Wisconsin voters turn more optimistic on economy in latest Marquette poll

Last updated on March 17th, 2020 at 01:36 pm

When he presented the results of the Marquette University Law School poll in October, poll director Charles Franklin highlighted an emerging trend in the data.

Until 2019, voters had always been more optimistic than pessimistic about the outlook for the economy going back to when the poll started in 2012.

This year, however, voters had a net negative outlook in three of four polls conducted by Franklin and the Marquette Law School.

But in the November poll, voters returned to their optimistic outlook with 35% saying they expect things to get better compared to 24% who think things will get worse. The +11 net outlook (those who expect things to get better minus the percentage who expect things to get worse) was an improvement from the -5 outlook in October and -11 in August.

Franklin said it is possible that news about record highs in the stock market drove the increased optimism, but he also noted the unemployment rate has been increasing in Wisconsin.

“I don’t think it’s obvious what the single measure is,” he said.

Franklin also pointed out that the number of people who say things have gotten better in the last year has been trending higher recently.

“People are a little more optimistic about the economy,” he said.

The shifts took place across gender, age, education, income, political and geographic gaps.

Men were more optimistic about the economy than women in October and saw a swing of 20 points toward things getting better in the latest poll. Women, meanwhile, saw a swing of 12 points.

The swing across age groups raged from 12 to 19 points with younger and older voters seeing bigger shifts but those 30 to 44 and 45 to 59 remaining the most optimistic.

Voters with only a high school degree went from a net outlook of -2 to +22, the largest swing across education groups. Those with at least a bachelor’s went from -15 to -1.

Those with higher incomes saw a smaller shift compared to those in lower income brackets. Voters making at least $75,000 per year went from -15 to -1 while those making $40,000 to $74,000 jumped from -14 to +12 and those under $40,000 went from -8 to +13.

Rural voters swung to be much more optimistic, going from +3 to +19. Suburban voters saw a similar shift, going from -9 to +7 and urban voters went from -10 to +2.

Across political lines, it was actually those who are the most partisan that saw the biggest shift in optimism. In October, Democrats had a net outlook of -42, but that figure dropped to -21 in the November poll, a 21-point swing. Independents who lean towards Democrats only shifted by 1 point

Republicans, meanwhile, went from a net outlook of +40 to +54. Republican leaning independents shifted by 11 points towards the optimistic side.

Those who consider themselves truly independent went from -5 to +3.

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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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