A new Marquette Law School Poll finds 44 percent of Wisconsin likely voters supporting Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton for president and 37 percent supporting Republican Donald Trump, with Libertarian Gary Johnson at 9 percent and Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 3 percent. Six percent do not express a preference, saying that they will vote for neither candidate, will not vote or don’t know how they will vote...As usual, I will eventually dig into the crosstabs of the larger registered voters’ sample to find the real story behind these numbers (the topline numbers really didn’t change much between likely vs. registered anyway). But I want to first note a couple of items on the demographics themselves, because it seems to explain why these races aren’t the blowouts many of us thought they might be.
In the new poll’s head-to-head matchup (as opposed to the four-way race), Clinton receives 46 percent to Trump’s 42 percent of likely voters, with 9 not giving a preference. In the September head-to-head matchup, among likely voters, Clinton had the support of 44 percent and Trump was supported by 42 percent, with 12 percent not expressing a preference.
In Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate race, 46 percent of likely voters support Russ Feingold, 44 percent back Sen. Ron Johnson and 4 percent choose Libertarian candidate Phil Anderson. Five percent do not express a preference. In September, Feingold was supported by 44 percent, Johnson by 39 percent and Anderson by 7 percent, with 10 percent not giving a preference.
In a head-to-head matchup, among likely voters, 48 percent support Feingold and 46 percent support Johnson, with 6 percent lacking a preference. In September, Feingold was the choice of 47 percent to Johnson’s 41 percent, with 11 percent not stating a preference.
I’m going to point out a stat that’s consistently predicted the leaning of the topline results, which is Party ID. As I mentioned a few weeks back, the “tightening” in September that we saw in the races was mostly explained by the fact that fewer self-identified Democrats were responding to the Marquette Poll. So let’s dig into this month’s poll, see what we find, and compare it to the November 2012 exit poll in Wisconsin.
Party ID, with Independents included
Early Sept- Dem +2.4
Late Sept- Dem +0.4
October- Dem +0.7
2012 Exit poll- Dem +5
In a time period where many Republicans are embarrassed to admit Trump is their nominee, it seems odd that would there be more Democrats that would fall away into the “Independent” category (unless MU Poll Director Charles Franklin is adding on a curve for WisGOP voter suppression…). Maybe it’s true, but I’m going to be skeptical about that one.
Now, let’s do the same for another key demographic, the youth vote. As you’ll see, the Marquette Poll couldn’t get many of those darned kids on the line.
Voters 18-29 as % of total Wis electorate
Early Sept- 16%
Late Sept- 16%
October MU Poll- 12%
2012 exit age 18-29- 21%
2012 exit age 18-24- 12%
So sure, if we think the share of voters 18-29 in 2016 will be the same as the share of voters 18-24 in 2012, then we can nod, move on, and find it to be accurate. But I don’t (c’mon kids, I have faith in you to step up for democracy!). Again, maybe Franklin is adjusting for voter suppression hitting a disproportionate amount of young voters, or simply can’t get young respondents because who under the age of 30 answers phone calls from weird numbers? But I’d be surprised if 12% was the end result for the 18-29 vote on November 8.
That 18-29 crosstab is especially worthwhile to dig into because the youth vote has been very Dem-leaning in recent years, but young Wisconsinites are showing softer support in this poll for the Dem nominees for president and Senate than we’ve seen in the past.
18-29 voter preference, Wisconsin
2012 exit poll
Oct 2016 Marquette Poll
President 2-way- Clinton 43-32
President 4-way- Johnson (!) 33, Clinton 30, Trump 19
Senate 2-way Feingold 47-42
Senate 3-way Feingold 38, Johnson 32, Anderson 16
If that third party support among young people is soft, and some of those young voters come around to deciding that they want to vote for a candidate that can win (or can’t afford another candidate to win), then that means both Feingold and Clinton have room to grow. However, it also underscores that maybe Russ shouldn’t keep running as a “generic Democrat”, and should emphasize his independence such as his votes against the Patriot Act, Iraq War, and Glass-Steagal repeal, and his stances against oligarchs running elections.
There’s another demographic that I think was under-polled in the October Marquette Poll, and that’s self-described “moderate” voters. One thing that jumped out to me when I looked at demographics in this poll was how many more conservative voters there were compared to what we saw in 2012, but liberals stayed the same, and moderates were much fewer.
Ideology, Wisconsin voters
Oct 2016 Marquette Poll
Conservative/very conservative 41%
Liberal/very liberal 24%
2012 exit poll
Again, with how goofy and amoral Drumpf and Republicans have gotten in the last 4 years, do you think MORE Wisconsinites are calling themselves conservatives these days? Maybe things have changed that much outside of Madison in the Age of Fitzwalkerstan, or maybe that just reflects the fact that more old white people will pick up the phone regardless of who is calling. Regardless of why, that shift to more conservatives vs moderates is a big difference, because Ron Johnson is pulling between 70-75% of the conservative vote, and even Trump still gets 60-70% of them. By comparison, moderates favor the Democrats big time.
Oct 2016 Marquette Law Poll, Moderates
President 2-way- Clinton 56-28
President 4-way- Clinton 50, Trump 23, Johnson 15
Senate 2-way Feingold 56-35
Senate 3-way Feingold 52, Johnson 32, Anderson 5
Bottom line- if the actual voting population on November 8 has an ideological mix similar to 2012, then Dems are clearly in the driver’s seat.
The last stat I wanted to look at involves both of these underpolled groups, and the question of “How comfortable are you with the idea of ______ as president?” In particular, let’s zone in on those who would say they’d be “very uncomfortable” with one of the two main candidates being president. Or as I call it, the “OH FUCK NO!” response.
“very uncomfortable” if ____ was president
Clinton 35% (lowest of any age group)
So if those voters are backed up against the wall, they’re much more likely to be accepting of Clinton winning, and would vote for her to avoid the chance of Drumpf ever being president. So if the race somehow does get close again, I’d anticipate this to be a secret source of Clinton and Dem strength, and that could well translate downticket if Trump spoils the GOP’s reputation.
Now I’m not saying people that want Dems to win should be complacent because the MU Poll may have some dodgy demos. Feingold especially is still in the danger zone of having the election stolen away from him if too many young and moderate voters shrug their shoulders and don’t come out. With that in mind, Dems should use the Marquette poll as a warning, because this thing is not in the bag.
On the flips side, this poll and other recent events also showcases the Dems' opportunity. The MU Poll showed a major shift in the responses for president after the “pussy tape” came out on Friday (Franklin said Trump was WINNING 41-40 on Thursday, which immediately made me question this poll), and now with Trump attacking Paul Ryan in social media, lots of people have various reasons to vote out Republicans. This may perhaps put some House and State Legislature seats in play that previously were not. And if the presidential poll of Dems +7 turns into Dems +12 statewide, that can break the WisGOPs’ gerrymander, and the bottom could fall out. So decent liberal people shouldn't get discouraged by the lame toplines in this poll - just prove it wrong by voting in big numbers.