Donald Trump narrowly carried Wisconsin by nearly 23,000 votes in 2016, but President Trump has lost ground among residents within the state. The president’s job approval rating is upside down among Wisconsin adults. 35% approve compared with 53% who disapprove including 43% who say they strongly disapprove. And, more than six in ten Wisconsin residents (63%) do not think President Trump should be re-elected. These factors set the stage for contentious midterm elections in the Badger State this November.
According to this NBC News/Marist Poll of Wisconsin, nearly three in four registered voters statewide (73%) perceive this November’s midterm elections to be very important. A majority (54%) say their vote will send a message that more Democrats are needed to serve as a check on President Trump’s power.
Democrats currently have the advantage in Wisconsin. A plurality of voters (47%) report they prefer Democratic control of Congress, and the Democrats have a double-digit lead in the congressional generic ballot question. When matched against potential Republican candidates for U.S. Senate, Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin leads. The Democrats are also well-positioned to take the governor’s mansion.
More than six in ten voters (61%), including 61% of independents, say Republican incumbent Governor Scott Walker does not deserve to be re-elected. Walker trails his potential Democratic opponent Tony Evers by 13 points.
“The Republicans have made gains in Wisconsin,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “But it may be difficult for the GOP to make a convincing case in 2018.”
While 54% of Wisconsin voters indicate their vote for Congress will be a message to balance presidential power, 36% say their vote will send the message that more Republicans are needed to advance President Trump’s agenda. Independents and women make the difference. 53% of independents and 61% of women say their vote will convey a need for checks and balances. Men divide. 46% say there is a need to balance presidential power. 45% say the president’s agenda should move forward. Of note, white voters with and without a college degree are more likely to say their vote calls for a check on Trump. However, those with a college degree (58%) are more likely than those without a college diploma (48%) to have this view.
47% of voters prefer Democratic control of Congress while 39% favor Republican control. Again, women (54%) and white voters with a college education (54%) are more likely to favor Democratic control than their counterparts. Pluralities of men (46%) and white voters without a college degree (46%) prefer Republican control. Of note, 40% of independents would like the Democrats to regain control compared with 35% who would like the Republicans to remain in charge. 25% are undecided.
When looking at the generic congressional ballot question, the Democratic candidate (51%) is 13 points over the Republican candidate (38%) among registered voters. Here too women, white voters with a college education, and independents are driving forces. The Democratic candidate is up 30 points among women, 17 points among white voters with a college degree, and 13 points among independents. Men (43% for the Democratic candidate to 47% for the Republican) and white voters without a college degree (46% for the Democratic candidate and 43% for the Republican) divide.
Incumbent Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin (54%) leads her potential Republican challenger Kevin Nicholson (39%) by 15 points among registered voters in Wisconsin including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate. Baldwin (55%) also has a 17-point lead against potential Republican opponent Leah Vukmir (38%).
In the Republican primary for Senate, Nicholson receives 38% of potential GOP primary voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate. Vukmir garners 28%. 34% are undecided. However, among likely Republican voters, Nicholson’s lead shrinks to 3 points, 38% to 35% for Vukmir.
More than twice as many of Vukmir’s supporters (57%) express a firm commitment to their candidate than do Nicholson’s backers (26%).
In Wisconsin’s gubernatorial contest, Democrat Tony Evers (54%) leads Republican incumbent Scott Walker (41%) among registered voters statewide. In the Democratic primary contest, Evers (25%) leads a very crowded field. His closest competitors, Mike McCabe and Kathleen Vinehout, each receive 7% of the potential Democratic electorate including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate. 41% are undecided. Only 38% of the potential Democratic electorate with a candidate preference for governor say they strongly support their choice of candidate.
Perceptions of President Trump’s performance on the economy closely match the president’s overall job approval score (35%). 38% of Wisconsin residents assert the national economy is improving and give Trump some of the credit for that improvement. 30% perceive an improved economy but do not attribute the boost to the president. 28% do not think the economy is improving at all.
58% of Wisconsin adults, including 31% of Republicans, say Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible wrongdoing and Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election is a fair probe. 28% call it a “witch hunt” including 55% of Republicans.