Supreme Court candidates Rebecca Bradley and JoAnne Kloppenburg each has the support of 30 percent of voters, while 31 percent remain undecided, according to the latest Marquette Law School Poll.
The two candidates prevailed in a Feb. 16 primary and face off in the April 5 general election.
Poll director Charles Franklin said the poll was conducted after the primary, between Feb. 18-21, by phone with 802 registered voters; the margin of error is 4.5 percentage points. The partisan makeup of the poll leans Democratic, Franklin said, with 40 percent of respondents considering themselves Republican and 49 percent considering themselves Democrats. Ten percent are independents.
While officially nonpartisan, the Supreme Court race typically falls along party lines. Conservatives are backing Bradley, while liberals support Kloppenburg.
Among voters who are certain they will vote in the April 5 election — a smaller number than the 802 registered voters polled — 37 percent said they would pick Bradley while 36 percent chose Kloppenburg. Twenty-three percent said they are undecided.
The poll data show both candidates have an uphill battle in introducing themselves to voters, with more than 50 percent of those polled saying they were unable to say whether they have favorable or unfavorable views of either candidate.
“Supreme Court races are less visible and suffer from the fact” that voters don’t know much about the candidates, Franklin said.
Bradley’s campaign declined to comment about the campaign’s plan to reach out to voters given the poll’s findings. Kloppenburg campaign spokeswoman Melissa Mulliken said Kloppenburg is the only candidate to have visited each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties.
“We are going to continue that extensive travel, speaking to groups large and small and talking to the press across the state,” Mulliken said. “Grassroots groups are hard at work across the state, reaching their neighbors, family and friends with information about the importance of this election through phone calls and lit drops.”
She said the campaign will also buy advertising and counteract any negative ads directed at Kloppenburg.
The results of the Feb. 16 primary revealed a closer-than-expected race between Bradley, appointed to the high court by Gov. Scott Walker last fall, and Kloppenburg, who was defeated by Justice David Prosser in 2011.
Voters return to the polls to choose between Bradley and Kloppenburg the same day as Wisconsin’s presidential primary, which could balloon turnout, and outside interest groups will likely spend hundreds of thousands on behalf of both campaigns.
Republicans say the race comes down to name recognition, while Democrats say Bradley also is being hurt by her ties to Walker, who previously appointed her to the Milwaukee County bench and then to the Court of Appeals.
Walker’s approval rating among Wisconsin voters is at 39 percent, according to Thursday’s poll results.
However, Franklin said the poll data didn’t support the argument that Kloppenburg has significantly more name recognition.
“The notion that Kloppenburg carries strong, extra name recognition since 2011 — we simply don’t see any evidence of that in our data,” he said.
Sixty percent of those polled said they didn’t have enough information about Bradley to say whether they had a favorable or unfavorable view of her, while 57 percent said the same about Kloppenburg, Franklin said.