Walker’s national campaign takes toll at home

The same bold conservative policies that have catapulted Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to the front of the class in the Republican presidential primary race appear to be eroding his base of support in his home state, according to the latest Marquette Law School Poll.

Walker’s job approval rating has fallen to 41 percent, with 56 percent of registered voters in Wisconsin saying they disapprove of how he is handling his job as governor. In the previous poll, in October 2014, Walker’s approval among registered voters was 49 percent, with 47 percent disapproving.

To look ahead to a possible 2016 presidential matchup, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leads Walker in Wisconsin, 52 percent to 40 percent.

“Election matchups at this point show us where candidates are lining up at the start of the race,” said Charles Franklin, professor of law and public policy and director of the Marquette Law School Poll. “The eventual outcome, of course, depends on how they actually run the course. Having an early picture allows us to measure how the campaign changes voters’ preferences over time.”

Franklin said the drop in Walker’s popularity in Wisconsin was “breathtaking.”

Other key numbers in the latest poll:

  • Fifty-three percent say that the state is now headed in the wrong direction.
  • Seventy-eight percent oppose cutting $127 million from the K-12 public school budget.
  • Seventy percent oppose cutting $300 million from the University of Wisconsin System budget.
  • Seventy-nine percent oppose borrowing $150 million to build a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks.

In a possible 2016 U.S. Senate race, former Sen. Russ Feingold has the support of 54 percent of registered voters, leading incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson, who has 38 percent, with 9 percent not expressing a preference.

The poll interviewed 803 registered voters by landline and cell phone April 7-10.

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