For the first time since Gov. Scott Walker began running for president in 2015, those disapproving of his job performance no longer outnumber those who approve, according to the latest Marquette Law School Poll.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who is up for re-election next year, have seen their net favorability decline in the state, according to the poll, which was conducted June 22-25. It also found majority opposition to repealing or replacing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Poll director Charles Franklin cautioned that the results could be slightly skewed by a polling sample that had more Republican respondents than the historic average. Republicans and Democrats were split evenly 45 percent, whereas historically the poll has found a 48-43 split favoring Democrats.
Whether that’s an anomaly in the polling sample of 800 respondents with a margin of error of +/-4.5 percentage points or a shift in the state electorate can’t be determined by one poll, Franklin said.
“If we see these numbers hold up in the next two or three polls then we’ll have something to talk about,” Franklin said.
The poll found 48 percent approve of Walker’s job performance, up from 45 percent in March. It also found 48 percent disapprove of his job performance, the same as in March. That marks his highest approval level in the Marquette poll since his approval took a nose-dive during his short-lived presidential run in 2015.
Since early 2016 Walker has been crisscrossing the state, participating in invite-only listening sessions in every county and promoting his 2017-19 budget, which includes major increases in K-12 education funding and local aid. According to his office, he has visited nearly 50 schools and participated in more than 200 events that have been open to the press this year. He has not yet declared his candidacy for a third term in 2018, but is expected to do so after the budget wraps up.
Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, who recently filed paperwork to potentially run against Walker in 2018, said she’s not surprised by Walker’s improving approval rating.
“He’s worked very hard around the state,” Vinehout said, referring to his travels. “But this is very far away from election day 2018.”
The poll found 53 percent say the state is headed in the right direction and 42 percent say it’s on the wrong track. That’s an improvement from three months ago, when 49 percent said the state was going in the right direction and 47 percent said it was on the wrong track.
Trump disapproval grows
The poll also found 41 percent approve of President Donald Trump’s job performance after five months in office. That was the same result as in the previous Marquette poll in March, but those disapproving of his performance increased from 47 percent to 51 percent.
“This is the same thing we saw in national polls only earlier in the spring,” Franklin said. “Trump’s approval rating didn’t change as much as a rise in disapproval.”
The poll also found Trump’s approval rating among Republicans is 85 percent, compared with 3 percent among Democrats and 36 percent among independents. Franklin highlighted the strong Democratic opposition, noting roughly 10 percent of Republicans approved of the job performance of President Barack Obama.
The poll found little change in perceptions about Trump, with 59 percent saying “honest” doesn’t describe him, compared with 61 percent who said that didn’t describe him in October.
The poll found 44 percent have a favorable view and 44 percent have an unfavorable view of Ryan, a Janesville Republican, a shift from a 45-38 split in October. Baldwin, a Madison Democrat, similarly saw a negative shift from 40 percent favorable and 35 percent unfavorable in October to a 38-38 split now.
The poll found little change in views on the federal health care debate since March with 6 percent favoring keeping the current law, 54 percent favoring making improvements, 27 percent favoring repealing and replacing it and 7 percent favoring outright repeal.
“At the moment, it would be hard to paint a picture that says the public is enthusiastic about a replacement,” Franklin said.
A majority, 54 percent, disapprove of Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. And 49 percent disapprove of Trump’s decision to fire former FBI director James Comey, while 39 percent approve.