Marquette Poll: Toss up for governor, Johnson widens lead over Barnes

By M.D. Kittle

Madison — Wisconsin’s race for governor has narrowed while U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Oshkosh) has taken a commanding lead over his far left opponent, according to a new Marquette University Law School poll.

Democrat Gov. Tony Evers leads Republican businessman Tim Michels by just a percentage point (47% to 46%) among likely voters, well within the poll’s 4.8 percent margin of error. Michels trailed Evers by 3 points in the law school’s last poll in September. Independent candidate Joan Beglinger, who dropped out last month and threw her support behind Michels, was still polling at 4 percent.

“The governor’s race has tightened to a tossup,” a Marquette University Law School poll press release declared.

Wisconsin’s race for U.S. Senate is a different story.

Johnson leads Barnes by 6 percentage points (52% to 46%), widening the margin from a 1 percentage point advantage in September (49% to 48%). The poll’s producers note the brunt of the respondents were contacted before Friday’s first debate between the Senate candidates.

Michels, Johnson and their allies have hammered Evers and Barnes hard on crime and the economy, two key issues in the November midterms. Evers has faced sharp criticism for his “progressive justice” Parole Commission, which has granted early release to hundreds of criminals, including scores of murderers, rapists and child molesters. Barnes has been knocked for his support of the defund the police movement, a charge the lieutenant governor has denied despite his past statements.

Evers’ job approval rating is under water for the second straight month. The latest poll finds 46 percent of likely voters approve of the governor’s performance, 48 percent disapprove. Last month, Evers’ approval rating was 44 percent, with 47 percent disapproval.

Meanwhile, a whopping 63 percent of respondents believe Wisconsin is on the wrong track, the worst showing in nearly three years of polling data.

Inflation remains the no. 1 concern among Wisconsin voters, with 93 percent of respondents saying they are somewhat or very concerned about rising prices. Those numbers are reflected in the 35 percent of voters who say they are just getting by and 11 percent who say they are struggling.

Johnson campaign spokesman Ben Voelkel said the contrast in the race is clear.

“Ron Johnson is talking about the issues voters care about around the state of Wisconsin while Lt. Gov. Barnes continues to lie and distract from his extreme record of supporting defunding the police, abolishing ICE, and reckless tax-and-spend policies that have driven us into a recession and made us less safe,” he said.

Barnes had not released a statement on the latest poll.

Empower Wisconsin | Oct. 5, 2022

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