Charles Franklin Breaks Down Latest Marquette Poll

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Charles Franklin Breaks Down Latest Marquette Poll

Premiere Date: 
November 1, 2013

The latest Marquette Law School Poll found the 2014 governor's race is a toss up.

 

Episode Transcript: 

Frederica Freyberg:

The first public polling of the 2014 race for governor in Wisconsin, from the Marquette Law School, is out this week. The headline? Newly announced Democratic candidate Mary Burke is running neck and neck with Governor Scott Walker according to those polled. Charles Franklin is the director of the poll and he joins us now. Thank you for doing so.

Charles Franklin:

Good to be here. Thank you.

Frederica Freyberg:

Were you surprised by your findings that Burke and Walker are within the margin of error with the governor at 47% and the Democratic candidate at 45%?

Charles Franklin:

Under normal circumstances that close a race this early would be a bit surprising. But we're in not normal times. Not only all the controversy over Act 10, but also the recall gave voters in the state lots of time to decide what they felt about Scott Walker. So in a way, going into this election campaign, we're really looking at his third term for office rather than his second term from the point of view of voters having made up their minds about him. His approval rating is just 49 approve, 47 disapprove, a two-point margin. It turns out we see that same two-point margin in the vote choice.

Frederica Freyberg:

Interesting. Well, the rest of the story with the Democrats up against Scott Walker is that even the as yet to-be-announced Democratic candidate, state senator Kathleen Vinehout, is also within this margin of error against Scott Walker at 44%, and Democratic assembly minority leader Peter Barca comes in at 42%. But in that instance, with the Barca polling, Scott Walker bumps up to 48%. This all seems extremely close. Is this representative really of just how evenly split Wisconsin is politically?

Charles Franklin:

I think that's what it is showing. If you look at support for the Democratic candidates, Democrats are equally lined up no matter who the Democratic candidate is. Republicans are equally lined up no matter who the Democratic candidate is. So what we're seeing here is really a stable response that doesn't tell us much between the various possible Democrats, or really Burke and Vinehout. Barca is there as a representative of an ‘other’ Democrat who's not, as far as I know anyway, actively seeking the race. The point here is that when voters have really made up their mind about the incumbent, it's pretty easy for them to decide whether they're for the challenger or not.

Frederica Freyberg:

Now, our next screen of your poll results shows that notwithstanding how close she runs against Scott Walker, according to respondents at this stage of the game, 70% don't know who Mary Burke is. And it's even higher, of course, for Kathleen Vinehout, a sitting senator and former candidate for governor. And Peter Barca, who you'd think anybody paying attention in the last couple of years would know exactly who Peter Barca was. So are these numbers compared to the support numbers suggestive of kind of an uninformed electorate?

Charles Franklin:

I think they're very representative of the barrier that new statewide candidates face every time. It's not unusual or particular to these candidates. To put those numbers in perspective, a month before he was picked for the vice-presidential slot last year, Paul Ryan was unknown to 35% of the state. In January of 2012 as she was launching her senate bid, Tammy Baldwin was unknown to 45% of the state. And so by those standards of comparison of two long-serving members of the house of representatives, the three Democrats we're looking at here are not at all surprising that the unknown rate is at 70%. The one guarantee, we know is, they'll be much better known, whoever the nominee is, come a year from now.

Frederica Freyberg:

It is interesting to me that Governor Scott Walker, only 4% of respondents didn't have, hold, an opinion about Scott Walker.

Charles Franklin:

And that again is the phenomenal result of the controversies in his first year and the recall election. For comparison, in Ohio, Governor Kasich, elected at the same time and also involved in a lot of controversy, still has a 15% ‘don't know’ rate. So compare that with one very visible governor compared to this governor, and this governor is far better known. People are much more opinionated about Governor Walker.

Frederica Freyberg:

Let's look at a question that seems to show a dramatic shift in pubic opinion in Wisconsin and that is support for same-sex marriage. Now, it has grown over the past year, with 53% saying they support same-sex marriage. 24% favor civil unions. 19% said there should be no legal recognition for same-sex unions. But what is moving that support for same-sex marriage so significantly?

Charles Franklin:

Partially it's a matter of national trends which are equally strong and fast-moving. One year ago in our poll 44% supported same-sex marriage, now 53%. That's in line with what we've seen with national trends. There's a big generational effect. Of those 18 to 29, 80% support same-sex unions. And so that is one of the mechanisms that's at work here. It's hard to find a public policy area that has changed as consistently and as rapidly as same-sex marriage. If you go back even as early as the '90s, when support for marriage was way lower than it is now, year after year after year that support has been rising. And in the last two years, it started rising at a faster rate than it had before.

Frederica Freyberg:

Charles Franklin, thanks very much. Wonderful stuff.

Charles Franklin:

Thank you. 


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