Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton continues to hold a narrow lead over Republican Donald Trump in Wisconsin according to the latest Marquette Law School Poll.
The poll also found Democratic challenger Russ Feingold has a slightly larger six-point lead over Republican Sen. Ron Johnson than the three-point lead he held three weeks ago.
Clinton leads 44-42 among likely voters in the latest poll. That’s almost identical to the 45-42 lead she held in the previous poll released three weeks ago. Poll director Charles Franklin characterized the race as virtually unchanged.
“You really shouldn’t think this tells us much about the race tightening or not,” Franklin said. “It’s a Clinton advantage but one that’s within the margin of error.”
Clinton also held the same 41-38 lead she had three weeks ago over Trump among likely voters when including third-party candidates Gary Johnson (11 percent) and Jill Stein (2 percent).
The previous two polls showed Clinton’s lead drop from 15 points among likely voters after the Democratic National Convention to three points just before Labor Day Weekend. Clinton has yet to visit Wisconsin while Trump has made two trips since the conventions.
The poll found only 29 percent of Republicans say they prefer Trump to other Republicans who ran as their nominee, compared with 43 percent of Democrats who say they prefer Clinton to her Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders.
Clinton has had a rough stretch in September with questions about her health, the Clinton Foundation and calling half of Trump’s supporters a “basket of deplorables.” Trump faced criticism just before the poll went into the field for falsely blaming Clinton for starting the so-called “birther” movement over whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States while finally admitting that he was.
Feingold leads Johnson 47-41 among likely voters. He also holds an advantage in terms of favorability with 48 percent viewing him favorably, compared to 32 percent who view him unfavorably. More respondents had an unfavorable view of Johnson (39 percent) than a favorable one (35 percent).
When Libertarian candidate Phil Anderson is included, Feingold leads 44-39-7.
The poll asked for the first time whether voters thought the candidates were effective senators. Feingold, who served for 18 years before losing to Johnson in 2010, was viewed as very or somewhat effective by 58 percent of respondents. Johnson, still in his first term, was viewed that way by 49 percent of respondents.
Feingold’s campaign has run twice as many ads as Johnson’s campaign over the past several months, but Feingold’s lead has shrunk from double to single digits, noted Johnson spokesman Brian Reisinger.
“This race remains as tight as ever, and as Wisconsinites realize that Senator Feingold says one thing and does another on every single issue, we are confident that they will choose to support a manufacturer from Oshkosh instead of a 34-year career politician,” Reisinger said.
Feingold spokesman Michael Tyler said the Democrat has led in every poll so far because he is prioritizing the concerns of middle-class families.
“Wisconsinites know that instead of protecting corporations and multimillionaires like Sen. Johnson has done for years, Russ actually listens to Wisconsin’s families and will fight for their needs,” Tyler said.
The poll was conducted Sept. 15-18. It included 802 registered voters, for a margin of error of +/-4.4 percentage points, and 677 likely voters, for a +/-4.8 point margin of error. Likely voters are those who say they are certain to vote on Nov. 8.
The poll included a mix of 31 percent Republicans, 31 percent Democrats and 27 percent independents. Over several polls, the average breakdown is estimated at 27 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 38 percent independent. Franklin said the increase in Republican identification since the conventions could be a sign that Trump is successfully courting more independents to the Republican Party.
The poll also found:
Gov. Scott Walker’s job approval rating didn’t take a hit immediately after the release of hundreds of pages of documents from a stalled criminal investigation into his recall campaign. Just like three weeks earlier, 43 percent of registered voters approved of his job performance, though 52 percent disapproved, up from 49 percent in the last poll.
A majority (53 percent) of registered voters prefer one-party control of Congress and the White House, while 39 percent prefer split control. Yet 51 percent say they typically split their votes between parties, while only 45 percent vote a straight ticket. Almost two-thirds of Democrats (64 percent), 54 percent of Republicans and 21 percent of independents vote a straight ticket.
About 18 percent of registered voters think more illegal votes will be cast in the upcoming election than legal votes will be blocked because of new voter ID requirements, 26 percent think it will be about the same and 37 percent think more legal votes will be blocked. Among Republicans, 27 percent think there will be more illegal votes cast compared with 7 percent among Democrats and 22 percent among independents.
On how to deal with the Islamic State group, 30 percent favor air strikes alone, 42 percent support ground troops and 15 percent oppose any military action. Among Trump supporters, 61 percent favor ground troops while among Clinton supporters, only 27 percent do.
Regarding the Iraq War, 57 percent say it wasn’t worth the cost, while 37 percent say it was worth fighting, a figure that was almost the same among those with family members who served and those who didn’t. Half of Trump supporters said the war was worth fighting compared with 24 percent of Clinton supporters.