A new Marquette University Law School poll shows just less than half of Wisconsinites surveyed in August approve of President Joe Biden’s job performance. At the same time, ratings in favor of former President Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson fell to 37 percent and 35 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, Gov. Tony Evers’ approval rating remains steady.
Earlier this month, 807 registered voters were surveyed on a wide range of topics like state and national responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, public perceptions of the debate over critical race theory in public schools, the national infrastructure bill, the economy and elected officials.
When respondents were asked how they feel Biden is doing as president, 49 percent said they had a favorable view of Biden, while 46 had an unfavorable view. Four percent of respondents said they didn’t know.
When it came to how they feel about Biden’s handling of the United States economy, 48 percent said they disapprove. Biden’s approval rates increased substantially, though, when asked about the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic with 54 percent in support.
The approval rating of Trump has declined since respondents were last asked about it. The August survey found 37 percent of respondents viewed the president favorably while 55 percent viewed him unfavorably. In October, 44 percent viewed Trump favorably and 55 percent viewed him unfavorably.
A similar decline was noted when respondents were asked their opinions of Johnson’s job performance. The August survey found 35 percent viewed Johnson favorably. That’s down 3 percentage points from October, when 38 percent stated they had a favorable opinion of the senator.
Evers’ approval rate was unchanged in the latest Marquette poll compared with a survey in October, with 50 percent of respondents saying they approve of how the governor is doing, while 43 percent disapproved.
Approval ratings of Evers’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic increased slightly compared to results from October with 54 percent of respondents saying they believe the governor has done a good job navigating the state through the pandemic and 39 percent saying he has not. In October, 52 percent approved of Evers’ coronavirus performance and 45 percent disapproved.
The Marquette poll asked respondents whether they felt shutting down businesses and schools in Wisconsin was an appropriate way to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic with 62 percent of all respondents saying it was and 35 percent saying it was an overreaction that did more harm than good.
Favorable opinions of the shutdowns dropped considerably since the start of the pandemic, according to a poll conducted in March 2020 in which 86 percent of respondents felt the shutdowns were a good idea and 26 percent said they were not.
Respondents were asked in August whether they’d gotten or planned to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Of those, 68 percent said they have received at least one dose and 26 percent said they have not been vaccinated.
When broken down by political party, vaccination statuses varied widely with 45 percent of Republicans saying they’ve gotten vaccinated, while 71 percent of independents and 87 percent of Democrats indicating they have.
But the Marquette poll found significant reluctance among those who haven’t yet been vaccinated, regardless of political affiliation. Reluctance was highest among Republicans, with 55 percent saying they definitely will not get the shots while 45 percent of independents and 32 percent of Democrats saying they won’t get them either.
Public Schools, Teachers, Vouchers
Public opinion of public schools in Wisconsin increased by 10 percentage points over the last year and a half despite shutdowns of in-person classes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The latest survey found 69 percent of all respondents say they are very satisfied with the job public schools are doing in their community, while 22 percent reported being very dissatisfied. A similar question was posed to residents in January 2020, just before the pandemic hit the state, when 59 percent said they were very satisfied and 33 percent reported being very dissatisfied.
Public school teachers were viewed favorably by most respondents in the August poll with 72 percent saying they had a favorable view of teachers while 14 percent said they had an unfavorable view.
Opinions about whether to expand the number of students receiving state vouchers to attend private schools in the state were nearly split, with 46 percent in favor of expansion and 44 percent in opposition.
Critical Race Theory
As bills aiming to block the teaching of critical race theory in Wisconsin’s public schools are debated, the Marquette poll found 43 percent of respondents said they didn’t know enough about the issue to offer an opinion at this time. Of those who had an opinion, 26 percent favor teaching it in public schools while 30 percent oppose teaching it.
Wisconsinites were asked whether they favor a $500 billion increase in federal spending included in the infrastructure bill circulating in Congress. Among respondents, 53 percent said they favor the spending while 37 percent opposed.