Wisconsin Flunks (Part of) the Marquette Poll

This is a bad time to ask about politics in Wisconsin.

At Thursday afternoon’s “On the Issues” presentation with Mike Gousha at the Marquette Law School, Charles Franklin pulled up slide after slide to show approval (or other) ratings for important state and national politicians.

And time and again, the Wisconsinites polled by Franklin’s Marquette Law School Poll, the most influential in the state, replied, “Josh Kaul who?” Oh, you know, the guy we just elected attorney general. Sixty-seven percent of people claimed to have not heard enough about him to form an opinion.

Even Robin Vos, the Assembly speaker about as likely to run for governor someday as the sun is to rise and birds to fly, had completely muddled results. Fifty-nine percent of people had not heard enough about him, and 11 percent couldn’t place the name.

Marquette Law School pollster Charles Franklin; Photo by Adam Ryan Morris.

Shortly after an election is one of the most challenging times to hold a political poll. According to Franklin (whose avuncular style makes politics seem all the more noble), people retreat from information and the unknowns (such as Kaul’s 67 percent) inch upward.

At the same time, people have countless opinions on specific issues, including the general course of our fair state. This just in: Wisconsin favors wholesale legalization of marijuana 59-35, according to the poll, meaning the plant has public support on par with Tommy Thompson during his heyday.

National views have changed, according to polls that used similar questions, Franklin said. In 2014, a similar inquiry flopped 46-51 in the state.

Other major findings from the most recent poll pointed to potential areas for Evers to collaborate with the Legislature: More money for special education, a more cautious early release program that would moderate the state’s truth in sentencing laws, and an increase in property taxes to pay for schools. State law greatly restricts the ability of localities to turn up the latter.

Somehow, the Legislature came away with an enviable approval rating, 52-31, most notable for its low negative. “Frankly,” the pollster said, “I’m surprised.”

Evers, just getting started, rated at 39-22. Many people said they hadn’t made their mind up on him yet. The same wasn’t the case with President Donald Trump, who tilted into the negative: 44-52.

One of the largest outstanding questions in state politics is what Scott Walker will do next. Bradley Foundation, maybe? He needs something to do, so the poll asked, in an effort to be helpful, “Would you like to see Scott Walker run for governor or U.S. Senate in 2022, or do you not want him to run for either office?”

Only 37 percent of people (about the number of self-identified conservatives taking the poll) said yes. Fifty-three percent did not want him to run again, followed by 10 percent who had not made up their minds. The question is a tough one because it’s basically asking, “Would you like to watch a million more Scott Walker TV commercials?”



Matt has written for Milwaukee Magazine since 2006, when he was a lowly intern. Since then, he’s held the posts of assistant news editor and, most recently, senior editor. He’s lived in South Carolina, Tennessee, Connecticut, Iowa, and Indiana but mostly in Wisconsin. He wants to do more fishing but has a hard time finding worms. For the magazine, Matt has written about city government, schools, religion, coffee roasters and Congress.