October 12, 2018
NBC News/Marist Poll Results and Analysis of Wisconsin
In Wisconsin where President Donald Trump’s job approval rating has received a 6-point boost among residents, three in four registered voters statewide, including 87% of Democrats and 79% of Republicans, say they consider this year’s midterm elections to be very important. A majority of voters also report their vote will send a message that their ballot will signal the need to check the power of President Trump. Yet, the Democrats’ advantage on the generic congressional ballot question and the question of congressional control has slipped.
75% of Wisconsin voters consider the midterm election stakes to be high this year. While there has been little change in the proportion of Republicans who consider the elections to be very important, an increasing proportion of Democrats (87% up from 78% in July) have this view.
Comparable to the July NBC News/Marist Poll of Wisconsin, a majority of registered voters in the state (53%) say their midterm election vote will send a message that more Democrats are needed to counter President Trump. 39% report their ballot will signal more Republicans are needed to help pass the Trump agenda.
“While President Trump’s popularity in the state he narrowly carried in 2016 has improved, his standing remains upside down,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Coupled with the enthusiasm advantage Democrats have over Republicans in the state, Democrats are positioned to hold their senate seat and lay claim to the governorship.”
By four points, registered voters tell the NBC News/Marist Poll, they prefer a Congress controlled by Democrats (47%) rather than Republicans (43%). The Democrats had an eight-point advantage on this question (47% to 39%) in July.
The Democrats’ advantage on the generic congressional ballot question has also narrowed. The Democrats (50%) currently have a 6-point lead over the Republicans (44%). In July, the Democrats’ had a 13-point advantage.
There has been a narrowing of the gap between the preference for Democratic or Republican candidates among voters under the age of 45. The Democrats (52%) still have a 10-point lead over the Republicans (42%) among these voters, but this has narrowed from +22 points in July.
A stark gender gap still exists although it too has narrowed from 34 points in July to 28 points now. A majority of men (52%), including 62% of white men without a college degree, favor a Republican candidate for Congress compared with a majority of women (56%), including 66% of white women with a college degree, who plan to back the Democratic candidate in their district.
The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is a voting issue. 41% of voters say they are more likely to back a candidate who opposed the Kavanaugh nomination, and 32% report they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supported the nomination. 24% say the appointment will make no difference to their vote.
Health care (28%) followed closely by the economy and jobs (26%) are the top voting issues among Wisconsin registered voters. A plurality of Democrats (41%) mention health care while the plurality of Republicans (35%) cite the economy and jobs. Among independents, 31% say health care is the most important factor in deciding their vote while 26% say the economy and jobs is the number one determinant.
In the contest for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin, Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin (54%) leads her Republican challenger Leah Vukmir (40%) by double digits among likely voters statewide including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate. Among registered voters, Baldwin (53%) has a similar 13-point advantage against Vukmir (40%). In an NBC News/Marist Poll conducted before the Wisconsin primary, Baldwin (55%) was ahead of Vukmir (38%) among registered voters in what was, then, a hypothetical contest.
69% of likely voters with a candidate preference for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin say they strongly support their choice. 74% of Baldwin’s backers, compared with 63% of Vukmir’s supporters, express a strong level of commitment to their candidate. 12% of likely voters are persuadable in this contest, that is, they are either undecided or report they may vote differently.
51% of likely voters in Wisconsin have a favorable opinion of Baldwin. 39% have an unfavorable one, and 10% have either never heard of Baldwin or are unsure how to rate her. Vukmir’s favorable rating is upside down (34% favorable to 42% unfavorable) among likely voters. A notable 24% have either never heard of Vukmir or are unsure how to rate her.
“Driving this contest is Baldwin’s popularity with Wisconsin voters,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Vukmir has come up short in her attempt to carve out a positive state image.”
Governor Scott Walker’s reelection bid is in jeopardy. The Republican (42%) currently trails Democrat Tony Evers (50%) by eight points among likely voters statewide including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate. Libertarian candidate Philip Anderson receives 3%, and Green Party candidate Michael White has 2%. Among registered voters, Evers receives 49% to Walker’s 42% in this multi-candidate field.
69% of likely voters with a candidate preference for Wisconsin governor say they strongly support their selection. Although Governor Walker lags in the candidate preference question for governor, 80% of his supporters, compared with 66% of Evers’ backers, say they are firmly committed to their candidate. 12% of voters are persuadable in this contest, meaning they are either undecided or have a candidate preference and report they may vote differently.
“Although Walker’s re-election prospects have slightly improved since July, he still trails Evers” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Working in Walker’s favor is the loyalty of his supporters. Working against him is his high negatives statewide.”
In a head-to-head matchup between Evers and Walker, Evers’ lead widens to 10 points among Wisconsin likely voters, 53% to 43%. Evers receives majority support (52%) and leads Walker (43%) by nine points among registered voters statewide if there were no third party candidates in the race. In July, Evers had a 13-point lead over Walker among registered voters.
Nearly half of likely voters in Wisconsin (49%) have a favorable view of Evers. 38% have an unfavorable one, and 13% have either never heard of him or are unsure how to rate him. Walker’s favorable rating is upside down (42% favorable to 54% unfavorable) among likely voters. Four percent have either never heard of Walker or are unsure how to rate him.
President Trump’s job approval rating in Wisconsin has improved. 41% of residents statewide, including 44% of registered voters, approve of the job the president is doing in office. This marks a 6-point increase in the president’s score among residents (35% in July) and an 8-point improvement (36% previously) among voters. 49% of residents, including the same proportion of registered voters disapprove. In July, 53% of residents, including 52% of voters, disapproved. There is a wide gender gap, 32 points, between how men and women rate the job Trump is doing as president. Men approve 49% to 40% disapprove. Only 34% of women rate the job the president is doing positively, and 57% characterize it negatively.
Overall though, the difference between Wisconsin adults who strongly approve of President Trump’s job performance and those who strongly disapprove has improved from a net -21 points to a net -12.