The latest numbers from the Marquette Law School Poll are in and they are mixed bag for Republican leaders. Around 800 Wisconsinites participated in the phone survey between June 22 and 25. The margin of error is 4.5 percent. Those were days GOP leaders at both levels were continuing to debate major items – including health care in Washington and road funding in Madison.
For months now, Wisconsin lawmakers have been working to pass a new biennium state budget. While the GOP controls the Assembly, Senate and governorship, the budget process has been contentious among Republicans, featuring disagreements over funding for transportation and education. But the budget stalemate has not negatively impacted Governor Walker’s approval ratings according Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll.
“If you looked at the 2015 and early 2016 for the governor that were quite bad, you’d have to think he looks in much better shape now for a 2018 reelection bid than he did. It’s been a long, slow recovery, from when his approval was down at 36 (percent) now it’s up to 48 (percent),” Franklin says.
Still, Franklin says, Walker has a way to go because his approval rating is not yet a net positive. When it comes to another Wisconsin Republican, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Franklin says the congressman’s numbers are the worse they’ve been in Wisconsin in quite some time.
“When we first asked about him in July of 2012, he had a net positive rating state wide by a fair margin,” Franklin says.
Franklin says that once Ryan became a candidate for vice president in 2012, his statewide ratings began to drop.
“As he left that role, he became more popular in the state. Now as Speaker, he’s in more partisan role in his ratings have come down,” Franklin says.
Franklin says that when he has asked Wisconsin Democrats for ratings on Ryan as a well-known state politician, they give him more support than when they view him as a national emblem of the Republican Party. Ryan is also up for reelection next year.
As far as the country’s Commander-in-Chief goes, Franklin says Wisconsinites have not been as quick to judge President Trump as have voters nationwide.
“It looks like we are adjusting to President Trump a little bit differently from the country in the sense that his job approval numbers are a little bit better than nationally and his disapproval has gone up here as it has nationally, but it hasn’t gone up as much here. So it looks like we’re maybe taking a little more time to get that last 5 percent to 10 percent to make up their minds about it,” Franklin says.
All-in-all, Franklin says the GOP could be gaining ground in Wisconsin with 45 percent of people leaning Republican in his poll. That’s up a couple percentage points from a few months ago. On the other political side, 45 percent of state voters polled lean Democrat, but that’s down from 48 percent, in the last poll. Franklin says the real test will be whether those numbers hold up over the next two polls, as we start heading toward the 2018 elections.