Sunday, September 18, 2022

In Wisconsin, the MU Law Poll is not God. Especially with young voters

Amid all the media headlines of a "tight race" in the recent Marquette Law School Poll, I decided to dig into the crosstabs on registered voters (which had Ron Johnson leading Mandela Barnes 47=45 and Tony Evers leading Tim Michels 44-42). Those numbers are a little different than the likely voter numbers you saw in the headlines, but I wanted to go with the (still small) 800-person sample of registered voters.

And those numbers had a very odd demogrpahic result.

Wisconsin voters, age 18-29, Marquette Law School Poll Sept 2022
Johnson vs Barnes
Johnson 55%, Barnes 33%

Evers vs Michels
Michels 37%, Evers 33%

For Senator, do we really believe that the election denier who believe climate change isn't real (Johnson) is leading the 35-year-old Black man (Barnes) among the youngest and most diverse set of voters in the state? For Governor, do we really believe the out-of-state CEO that wants to outlaw abortion and is endorsed by Donald Trump leads the former school teacher that wants to keep abortion safe and legal and supports the legalization of marijuana?

I don't, especially when we know that Wisconsin voters 18-29 supported Joe Biden over Donald Trump by more than 20 points in 2020. And the former press secretary for US Sen Russ Feingold has a good theory as to why that 18-29 result is so out of step with all other data points that we've seen. Note: he is referecing the "likely voter" results, but it's the same story.)

I'm coming up on 50, and I rarely answer phone calls from weird numbers (although sometimes I do in the hopes I'm getting polled). And it gets less common as you get younger, which makes you wonder what kind of person under 30 would answer a phone calls from a number they don't know. I'm not blaming Charles Franklin and company on this - it's just a problem with polling in general.

So let's throw out that 18-29 figure from the MU Law Poll, assume the Dems win that demographic by 20 points (which is likely a better result for the GOP vs what they're going to get in November), and here's what we get.

MU Law Poll if Dems win 18-29 by 20 points
Evers 47.2, Michels 41.4
Barnes 48.0, Johnson 43.5

That doesn't mean I'm not concerned. Barnes and the Wisconsin Dems in aren't hammering Johnson nearly hard enough - and God knows Johnson has enough to attack that makes him unelectable to more than 50% of Wisconsinites. And they need to be more forceful in calling our Republicans as election deniers, racist trash, and a party that HAS NOTHING when it comes to dealing with the issues that matter in 2022 Wisconsin and 2022 America.

But what would our media be saying if Evers was up 6, and Mandela was up 4-5? They sure wouldn't be spinning the race as a toss-up and it would make GOP attacks look much more desperate. And if Dems were attacking, it would push our media into having to ask real questions about Republicans and what they truly believe in, which is something that GOPs do not want voters to know.


  1. Thank you for the clarification. I certainly hope you’re right. While I thought I’d resolved to never trust any poll again after 2020, I have to admit that when I saw the latest MU Law poll, I felt physically ill. My prediction at this point is that Evers and Barnes will probably end up eking out victories by the now-traditional 21,000 votes each. If that happens, of course I’ll be relieved. But it won’t change the fact that half the people in this state are fascists. And that’s downright sickening.

    Minnesconsin Tom

  2. I think Evers will run 2-3 points ahead of Barnes, but I am sensitive about polls because of 2 reasons.

    1. It affects how media covers and talks about races, no matter how off the numbers may be from reality. And low-info voters like identifying with a winning candidate.

    2. Bad polls open the door to more funny business, as the cheaters/riggers can say “see, this poll made it plausible.”

    I also think we are all touchy because a RoJo and (especially) Michels win would be painful and catastrophic for the state. So let’s not have that happen.


    1. I am almost—almost—more afraid of what will happen if Barnes and Evers win. Especially now that Michael Gableman is calling for bloody revolution. I can certainly see at least Michels (and maybe RoJo too) pulling a Trump: declaring victory early, then crying “rigged!” if they lose. And of course, rioting in Madison at the Capitol will follow. Maybe it’s better if Michels wins and we become North Texas. If the majority of Wisconsinites truly votes him in, we’ll get what we deserve.

      Minnesconsin Tom