Marquette Law School Poll: Reviewing the Poll Results; Close November Race
August 19, 2022

Tamira Musgrave



  • Marquette Law School Poll reveals a tight race for governor. 
  • Evers leads by 2 points, Michels gaining on his heels.
  • Evers’ net approval rating dropped from +9 to +2 in August. 
  • Mandela Barnes is leading by 7 points against Ron Johnson. 

A recent Marquette University Law School Poll reveals a close race for governor. The survey shows that Tim Michels is gaining momentum with the independents required to win the election. However, Evers still leads by 2 points. The poll also indicates Barnes is leading by 7 points against Ron Johnson. 

On the other hand, Tony Evers’ approval rating has decreased since the beginning of the year. The poll also shows that 56% of those surveyed believe Wisconsin is heading down the wrong path. What does this mean for the upcoming elections in November?

Pollsters broke it down for us:

  • 45% of Registered WI voters support Democrat Tony Evers
  • 43% of Registered WI voters support Republican Tim Michels
  • 7% of Registered WI voters support Independent Joan Beglinger 
  • 3% Undecided
  • 2% Refused to answer 

These numbers are in the margin of error, and the data collected paint a clear picture as to what is going on. The poll numbers suggest that Evers could be in quicksand due to his sinking approval ratings. 

The survey also revealed a percentage of voters, approximately a quarter of them, who don’t know Tim Michels enough to have a stance. In June, surveys reflected 48% supporting Evers and 41% supporting Michels. It is a close race, and although it may not be a simple feat, Michels could potentially beat Evers. 

Shifting to U.S. Senate, the survey revealed:

  • 51% of Registered WI voters support Democrat Mandela Barnes
  • 44% of Registered WI voters support Republican Sen. Ron Johnson
  • 3% Undecided
  • 1% Said neither
  • 1% Refused to answer 

The trend for Senate candidates since June:

Poll Dates Barnes JohnsonNeitherUndecided Refused 

This poll interviewed 811 registered voters in Wisconsin and a margin error of +/-4.2 percentage points. This poll, released on 8/17/2022, suggests a shift against Senator Ron Johnson. Many believe these numbers have changed so drastically that they simply can’t be credible. If the poll is erroneous regarding displaying genuine republican support, this could bring it home for Michels. 

Favorable/Unfavorable Ratings for Senator Ron Johnson: 

Poll DatesFavorableUnfavorableHaven’t Heard EnoughDon’t KnowRefused

Favorable/Unfavorable Ratings for Tim Michels: 

Poll DatesFavorableUnfavorableHaven’t Heard EnoughDon’t KnowRefused

The governor’s race will require three things: A struggle for every vote possible, turn out, and enthusiasm. The survey also showed that 83% of Republicans, 82% of Democrats, and 66% of independents would vote when November rolls around. The margin broadens significantly when all registered Wisconsin voters are considered in the poll, not solely those who are sure to vote. 

Ron Johnson vs. Mandela Barnes 

Depending on the turnout for the potential Senate outcome, we are looking at 51% for Barnes and 44% for Johnson among those registered to vote. Among those who are likely or certain to vote, it’s 52% for Barnes and 45% for Johnson. Regarding those who are sure to vote, it’s 52% for Barnes and 45% for Johnson. 

The poll also says that Johnson and Barnes have lost traction with independents. While Johnson boasts overwhelming support from WI Republicans at 92%, and Barnes also shows great favor from Democrats at 95%, they each have only 41% among independents. 

Tim Michels vs. Tony Evers

Turnout will make a difference. Among registered voters, it’s 45% for Evers and 43% for Michels. Among those who are confident or likely to vote, it’s 46% for Evers and 44% for Michels. Among those who are certain to vote, it’s 48% for Evers and 44% for Michels. 

In addition, a @mulawpoll conducted in June revealed 48% supporting Evers and 41% supporting Michels. However, we still need to consider Evers’ disapproval rating. 

Tony Evers net approval rating shifts:

Poll DatesNet ApprovalApproveDisapproveDon’t KnowRefused

Importance of Issues Among Voters

Another element the poll focused on was how concerned respondents were with pressing issues. Many individuals prioritized issues such as inflation, crime, and gun violence. The economy’s health, followed by crime, appears to be at center stage when driving residents’ votes. 

IssueVery ConcernedSomewhat ConcernedNot Too ConcernedNot Concerned At all
Gun Violence612665
Crime 583092
Abortion Policy552587
Public Schools543473
Climate Change41281317
Illegal Immigration40281516
Coronavirus 20352025

Now let’s take a look at the order of concern for both the Republican and Democratic parties. 

Below we have compiled two tables of issue significance corresponding to each party. Republicans have inflation and crime at the top of their list, while Democrats are focusing their attention on climate change more than anything, followed by gun violence. 

Listed by order of concern among Republicans:

Issue RepublicanIndependentDemocrat
Illegal Immigration673419
Public Schools605053
Gun Violence 455977
Abortion Policy395373
Climate Change 84079

Listed by order of concern among Democrats:

Issue RepublicanIndependentDemocrat
Climate Change84079
Gun Violence455977
Abortion Policy395373
Public Schools605053
Illegal Immigration673419

Since inflation and crime are two of the most significant issues for the citizens of Wisconsin, voters need to be careful who they are supporting and know which candidates will ensure these problems are addressed head-on.

Other Poll trends

The poll also considered whether respondents thought the state of Wisconsin was on the right or wrong track. Here are the trends since February:

Poll DatesRight DirectionWrong DirectionDon’t KnowRefused 

They also chose to ask about the president, seeing if respondents approve or disapprove of the way Joe Biden has been handling his responsibilities up until now. 

Poll DatesApproveDisapproveDon’t KnowRefused

Wisconsin is not considered a purple state, but rather two colors coexisting. The first is composed of densely-populated and compact blue zones, and the second is an expansive “red sea” of small-town, rural geography surrounding those smaller blue areas. Compared to neighboring states, such as Illinois and Minnesota, Wisconsin seems to hold more Republican voters. Narrow margins have defined previous presidential elections in Wisconsin, as the state tends to be a political battleground based on the outcome of recent elections. 

The entire Marquette Law School poll can be found here, including the full results and breakdown of all collected information. 

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