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Poll shows strong support for Gov. Tony Evers priorities

Posted at 3:48 PM, Jan 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-24 16:48:18-05

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A poll released Thursday suggests there is strong support for some of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' top priorities, even though the Republicans who control the Legislature oppose nearly all of them.

The Marquette University Law School poll is the first since Evers won election in November. It was released two days after his first State of the State speech and about a month before he will put forward his first state budget, which will include the bulk of his proposals for the next two years.

The poll showed that a majority of respondents want Wisconsin to accept federal Medicaid expansion, increase the minimum wage and public school funding, and take a nonpartisan approach to drawing the state's electoral maps. There is also majority support for withdrawing Wisconsin from a multi-state lawsuit that seeks to repeal the federal health care law and for legalizing recreational marijuana.

Evers has voiced support for all of those ideas.

Evers' spokeswoman, Melissa Baldauff, said the poll results show the people "overwhelmingly agree" with the governor on the issues, including expanding Medicaid and raising the minimum wage.

The poll of 800 registered voters was conducted between Jan. 16 and Sunday and had an error rate of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

The poll was taken in Evers' second week in office and more than a third of respondents -- 38 percent -- had no opinion of the job he's doing. Thirty-nine percent approved of his job performance and 22 percent disapproved.

The numbers for the Republican-controlled Legislature were better, with 52 percent approving of the job it is doing and 31 percent disapproving. Pollster Charles Franklin called that a surprise, given other poll numbers that showed 55 percent disapproved of the lame-duck session that Republicans called last month in which they took powers away from the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general.

The poll found that 46 percent of respondents said they don't think Republican legislative leaders are cooperating with Evers, while 47 percent think Evers is trying to work with them.

On the issues:

-- 72 percent said they support nonpartisan redistricting for legislative seats, with just 18 percent backing the current system in which the Legislature draws the maps for the governor to approve. Evers and legislative Democrats also want nonpartisan redistricting, but Republicans do not. The next round of redistricting will occur in 2021.

-- 62 percent said they support accepting federal money to expand Medicaid by about 76,000 more poor people in Wisconsin, which Evers wants to do but Republicans strongly oppose.

-- 55 percent support raising the minimum wage. Evers has said he will provide a "pathway" for that in his budget, but Republicans don't support increasing it.

-- 59 percent support legalizing marijuana. Evers has said he will propose a "first step " toward legalizing medical marijuana, but also supports full legalization. Republicans generally oppose full legalization, although some have said they could back limited uses for medical purposes.

-- 48 percent want Wisconsin to withdraw from a multi-state lawsuit seeking repeal of the federal health care law. Evers wants Wisconsin out of it, but a law passed during the lame-duck session gives Republican lawmakers that power instead of the governor.

-- 55 percent would prefer to increase spending on K-12 public schools, while 39 percent said they would rather reduce property taxes. Both Republicans and Democrats have said they want to increase funding, but they disagree by how much.

-- In a sign of how difficult it will to reach a deal on road funding, 52 percent said they don't support raising gas taxes or fees for that purpose. Evers has said he's open to that, but he has yet to make any proposal. Republicans disagreed among themselves last session about whether to raise taxes and fees and ultimately put off a long-term solution by deciding to borrow more money instead.


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AP-WF-01-24-19 2059GMT