Poll shows slight Walker lead despite Foxconn skepticism

Democratic candidates remain relatively unknown

Marquette University Law School.

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:11 pm

Gov. Scott Walker holds a lead over all 10 Democratic candidates for governor in head-to-head matchups, despite continued skepticism by voters of the Foxconn Technology Group project, according to the latest Marquette University Law School poll.

The Democratic candidates remain relatively unknown with state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers the best known with 39 percent able to give an opinion of him. None of the other candidates reached above 30 percent of voters able to give an opinion.

“These candidates have not emerged to become very well known since March,” poll director Charles Franklin said, referencing the last poll he released.

Evers, the only Democrat to have run statewide, received 25 percent support when voters were asked whom they would choose in the primary. None of the others reached above 10 percent.

In a head-to-head matchup, the poll found Walker leading Evers 48 percent to 44 percent, right at the poll’s 4 percent margin of error.

“You’re going to see a lot of stability in the Democratic votes and the Walker votes,” Franklin joked as he revealed the rest of the head-to-head matchups during an event at the law school.

Support for other Democrats ranged from 36 percent to 42 percent while Walker’s support ranged from 44 percent to 49 percent.

The poll did find 49 percent of voters approving of Walker’s job performance, compared to 47 percent who disapprove, marking the first time the governor’s job approval has been in positive territory since October 2014.

Walker’s edge in matchups with Democrats comes despite continued skepticism of Foxconn Technology Group’s plans for a $10 billion LCD manufacturing campus in Mount Pleasant. Just 40 percent of voters polled said the $3 billion incentive package offered by the state to lure the project to Wisconsin would be worth it, compared to 38 percent who felt that way in March.

The poll did find 56 percent of voters believe the project will benefit the Milwaukee region’s economy, compared to 33 percent who said it won’t benefit the region.

“People who don’t think the plant is worth it overall do think this region will benefit,” Franklin said.

He pointed out 29 percent of voters believe businesses near them will benefit from Foxconn, up from 25 percent in March, but with even wider gaps in the Green Bay area and in the rest of the state.

“That comes after several months of messaging,” Franklin said of efforts by the governor and the project’s supporters to tout the statewide benefits of the project. “The voters have not really come around to that view.”

He added that even among only Republicans just 32 percent of voters think businesses near them will benefit from Foxconn.

“This is not just a matter of Democrats not believing that their region will benefit,” he said. “There’s still work to be done by the governor’s campaign.”

The poll found a 44 percent approval rating for President Donald Trump, which Franklin said is slightly better than national data. He noted the state’s Republicans and Democrats are predictably split along party lines when it comes to their view of Trump, but independents in Wisconsin have a slightly more favorable view of him.

Despite Trump’s slightly stronger performance in the state, support for his tariffs on steel and aluminum imports is not as strong. Just 29 percent expect the tariffs to benefit the U.S. economy and 51 percent said they think free trade agreements have generally been good for the economy.

Just as with the Democrats running for governor, the Republican Senate candidates remain relatively unknown with 69 percent unable to given an opinion of Kevin Nicholson and 72 percent able to give a view on state Sen. Leah Vukmir.

Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin holds a 50 percent to 39 percent lead over Nicholson and a 49 to 40 lead over Vukmir.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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