Marquette Law Poll: Biden, Evers COVID response approved by majorities

President Biden visits La Crosse, Wisconsin

A new Marquette University Law School Poll of Wisconsin registered voters found 49% approve of the job President Joe Biden is doing as president, 46% disapproving and 4% saying they don’t know.

Forty-six percent approve of how Biden is handling the economy, while 48% disapprove and 6% say they don’t know. On his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, 54% approve, 42% disapprove and 5% say they don’t know.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers' job approval stands at 50%, while 43% disapprove. When last measured in October 2020, 50% approved and 43% disapproved.

Approval of Evers’ handling of the coronavirus pandemic is 54%, with 39% disapproving. In October 2020, 52% approved and 45% disapproved.

Sen. Ron Johnson is viewed favorably by 35% and unfavorably by 42% of respondents, while 23% say they don’t have an opinion of him. In October 2020, 38% had a favorable opinion of Johnson, 36% had an unfavorable view and 26% lacked an opinion. The lowest net favorability rating for Johnson came in November 2015, when 27% had a favorable opinion and 38% were unfavorable.

Since October 2020, there has been a slight decline in net favorability among Republicans, with larger declines among independents and Democrats, the poll found.

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Government performance

A majority of respondents, 51%, say things in Wisconsin are on the wrong track, while 38% say things are headed in the right direction. When this was last asked, in late March 2020, 61% said things were headed in the right direction and 30% said they were on the wrong track.

Half of the sample in the survey was asked if government in Wisconsin is working as intended or if it is broken. Thirty-two percent said it is working as intended, and 60% said it is broken. When the other half-sample was asked the same question about government in Washington, D.C., 10% said it is working as intended while 84% say it is broken.

Also in the August survey of registered voters in Wisconsin, half of the sample was asked about the accuracy of the counting of the November 2020 vote across the country, while the other half of the sample was asked about the accuracy of the vote in Wisconsin. For the national wording, 60% said they are very or somewhat confident that the votes across the country were accurately cast and counted in the 2020 election, while 38% say they are not very or not at all confident. In October 2020, prior to the election, 69% were confident or very confident about the accuracy of the election results, while 30% were not very or not at all confident.

For the half-sample asked about the accuracy of the vote count in Wisconsin, 67% said they are very or somewhat confident, while 31% say they are not very or not at all confident. A corresponding question about Wisconsin was not asked in the October 2020 poll.

Milwaukee County presidential election recount at the Wisconsin Center

Milwaukee County presidential election recount at the Wisconsin Center

The poll found Republican distrust in the election is high, with three-quarters not confident in the national election results and two-thirds not confident in the Wisconsin results. Almost two-thirds of independents are confident in both national and state results. Democrats are virtually unanimous in their confidence that the election results were accurate.

Support in this Wisconsin poll for requiring a photo ID to vote is at 73%, with 22% opposing a photo ID requirement. When this question was last asked in October 2014, 60% supported and 36% opposed the requirement.

Respondents also favor automatic voter registration for eligible 18-year-olds, with 63% in favor and 31% opposed. This is the first time this question has been asked.

People were asked to choose between two statements: "the rules around voting make it too difficult for eligible citizens to cast a ballot" and "the rules around voting are not strict enough to prevent illegal votes from being cast." Forty-three percent said the rules make it too difficult to vote, and 46% say the rules are not strict enough.

Issues and policy preferences

Those polled favor a $500 billion nationwide increase in new spending for infrastructure, with 53% in favor and 37% opposed. The survey was conducted during the debate in Washington, D.C., over the Senate "bipartisan" infrastructure plan.

Crime is seen overall as increasing in the respondent’s community. Forty-three percent say crime is higher than a year ago, 22% say it is lower and 26% say it is the same as a year ago. A much higher percentage of Wisconsinites, 69%, see crime rising nationally, with 10% saying it has declined and 11% saying it has stayed the same.

Just under half of the respondents, 49%, said they are very concerned with inflation, with 36% somewhat concerned, 12%  not too concerned and 3% not at all concerned.

 

Illegal immigration is something 37% are very concerned about. Twenty-three percent said they are somewhat concerned, 21% are not too concerned, and 18% are not at all concerned.

Increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour is supported by 51% and opposed by 44%. Such a question was last asked in 2019 without mentioning the amount the minimum wage might be raised. In April 2019, 57% favored an increase and 38% opposed an increase.

About a quarter of voters, 27%, said the federal program currently adding $300 per week to unemployment benefits is still needed, while two-thirds, 67%, said it is keeping people from returning to work.

Schools

In this latest poll, 69% of Wisconsinites said they are very satisfied or satisfied with the job public schools are doing in their community, while 22% said they are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. When last asked in January 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic affected schools, 59% said they were very satisfied or satisfied and 33% said they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.

Public school teachers are viewed favorably by most respondents. Seventy-two percent said they have a favorable view, while 14% have an unfavorable view and 13% do not have an opinion. This question was asked once before, in March 2013, when 76% had a favorable view, 14% had an unfavorable view and 9% did not offer an opinion.

Given a choice between two views in the new poll, 43% said it is more important to hold down property taxes, while 52% said it is more important to increase spending for public schools. This was last asked in February 2020, when 38% said it was more important to hold down property taxes and 56% said increasing spending on public schools was more important.

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There is high support for increased spending for special education programs, with 72% saying they favor a major increase, while 19% said they oppose this increased spending. This was last asked in April 2019, when 74% said they favored an increase and 19% opposed more spending.

Among respondents, 46% favor expanding the number of students receiving vouchers to attend private schools, and 44% oppose an increase. This question has not been asked before with this wording.

Recent debates over banning the teaching of critical race theory in public schools have not reached 43% of respondents, who said they don’t know enough to offer an opinion on this. Twenty-six percent favor teaching this in schools, and 30% oppose teaching it.

The coronavirus pandemic disrupted in-person schooling over the past year, and there was controversy over the pace of reopening. In this poll, 54% said their local schools reopened at about the right pace. Twenty-six percent said the schools in their community reopened too slowly, and 13% said they reopened too quickly.

Coronavirus and vaccines

Looking back to the closing of businesses and schools last year, 62% said this was an appropriate response to the pandemic, while 35% said it was an overreaction that did more harm than good. Initial support for the shutdowns in March 2020 was much higher. At that time, 86% said the shutdown was appropriate and 10% said it was an overreaction. When asked in October 2020, 68% said the shutdown was appropriate and 26% said it was an overreaction.

In this survey of registered voters, 68% said they have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, while 26% said they have not been vaccinated. An additional 7% either said they don’t know or decline to answer. As of Aug. 8, the final day of interviewing for this poll, the New York Times reported that Centers for Disease Control data show 68% of Wisconsin residents age 18 and over as having received at least one dose.

Of those who have not yet received a vaccination, 49% said they will definitely not get the vaccine, and another 27% said they probably won’t get the vaccine. Meanwhile, 14% said they probably will get vaccinated and another 8% said they will definitely get vaccinated.

Republicans are less likely to be vaccinated, with independents and Democrats more likely, the poll found.

Among those not yet vaccinated, there is considerable reluctance to be vaccinated. This reluctance is highest among Republicans, the poll found, although more than half of unvaccinated independents and Democrats also said they will probably or definitely not get the vaccine.

Favorability ratings

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is viewed favorably by 46% of those polled and unfavorably by 40%, with 13% not offering an opinion. In October 2020, 47% rated the BLM movement favorably and 39% rated it unfavorably.

The police are viewed favorably by 80% and unfavorably by 13%, with 7% lacking an opinion. In October, the police were rated favorably by 80% and unfavorably by 12%.

Former President Donald Trump is seen favorably by 37% and unfavorably by 55%, with 7% lacking an opinion. In October 2020, 44% viewed him favorably and 54% viewed him unfavorably.

Marquette University

Marquette University

About the poll

The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. This poll interviewed 807 registered Wisconsin voters by landline or cell phone Aug. 3-8, 2021. The margin of error is +/-3.8 percentage points for the full sample. For half-sample items the margin of error is +/-5.4 percentage points

Items asked of half-samples include the accuracy of the vote count, if government is working or broken, the perception of rising crime, raising minimum wage, need for added unemployment benefits, concerns about inflation and illegal immigration, photo ID for voting, automatic voter registration, if voting laws are too strict or not strict enough and whether critical race theory should be taught in public schools.

The partisan makeup of the sample, including those who lean to a party, is 45% Republican, 44% Democratic, and 9% independent. The partisan makeup of the sample, excluding those who lean to a party, is 30% Republican, 29% Democratic and 40% independent.

Since January 2019, the long-term partisan balance, including those who lean to a party, in the Marquette poll has been 45% Republican and 44% Democratic, with 9% independent. Partisanship excluding those who lean has been 29% Republican and 28% Democratic, with 41% independent.

The entire questionnaire, methodology statement, full results and breakdowns by demographic groups are available at law.marquette.edu/poll/results-and-data.

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