Marquette Poll: Liberalism gaining ground in Wisconsin

Not known for having a liberal bias, the Marquette University poll results released yesterday provide some solid evidence that, with a couple exceptions, the Republican wave of 2010 is waning in Wisconsin.

Key points:

  • Gov. Walker is in trouble. Though 70% of those polled don’t know much about her, brand new Dem. gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke trails Walker by only 2 points, well within the poll’s margin of error. Kathleen Vinehout, another possible Democratic candidate, was a mere 3 points back. That both of these women poll so well already suggests that the so-called gender gap, in which women tend to vote more liberally than men, is now squarely in play.
  • A solid majority (56% to 37%) oppose Walker’s rejection of federal funds for the expansion of Medicaid in the state.
  • 53% of Wisconsinites now approve of legal same-sex marriage. Only 19% still support no legal recognition, including civil unions.
  • 56% oppose mandatory ultrasounds for women seeking an abortion. 38% support the bill.
  • Sen. Tammy Baldwin is now favorably approved by 47% of voters in Wisconsin, an increase of 7 points since May.  Sen. Ron Johnson is favorable only in the eyes of 28.5% these days.
  • A large majority (61%) support letting illegal immigrants stay here and apply for citizenship.

Regarding the gender gap, here’s what the Marquette Law School Poll website has to say:

Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll, said, “The gender gap is due in part to the fact that women are more likely to identify themselves as Democrats, rather than purely a response to the candidates.”

While 28 percent of both men and women call themselves Republicans, 35 percent of women consider themselves Democrats, with 29 percent of men doing so. Thirty-three percent of women call themselves independent versus 41 percent among men.

As I understand it, Republicans have a 56% to 54% advantage if all Republicans vote Republican and all Democrats vote Democratic. But the poll results imply that women as a group and independents are, at least at this point, leaning to the left.

The only clear victory for conservatives is the support for expanding school vouchers statewide–51% support to 44% oppose–but the winning margin is not large.

Yes, the two recent tax cuts to state residents are viewed favorably in the poll, but a surprising 65% told the Marquette pollsters that tax cuts “generally do more for the wealthy.” A mere 18% said tax cuts help the middle class. 9% say cutting taxes help the poor.

The understanding that the rich benefit most from the sort of tax cuts Walker and the Republicans have enabled is a progressive notion and bodes well. And despite  Republican propaganda to the contrary, a slight majority still feel that Wisconsin is behind other states in job creation.

Finally, the poll says Hillary Clinton led all the possible Republican candidates for the 2016 presidential election. Personally, I’d prefer Baldwin or Sen. Elizabeth Warren, but I’m just, as Thoreau wrote, a “majority of one.”

UPDATE: As for the wisdom of expanding the school voucher system, the little-noted fact that 79% of the 500 new voucher students had not previously attended public schools suggests that moving students out of “poorly performing” public schools is not much the reality. The reality seems to be that the vouchers work as a kind of state subsidy for parents already disposed to sending their children to private schools. Only a small percentage were previously home-schooled. If this sounds like unconstitutional and irresponsible public support of private education, well, it probably is.

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