New Marquette Poll: As Democrats lead in voting enthusiasm, Republicans tightening gap

Published: Oct. 10, 2018 at 7:30 PM CDT
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While the latest Marquette University Law School poll shows Democrats are more enthusiastic about voting in the November election, their lead over Republican's voting eagerness has tightened.

The poll, released Wednesday, showed 76-percent of Democratic registered voters say they are very enthusiastic about voting. That compares with 70-percent of Republicans and 59-percent of Independents.

“We’re seeing a Democratic advantage, and we’ve seen that in almost every poll we’ve done this year. But the size of that advantage varies,” Marquette University pollster Dr. Charles Franklin said. “One month ago we saw 11-percent more Democrats saying they were very enthusiastic. Compared to Republicans, that’s a seven point gap this time. So Republicans have tightened that a little bit.”

Dr. Franklin said issues personally impacting Wisconsinites' everyday lives are helping shape voters opinions, less than one month before the election.

"State and local issues that impact the governor’s race. But also some national issues." Dr. Franklin said. "Taxes and spending for particular programs, that stands out as issues voters have differing opinions on. But you're seeing them reflected in the governor's race."

The poll shows the race between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Tony Evers to be about even, at 47 to 46-percent. In September, the poll showed Evers with a slight lead. Libertarian Phil Anderson has five percent support in the current poll.

Even though 64-percent of the voters responding said they think roads are in fair or poor condition, 74-percent of them do not want taxes raised to fix them. However, 57-percent said they would be OK raising taxes to increase school spending.

"So I think that illustrates why we see the divide with who supports more spending for schools, which is pretty popular. Verses how do you build highways and maintain them," Dr. Franklin said.

Health care is another top issue. The majority, 50-percent, would like to see the Affordable Care Act, which many call Obamacare, remain in place. However, even among a majority of those who favor an ACA repeal, 65-percent of respondents said protecting pre-existing conditions is vital.

"So this is where you see here in the state, and nationally, discussion that centers less about the Affordable Care Act as a whole. And much more focused on pre-existing conditions," Dr. Franklin said.

Pre-existing conditions, Dr. Franklin said, are why Democrats are talking so frequently about what they view as risks to the the healthcare law. While Republicans are not pushing that specific issue, even if they favor the repeal.

Dr. Franklin also said President Donald Trump’s record, and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, could be national factors impacting some local voting numbers.

Polls all year have consistently shown Democrats are more enthusiastic than Republicans.

“Enthusiasm is something that can wax and wane. And it’s something campaigns try to manipulate in getting their voters to the polls,” Dr. Franklin said. “So I’d say at this point it looks like a bit of a Democratic advantage. But if it grows between now and Election Day, it is very much up to individual voters who are motivated, or not. And the parties as they try to motivate voters and make sure they turn out on Election Day.”

In the U.S. Senate race, Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin held an 10-point lead over Republican challenger Leah Vukmir. The results were little changed from the previous month.

The state Attorney General Race, however, is now within the margin of error. Attorney General Brad Schimel still leads Democratic challenger Josh Kaul 47-percent to 43-percent. However, that is down when compared to Sept. numbers, which showed Schimel leading Kaul by 48-percent to 41-percent.

The poll of 799 likely voters was conducted Oct. 3 through Sunday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.