Four months after ending his presidential bid, Gov. Scott Walker still has a lot of work to do rebuilding his brand in Wisconsin, according to the latest Marquette Law School poll released Thursday.
The poll found 38 percent of registered voters approve of Walker’s job performance, which was unchanged from the last poll in November. And only 36 percent say they would like Walker to run for a third term in 2018, one point higher than a poll in late September.
Walker’s approval level bottomed out at 37 percent of respondents in Marquette’s late September poll, which was taken shortly after Walker dropped out of the presidential race. He has since traveled extensively across the state and promised in his recent State of the State address to hold invite-only listening sessions in every part of the state over the next year as part of his “2020 Vision Project.”
Poll director Charles Franklin noted Walker’s approval numbers were underwater in summer 2011 after the Act 10 public union collective bargaining changes and massive protests. Six months later his approval numbers began to rise as he advertised during the recall campaign.
“I do think that for Walker or anyone else’s approval, once it’s gone down, usually takes a while to build back up — if it builds back up ever,” Franklin said.
The poll also found Democratic challenger Russ Feingold is holding a double-digit lead over incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson.
The 50-37 Feingold lead is similar to the previous Marquette poll.
Johnson defeated Feingold in the 2010 U.S. Senate election. The past three polls have showed Feingold leading by margins of 5, 14 and 11 points.
“Not very much is happening in this race yet,” Franklin said. “There’s a bit of online advertising. … But voters don’t seem to be shifting their opinions much on the candidates or the vote at this point.”
Johnson spokesman Brian Reisinger said of the results that “early polls are meaningless,” adding that Feingold led all the early polls in 2010 but still lost the election.
Feingold spokesman Michael Tyler also downplayed the significance of the polls, highlighting instead Feingold’s financial support from 25,000 Wisconsinites.
The poll also found the race between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders tightening in the state, while real estate mogul Donald Trump jumped back on top of the GOP field.
Clinton led Sanders by 9 points in November, but now has a 2-point edge, 45-43. Also 55 percent view Clinton unfavorably, compared with 33 percent who view Sanders unfavorably.
Trump leads with 24 percent support among Republican respondents.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio with 18 percent and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz with 16 percent received the next most support.
Also, 49 percent of respondents said they expect Trump to win the GOP nomination, though he had the highest percentage of respondents who view him unfavorably (59 percent).
The previous Marquette poll in November showed retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson leading in Wisconsin, ahead of Trump and Rubio.
Carson has since seen his national and early primary state poll standing nosedive as the race has been cast as a contest between Trump, Cruz and a handful of establishment candidates jockeying for position ahead of the first votes being cast in Iowa on Monday.
The poll also asked about several political issues and found:
Regarding the state’s concealed carry law passed in 2012, 63 percent said they now support the law. During the 2012 debate, 47 percent supported it.65 percent oppose allowing concealed carry on school grounds. And 85 percent support background checks for private and gun show sales.Regarding education funding, 57 percent said local public schools aren’t receiving enough, 30 percent said they are, and 7.5 percent said they are receiving more than needed.Nearly three in five (58 percent) respondents opposed a temporary ban on Muslims from other countries entering the United States, while 36 percent said they supported such a ban. Also, 57 percent said immigrants in the country illegally should be allowed to stay and apply for citizenship, while 22 percent said they should be required to leave.On the general economy,31 percent say it has gotten worse, while 26 percent say it has gotten better. That’s a reversal from what the poll found in April 2015. Both polls found that 42 percent said it has stayed the same.
The poll was conducted Jan. 21-24 and included 806 registered voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The GOP primary pool included 313 likely GOP primary voters and the Democratic primary pool included 312 likely Democratic primary voters, both with a margin of error of 6.5 percentage points.