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Poll finds Scott Walker's approval rating drops to lowest level since 2011 protests

Gov. Scott Walker's approval rating in Wisconsin has dropped to its lowest level since the 2011 protests.

Gov. Scott Walker may be soaring in national presidential polls, but his job performance rating in Wisconsin has dropped to its lowest point since the 2011 protests, according to the latest Wisconsin poll from Public Policy Polling.

The PPP survey included 1,071 registered Wisconsin voters, including 461 Republican primary voters and 504 Democratic primary voters, from March 6-8. The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Those who say they approve of the job Walker is doing fell to 43 percent, while those who disapprove increased to 52 percent. In late October, the same Democratic-leaning poll found 49 percent approved of Walker’s job performance, while 47 percent disapproved.

“That’s quite a drop in approval from their previous poll,” said Marquette Law School poll director Charles Franklin, who hasn’t polled on Walker’s job performance since late October, when his poll also found Walker’s approval level at 49 percent.

Franklin said he is planning to poll again in Wisconsin on a variety of topics, including Walker’s job performance, in a few weeks.

The PPP poll is the first since Walker released his 2015-17 budget, which includes a $300 million cut to the University of Wisconsin System over two years; announced support for a right-to-work law, which he signed Monday after the poll was conducted; and ramped up his exploration of a potential 2016 presidential bid.

In speaking to a national audience in recent weeks, Walker has been touting his support among independent voters in last November’s gubernatorial election. But in the latest PPP poll, Walker’s approval among independents dropped to 36 percent, with 57 percent disapproving of his job. The PPP poll in late October found more independents approved of his job performance than disapproved, 48-45 percent.

“It’s not surprising that moderates and independents might be more influenced by the bad news about the budget and are less enthused about him running for president,” Franklin said.

Two polls from more Republican-leaning groups released in January, before Walker’s budget release, found Walker’s job performance approval at 55 percent and 52 percent, with disapproval at 43 percent and 46 percent.

Walker’s latest job performance approval level matches the lowest in a PPP poll since he took office. The previous time it reached that level was in May 2011, after Walker signed Act 10, curbing public-sector collective bargaining.

Other polls from around the same time found his job performance approval level dropping as low as 37 percent. Before and after he won a recall election in June 2012, PPP pegged his job approval level at 51 percent.

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Matthew DeFour covers state government and politics for the Wisconsin State Journal.