Wisconsin voters souring on economic outlook, MU Law Poll finds


Last updated on March 17th, 2020 at 01:38 pm

In all of the Marquette University Law School polls conducted since the survey started in 2012, Wisconsin voters have been more optimistic than not about the economic outlook for the next 12 months.

Then the calendar flipped 2019.

In three of the four polls conducted this year, more voters have said they expect the economy to get worse in the next 12 months than said they expect things to get better, a net negative outlook as poll director Charles Franklin described it.

The most recent poll, conducted Oct. 13 to Oct. 17, found 25% of voters expect things to get better compared to 30% who expect things to get worse, a net negative outlook of -5%. The average this year has been a net negative of -3.5%, compared to a net positive average of 14.7% last year.

Franklin said there a number of potential reasons for the shift in outlook, including trade uncertainty and stock market volatility, but said it is clear there is more anxiety and skepticism about the economy.

“We’re still quite positive looking back at the past,” he said. “(The) future, not so rosy.”

Asked about how the economy had done in the last 12 months, 41% said it has gotten better while 20% said it has gotten worse.

On the outlook question, women had a net outlook of -8% compared to -1% for men.

Younger voters, those ages 18 to 29, had a net outlook of -12% while those over 60 had a net outlook of -7%. Respondents ages 30 to 44 had a net of -4% while those 45 to 59 were split with 29% expecting an improvement and 29% expecting things to get worse.

Those with a bachelor’s degree or higher had a net outlook of -15% while those with an associates or some college were slightly positive at 4% and 1% respectively.

Respondents with lower incomes were also more pessimistic about the economy. Those making less than $40,000 per year had a net outlook of -8% and those making $40,000 to $75,000 were at -14%.

Those making more than $75,000 had a net outlook of just -1%.

The outlook was also split along partisan lines. Republicans and independent leaning Republicans had a net outlook of 37% while Democrats and those that lean towards Democrats had a net negative outlook of -46%.

Voters who said they are truly independent had a net outlook of -5%.


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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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