Charles Franklin Breaks Down Latest Statewide Poll

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Charles Franklin Breaks Down Latest Statewide Poll

Premiere Date: 
May 16, 2013

Charles Franklin discusses the latest Marquette University Law School poll.

 

Episode Transcript: 

Zac Schultz:

Professor Franklin, thanks for joining us today.

Charles Franklin:

Glad to be here.

Zac Schultz:

Well, let's start with transportation spending. Governor Walker's budget proposal would borrow $994 million for road construction projects. Your polling found 73% are opposed to that idea, but people also don't like the idea of raising the gas tax or registration fees, with 71% opposed to that. In fact, it appears they want to see less spending overall.

Charles Franklin:

I think what you're seeing here is public opposition to the idea of borrowing, but with increases in gas taxes off the table and not very many other alternatives for paying for it, you're seeing the public say, well, we don't want to be taxed, we don't want to borrow money. And so the one thing the public was willing to accept were delays in road construction projects. But of course the consequences of those delays are not terribly well-known. Here and other areas we see that we want the benefits of government. We're not very willing to pay for them or at this point to borrow for them.

Zac Schultz:

But at least it's the rare time where the public acknowledges if they don't want to pay or borrow, they have to cut something else. It seems in a lot of polls you'd have them saying no to all options.

Charles Franklin:

I think that's probably true. We did see back in March a little willingness to consider taking toll roads into account. However, toll roads are difficult to produce very much revenue for the state. So it's not much of a solution to the bigger transportation problem.

Zac Schultz:

Another big budget issue we’ve been covering is the expansion of school choice or the voucher program. Your polling finds voucher schools have a pretty low favorability rating at 24%, but it seems most people haven't heard enough about vouchers to make up their minds.

Charles Franklin:

Back in March, almost 49% hadn't heard about vouchers. Now that's down a little bit, but favorability is down a little as well. So we have seen over the last two months of discussion of expansion of vouchers a little tilt from slightly favorable to a little bit unfavorable. However, when we asked voters if they would like to see vouchers expanded in the state, 48% would like to see an expansion of some kind, either statewide or to the larger school districts, but 44% are opposed to any expansion and would like to end the problem altogether. So that's a very even balance between the two, a closely contested idea, a slight decrease in support for vouchers from 51% in March to 48% in May.  

Zac Schultz:

Now, despite the split on voucher expansion, public schools are still quite popular. Nearly 71% said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the public schools in their community, and two-thirds of respondents support an increase in funds for public schools.

Charles Franklin:

One of the things we've seen in both the March data and now in the May data is that two-thirds or higher support for public schools, people saying they're satisfied with the public schools. Now, fewer people say they're very satisfied with the public schools, but not that many say dissatisfied and very few say extremely or very dissatisfied. The one issue is, again, when it comes to the question of how do you pay for it. Asked which was more important, reducing property taxes or increasing funding for public schools, we got nearly a dead even tie, with just barely more people saying cut property taxes than fund the schools. So, again, we see, as with transportation, the difficulty of how do we pay for things that we otherwise want to see government do.

Zac Schultz:

Now, last we need to cover the job approval ratings for Governor Walker and President Obama, and they're actually quite similar. 48% approve of the job the president is doing, while 45% disapprove. 50% approve of the job the governor’s doing, while 44% disapprove. That seems to go hand in hand with another question you asked, that most people feel the economy will stay the same or improve over the next year.

Charles Franklin:

That's right. Incidentally, I think those are the March numbers. They're slightly higher in May, at 51% approval for Governor Walker, 50% approval for President Obama. But none of these numbers have moved appreciably over the last nine months or so. Both of them are close to a 50/50 approval. On the national economy, 39% see the economy getting better over the next 12 months. Only 20% see it getting worse. That's one of the best outlooks for jobs or for the economy that we've seen in a long time.

Zac Schultz:

But at the same time 49% of those polled feel Wisconsin is lagging behind other states when it comes to job creation. Will those numbers start to catch up to Governor Walker's approval rating?

Charles Franklin:

I think that's the dramatic difference between the way we see the national economy as improving and a reasonably good outlook. Only 9% said Wisconsin was going ahead of other states in creating jobs. 49% said we were lagging behind. That is the key issue for the outlook to the 2014 governor's race. And when we look even within partisanship, we see those people who think we're lagging behind are significantly lower in approval of Governor Walker than those who think we're at least keeping pace with other states. So that's an issue that's out there, and the economics support it. The question is, how will voters ultimately see it and how will it be framed and explained in a campaign.

Zac Schultz:

Very quickly, we know the next big race in Wisconsin is the gubernatorial election next year. There's still no Democrats running yet. Are these job approval ratings scaring some of them away?

Charles Franklin:

Well, I think the job approval has been very steady at around 50% and about 44%, 45% disapprove. That's a strong performance, but it's not an overwhelming performance. If something happened to lower the governor's approval rating by four or five points while raising his disapproval, you would flip those numbers. It's the art of politics and whether a campaign or a candidate can articulate these vulnerabilities and turn them into things that matter to voters, as well as just the raw economics. And that we leave to the politicians. It's up to them to find ways to do that.

Zac Schultz:

All right. We have a lot of numbers to chew over. We thank you for your time,  Professor Charles Franklin.

Charles Franklin:

Thank you. 


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