Gov. Scott Walker’s approval rating in Wisconsin, already tattered during his early foray into the presidential race, has hit a new low of 37 percent after his exit from the campaign, the latest Marquette Law School Poll has found.
The poll also shows Democrat Russ Feingold leading Republican Sen. Ron Johnson 50-36 percent in the U.S. Senate race.
Results of the poll were released Wednesday. It was the first survey taken since Walker bowed out of the presidential race last week.
It shows 59 percent of respondents disapproving of the job Walker is doing — and has Walker’s approval declining to a new low for the third consecutive time. It also shows a solid majority of poll respondents, at 62 percent, don’t want Walker to seek a third term as governor.
Thirty-seven percent approval is Walker’s lowest since Marquette began polling his job approval in early 2012. It also matches the lowest approval Walker has registered in any public poll since he took office in 2011, according to a list of polls provided by Marquette poll director Charles Franklin.
Walker’s approval hovered at or near 50 percent in the Marquette poll from 2012 through his re-election in November 2014. It began to decline significantly in April, several months after Walker began unofficially campaigning for the White House.
The results suggest that — at least in the short term — Walker’s venture into presidential politics has damaged his standing at home. Franklin said Walker’s approval decline appears linked to some combination of his presidential run, extensive out-of-state travels during the presidential run and the state budget he signed in July, portions of which were controversial.
The previous Marquette poll, released in August, showed Walker’s approval at 39 percent with 57 percent disapproving. In October 2014, his approval in the poll was 49 percent. Franklin said the erosion in support for Walker has come from the political middle, including independent voters and Republican-leaning independents.
“That’s where the repair work needs to be done if he’s going to be able to repair these issues,” Franklin said.
In response to the poll release, Walker’s office issued a statement that did not address his approval rating.
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Days after he bowed out of the presidential race on Sept. 21, Walker’s office indicated he plans to serve out the balance of his term, which ends in early 2019.
The Marquette poll shows businessman Donald Trump, in Walker’s absence, rising to first place among Republican candidates in Wisconsin’s presidential primary. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leads Democratic presidential contenders.
The Marquette poll was conducted by phone from Sept. 24-28, with 803 registered Wisconsin voters. Both landline phones and cellphones were used.
The margin of error in the poll is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points. Results for the presidential race have a greater margin of error, at plus or minus 6.5 points for Republicans and plus or minus 5.9 points for Democrats.
In the presidential race, Trump leads Republican contenders in Wisconsin with 20 percent support. That’s up from 9 percent in August, when Walker — then still in the race — led GOP candidates in Wisconsin with 25 percent.
Trump’s ascent is the opposite of what Walker said he hoped would happen when he withdrew from the presidential race. In explaining his exit, Walker said he hoped it would allow Republicans to coalesce behind a “positive, conservative alternative” to the current front-runner, Trump.
The poll has retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson running second in the presidential field, at 16 percent, among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents in Wisconsin. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is third at 14 percent.
Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is pacing the presidential field with 42 percent support. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is running second with 30 percent. Vice President Joe Biden, who continues to mull a third run for the White House, garnered 17 percent.
The partisan breakdown of respondents to the poll, including independents who lean toward a party, is 49 percent Democratic, 40 percent Republican and 9 percent independent.
That tilts this poll slightly in favor of Democrats compared to historic results. For the previous 29 statewide Marquette polls, 47 percent of respondents were Democratic, 43 percent of respondents were Republican and 9 percent independent.