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Wisconsin 2022 elections: Governor, senate races are 'tossups', Marquette Law poll finds

Among likely voters surveyed, both Tim Michels and Tony Evers had 48% support.
wisconsin 2022 elections
Posted at 12:35 PM, Nov 02, 2022

MILWAUKEE — Marquette University's law school released the results of its latest poll survey, showing extremely tight races for both U.S. Senator and Wisconsin Governor. The poll results revealed both races are tossups, with margins in this poll narrower than in October.

According to the latest results, 50% of likely voters polled support Republican Ron Johnson in the race for senator. His competitor, Mandela Barnes, received 48% of the vote from those surveyed. Among all registered voters surveyed, Johnson had 48% of the support while Barnes had 45%.

The race for governor is even tighter, with Tony Evers and Tim Michels both receiving support from 48% of likely voters surveyed. When looking at all the registered voters who were surveyed, Michels has 45% of the support while Evers has 44%.

Marquette also asked survey participants whether they believed the candidates care about people like them. For Evers, 52% of participants say yes, and 40% say no. For Michels, 43% say yes, and 46% say no. For Barnes, 49% say yes, and 42% say no. For Johnson, 43% say yes, and 49% say no.

The poll was conducted from Oct. 24 through Nov. 1 and has a margin of error of +/-4.6 percentage points. More than 800 registered voters took part, and about 670 of them are likely voters.

You can see complete poll results and methodology information on Marquette's website.

(a) Likely voters

Poll datesEversMichelsBeglingerOtherDon’t knowRefused
10/24-11/1/2248482010
10/3-9/2247464111
9/6-11/2247445030
8/10-15/2248444021

(b) Registered voters

Poll datesEversMichelsBeglingerOtherDon’t knowRefused
10/24-11/1/2244455033
10/3-9/2246417131
9/6-11/2244438140
8/10-15/2245437032

Table 2 shows the trend in support for the Senate candidates among likely voters and among registered voters since August.

Table 2: Vote for U.S. Senate

(a) Likely voters

Poll datesBarnesJohnsonNeitherDon’t knowRefused
10/24-11/1/224850011
10/3-9/224652111
9/6-11/224849110
8/10-15/225245011

(b) Registered voters

Poll datesBarnesJohnsonNeitherDon’t knowRefused
10/24-11/1/224548213
10/3-9/224747421
9/6-11/224748330
8/10-15/225144131

Partisan support for the candidates in the race for governor is shown in Table 3 among likely voters. Both Democratic and Republican voters are strongly unified behind their respective party’s candidates, with 95% of Democrats supporting Evers and 97% of Republicans supporting Michels. Forty-seven percent of independents back Evers, while 46% prefer Michels. The independent candidate, Beglinger, receives 5% from independent voters and 1% from Republicans and 1% from Democrats.

Table 3: Vote for Governor by party identification (among likely voters)

(a) Oct. 24-Nov. 1

Party IDEversMichelsBeglingerDon’t knowRefused
Republican297100
Independent4746510
Democrat952110

(b) Oct. 3-9

Party IDEversMichelsBeglingerOtherDon’t knowRefused
Republican6884021
Independent43447113
Democrat9621000

(c) Sept. 6-11

Party IDEversMichelsBeglingerOtherDon’t knowRefused
Republican3922031
Independent453911050
Democrat9542000

(d) Aug. 10-15

Party IDEversMichelsBeglingerOtherDon’t knowRefused
Republican5922010
Independent49387042
Democrat9423001

Partisan support for the U.S. Senate candidates is shown in Table 4 among likely voters. Partisans are strongly aligned with their party’s candidates, with 98% of Democrats supporting Barnes and 97% of Republicans supporting Johnson. Forty-six percent of independents back Barnes, while 53% prefer Johnson. In early October 45% favored Barnes and 51% backed Johnson.

Table 4: Vote for U.S. Senate by party identification (among likely voters)

(a) Oct. 24-Nov. 1

Party IDBarnesJohnsonNeitherDon’t knowRefused
Republican397000
Independent4653100
Democrat980020

(b) Oct. 3-9

Party IDBarnesJohnsonNeitherDon’t knowRefused
Republican396001
Independent4551311
Democrat935020

(c) Sept. 6-11

Party IDBarnesJohnsonNeitherDon’t knowRefused
Republican297100
Independent4648230
Democrat964000

(d) Aug. 10-15

Party IDBarnesJohnsonNeitherDon’t knowRefused
Republican694000
Independent5540033
Democrat990000

Among Republicans, 83% are “likely voters”: that is, they say they are absolutely certain to vote in November’s elections or have already voted. The same is true of 89% of Democrats and 72% of independents. Early voting accounts for some of the Democratic advantage in those percentages, with 10% of Democrats saying they have already voted compared to 3% of Republicans. Those who have already voted are included in the percentages who are certain to vote. Certainty of voting by party is shown in Table 5; those who have already voted are included in the percentages who are “absolutely certain” to vote. In early October, Republicans were slightly more likely than Democrats to say they were certain to vote.

Table 5: What are the chances that you will vote in the November 2022 general election for governor, Congress, and other offices – are you absolutely certain to vote, very likely to vote, are the chances 50-50, or don’t you think you will vote? (“Absolutely certain” includes those who have already voted) by party identification

(a) Oct. 24-Nov. 1

Party IDAbsolutely certainVery likely50-50Will not voteRefused
Republican8310520
Independent7213961
Democrat895230

(b) Oct. 3-9

Party IDAbsolutely certainVery likely50-50Will not vote
Republican841141
Independent6917113
Democrat831070

(c) Sept. 6-11

Party IDAbsolutely certainVery likely50-50Will not vote
Republican771633
Independent7113123
Democrat801270

(d) Aug. 10-15

Party IDAbsolutely certainVery likely50-50Will not vote
Republican831142
Independent6616143
Democrat82855

The effect of different levels of turnout on the vote for governor is shown in Table 6. The first row shows preference among all registered voters, while the second row shows the results for an electorate composed of those either “absolutely certain” to vote or “very likely” to vote. The third row shows the results among only the most likely voters: those who say they are “absolutely certain” to vote. (As explained above and consistently with past practice, this last group constitutes “likely voters” in this release.)

Table 6: Vote for Governor by certainty of voting

How likely to voteEversMichelsBeglingerOtherDon’t know
All registered voters4445503
Absolutely certain or very likely to vote4747402
Absolutely certain to vote only4848201

The vote preferences of those less than certain to vote differ from the preferences among those certain to vote, which also affects the difference in vote margin between “likely voters” and all registered voters. Table 7 shows vote for governor comparing those absolutely certain to vote (“likely voters”) and those who say they are not certain to vote. Those less than certain to vote support Michels over Evers but are also much more likely to choose the independent candidate, to say they don’t know or to refuse to say.

Table 7: Vote for governor by whether people are certain or less than certain to vote

Certainty of votingEversMichelsBeglingerOtherDon’t knowRefused
Absolutely certain48482010
Less than certain3134160119

Table 8 shows the vote for U.S. Senate by certainty of voting.

Table 8: Vote for U.S. Senate by certainty of voting

How likely to voteBarnesJohnsonNeitherDon’t know
All registered voters454821
Absolutely certain or very likely to vote484911
Absolutely certain to vote only485001

Table 9 shows vote preference for Senate comparing those who say they are absolutely certain to vote and those who say they are not. As with the vote for governor, the less likely give an edge to the Republican, Johnson, although those less likely to vote are also far more likely to not favor either candidate than are those absolutely certain to vote.

Table 9: Vote for U.S. Senate by whether people are certain or less than certain to vote

Certainty of votingBarnesJohnsonNeitherDon’t knowRefused
Absolutely certain4850011
Less than certain33438411

Those who are not certain to vote are much less enthusiastic about voting and pay less attention to politics than are those certain to vote, as shown in Table 10 (a) and Table 10 (b).

Table 10: Enthusiasm and attention to politics by certainty of voting

(a) How enthusiastic are you about voting in the elections this November for governor, senator, and other offices?

Certainty of votingVerySomewhatNot tooNot at allDon’t knowRefused
Absolutely certain79133410
Less than certain1141133320

(b) Some people seem to follow what’s going on in politics most of the time, whether there’s an election going on or not. Others aren’t that interested. Would you say you follow what’s going on in politics …?

Certainty of votingMost of the timeSome of the timeOnly now and thenHardly at allRefused
Absolutely certain7719310
Less than certain361724230

Perceived candidate traits

Table 11 shows the favorable and unfavorable ratings of the candidates among all registered voters since June, along with those who say they haven’t heard enough or don’t know.

The non-incumbents have become substantially better known following their primary victories on Aug. 9, although they remain less well known than the incumbents.

Table 11: Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of [INSERT NAME] or haven’t you heard enough about them yet? (among registered voters)

(a) Evers

Poll datesFavorableUnfavorableHaven’t heard enoughDon’t knowRefused
10/24-11/1/224446631
10/3-9/224446631
9/6-11/224545730
8/10-15/224641660
6/14-20/2244421120

(b) Michels

Poll datesFavorableUnfavorableHaven’t heard enoughDon’t knowRefused
10/24-11/1/2239391651
10/3-9/2236362071
9/6-11/2234391981
8/10-15/22333324100
6/14-20/2222225150

(c) Beglinger

Poll datesFavorableUnfavorableHaven’t heard enoughDon’t knowRefused
10/24-11/1/221363311
10/3-9/221666261
9/6-11/223663280

(d) Barnes

Poll datesFavorableUnfavorableHaven’t heard enoughDon’t knowRefused
10/24-11/1/2240441141
10/3-9/2239401560
9/6-11/2233322591
8/10-15/22372230110
6/14-20/2221165760

(e) Johnson

Poll datesFavorableUnfavorableHaven’t heard enoughDon’t knowRefused
10/24-11/1/224346731
10/3-9/224145941
9/6-11/2239471131
8/10-15/223847960
6/14-20/2237461420

Table 12 shows the perceptions of which candidates better understand the problems of ordinary people in Wisconsin over the course of the fall campaign.

Table 12: Who do you think better understands the problems faced by ordinary people in Wisconsin, …? (among registered voters)

(a) … Tony Evers or Tim Michels?

Poll datesTony EversTim MichelsBothNeitherDon’t knowRefused
10/24-11/1/2248440251
10/3-9/2247390570
9/6-11/2247410470

(b) … Mandela Barnes or Ron Johnson?

Poll datesMandela BarnesRon JohnsonBothNeitherDon’t knowRefused
10/24-11/1/2244450271
10/3-9/2247401580
9/6-11/2244401690

Table 13 shows the perception that candidates “share my values.” There has been some increase in the percentage of those polled who say the candidates “don’t share my values,” with less change in the percentage perceiving shared values. These shifts are somewhat larger for the non-incumbent candidates, Michels and Barnes, who were less well known at the beginning of the fall campaign.

Table 13: For each of the following candidates, would you say they are someone who shares your values or don’t they share your values? (among registered voters)

CandidatePoll datesShares valuesDoesn’t share valuesDon’t know
Evers10/24-11/1/2248466
Evers10/3-9/2248475
Evers9/6-11/2247485
Evers8/10-15/2250419
Michels10/24-11/1/22414711
Michels10/3-9/22434512
Michels9/6-11/22414711
Michels8/10-15/22383823
Barnes10/24-11/1/2244469
Barnes10/3-9/22444412
Barnes9/6-11/22444115
Barnes8/10-15/22453124
Johnson10/24-11/1/2244497
Johnson10/3-9/2246477
Johnson9/6-11/2242517
Johnson8/10-15/22405010

Table 14 shows the perception that candidates “care about people like you.” The images of the challengers, Michels and Barnes, have seen shifts with fewer saying they don’t know enough and increases in the percent saying a candidate “doesn’t care,” while the percent saying “cares” has changed little. The images of the two incumbents, Evers and Johnson, have barely shifted since August.

Table 14: For each of the following candidates, would you say they are someone who cares about people like you, or don’t they care about people like you? (among registered voters)

CandidatePoll datesCaresDoesn’t careDon’t know
Evers10/24-11/1/2252408
Evers8/10-15/2254389
Michels10/24-11/1/22434611
Michels8/10-15/22383823
Barnes10/24-11/1/2249428
Barnes8/10-15/22502723
Johnson10/24-11/1/2243497
Johnson8/10-15/22414910

Evers job approval

Table 15 shows approval since Feb. 2022 of how Evers has handled his job as governor. After declining net approval for much of the year, there have been slight upturns in the last two polls, with approval at 46% and disapproval at 47% in the latest survey.

Table 15: Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the way Tony Evers is handling his job as Governor of Wisconsin? (among registered voters)

Poll datesNet approvalApproveDisapproveDon’t knowRefused
10/24-11/1/22-1464762
10/3-9/22-2464851
9/6-11/22-3444780
8/10-15/222474581
6/14-20/223484561
4/19-24/226494371
2/22-27/229504181

Important issues

In each Marquette Law School poll since August 2021, respondents have been asked to rate how concerned they are with a variety of issues. Table 16 shows the concern with nine issues in the current survey, sorted from highest to lowest percent saying they are “very concerned.”

Table 16: How concerned are you about each of the following? Are you very concerned, somewhat concerned, not too concerned, or not at all concerned with … (among registered voters)

IssueVery concernedSomewhat concernedNot too concernedNot at all concerned
Inflation682462
Public Schools622855
Crime5728113
Gun violence5625107
Accurate vote count56171313
Abortion policy522699
Taxes4836123
Illegal immigration40291615
Coronavirus16362226

Inflation ranks as the top issue concern in this poll. After peaking in June, concern about inflation has been slightly lower since then but remains atop the list.

Table 17: Concern about inflation, Aug. 2021-Oct. 2022 (among registered voters)

Poll datesVery concernedSomewhat concernedNot too concernedNot at all concerned
10/24-11/1/22682462
10/3-9/22682551
9/6-11/22702452
8/10-15/22672740
6/14-20/22752041
4/19-24/22692361
2/22-27/22682831
10/26-31/21642861
8/3-8/214935113

Partisans differ substantially in their concern over particular issues, as shown in Table 18. Panel (a) is sorted by Republican concern. Panel (b) is sorted by concern among Democrats. Panel (c) is sorted by concern among independents. The entries are the percent of each partisan group who say they are “very concerned” about the issue. Republicans and Democrats have different top concerns—an accurate vote count and inflation for Republicans, and abortion policy and gun violence for Democrats—while independents put inflation and public schools as their top concerns.

Table 18: Issue concerns by party identification, percent “very concerned” (among registered voters)

(a) Sorted by concern among Republicans

IssueRepublicanIndependentDemocrat
Accurate vote count815038
Inflation807838
Crime795537
Illegal immigration71389
Taxes625421
Public schools586462
Gun violence445376
Abortion policy334781
Coronavirus81421

(b) Sorted by concern among Democrats

IssueRepublicanIndependentDemocrat
Abortion policy334781
Gun violence445376
Public schools586462
Accurate vote count815038
Inflation807838
Crime795537
Coronavirus81421
Taxes625421
Illegal immigration71389

(c) Sorted by concern among Independents

IssueRepublicanIndependentDemocrat
Inflation807838
Public schools586462
Crime795537
Taxes625421
Gun violence445376
Accurate vote count815038
Abortion policy334781
Illegal immigration71389
Coronavirus81421

Abortion

Awareness of the Supreme Court’s decision in June that overturned Roe v. Wade remains quite high. Seventy-eight percent say they have heard a lot about the decision, 19% have heard a little and 2% have heard nothing at all. Awareness has changed little since August, when 79% had heard a lot, 17% had heard a little and 3% had heard nothing at all. Table 19 shows attention to the decision by party identification in the current poll.

Table 19: How much have you heard or read about a recent United States Supreme Court decision on abortion? total and by party identification (among registered voters)

Party IDA lotA littleNothing at allDon’t know
Total781920
Republican752230
Independent772020
Democrat851410

The decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is opposed by a majority of Wisconsin registered voters, including majorities of independents and Democrats, while it is favored by a majority of Republicans in the state, as shown in Table 20.

Table 20: Do you favor or oppose the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe versus Wade, thus striking down the 1973 decision that made abortion legal in all 50 states? Total and by party identification (among registered voters)

(a) Oct. 24-Nov. 1

Party IDFavorOpposeHaven’t heard of decisionDon’t KnowRefused
Total3755062
Republican7222051
Independent3552193
Democrat492021

(b) Oct. 3-9

Party IDFavorOpposeHaven’t heard of decisionDon’t KnowRefused
Total3360142
Republican6132133
Independent3060162
Democrat789130

(c) Sept. 6-11

Party IDFavorOpposeHaven’t heard of decisionDon’t KnowRefused
Total3063052
Republican5929084
Independent2866051
Democrat395020

(d) Aug. 10-15

Party IDFavorOpposeHaven’t heard of decisionDon’t KnowRefused
Total3360142
Republican6228082
Independent3162223
Democrat592021

The respondents overwhelmingly support allowing legal abortions in the case of rape or incest. Support within each partisan group is 70% or more, as shown in Table 21.

Table 21: Do you think Wisconsin should or should not allow a woman to obtain a legal abortion if she became pregnant as the result of rape or incest? Total and by party identification (among registered voters)

(a) Oct. 24-Nov. 1

Party IDShould allowShould not allowDon’t KnowRefused
Total841042
Republican732142
Independent83854
Democrat97310

(b) Oct. 3-9

Party IDShould allowShould not allowDon’t KnowRefused
Total831142
Republican721972
Independent83953
Democrat95401

(c) Sept. 6-11

Party IDShould allowShould not allowDon’t KnowRefused
Total831052
Republican702083
Independent83962
Democrat96220

Schools

If asked to choose between increasing state support for students to attend private schools or increasing funding for public schools, 29% favor more money for private school students while 63% prefer more state money go to public schools. Views on this issue differ by party identification, as shown in Table 22.

Table 22: If you were making the choice for the next Wisconsin state budget between increasing state support for students to attend private schools or increasing state support for public schools, which would you favor, private schools or public schools? total and by party identification (among registered voters)

Party IDPrivate schoolsPublic schoolsBoth equally (VOL)Neither (VOL)Don’t know
Total2963313
Republican4940126
Independent3062313
Democrat790201

Forty-six percent of registered voters say it is more important to reduce property taxes when compared to increasing spending on public schools, while 48% say it is more important to increase spending on public schools. When asked in early October, 42% said reduce property taxes and 52% said increase spending on public schools. Table 23 shows the partisan divide on support for property tax cuts vs. spending on schools in the current survey.

Table 23: Which is more important to you: reduce property taxes or increase spending on public schools? Total and by party identification (among registered voters)

Party IDReducing property taxesIncreasing spending on public schoolsDon’t knowRefused
Total464851
Republican722081
Independent474831
Democrat168040

Opinion on the choice between reducing property taxes and increasing funding for public schools has varied substantially over time. There had been more concern about property taxes prior to 2015, when support for school funding surged. The gap between the two options has narrowed since 2020, as shown in Table 24

Table 24: Which is more important to you: reduce property taxes or increase spending on public schools? (among registered voters)

Poll datesReducing property taxesIncreasing spending on public schoolsDon’t knowRefused
10/24-11/1/22464851
10/3-9/22425250
9/6-11/22415153
8/10-15/22435250
4/19-24/22465040
8/3-8/21425251
2/19-23/20385651
1/8-12/20415541
1/16-20/19395560
10/24-28/18405541
10/3-7/18375761
9/12-16/18385750
8/15-19/18326151
6/13-17/18355950
2/25-3/1/18336331
4/7-10/15405451
5/6-9/13494641
3/11-13/13494641

State funding for police

There is very high support for the state to increase funding for police, with 78% in favor of more state aid for police while 15% are opposed. Majorities of each partisan group support an increase in state support for police.

Table 25: Do you favor or oppose increasing state funding for local police in Wisconsin? Total and by party identification (among registered voters)

Party IDFavorOpposeDon’t KnowRefused
Total781562
Republican95231
Independent801271
Democrat583273

Parental leave

A majority, 73%, favor requiring businesses to provide paid leave for new parents, while 18% are opposed. In August, 78% favored this and 17% were opposed. Majorities of each partisan group favor a parental leave policy, as shown in Table 26.

Table 26: Do you favor or oppose a proposal that would require businesses to provide paid family leave for mothers and fathers of new babies? Total and by party identification (among registered voters)

Party IDFavorOpposeDon’t KnowRefused
Total731882
Republican6226102
Independent6523102
Democrat95320

Direction of state and family financial situation

A majority of respondents, 58%, think the state is off on the wrong track, while 34% say it is headed in the right direction. The trend since 2020 is shown in Table 27.

Table 27: Thinking just about the state of Wisconsin, do you feel things in Wisconsin are generally going in the right direction, or do you feel things have gotten off on the wrong track? (among registered voters)

Poll datesRight directionWrong trackDon’t knowRefused
10/24-11/1/22345881
10/3-9/22316360
9/6-11/22405371
8/10-15/22355690
6/14-20/22375660
4/19-24/22365670
2/22-27/22395381
10/26-31/21415171
8/3-8/21395290
3/24-29/20613091
2/19-23/20523980
1/8-12/20464761

The percentage saying their family is “living comfortably” has declined since 2020, while percentages of those “just getting by” and “struggling” have risen, as shown in Table 28.

Table 28: Thinking about your family’s financial situation, would you say you are living comfortably, just getting by, or struggling to make ends meet? (among registered voters)

Poll datesLiving comfortablyJust getting byStrugglingDon’t knowRefused
10/24-11/1/2250381001
10/3-9/2253351110
9/6-11/2256331100
8/10-15/2254361001
8/3-8/216031701
10/21-25/206726601
9/30-10/4/206030911
8/30-9/3/206032801
8/4-9/206328810
6/14-18/206131611
5/3-7/206128901
3/24-29/2059301000
2/19-23/206229801
1/8-12/206328800
12/3-8/1962271111
11/13-17/196625801
8/25-29/195930910
4/3-7/195931900
1/16-20/196030910
10/24-28/186030901
10/3-7/186329700
9/12-16/1856321210
8/15-19/186328900
6/13-17/1858301111
2/25-3/1/185434