cruz 43 percent.
(January: Clinton 45 percent, Cruz 44 percent.)
- Clinton 47 percent, Trump 37 percent.
(January: Clinton 47 percent, Trump 38 percent.)
U.S. Supreme Court nomination
Following the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, 51 percent say the Senate should hold hearings and a vote on a nominee to fill the vacancy this year, while 40 percent say the Senate should wait until 2017, after the presidential election. Fifty-four percent think that leaving the seat vacant for more than a year will hurt the Court's ability to do its job, while 40 percent say that the Court can function as usual despite the vacancy.
Fifty-seven percent of respondents say they would be willing for their senator to vote for a highly qualified nominee with whom the respondent disagreed on a number of policies. Thirty percent say they would want their senator to vote against any nominee with whom the respondent disagreed, regardless of how well-qualified the nominee might be.
Supporters of Senate candidates Johnson and Feingold take opposite positions on filling the Court vacancy. Among Johnson supporters, 65 percent say the Senate should not act until 2017 while 28 percent say it should hold hearings and vote. Among Feingold supporters, 70 percent say the Senate should hold hearings and vote while 22 percent say it should wait until 2017.
Voters support a proposal to allow counties to add a one-half percent sales tax for four years to be used for road maintenance, if approved by a referendum. Sixty-four percent support such a proposal while 32 percent oppose it.
Voters are divided on allowing landlords more freedom to evict tenants for a variety of reasons, with 46 percent supporting such an approach while 40 percent say tenants should have more rights in disputes with their landlords. Among those who rent their home, 64 percent say tenants should have more rights while 26 percent say landlords should have more freedom to evict tenants. Renters make up 25 percent of registered voters in this sample. Among homeowners, 53 percent support expanded landlord eviction options while 32 percent say tenants should have more rights.
Respondents are also divided on the value of housing subsidies for the poor. Fifty percent say rent subsidies would help stabilize low-income families while 41 percent say such subsidies will have little effect on the situation of low-income families. Those who rent their homes say subsidies would help, by a 62 percent to 28 percent margin, while those who own their homes split evenly 45-45 on the value of rent subsidies.
Among those with family incomes below $40,000 per year, 56 percent think rent subsidies would help, while 34 percent think they would not. Among those with incomes between $40,000 and $75,000, results are similar, with 55 percent saying subsidies would help and 38 percent saying no. Those with incomes above $75,000 are more skeptical that rent subsidies would improve outcomes for low-income families, with 44 percent saying subsidies would help and 48 percent saying they would have little effect.
Eighty-four percent of registered voters know that photo identification will be required to vote in elections, with 10 percent saying the IDs are not required and six percent saying they do not know. In April 2015, 66 percent knew that photo identification would be required while 34 percent said it would not or did not know.
State of the state
Fifty-two percent say Wisconsin has gotten off on the wrong track while 44 percent say it is headed in the right direction. That is little-changed since August 2015, when 52 percent said wrong track and 46 percent said right direction. In October 2014, 51 percent said right direction and 44 percent said wrong track.
Thirty-six percent say the state's budget is in worse shape now than several years ago, while 28 percent say the budget is in better shape now and 28 percent say it is about the same. In November 2015, 39 percent said the budget was worse, 30 percent said better and 24 percent about the same. In October 2014, 43 percent said the budget was in better shape, 27 percent said worse and 23 percent said about the same.
Approval of how Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is handling his job stands at 39 percent, with 55 percent disapproving. In January, 38 percent approved and 57 percent disapproved.
Retiring U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble is little-known statewide, where 76 percent are unable to give a favorable or unfavorable opinion of him, with 11 percent favorable and 13 percent unfavorable. In the Green Bay media market, which largely overlaps his 8th Congressional District, Ribble's favorable rating is 40 percent, unfavorable 23 percent, and 37 percent are unable to give an opinion.
Views of presidential candidates
Subtracting a candidate's unfavorable ratings from the favorable ratings gives a "net favorability" that sheds light on a candidate's overall popularity. Four of the six leading candidates for president have net negative favorability ratings. Kasich (+6) and Sanders (+11) are net positive among all registered voters while Rubio (-8), Cruz (-18), Clinton (-18) and Trump (-43) are all net negative.
Within their parties, all are net positive — except Trump, who has a net favorability of zero, with 45 percent favorable and 45 percent unfavorable among Republican voters. Independents have net negative views of all but Kasich and Sanders while opposition-party views are negative to all candidates.
||Net within party
||Net among independents
||Net within other party
Voters similarly expressed varying levels of comfort with the idea of each candidate as president. Fifty-three percent said they were very uncomfortable with the idea of Trump as president, including 23 percent very uncomfortable among Republicans and 52 percent among independents. Forty-one percent said they were very uncomfortable with Clinton as president, with 6 percent of Democrats and 42 percent of independents saying so.
About the Marquette Law School Poll
The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. This poll interviewed 802 registered Wisconsin voters, by both landline and cell phone, February 18-21, 2016. The margin of error is +/- 4.5 percentage points for the full sample. For Republican presidential primary voters, the sample size is 297, with a margin of error of +/-7.5 percentage points. For Democratic presidential primary voters, the sample size is 343, with a margin of error of +/-6.9 percentage points.
The partisan makeup of this sample, including those who lean to a party, is 40 percent Republican, 49 percent Democratic and 10 percent independent. The long-term estimate over the previous 32 statewide Marquette polls, with 27,533 respondents, is 42 percent Republican and 47 percent Democratic, with 9 percent independent. The partisan makeup of this sample, excluding those who lean to a party, is 26 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 40 percent independent, compared to the long-term estimate of 27 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 39 percent independent.
The entire questionnaire, full results and breakdowns by demographic groups are available at law.marquette.edu/poll.