2022_CANDIDATES_AUG18

With less than a week to go before Election Day, Wisconsin’s races for governor and U.S. Senate are both considered toss-ups, with the final outcome in both races likely coming down to turnout.

With less than a week to go before Election Day, Wisconsin’s races for governor and U.S. Senate are both considered toss-ups, with the final outcome in both races likely coming down to turnout.

That’s according to a new Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday — the last pre-election poll set to be released by Wisconsin’s top independent poll before Election Day.

The poll was conducted Oct. 24 through Nov. 1. It surveyed 802 registered Wisconsin voters, and had a margin of error of +/- 4.6 percentage points among registered voters and 4.8 percentage points among likely voters.

Here’s what it found.

Governor’s race

In the race for the governorship, incumbent Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and his Republican challenger, Tim Michels, are locked in a “pure toss-up,” said Charles Franklin, the poll’s director. 

Among likely voters, both Evers and Michels earned the support of 48% of those surveyed. Joan Beglinger, an independent candidate who will appear on the ballot but has dropped out of the race and endorsed Michels, earned 2% support.

“Likely voters in our sample … are the people who say they are ‘absolutely certain’ they're going to vote this time or who say they've already voted,” Franklin said.

The race is also neck-and-neck among likely independent voters, the poll found, with Evers regaining a slight edge. Among likely voters surveyed, 47% of independent voters said they’ll support Evers, and 46% said they’ll back Michels. In a Marquette poll released last month, Michels held a 44% to 43% lead among likely independent voters.

Evers, though, maintained more significant advantages on other questions. When asked if the governor cares “about people like you,” 52% said he cares about them compared to 40% who said he doesn’t care. For Michels, 43% said he cares about them while 46% said he doesn't care about them.

The governor also led the construction magnate on the question of “who do you think better understands the problems faced by ordinary people in Wisconsin?” Among registered voters, 48% said Evers better understands those problems, while 44% said Michels better understands the problems of ordinary people.

Evers also was viewed favorably by more of those surveyed than Michels, though his favorability rating was net negative. Among registered voters, 44% had a favorable opinion of the governor versus 46% with an unfavorable view. For Michels, 39% said they had a favorable opinion of him and another 39% said they viewed him unfavorably. Sixteen percent of respondents hadn’t heard enough to form an opinion of him.

In a statement, Michels’ campaign manager, Patrick McNulty, said the poll “tells us what we have known all along — the race will be extremely close.”

“Gov. Evers and his allies are pulling out all the desperate smears and dirty tricks as he limps to the end of his campaign,” McNulty continued. “Tony Evers has failed. In just six months, Tim Michels has built a broad coalition of Wisconsinites ready for proven leadership that will strengthen our economy, reduce crime, and empower parents in our education system. The momentum is on our side in the final stretch. We look forward to deeming Evers non-essential on Election Day.”

The Evers campaign sees it differently.

“With just one week to go until Election Day, Wisconsinites know that Gov. Tony Evers is the only candidate for governor who will do the right thing to invest in our kids, lower costs for working families, and keep communities safe,” Kayla Anderson, a campaign spokesperson for Evers said in a statement. “As Tim Michels continues to embrace radical policies that are completely out of touch with Wisconsinites, Gov. Evers is traveling across the state to talk to voters about the stakes of this election and highlight his record of moving the state forward.” 

“This final Marquette poll confirms this will be one of the closest races in the country, and that’s why we can’t take our foot off the gas,” she added.

U.S. Senate

In the race to represent Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate, Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and his challenger, Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, are also locked in a statistical tie.

The poll found that 50% of likely voters were supporting Johnson, while 48% were backing Barnes. That marks an improvement for Barnes, who trailed Johnson by six points — outside of the margin of error — in Marquette University Law School’s poll from last month.

Unlike Michels, though, Johnson had a notable lead among likely independent voters, polling ahead of Barnes 51% to 45%. There has been a large swing in who independent voters are supporting, according to the poll. In Marquette’s first head-to-head poll between Johnson and Barnes, in August, the lieutenant governor led among independent voters by 15%. That 21-point swing in favor of Johnson came after weeks of the senator attacking Barnes on crime and public safety.

Barnes did lead in Wednesday’s poll on “cares about people like you.” Forty-nine percent of registered voters said Barnes cares about them, and 42% said he did not care about them. For Johnson, 43% of registered voters said he cares about them, while 49% of them said he does not care about them.

Johnson, though, maintained a 45% to 44% lead among registered voters when asked who they thought “better understands the problems faced by ordinary people in Wisconsin.”

"Like most elections in Wisconsin, this will be close, but voters should remember: Mandela Barnes is an extremist who wants more of the same Biden economic policies that have led to 40-year high inflation and record gas prices, and he wants to defund the police,” Johnson campaign senior adviser Ben Voelkel said in a statement.

“We’ve said from day one that this is going to be a close race, and in these closing days we’re focused on mobilizing Wisconsinites across the state to turn out and fire Ron Johnson,” Maddy McDaniel, a campaign spokesperson for Barnes, said in a statement.

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