Wisconsin Governor Race Poll: Walker, Evers Tied

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his Democratic opponent Tony Evers are tied in the latest Marquette University Law School poll, which was released on October 31, 2018, less than a week before the gubernatorial election.
Walker and Evers, who is the state Schools Superintendent, each received 47 percent support among likely voters. Libertarian candidate Phil Anderson receives 3 percent, and only 1 percent say they lack a preference or do not lean to a candidate, according to the poll. (The last Marquette poll had Walker at 47 percent, Evers at 46 percent and Anderson by 5 percent among likely voters.) Among registered voters, Walker fares somewhat better, showing the importance of get out the vote efforts to each candidate.
Likely voters cared most about healthcare, education, and the economy on that order. Walker, who has historically defined himself as a tax cutter and who championed the Act 10 reforms and school funding cuts early on, would seem to fare better if that order were flipped. The poll bears this out. Voters who care most about healthcare and education swung widely to Evers, with voters caring most about the economy swinging widely to Walker.
Voters are extraordinarily polarized in Wisconsin, a phenomenon which dates back to Act 10 collective bargaining reforms and the heated recall that failed against Walker. Almost all Democrats support Evers; almost all Republicans support Walker. The game is GOTV and also for independents, who are breaking for Evers 49% to 42%.
As a point of contrast: In the last Marquette poll that correctly predicted Walker’s victory over Democrat Mary Burke in the last governor’s race in 2014, independents supported Walker by 46 percent to 40 percent over Burke.
Walker does best in the latest poll with white men, both college and non-college educated, whereas women of all races and non-whites tilt to Evers.
Walker receives 47 percent, with Evers receiving 44 percent and Anderson at 5 percent among registered voters.
Marquette says of the latest poll: “The poll was conducted Oct. 24-28, 2018. The sample included 1,400 registered voters in Wisconsin interviewed by cell phone or landline, with a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points. For likely voters, the sample size is 1,154 and the margin of error is +/- 3.2 percentage points.” You can read the poll here.
In one recent poll, 6% supported the Libertarian candidate, showing that some voters might be turning to the more established candidates.
The Marquette poll is sometimes perceived as tilting slightly Republican. It’s the poll that showed the race tied or Walker ahead by 4 points in the past whereas many other polls have shown Evers with a lead.
The latest Marquette poll also showed a large lead for U.S. Senate for Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin over Republican challenger Leah Vukmir, a legislator (Baldwin leads among likely voters with 54 percent compared to 43 percent for Vukmir.) The poll also showed the Republican Attorney General incumbent Brad Schimel ahead, but that race has tightened to 47 percent for Schimel and 45% for Democratic challenger Josh Kaul. Far fewer voters have heard of Schimel or Kaul than the other candidates polled, so that might explain some of the differences.
There have been 10 polls measuring an Evers/Walker contest since June 2018, according to RealClearPolitics. Evers has led in six of those polls, Walker in two, and two were tied. RealClearPolitics rates the Wisconsin governor’s race as a toss up.
The first poll to raise eyebrows in the Wisconsin governor’s race came from NBC News/Marist on July 26, 2018. However, Evers’ lead over Walker in that poll was so large it caused some to wonder if that poll was an outlier. On July 30, 2018, though, a new poll by Emerson College showed Evers with a smaller, but still significant, lead over Walker, who previously warned of a possible looming “blue wave” in the state. A Democratic leaning Public Policy Polling poll, taken in mid August, showed Evers up by 5 points.
An earlier Marquette poll (which is considered one of the most reliable Wisconsin polls) showed Walker leading by 4 points in mid-June and a second and later Marquette poll showed the governor’s race tied. In early October, Walker led by 1.
Scott Walker.
Among the trends causing some Republican concern: A closely-watched and hotly contested state Supreme Court race went to the liberal-backed candidate in spring 2018, reversing the trend of past elections. Democrats also flipped two legislative seats. Walker is a two-term governor who survived a heated recall.
Of course, polls are not always accurate. A declining number of reliable political polls across the country was one reason given for the widespread polling error in predicting the Donald Trump victory in 2016; the presidential polls were wrong on Trump in Wisconsin too, although whether that sort of polling error would carry over into a gubernatorial race is unclear due to the wildcard nature of the Trump candidacy and personality.
In 2014, the RCP polling average correctly predicted that Walker would prevail over Democrat Burke.
Tony Evers
According to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Craig Gilbert, Marquette’s polls may tilt “slightly” Republican. Of course, the Wisconsin governor’s race will be seen by some as a canary in the mine for 2020 and Donald Trump, who carried Wisconsin by in a surprise upset but by a small margin. It’s left to be seen, though, to what degree Trump’s voters will come out to vote for Walker in a lower-turn out race.
Here’s what the polls in the Wisconsin governor’s race show, with the most recent first:

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Marquette University Law School Poll [10/24/18 to 10/28/18]

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Tony Evers
47%

Scott Walker
47%

Phil Anderson (L)
3%

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You can read the poll here.

Marquette University Law School Poll [10/03/18 to 10/07/18]

Scott Walker
47%

Tony Evers
46%

Phil Anderson (L)
5%

You can read this poll here.

NBC News Marist [9/30/18 to 10/03/18]

Tony Evers
53%

Scott Walker
43%

You can read this poll here.

Marquette University Law School Poll [9/02/18 to 9/16/18]

Tony Evers
49%

Scott Walker
44%

Phil Anderson (L)
6%

In the Marquette poll, Walker fares best with white male non-college educated voters, but he’s losing some of them to the Libertarian. Evers was ahead with all other demographic groups listed in the poll. However, slightly more people did say in the poll that they thought the state was going in the right direction.
“The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. This poll interviewed 800 registered Wisconsin voters by landline or cell phone Sept. 12-16, 2018. The margin of error is +/-4 percentage points for the full sample,” the poll reads. “For likely voters, the sample size is 614 and the margin of error is +/- 4.4 percentage points.”

Suffolk Poll [8/18/18 to 8/24/18]

Tony Evers
46%

Scott Walker
43.6%

Phil Anderson (L)
1.6%

Undecided
7.2%

You can read the details of the Suffolk poll here. It found that voters considered the economy and education to be the most important issues in the governor’s race.

Marquette University Law School Poll [8/15/18 to 8/19/18]

Tony Evers
46%

Scott Walker
46%

Phil Anderson (L)
6%

No Preference
2%

The above table shows the results for likely voters. Walker leads slightly among all registered voters, with 46 percent to Evers at 44 percent and Anderson with 7 percent.
The poll found that voters care most about jobs and the economy and about K-12 education (the latter of which could boost Evers as state school superintendent).

Public Policy Polling [8/15/18 to 8/16/18]

Tony Evers
49%

Scott Walker
44%

Not Sure
7%

You can read the PPP poll in full here. It also measured Wisconsin voters’ attitudes toward President Donald Trump.

Emerson College [7/26/18 to 7/28/18]

Tony Evers
48%

Scott Walker
41%

Someone else
5%

Unsure
7%

The Emerson College poll, which was released on July 30, 2018, has a margin of error of +/-4.2 percent. It measured the attitudes of registered voters. You can read the poll here.
As for an Evers-Walker match-up, the poll found that independents were breaking for Evers: “Evers appears in a strong position for a General Election run against incumbent Governor Scott Walker. Evers leads 48% to 41%, with 7% undecided. One variable that could factor in to the Evers lead is Governor Walker’s popularity in the state is underwater, with a 40% approval and 46% disapproval. Independents disapprove of Walker 47% to 36%, and break for Evers over Walker 47% to 34%,” the poll found.
Attitudes toward education spending might be playing a role in Evers’ lead, the poll indicates, as more than half of Democrats and Independents felt there was not enough spending on education in the state.

NBC News/Marist [7/15/18 to 7/19/18]

Tony Evers
54%

Scott Walker
41%

Other
Less than 1%

Undecided
5%

The NBC News/Marist poll measured registered voters. You can see the poll here.
The poll found that 61 percent of those polled felt that a new person should be given a chance as Wisconsin governor.

Marquette University [6/13/18 to 6/17/18]

Scott Walker
48%

Tony Evers
44%

Neither
3%

Don’t know
5%

The Marquette poll showed Walker leading against Evers and also against other possible Democratic challengers, although in some cases by smaller margins than against Evers.
You can see the poll here.
The poll also found that, at that stage, a lot of people didn’t know enough about the Democratic candidates to have an opinion of them.
The Marquette poll correctly predicted that Walker would defeat his 2014 Democratic challenger Mary Burke in its last pre-election poll that year.

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