Marquette Poll Finds Governor's Race In Dead Heat

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Marquette Poll Finds Governor's Race In Dead Heat

Premiere Date: 
July 25, 2014

Marquette Law School Poll Director Charles Franklin outlines the latest results.

 

Episode Transcript: 

Frederica Freyberg:

To dig a little deeper into the mood of Wisconsin voters three months before the November election, we've asked nationally-recognized pollster and the director of the Marquette Law School poll, Charles Franklin, to join us. Charles, thanks very much for doing so.

Charles Franklin:

Thanks. Good to be here.

Frederica Freyberg:

So what did you think of these results, putting them even this month?

Charles Franklin:

It's very striking how similar the results are to where they were in May. So that helps reinforce the notion that the May results of seeing a much tighter race really are verified by the new data and are sustained through at least the first half of the summer.

Frederica Freyberg:

Was there some question about that in your mind?

Charles Franklin:

Well, we had seen a six-point and a seven-point Walker lead in January and March. And then this tightening to a tie among registered voters. Among likelies in May Walker had a three-point edge, but inside the margin of error. So there’s certainly a question about that. Also, Democrats ticked up a bit in the May poll, but Democrats are down a little bit in this poll. And yet the result remains tied. So it's not really party makeup of the sample that's at work here.

Frederica Freyberg:

So what gives?

Charles Franklin:

Well, I think what gives is two clear things that are going on. First, both parties are very well, strongly lined up, behind their candidates, so that provides a strong base for Walker, but also for Burke. And among Independents, what was a nine-point Walker advantage in May is just a one-point advantage this time. And so that accounts for the tightening, especially among likely voters, that we've seen and just shows that we're looking at a dead heat, a toss-up race at this point, still awaiting developments the rest of the campaign.

Frederica Freyberg:

Never dull, right? Okay, so our next screen of your results shows favorability ratings. Scott Walker's unfavorables are slightly higher. But again, 46% say they haven't heard enough about Mary Burke to know. Given the overall results so far though, does it bode well for the challenger that when more people do know her, they might like her. Or I guess they might dislike her, but--

Charles Franklin:

I think what it shows is that how voters come to know her is going to be critical. If that 40-something percent who are just coming to know her are learning about her mostly from the Walker campaign, they'll develop pretty negative views. If they're learning mostly from the Burke campaign, those views will be more positive. What we have seen as we've gone from 70% that didn't know her down into the high 40s that don't know her now is that her favorability has actually improved a little bit over that period, though in this latest poll it drops back to just a two-point net favorability. So as people have learned, they've been a little more positive about her, but there's still a long ways to go.

Frederica Freyberg:

There is, and that kind of seems counterintuitive because there have been a lot of negative attacks on her, kind of filling in that knowledge gap, you know, out there across the airwaves. So what explains that?

Charles Franklin:

I think one part of it is those ads have been episodic. We saw some early ads in the winter, then we saw a bit in the spring. But we haven't seen the full-out air war of constant ads and the two campaigns engaging each other on a daily basis that we've seen just start to really happen in this last week. And so I think voters will get more of an opinion about her now that we're having this really heavy advertising campaign as opposed to the more episodic ones earlier.

Frederica Freyberg:

Now, your results show a 8% undecided number. Is that higher than it's been?

Charles Franklin:

It's a little bit higher than it was in May. I think there's some natural fluctuation here, but one question is if voters are having a little bit of a hard time or maybe beginning to reconsider choices, they're more likely to move from a candidate to undecided rather than flip sides. So I wouldn't make too much of this modest increase in undecideds right now. But a key question is will there be a point between now and November where voters step back and take a fresh look despite having elected Walker now twice in 2010 and again in the recall. Is there something about this campaign that leads people to think again, either positively or negatively about him?

Frederica Freyberg:

What about that question that you've just asked? Is there something about this campaign that is different? Because really coming into it, experts just said, well, incumbents always win, slam dunk.

Charles Franklin:

That's always a good bet, to bet on the incumbent, but it's also about the details of the race. I think it's fair to say that now we're judging, voters are judging the governor more over the period of his entire term rather than either just about Act 10, or about concerns about recalls and whether they're a good idea or not. Where they’re seeing him now is more on his performance over the whole term.

Frederica Freyberg:

I want to jump ahead to the poll question that talks about creating jobs at faster rate, same rate or lagging behind. You've got numbers that suggest that it's almost split, people thinking that we're either lagging behind or staying the same. What is that about? I mean, isn't there a fact in here somewhere?

Charles Franklin:

This is the case where the objective economic statistics and what people perceive differ a bit. So if you-- Very few people only, less than 10%, say we're creating jobs faster than other states, but a lot of people say we're keeping about the same as others. The objective rankings that came out in June for the last year put us at 37th, which is about where we've been for all of the last three years. That would put us in the 25th percentile of states. So definitely clearly in the bottom half on objective grounds. But when you look at it by partisanship, you see sharp partisan differences, with Republicans much more likely to say we're at least keeping up, Democrats much more likely to say falling behind and Independents somewhere in the middle. This has been talked about a lot, but whether opinion can be moved by this issue is going to be one of the interesting elements.

Frederica Freyberg:

All right. Charles Franklin, thanks very much for your work.

Charles Franklin:

Thank you. 


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