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16 Fascinating Findings Buried in the New Marquette Law School Poll

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Republican women and young Republicans are keeping Donald Trump in the GOP primary lead over Ron DeSantis in Wisconsin, but a new Marquette Law School poll is deviating sharply from the national polls that show Trump defeating DeSantis by a large margin. In Wisconsin, it’s just 1%.

The poll, which came out June 28, 2023, shows Trump has his work cut out for him in Wisconsin in a general election, though. It predicts that he would lose to Joe Biden by ten percentage points. DeSantis is also struggling with an upside-down favorability rating driven by weakness with Independents as well as Democrats, but less so, and he would lose to Biden by only 2 points, the poll says.

With all of the current GOP candidates still in it, the poll says Trump would win the Republican primary in Wisconsin 31% to 30% over DeSantis. DeSantis would crush Trump in a head-to-head race in Wisconsin if every other GOP candidate exited the contest.

There are some other points of hope for DeSantis; more of the electorate is undecided in a DeSantis-Biden contest than Biden-Trump. And DeSantis is dead even in the Green Bay media market, where most Republicans are doing poorly with independents and (obviously) Democrats, including Trump.

There’s another opening; Biden is disliked by most Wisconsinites, even as Democratic Gov. Tony Evers is personally well-liked. Most Wisconsinites think the state is on the wrong track, but they’re not holding the guy running the state responsible. Biden may be a different matter.

It’s worth noting when it comes to Trump that the Marquette poll, generally considered the most widely watched Wisconsin poll, was wildly wrong about Trump in 2016, predicting a Hillary Clinton victory by 6%. In 2020, however, the poll correctly predicted a Biden victory but overestimated his victory by 4.4 percent. In November, the poll predicted an Evers’ victory but underestimated his strength by 3.4%. The poll correctly predicted a Ron Johnson victory but overestimated his strength by 1 percent. However, the poll has been accurate 80% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight.

The poll also found that Republicans have lost the abortion issue; shockingly, even 32% of Wisconsinites polled said they were for making abortion legal IN ALL CASES. However, Democrats have lost the school choice issue; statewide vouchers for all are favored by 10 percentage points and in every region of the state except Madison. Young people strongly favor school vouchers, but they are also most radical in support of abortion.

Here are some interesting findings we pulled out of the crosstabs:

1. Republican Women & Young Republicans Are Trump’s Strength

You could argue that Republican women and Regular Joe (a Brown County conservative talk show host) are keeping Trump ahead (slightly) in the GOP primary for president.

Trump is doing well in the Republican primary in the Green Bay media market and northern and western Wisconsin. DeSantis is favored in southeastern Wisconsin.

Trump is favored by Republican women and young Republicans. DeSantis is favored by Republican men and older Republicans. ALL of the black Republicans polled preferred Trump or Pence. Zero chose DeSantis.

Republican women are so loyal to Trump that even in a head-to-head matchup between DeSantis and Trump, GOP women stick with Trump. However, men WIDELY go to DeSantis 65-33.

Interestingly, this charts neatly with conservative talk radio, as many of the southeastern Wisconsin talkers are more negative toward Trump than Brown County’s Regular Joe.

2. Almost everyone dislikes Joe Biden

Biden is so widely unpopular that both men and women and all age groups (even young people) disapprove of the job he’s doing. Blacks still approve, but he’s almost lost Hispanics in addition to whites. Even among blacks, 32 percent think he’s doing a terrible job. Overall, 53% of people disapprove of the job he is doing. This could give a Republican an opening here.

3. People Love Mr. Rogers… er, Tony Evers

People aren’t very happy with the direction the state is heading, but they don’t hold Evers responsible for that, apparently seeing him as a Mr. Rogers-type figure whose low-key style plays in this state. Evers is widely popular. Men, women, and every age and ethnic group think he’s doing a good job. Even 17% percent of Republicans like him. What that means is that Tony Evers has crossover appeal. Overall, he was favored by 57 percent of people and seen unfavorably by 39.

4. There’s an Opening to Defeat Tammy Baldwin

It wouldn’t be easy, but she shows some signs of slight weakness. The Republicans mentioned to run against her (Eric Hovde, U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany, U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, and Sheriff David Clarke) are very unknown, although that’s less true of Clarke than the others (Note that Gallagher has already said he’s not running.) For others, being unknown has a plus side if they can define themselves before their opponent does. They’re basically blank slates.

Tammy Baldwin is a more divisive figure than Evers. Men don’t like her. She is weak with young people (more see her unfavorably), which is somewhat surprising, as well as the 45-59 age group. Independents like her more than they don’t like her, but not strongly (37-34). Overall, 40 percent see her favorably to 37 unfavorable. That’s not a resounding vote of confidence for the incumbent.

5. Republicans Are Getting Clobbered in the Green Bay Media Market

Republicans are running weak with independents and Democrats in the Green Bay media market. Even Tammy Baldwin is winning it. Even Ron Johnson is very disliked there, according to this poll. Republicans have work to do in the Valley. Trump is losing it 39-47 overall, even though he’s winning it with Republicans. The exception is DeSantis, who is tied there with Biden 41-41, even though he’s losing the Valley to Trump in the primary.

What this means is that DeSantis has more crossover appeal in the Valley.

6. Ron Johnson’s Victory Shows the Limit to Unfavorable Ratings as a Predictor

For whatever reason (we think it’s the unfair barrage of nasty media coverage he gets), Ron Johnson’s approval ratings are in the tank. It’s amazing he won with those numbers, but his victory shows the limit to unfavorable ratings as a predictor. The same may bode well for Trump. Just because people don’t like a candidate doesn’t mean they won’t vote for that same candidate if they think the opponent is worse (Mandela Barnes).

It can also be the old adage of, he’s a bastard, but he’s OUR bastard. In other words, sometimes people want a junkyard dog to clean things up in times of trouble; they don’t have to like the guy to think he’d be a strong leader.

7. Trump Is Very Disliked

Trump’s unfavorable ratings are sky high with men as well as women overall, all age categories, and in all regions. Notably, even 25% of Republicans have an unfavorable view of Trump.

Against Biden, men prefer Trump, but only slightly. There is a massive gender gap. Women dislike him 55-35. He’s strongest in the 45-59 age range. He’s getting killed with independents; that’s the problem. If you include the leaners, his strength with men is even stronger. Trump has lost poor people.


8. People Don’t Really Like DeSantis, Either

DeSantis’s unfavorables are also underwater, but not as much as Trump’s. In his case, only 10% of Republicans have an unfavorable opinion of him, but he’s underwater with men, women, all age groups, and 54% of Independents. Overall, he’s viewed favorably by 33% and unfavorably by 48%.

Against Biden, there is also a gender gap, with men favoring DeSantis but women favoring Biden (38-49). Old people and the 45-59 age range like DeSantis most. He’s losing independents.

This shows the perils of a primary where candidates move to the poles and rhetoric hardens. However, as noted by the Rojo example, it doesn’t mean a candidate can’t win if his opponent is worse, and people don’t like Joe Biden either. DeSantis has been throwing a lot of red meat at the base.

But he’s also got his work cut out for him in Wisconsin.

9. Liberals Are VERY Cohesive

Liberals are extremely cohesive, more so than Republicans. For example, 92% of liberals have an unfavorable view of DeSantis, and 1% have a favorable view. Meanwhile, more Republicans don’t like their top candidates. Unity matters, folks!

10. David Clarke Is a Lone Republican With a Positive Favorability Rating

Clarke might be benefiting from the fact polls keep putting the word “sheriff” next to his name, and most people don’t know who he is. But MORE people know who he is than the other GOP names floated as possible Baldwin opponents, and, generally, those people like him. He’s seen favorably by more women AND men than unfavorably, and young people and Hispanics like him too, giving Clarke a 25-23 favorability rating. Of course, all of that could change with a slew of attack ads and nasty media coverage. And you could be sure that would come.

11. People Are REALLY Extreme on Abortion in Wisconsin

Not only is the abortion issue a big loser for Republicans but Wisconsinites are SO extreme that 55% of the 18-29 age range want abortion to be legal in ALL CASES (um, people, that would include allowing people to abort a healthy 9-month-old unborn child!)

Blacks favor abortion the most. Shockingly even 28% of Roman Catholics and 27% of Mainline Protestants support abortion in ALL CASES. A strong majority favors it in all or some cases. Even 35% of men and 38% of women are for abortion in all cases.

12. Women Are More Worried About Property Taxes Than Schools

Here’s a counter-intuitive finding. More women are for reducing property taxes than increasing spending on public schools. Property taxes have crossover appeal as an issue, especially in northern and western Wisconsin. This underscores why Republicans need a strong economic message; Tim Michels did not have one. Ron Johnson does. Donald Trump needs to stop talking about the 2020 election and start focusing on people’s pocketbooks. It’s the economy, stupid.

13. Democrats Have Lost the School Voucher Issue – Especially With Young People

The idea of expanding school vouchers to all students in the state who want one is overwhelmingly popular. It’s favored by both men and women, but especially with young people and the poor. Even 31 percent of Democrats want vouchers expanded statewide. Blacks and Hispanics strongly support it.

Statewide vouchers are popular in every media market in the state except Madison. However, if people are given a choice, they favor money going to public schools. This shows that to retain support for vouchers, Republicans need to make the case that they aren’t shortchanging public schools. They are making them stronger by making them more competitive. They aren’t mutually exclusive.

14. Increasing Shared Revenue Was a Wildly Popular Thing to Do

Score one for the Republican Legislature (but also Evers for signing it). Everyone basically likes the shared revenue increase.

Blacks polled liked it 100% to 0! Overall, 70% favored this.

15. Increasing the Sales Tax is Only Popular in Milwaukee

Good news for the goofs on the Milwaukee Common Council and County Board, who will soon have to vote on whether to increase the sales tax in Milwaukee. That’s the only region in the state where it’s favored, 52-48, so passing it won’t set them apart from the majority of their voters.

Statewide, only young people really want to pay more in sales taxes (what messages are our young people getting!) Otherwise, it’s widely disliked.

16. The Electorate Is More Solidified if It’s Trump vs. Biden

There are more undecideds in the DeSantis vs. Biden contest than there are if it’s Trump vs. Biden. That gives DeSantis an opening, especially since he’s only 2 points behind. Another positive for DeSantis- he’s holding his own in the Green Bay media market 41-41.

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