Gov. Scott Walker’s disapproval rating is rising among Wisconsin voters. Only 39 percent in the latest Marquette University Law School poll approve of how Walker is handling his job, while 57 percent disapprove. In March, his approval was 43 percent and disapproval was 53 percent.
Those numbers nearly mirror Wisconsin voters’ attitude toward presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Clinton is seen unfavorably by 58 percent and favorably by 37 percent of voters who were polled.
The roots of Walker’s reversing fortunes among state voters is rooted in how they perceive the direction in which the state is headed under his control over the Legislature and judiciary.
Forty-six percent of registered voters say Wisconsin is headed in the right direction while 50 percent say it has gotten off on the wrong track, according to the most recent Marquette University Law School poll. That’s slightly better than the February polls, in which 44 percent of respondents said the state was moving in the right direction and 52 percent said it was on the wrong track.
But 50 percent or more have said “wrong track” in each Marquette poll asking this question since January 2015. In the nine combined polls taken in 2014, 53 percent said the state was headed in the right direction while 42 percent said it was on the wrong track. More than 50 percent in each of those nine 2014 polls said Wisconsin was going in the right direction.
Certainly the lagging state of Wisconsin’s economy is largely to blame. Twenty-nine percent of respondents think the economy got worse over the past year while 25 percent say it got better and 44 percent say it has remained about the same. This is little changed from March, when 28 percent said the economy had worsened, 25 percent saw improvement and 45 percent saw no change.
Looking ahead to the next 12 months, 25 percent expect the economy to improve, 23 percent think it will worsen and 43 percent expect no change. In March, 29 percent expected improvement, 18 percent thought the economy would worsen and 44 percent thought it would not change much.
As in national polling, President Obama’s job approval has edged slightly upward in Wisconsin since 2014, which could help boost Clinton in the state come November. Fifty-one percent of Wisconsin voters approve of the job Obama is doing, while 43 percent disapproval. In March, 50 percent approved and 45 percent disapproved.
With all 2014 surveys combined, Obama had a 44 percent approval to 49 percent disapproval rating in the Marquette Law School Poll. In 2015, combined polling put approval at 49 percent with disapproval at 47 percent. In combined 2016 polls, approval is 50 percent and disapproval 45 percent.
In Wisconsin’s race for U.S. Senate, former Sen. Russ Feingold is viewed favorably by 40 percent of registered voters and unfavorably by 33 percent. Another 26 percent say they haven’t heard enough or don’t know how they feel about him. In March, Feingold’s ratings were 41 percent favorable, 35 percent unfavorable and 25 percent not able to rate him.
Meanwhile, Sen. Ron Johnson, who defeated Feingold during the tea party wave election of 2010, is seen favorably by 33 percent of registered voters and unfavorably by 31 percent, with 35 percent saying they have not heard enough or don’t know how they feel. In March, Johnson’s ratings were 32 percent favorable and 31 percent unfavorable, with another 36 percent unable to rate him.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who does not face re-election until 2018, is viewed favorably by 37 percent of respondents and unfavorably by 33 percent, while 31 percent say they haven’t heard enough or don’t have an opinion. When last measured in August of 2015, Baldwin had a 36 percent favorable and 40 percent unfavorable rating, with 24 percent unable to give an opinion.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, who does not face a serious challenge this year, is viewed favorably by 49 percent of registered voters and unfavorably by 32 percent. Eighteen percent do not have an opinion of him. In March, 48 percent had a favorable opinion, 31 percent unfavorable and 21 percent were unable to say.
The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive statewide polling project in Wisconsin history.