Wisconsin voters are skeptical the Foxconn deal will pay off, new Marquette Law School Poll finds

MILWAUKEE -- Gov. Scott Walker's massive deal to bring a Foxconn plant to Racine County isn't the home run it was initially believed to be, according to a new Marquette University Law School Poll.

The poll found 49 percent of Wisconsin voters didn't think the plant would be worth taxpayers' investment, compared with 38 percent who said it would. The numbers were worse among voters in the City of Milwaukee and people who lived far from Foxconn's Racine County site.

Only voters in southeastern Wisconsin, where the proposed $10 billion plant will be, thought it would benefit their local businesses. Two-thirds of Republican voters in the Fox Valley, northern Wisconsin, and western Wisconsin said they didn't think businesses in their area would benefit directly from the plant, a case Gov. Scott Walker has tried to make for months.

"That is something, a message, that people on the ground have not accepted at this point," said Charles Franklin, the poll's director.

The poll was conducted between Feb. 25 and March 1 and had a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

Walker's campaign said it'll take time for voters statewide to see the full benefit of the project, and predicted that would happen when Foxconn starts building its plant and signs contracts with suppliers across Wisconsin.

"Bringing 13,000 good-paying, family-supporting jobs to WI is the right thing to do -- regardless of politics," Walker tweeted Monday afternoon.

Democratic candidates for governor seized on the poll results. Tony Evers, the state's schools superintendent, said Walker had "misplaced priorities." State Rep. Dana Wachs called the Foxconn incentives, which nonpartisan analysts have said could amount to $4.5 billion, a "bad deal."

But Franklin said the issue posed risks to Democratic candidates, too.

"A challenge for Democrats is to criticize the project without appearing to be anti-jobs, which is quite a trick," Franklin said.

2018 races

Voters are divided about Walker and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin ahead of their re-election challenges this fall, but each of their challengers are barely known.

Fourty-seven percent of voters approve of Walker's job performance, while 47 percent disapprove. Nine Democratic hopefuls are seeking the governor's office, though 44 percent of Democrats said they didn't know enough to pick a candidate in the August primary.

Of those who did pick one of the candidates, Evers had a slight edge over Madison Mayor Paul Soglin.

Baldwin had 37 percent favorability, versus 39 percent who viewed her unfavorably. Former Marine Kevin Nicholson and state Sen. Leah Vukmir are running in the Republican primary for the chance to face Baldwin, but 49 percent of GOP voters said they didn't know enough about either Republican candidate to choose one.

Of those who did pick a candidate, Nicholson had the edge over Vukmir.


On the issue of guns, 81 percent of Wisconsin voters support background checks on private gun sales and sales at gun shows, while 16 percent oppose the idea.

Among households where there is a gun in the house, 78 percent support background checks. In households that don't have a gun, 86 percent favor the background checks.

The poll indicates 44 percent of poll respondents live in households with guns, while 48 percent do not.

President Trump

The poll found President Trump's approval rating is 43 percent, with 50 percent disapproving. The numbers are little changed from June 2017, when 41 percent approved of the president and 51 percent did not.

The poll found 37 percent of respondents say President Trump shows good judgment while 59 percent say he does not. Those numbers are slightly improved from nine months ago, when 34 percent say the president shows good judgment and 61 percent said he did not.