Survey: Sheriff Clarke headed for defeat in next election

Public Policy Polling

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke is very unpopular and has almost no chance at being reelected next year, according to a new Public Policy Polling survey.

Only 31 percent of those surveyed in the county approve of the job Clarke is doing, while 62 percent disapprove.

The survey also found that voters consider Clarke’s bizarre behavior and outrageous statements to be a national embarrassment. Sixty-five percent said he’s had a negative impact on Milwaukee County’s image nationally, while only 29 percent said he’s had a positive impact.

While black voters have helped Clarke, who is African American, win re-election in the past, the PPP survey found that only 22 percent of black Milwaukeeans currently approve of him, versus 72 percent who disapprove. In campaigning for Donald Trump, Clarke has made numerous bigoted statements about African Americans.

But Clarke surveyed relatively better among white voters, presumably because he draws support from white suburbanites who hear him as a frequent guest on right-wing talk radio. White voters approve of Clarke by 34 percent, compared with 59 percent who disapprove.

Although his political views are on the far right, Clarke runs on the Democratic ticket, which helps garner him support in predominantly Democratic Milwaukee County. But, presumably because of all the recent publicity he’s received, Democrats now seem better informed about Clarke’s politics. Among Democratic primary voters, just 13 say they’d support Clarke in a Democratic primary today, while 82 percent say they’d prefer someone else.

PPP concluded that Clarke basically has no path to reelection as a Democrat at this point. Although he probably could be the Republican candidate for sheriff — he has a 72 percent approval rating in the GOP — he’d have virtually no chance of winning the general election either way.

Donald Trump has a 30/63 approval rating in Milwaukee County, better than Scott Walker’s rating of 30/66. Walker trails a generic Democratic opponent in the county by 35 points, at 64/29.

Walker lost Milwaukee County by 27 points while winning by 5 statewide in 2014. But looking at it from another angle, Hillary Clinton won Milwaukee County by 37 points in November and still managed to narrowly lose statewide, so it’s hard to say exactly what Walker’s poor position in Milwaukee means for his overall prospects next year.

Longtime Congresswoman Gwen Moore gets approval from 52 percent of voters, and disapproval from only 32 percent. Not many members of Congress are that well liked, according to PPP.

Clarke currently appears to be considering a run against U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin in 2018, although some observers believe he still might receive an appointment in the Trump administration. He was interviewed for a White House position during Trump’s transition but apparently came up short.

See also Group backing Clarke taunts Baldwin over her sexual orientation.