Marquette University News Release

New Marquette Law School Poll finds Wisconsin voters divided on benefits of Foxconn deal, but together in support of background checks for gun sales

March 5, 2018

Public unfamiliar with gubernatorial, senate challengers

Please note: Complete poll results and methodology information can be found online at law.marquette.edu/poll

MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School Poll finds Wisconsin voters divided in their opinions on the value of the Foxconn Technology Group’s planned flat-panel-display factory in the state. Forty-nine percent of voters think that the state is paying more in incentives than the Foxconn plant is worth, while 38 percent think that the plant will provide at least as much value as the state’s investment. Thirteen percent say they don’t know whether the plant will be worth it or not.

A majority—57 percent—of registered voters statewide believe that the Foxconn plant will substantially improve the economy of the greater Milwaukee area, while 35 percent do not think it will and 8 percent say they don’t know. It has been suggested that the plant, which will be built with state funding of $3 billion, will provide up to 13,000 direct jobs.

But in contrast to the expected economic impact on the Milwaukee area, only 25 percent statewide say businesses where they live will benefit directly from the Foxconn plant, while 66 percent say their local businesses will not benefit and 8 percent don’t know. This includes respondents in the Milwaukee area who also doubt existing businesses in their area will see a direct benefit from Foxconn.

Twenty-nine percent of statewide voters say they are very concerned that the Foxconn plant will have a negative impact on water and environmental quality, with an additional 33 percent saying they are somewhat concerned. Eighteen percent say they are not very concerned and 14 percent say they are not at all concerned about the environmental impact.

The poll was conducted Feb. 25-March 1, 2018. The sample included 800 registered voters in Wisconsin, interviewed by cell phone or landline, with a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percentage points. Some items were asked of half the sample and have a margin of error of +/- 6.4 percentage points or +/- 6.3 percentage points. Half-sample items and their margins of error are listed at the end of this release and online. Entries may not sum to 100 due to rounding.

There are regional differences in views of the value of the Foxconn plant as seen in Table 1, with the strongest support in the Milwaukee area outside of the City of Milwaukee. Residents of the city are much less likely than regional counterparts to think that the benefits will outweigh the state’s subsidy, as are residents of the Madison media market. The Green Bay area and the north/west region of the state (including the La Crosse/Eau Claire, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Duluth/Superior and Wausau media markets) have a common level of skepticism.

Table 1: Will Foxconn be worth state’s investment or not, percentage by region

Worth itNot worth itDK
MKE City305614
Rest of MKE area52408
MSN246016
Green Bay375013
North/west364915

Across the regions of the state, majorities believe the Foxconn facility will substantially improve the Milwaukee area economy, as shown in Table 2 (below), although a majority of residents of the City of Milwaukee believe that it will not boost the region’s economy. Those living in the Milwaukee area outside the city are most optimistic about the economic impact, although 59 percent and 57 percent of residents of the Green Bay and the northwest region of the state, respectively, think that the Milwaukee area will benefit economically. A bare majority of Madison area residents, 51 percent, say Foxconn will substantially boost the Milwaukee economy.

Table 2: Will Foxconn substantially improve Milwaukee area economy, percentage by region

Will improve economyWill notDK
MKE City42526
Rest of MKE area65304
MSN51418
Green Bay59339
North/west573012

Wisconsin voters are less likely to believe that businesses near where they live will directly benefit from the Foxconn development, and this is true for all regions of the state, as shown in Table 3. Fewer than 40 percent of residents in any region of the state think that Foxconn will directly benefit businesses in their area, with as few as 17 percent in the northwest region seeing a benefit.

Table 3: Will businesses near you directly benefit from Foxconn, percentage by region

Will benefitWill notDK
MKE City275716
Rest of MKE area37585
MSN20728
Green Bay22699
North/west17749

Gun issues

In the aftermath of the recent school shooting in Florida, Wisconsin residents support background checks on private gun sales and sales at gun shows. Eighty-one percent support such background checks while 16 percent oppose them. When the question was last asked in June 2016, 85 percent supported and 12 percent opposed background checks.

Fifty-six percent favor a ban on assault-style weapons, while 40 percent oppose such a ban. That question was previously asked in March 2013, when 54 percent favored and 43 percent opposed a ban on assault weapons.

Of those with a gun in their household, a substantial majority, 78 percent, support background checks, while 18 percent oppose the checks. Among households without a gun, 86 percent favor and 13 percent oppose background checks.

A ban on assault-style weapons is opposed by 52 percent and favored by 43 percent of voters among households with a gun, while among households without a gun a ban is favored by 69 percent of voters and opposed by 28 percent.

Wisconsin voters are more divided on the effectiveness of possible new gun control laws in reducing mass shootings. Twelve percent think that new laws would reduce mass shootings a great deal, with another 22 percent saying this would reduce shootings a moderate amount. Nineteen percent say that additional gun control would reduce shootings only a little and 43 percent say that new laws would have no effect at all.

Voters in households with guns are most doubtful that gun control laws would reduce mass shootings, with 57 percent saying this would have no effect at all, 18 percent saying a little effect, 17 percent a moderate effect and 6 percent saying a great deal. Among households without a gun, 20 percent say that new gun laws would reduce shootings a great deal, with another 30 percent saying a moderate amount. Nearly as many of voters in households without guns express skepticism, with 16 percent saying gun laws would have only a little effect and 28 percent saying no effect at all.

Statewide, 44 percent of voters live in households with a gun, 48 percent do not and 8 percent say they don’t know or decline to say whether there is a gun in the house. Ownership is most common in the Green Bay media market and the north/west portion of the state, is equal as between Madison and the Milwaukee area outside the city and least common among City of Milwaukee residents.

Table 4: Gun households, percentage by region

Gun householdNot gun householdDKRef
MKE City316810
Rest of MKE area3951110
MSN395138
Green Bay573706
North/west504235

Views of President Trump

President Donald Trump has a 43 percent approval rating, with 50 percent disapproving. In the Marquette Law School Poll in June 2017, his approval was 41 percent, with 51 percent disapproving.

Fifty percent think Trump is keeping the promises he made during his campaign, while 46 percent think he is not doing so. Last June, 49 percent said he was keeping his promises and 46 percent said he was not.

Forty-three percent describe Trump as someone who cares about people like them, while 54 percent say this does not describe him. In June, 40 percent said he cares and 55 percent said this does not describe him.

Thirty-seven percent say Trump shows good judgment and 59 percent say he does not. In June, 34 percent said he shows good judgment while 61 percent said he does not.

Views of President Trump are sharply divided along party lines, with 89 percent of Republicans approving and 8 percent disapproving. The numbers are reversed among Democrats, with 89 percent disapproving and 9 percent approving. Among independents, 34 percent approve and 53 percent disapprove.

State of the state

Fifty-three percent say Wisconsin is headed in the right direction while 44 percent say it is off on the wrong track. In June, 53 percent said it was headed in the right direction and 42 percent said it was on the wrong track.

Views of the state budget are about evenly divided, with 31 percent saying the budget is in better shape now than a few years ago, 35 percent saying it is about the same and 28 percent saying the budget is in worse shape now.

Voters say they would rather increase spending on public schools than reduce property taxes, by a 63 percent to 33 percent margin. When first asked in March 2014, 49 percent preferred to reduce property taxes while 46 percent favored increased spending for public schools.

Act 10, the law that sharply limited collective bargaining for most public employees in Wisconsin, remains a major divide in the state. Forty-six percent favor keeping Act 10 as it is, while 41 percent would favor a return to such collective bargaining. Views of Act 10 have changed little over time. When first asked in May 2012, 43 percent favored a return of collective bargaining and 50 percent preferred keeping Act 10. The most recent time the question was asked was October 2014, when 43 percent favored collective bargaining and 50 percent favored keeping Act 10.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s job approval stands at 47 percent and disapproval at 47 percent. The trend in approval for Walker in 2017 and 2018 is shown in Table 5.

Table 5: Scott Walker job approval percentage trend, 2017-18

ApproveDisapproveDon’t knowRefused
March 2018474761
June 2017484840
March 2017454860

Knowledge of and favorability toward 2018 candidates

A substantial majority of the public has not yet developed an impression of either the Democratic candidates for governor or the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin. More than 60 percent, and often over 80 percent, of respondents say they haven’t heard enough or don’t know a candidate well enough to say if they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of him or her. The Democratic gubernatorial candidate favorability results are shown in Table 6 and the Republican Senate candidates are shown in Table 7.

Table 6: Democratic gubernatorial candidates’ favorability percentages

FavorableUnfavorableHaven’t heard enoughDon’t know
Evers20134818
Flynn1385721
Gronik446625
McCabe956223
Mitchell746128
Roys436527
Soglin15135120
Vinehout1295523
Wachs746226

Table 7: Republican senate candidates’ favorability percentages

FavorableUnfavorableHaven’t heard enoughDon’t know
Nicholson776025
Vukmir1065825

In the race for Wisconsin Supreme Court, more than 75 percent of respondents are unable to rate the candidates, despite the primary election on Feb. 20. This is shown in Table 8.

Table 8: State Supreme Court candidates’ favorability percentage

FavorableUnfavorableHaven’t heard enoughDon’t know
Dallet1495522
Screnock1095724

Recent trend of incumbent favorability

Unlike the situation with the challengers, over 95 percent of respondents have an opinion of Walker. They are evenly divided between a favorable and an unfavorable view, as shown in Table 9.

Table 9: Scott Walker favorability percentage trend, 2017-18

FavorableUnfavorableHaven’t heard enoughDon’t know
March 2018484822
June 2017484732
March 2017455131

Over 75 percent of respondents have an opinion about Sen. Tammy Baldwin, whose rating in this poll is 37 percent favorable and 39 percent unfavorable. Baldwin’s trend over the past year is shown in Table 10.

Table 10: Tammy Baldwin favorability percentage trend, 2017-18

FavorableUnfavorableHaven’t heard enoughDon’t know
March 20183739203
June 20173838212
March 20174035213

The horse races in the primaries

Asked in which partisan primary they will vote, respondents split 32 percent for the Republican primary and 35 percent for the Democratic primary, with 17 percent saying they will not vote and 13 percent saying they don’t know.

Among those saying they will vote in the Democratic primary, nearly half, 44 percent, say they don’t know for whom they will vote. State school superintendent Tony Evers receives 18 percent of the vote, with no other candidate reaching 10 percent. Madison Mayor Paul Soglin receives 9 percent, while former Democratic state chair Matt Flynn rounds out the top three with 7 percent. The margin of error for the Democratic primary results is +/- 7.1 percentage points based on 318 respondents. The full set of results for the Democratic primary is shown in Table 11.

Table 11: Democratic gubernatorial primary

CandidatePercent
Tony Evers18
Matt Flynn7
Andy Gronik3
Mike McCabe6
Mahlon Mitchell4
Kelda Roys0
Paul Soglin9
Kathleen Vinehout5
Dana Wachs4
Someone else (VOL)1
Don’t know44
Refused0

Among those saying they will vote in the Republican senate primary, 49 percent say they don’t know for whom they will vote. Businessman Kevin Nicholson receives 28 percent of the vote and state senator Leah Vukmir receives 19 percent. The margin of error for the Republican primary results is +/- 8.2 percentage points based on 243 respondents. The full set of results for the Republican primary is shown in Table 12.

Table 12: Republican senate primary

CandidatePercent
Kevin Nicholson28
Leah Vukmir19
Someone else (VOL)2
Don’t know49
Refused2

Enthusiasm about voting

Overall, 53 percent of registered voters say they are very enthusiastic about voting in this year’s elections, with 32 percent somewhat enthusiastic and 14 percent either not very or not at all enthusiastic. Among Republicans, 54 percent are very enthusiastic, while 64 percent of Democrats are. Among independents, 46 percent say they are very enthusiastic about voting this year.

In March 2014, in the last midterm election year, 48 percent said they were very enthusiastic, with 55 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of Democrats then saying so. Among independents, 42 percent were equally enthused.

Immigration

Most Wisconsin voters, 71 percent, support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently working in the United States, with 14 percent saying such individuals should stay as temporary guest workers and 9 percent saying they should be required to leave the country.

Support for citizenship of undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children and raised here is even higher, with 86 percent saying that such “DREAMers” should be able to stay and apply for citizenship, 8 percent saying they should stay as permanent residents but not be allowed to apply for citizenship and 4 percent saying they should be required to leave the country.

Wisconsin voters oppose building a wall along the entire border with Mexico by a 59 percent to 37 percent margin.

Russia and Mueller investigation

Voters are evenly divided in their confidence in special counsel Robert Mueller to conduct a fair and impartial investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, with 24 percent having a great deal of confidence, 22 percent having some confidence, 20 percent having only a little and 23 percent saying they have no confidence at all. When first asked in June, 20 percent had a great deal, 31 percent had some, 17 percent had only a little and 21 percent had no confidence at all in the Mueller investigation.

In this poll, 5 percent of Republicans had a great deal of confidence while 34 percent had none at all. In June, 13 percent had a great deal of confidence while 26 percent had none at all. Among Democrats, 43 percent now have a great deal of confidence while 12 percent have none at all. In June, it was 30 percent with a great deal of confidence while 12 percent had none at all.

More than half of Wisconsin voters say they are very (33 percent) or somewhat (22 percent) concerned about possible Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election, while 19 percent are not too concerned and 26 percent are not concerned at all.

Republicans feel less concerned about Russian influence, with 45 percent not at all concerned, 23 not too concerned, 23 somewhat concerned and 9 percent very concerned. Among Democrats, there is more concern with 59 percent very concerned, 26 percent somewhat concerned, 10 percent not too concerned and 6 percent very concerned. Independents fall in between, with 33 percent very concerned, 19 percent somewhat concerned, 22 percent not too concerned and 26 percent not at all concerned.

About the Marquette Law School Poll

The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. This poll interviewed 800 registered Wisconsin voters by landline or cell phone, Feb. 25-March 1, 2018. The margin of error is +/-4.5 percentage points for the full sample. Some items were asked of half the sample. Those items on Form A (state items) were asked of 402 respondents and have a margin of error of +/-6.4, and those on form B (federal items) were asked of 398 respondents and have a margin of error of +/-6.3. Form A items include property tax cuts or increases for public schools and views of Act 10. Form B items include two item on immigration, whether to build a wall on the Mexico border, three items on guns, the Mueller investigation, concern for Russian influence in the 2016 election and whether Trump has kept campaign promises, cares about people like you and shows good judgment.

The partisan makeup of the sample, including those who lean to a party, is 41 percent Republican, 45 percent Democratic and 11 percent independent. The long-term total for the previous 43 statewide Marquette Law School polls, with 37,752 respondents, was 43 percent Republican and 47 percent Democratic, with 9 percent independent. The partisan makeup of the current sample, excluding those who lean to a party, is 27 percent Republican, 25 percent Democratic and 46 percent independent, compared to the long-term totals of 27 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 41 percent independent.

The entire questionnaire, methodology statement, full results and breakdowns by demographic groups are available at law.marquette.edu/poll/results-and-data

About Chris Jenkins


Chris Jenkins

Chris is the Associate Director of University Communication in the Office of Marketing and Communication. Contact Chris at (414) 288-4745 or christopher.t.jenkins@marquette.edu. View all posts by .