Although Wisconsin Democrats and allied liberal groups are touting a number of figures in the most recent Marquette University Law School Poll as evidence that voters are backing them on the issues, the results of the statewide survey consisted mostly of good news for Gov. Scott Walker.
The poll showed that while Walker is by no means guaranteed to win reelection, he is clearly the favorite in a race that will take place in what most political analysts predict will be a Republican-friendly year nationally.
Here are a number of results from the poll that stick out:
Walker leads Democratic challenger Mary Burke, 47 to 41: Democrats are hoping this is just be a bad poll for Burke, since the last Marquette poll, in October, had Walker up by only two points – 47-45.
However, the six point margin is not only in line with Walker’s 2012 victory over Tom Barrett, but with a poll by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm in North Carolina, that showed Walker up 48-42 against Burke in September.
Walker’s approval rating is 51 percent: It’s exceedingly rare for an incumbent to lose unless his or her approval rating dips well below 50 percent. Since winning the recall, Walker hasn't seen his approval rating dip below 47 percent once, suggesting he has a strong base of support that will be very tough for Democrats to erode.
51 percent think Wisconsin is not lagging other states economically: Wisconsin is not producing many jobs compared to other states, but this poll shows that half the state doesn’t know that. That is troubling for Democrats, who have been hoping to make the case to voters that Walker has failed to produce jobs.
Paradoxically, the great majority of voters are aware that Walker probably won’t reach his 250,000 jobs pledge: 68 percent say that whether the goal is reached will either be “very important” or “somewhat important” to determining how they vote.
“I do think there is a paradox and I think there is some rationalization (about Walker falling short of the jobs goal), especially among Republicans,” says Marquette University Law School Prof. Charles Franklin, director of the poll.
The public supports many key Democratic policies: Strong majorities support hiking the minimum wage, extending unemployment benefits and increasing income taxes on the wealthy in order to reduce property taxes on the middle class. In addition, most voters do not support raising the sales tax as a way to decrease or eliminate the income tax, as some Republicans, including Walker, have suggested doing.
Obamacare is still not doing so hot: 35 percent view the Affordable Care Act favorably while 55 percent view it unfavorably. That is likely the key reason President Obama (47.9 percent favorable) is now viewed slightly less favorably than Walker (48.7 percent favorable) in Wisconsin.
Even though past polls have shown that most voters believe Walker should have accepted the expanded Medicaid funding that the federal government offered through Obamacare, early indications are that Democrats will suffer more on the health care issue than Republicans at the polls later this year.