Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Poll shows Walker vulnerable, state turning “bluer”

Polling answers suggest a progressive turn for Wisconsin is possible

The latest Marquette Law School poll shows that Gov. Scott Walker is vulnerable.

When matched up against declared candidate Mary Burke, as well as undeclared (but likely) candidate Kathleen Vinehout, the polling suggests that Walker may be in for the political fight of his life come next fall.

When asked about which of the candidates participants preferred, Walker led Burke 47.1 percent to 44.9 percent. That 2.2 percent “lead” by Walker is within the poll’s 3.5 percent margin of error, which means that the candidates are essentially tied.

When the same question is asked between Walker and Vinehout, Walker again leads the state senator by 46.7 percent to 44.5 percent. That’s a Walker “lead” of 2.2 percent, again within the margin of error for the poll, meaning it’s another statistical tie.

Base enthusiasm? Picking up independents?
Both candidates obviously get a stronger showing from Democratic voters than from Republicans.

Some critics have contented, however, that the base of Democratic support might not show up to the voting booth if Burke is the eventual nominee.

But the polling demonstrates that both Burke and Vinehout get the same Democratic support, as well as the same percentage of independent voters.

Burke’s numbers show that roughly 83 percent of Democrats would support her over Walker, with four percent of Republicans statewide voting for her as well. 27 percent of independents would also prefer Burke to Walker.

Those numbers are comparable to Kathleen Vinehout’s: 82 percent of Democrats statewide would support her vs. Walker, with 5 percent of Republicans and about 30 percent of independents.

Both candidates are still pretty unknown to those who were polled: 63 percent hadn’t formed an opinion yet on Mary Burke, while about 71 percent hadn’t heard enough on Kathleen Vinehout.

It seems that picking the better candidate -- whether you’re looking at placating the base or rounding up some extra independent voters -- doesn’t matter much at this point. Those numbers may change, however, as time goes on.

Wisconsin citizens turning more “blue?”

The poll has some additional questions worth examining, including the legalization of marijuana, same-sex marriage rights, immigration, and reproductive rights, the results of which show citizens are trending more towards liberal ideals on these subjects.

When it comes to pot, a plurality (almost 50 percent) of Wisconsinites support legalization. About 45 percent oppose making the drug legally available, and about five percent didn’t have an opinion.

The poll also showed a change in attitudes regarding same-sex marriage. In a state that voted to constitutionally ban such unions just seven years ago, more than half (53 percent) supported granting full marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples. About a quarter of those polled supported civil unions, and only 19 percent said same-sex partners shouldn’t be given any legal recognition whatsoever.

In all, 77 percent of those polled supported at least some form of rights being granted to gays and lesbians who wished to solidify their unions.

There were similar numbers for immigration reform, with most Wisconsinites supporting a path to citizenship. 61 percent supported a plan that would allow undocumented immigrants to stay and apply for citizenship; only 16 percent wanted such immigrants to be required to leave the U.S.

And on reproductive rights, Wisconsin citizens are also moving more to the left. Fully 62 percent of those polled support abortion rights in all or most cases; conversely, only 35 percent thought it should be illegal in most or all cases.

Most Wisconsinites also opposed a particular law that was signed earlier this year by Gov. Scott Walker requiring women seeking an abortion to first have an ultrasound. Almost 56 percent of those polled opposed the measure, and only 38 percent favored it.

Winning in 2014

The Marquette Law School poll seems to suggest that Gov. Walker and other Republicans will struggle to retain control, although with redistricting heavily favoring the GOP it’s hard to decipher whether Democrats stand a chance at all of winning back the legislature.

Still, the attitudes of Wisconsinites seem to suggest a more progressive turn, with most favoring a reasoned-approach style of governance. Wisconsinites want reasonable reform to immigration; they want rights conferred to same-sex couples; and they oppose outlawing or otherwise placing undue burdens to women’s reproductive health in the state.

If Democratic candidates focus their campaign towards a positive vision for Wisconsin, while simultaneously drawing attention to the failures and policies that Scott Walker has initiated against the people’s wishes, it could result in a change in leadership that is much needed in the Badger State.


  1. So many cases of majorities supporting positions republicans oppose and yet they still win. Why is that? Could it be that the public doesn't pay enough attention to understand who stands where on these issues? Leaving them vulnerable to the 30 second ad blitz. Yeah, probably.

  2. From what I've read, the GOP-controlled redistricting (a pernicious attack of pols choosing their voters instead of vis-a-versa) is the reason the GOP could win even when the majority of voters vote otherwise. In the last election, millions of Dems voted against the GOP and yet the latter retained their seats in the Legislature. Go figure.