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Feingold’s lead over Johnson tightens, but his fundraising remains ahead

Democrat Russ Feingold continues to outraise Republican incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson in Wisconsin’s hotly contested Senate race, and he has more cash on hand through the first six months of the year.

Both campaigns released fundraising figures Tuesday in advance of the Friday filing deadline for the second quarter of the year. While the candidates are raising and spending on the race, independent outside groups on both sides have also spent millions on television advertising.

Through the first six months of the year, Feingold raised about $7.4 million compared with $4.9 million for Johnson. Feingold also had more money on hand at the end of June —$7.2 million compared with $6.3 million for Johnson.

Johnson’s campaign said Tuesday that he raised $2.8 million in the second quarter of the year, up from $2.1 million in the first three months. Feingold raised nearly $3.3 million in the first quarter and $4.1 million over the three months ending in June.

While still trailing Feingold, the amount Johnson raised for the most recent quarter was third highest among Republican Senate candidates nationwide. Johnson was behind only Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey, who brought in $3.1 million, and Ohio’s Rob Portman, who raised $2.9 million.

And Johnson’s fundraising increased 33 percent from the first to second quarter, while Feingold’s went up 24 percent.

“The growing support we’re seeing for Ron proves that people know what’s at stake in this election,” said Johnson’s campaign spokesman Brian Reisinger in an emailed statement. “In the fight to keep control of the U.S. Senate, the choice in Wisconsin is as clear as it can get — between an Oshkosh manufacturer who is working to solve our problems and keep us safe, and a career politician who got us on the wrong track in the first place.”

Democrats need to net four or five seats to win back Senate control — four if they hang onto the White House and can send the vice president to break ties in the Senate; five if they don’t.

Democrats have viewed Johnson as vulnerable, given that he’s up for re-election in a presidential year, when Democratic turnout is traditionally higher in Wisconsin. No Republican senator in Wisconsin has been elected in a presidential year since 1980.

A Marquette University Law School poll released last month showed Feingold ahead of Johnson by 9 points among likely voters and 4 points among registered voters.

But a poll released today showed the race tightening. The latest Marquette Law School Poll found Feingold led Johnson among registered voters 48 percent to 41 percent in a head-to-head matchup.

Among likely voters, Feingold’s lead was even smaller, 49–44 percent.

Conservative outside groups have been investing heavily in helping Johnson, outspending those backing Feingold about $5 million to $1 million in the first six months of the year. Most of the third-party spending benefiting Feingold so far, about $2 million from six liberal groups, came in 2015.

Marquette poll finds tight Democratic presidential race in Wisconsin, Trump maintaining GOP lead

A new Marquette Law School Poll finds a tight race for the Democratic presidential nomination in Wisconsin.

On the GOP side, Donald Trump is maintaining his lead in the state.

Also, approval of how Gov. Scott Walker is handling his job stands at 39 percent, with 55 percent disapproving. In January, 38 percent approved and 57 percent disapproved.

In the Democratic race

The Marquette poll shows Bernie Sanders with about 44 percent to Hillary Clinton’s 43 percent among those who say that they will vote in April 5 primary. In January, the school’s poll showed Clinton at 45 percent and Sanders at 43 percent. Last November, Clinton had a nine-point advantage and was at 50 percent.

In the Republican race

Trump is supported by about 30 percent in the GOP presidential preference primary in the state. He’s followed by Marco Rubio at 20 percent and Ted Cruz at 19 percent. John Kasich and Ben Carson receive 8 percent each. Jeb Bush, who suspended his campaign while the poll was being conducted, had the support of 3 percent.

The poll found about 10 percent of likely GOP primary voters undecided.

Last month, the school’s poll also showed Trump ahead, with about 24 percent, then Rubio at 18 percent and Cruz of 16 percent.


Forty-six percent of GOP voters see Trump as the most likely nominee, followed by Cruz at 25 percent and Rubio at 11 percent. Before the Iowa and New Hampshire votes, about 49 percent expected Trump to be the nominee.

On the Democratic side, 60 percent think Clinton is the most likely nominee, with 33 percent saying Sanders is most likely to win the nomination. Before Iowa and New Hampshire voting, 65 percent said Clinton would win the nomination.

Looking to the fall’s general election, here’s how the vote might go in Wisconsin: Sanders leads Rubio by 18 points and he leads Cruz by 18 and Trump by 20.

In a general election matchup, Clinton edges Rubio by 1 point and ties with Cruz. She has a 10‑point edge over Trump.

Supreme court race

The poll also asked voters about their choice for Wisconsin Supreme Court. The race is down to a choice of Rebecca Bradley, made an incumbent by Gov. Scott Walker’s appointment last fall,  and JoAnne Kloppenburg.

Both are at 30 percent with voters, while 31 percent of voters saying they don’t know how they will vote.

Among those who say they are absolutely certain they will vote in the April 5 election, Bradley is backed by 37 percent while Kloppenburg is backed by 36 percent.

Though the candidates were selected in a February voting contest, the poll shows both candidates are unfamiliar to a majority of registered voters. Sixty percent say they are unable to say if they have a favorable or unfavorable view of Bradley while 57 percent say the same of Kloppenburg. Bradley is viewed favorably by 22 percent and unfavorably by 18 percent. Kloppenburg is seen favorably by 22 percent and unfavorably by 21 percent.

Among Republicans and independents who lean to the Republican party, Bradley receives 52 percent and Kloppenburg 9 percent, with 31 percent saying they don’t know how they will vote.

Among Democrats and independents who lean Democratic, Kloppenburg is supported by 49 percent and Bradley by 15 percent, with 30 percent saying they don’t know.

Among independents, 19 percent support Bradley, 22 percent support Kloppenburg and 30 percent say they don’t know how they will vote. An additional 27 percent of independents say they will not vote or will vote for neither candidate.

For U.S. Senate

Democrat Russ Feingold is supported by 49 percent of registered voters and Republican incumbent Ron Johnson receives 37 percent. In January, Feingold was at 50 percent and Johnson was at 37 percent.

The poll also asked voters about the debate over a U.S. Supreme Court nomination this year, the last year of Barack Obama’s presidency, as well as favorable impressions and state issues.

About 51 percent said the U.S. Senate should hold hearings and a vote on a nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy this year, while 40 percent say the Senate should wait until 2017, after the presidential election.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents say they would be willing for their senator to vote for a highly qualified nominee with whom the respondent disagreed on some policies. Thirty percent say they would want their senator to vote against any nominee with whom the respondent disagreed, regardless of qualifications.

Supporters of Senate candidates Johnson and Feingold take opposite positions on filling the Court vacancy. Among Johnson supporters, 65 percent say the Senate should not act until 2017. Among Feingold supporters, 70 percent say the Senate should hold hearings and vote.

On state questions, voters:

• Support a proposal to allow counties to add a one-half percent sales tax for four years to be used for road maintenance, if approved by a referendum.

• Are divided on allowing landlords more freedom to evict tenants for a variety of reasons, with 46 percent supporting such an approach.

• Are divided on the value of housing subsidies for the poor. Fifty percent say rent subsidies would help stabilize low-income families while 41 percent say such subsidies will have little effect on the situation of low-income families.

About 52 percent say Wisconsin is on the wrong track while 44 percent say it is headed in the right direction.

Also, 36 percent say the state budget is in worse shape now than several years ago.


Editor’s note: About the Marquette Law School Poll: The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. This poll interviewed 802 registered Wisconsin voters, by both landline and cell phone, February 18-21, 2016. The margin of error is +/- 4.5 percentage points for the full sample. For Republican presidential primary voters, the sample size is 297, with a margin of error of +/-7.5 percentage points. For Democratic presidential primary voters, the sample size is 343, with a margin of error of +/-6.9 percentage points. The partisan makeup of this sample, including those who lean to a party, is 40 percent Republican, 49 percent Democratic and 10 percent independent. The long-term estimate over the previous 32 statewide Marquette polls, with 27,533 respondents, is 42 percent Republican and 47 percent Democratic, with 9 percent independent. The partisan makeup of this sample, excluding those who lean to a party, is 26 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 40 percent independent, compared to the long-term estimate of 27 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 39 percent independent.


Scott Walker’s approval rating stands mired at 38 percent

Scott Walker is setting himself up to run for a third term as governor.

Walker says he will wait until late 2016 or after the end of the year to make a formal decision, but also says he feels good about the progress he’s made and thinks he can build off it.

Walker made the comments to reporters Jan. 26 after he signed a bill at the Rock County Courthouse expanding the state’s Family Care program to the county.

Meanwhile, the latest Marquette Law School poll could mean trouble ahead for his next campaign. It found Walker’s approval rating mired at 38 percent, while 57 percent of registered voters in the state disapprove of the job he’s doing.

In September 2015, when the last poll was taken, 38 percent approved and 58 percent disapproved of the governor.

Only 36 percent of state voters say they would like for him to run for another term, while 61 percent would not like to see him run.

In September 2015, 35 percent supported a third term for Walker, while 62 percent did not.

A career politician, Walker has worked almost exclusively in politics since dropping out of Marquette University in 1990. Last year, he launched a failed bid for the Republican presidential nomination, becoming the first candidate to drop out of the crowded race.

The Marquette poll, which is the most extensive in the state, also looked at presidential preferences among Wisconsinites who said they would vote in the primaries.

In the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton received 45 percent of voters’ support, compared to Bernie Sanders’ 43 percent. Martin O’Malley, who has since dropped out of the race, had 1 percent support.

In the November Marquette poll, Clinton had 50 percent, Sanders had 41 percent and O’Malley had 2 percent.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump was supported by 24 percent, followed by Marco Rubio at 18 percent and Ted Cruz at 16 percent. Ben Carson was backed by 8 percent, with Chris Christie at 5 percent. Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina received 3 percent each. Jeb Bush and John Kasich were each at 2 percent, with Mike Huckabee at 1 percent and Rick Santorum at 0.

Those numbers represent a dramatic turnaround from the November poll, in which Carson led the Republican field in with 22 percent, while Trump and Rubio each had 19 percent of voters’ support. Cruz stood at 9 percent in the November poll.

For Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate race, Russ Feingold is supported by 50 percent of registered voters, with Republican incumbent Ron Johnson receiving 37 percent. Those numbers are almost unchanged since November.

Polling shows Wisconsin governor’s race remains close

A new poll shows the race between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke remains close.

The Marquette law school poll released this week says 48 percent of registered voters would vote for Walker and 41 percent support Burke.

The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

A Marquette poll conducted in January had nearly the same results.

The poll of 801 registered voters was done March 20-23. It is the first poll since the two campaigns started advertising in the governor’s race.


The positive side of Marquette

I am an openly gay adjunct professor at Marquette University Law School. I feel compelled to share with your readers that my experience at Marquette has been drastically different from the conclusion in your article that “LGBT faculty members … face a hostile atmosphere at Marquette.”

I have had nothing but support from the law school administration in both classes that I teach at the school, including a course entitled “Sexual Orientation and the Law.” I cannot speak for the faculty of the greater university nor would I equate my presence as an adjunct professor in the law school to the experience of a full-time faculty member in the larger university. Nevertheless, I do hope that we do not make broad generalizations about the entire Marquette campus and realize that there are schools and departments within the university that are supportive of LGBT faculty and students.    

I have been teaching at Marquette Law School since 2003 and have never experienced anything but support, kindness and genuine interest in my classes. When I proposed the idea that the law school offer an objective course on sexual orientation and the law, the faculty, including some very conservative members, endorsed the idea.

I do not believe I am speaking out of turn when I say that the dean of the law school, Joseph Kearney, takes a conservative stance on the application of the law and social issues. Yet, he is also an educator and appreciates the value of creating a law school that truly benefits from an open dialogue of ideas within the context of the Jesuit traditions and beliefs.

We must not forget that Marquette is not a public university and religion does play a role in the discourse. My belief is that the Jesuit tradition of social justice and LGBT equality can and will co-exist at Marquette comfortably some day.       

In my first semester of teaching “Sexual Orientation and the Law,” Rick Esenberg was teaching “Religion and the Law.” As your readers may be aware, Esenberg is quite conservative and a vocal opponent to same-sex marriage. Quite coincidentally, we were both speaking of same-sex marriage at the same time in our syllabi.

I suggested that we switch classes for 30 minutes and discuss the topic from our own point of reference. He wholeheartedly accepted the offer and spoke to my students about the arguments against same-sex marriage while I spoke to his students about the arguments in favor of same-sex marriage.

I don’t know if we changed anyone’s opinion on the matter but, more importantly, it demonstrated how faculty with differing opinions of LGBT issues can work collaboratively for the benefit of the students.  As a student, I would abhor the idea of attending a university that simply regurgitated my own beliefs and didn’t allow for a free forum of ideas.   

My exercise with Esenberg, the support of the sexual orientation and law course from the law school administration and my very presence as an out adjunct professor is a testament to Marquette Law School’s commitment to academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas.    

Christopher Krimmer, adjunct professor of law, Marquette University