Capital Sunday: Poll shows Johnson ahead of Barnes; GOP eyes supermajority in legislature | New

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MADISON (WKOW) — Sen. Ron Johnson has opened up his advantage over Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, according to a Marquette Law poll released this week.

With less than four weeks to go until Election Day, 52% of Marquette poll respondents said they would vote for Johnson, an incumbent Republican seeking a third term after saying he would not run again.

46% said they would likely vote for Barnes, the Democratic challenger. Barnes struggled to answer questions about his shift from his previous support for shifting money from police budgets to now saying he does not support such a reallocation.

The new numbers are a significant departure from the August poll, which showed Barnes leading Johnson 51% to 44%. Last month’s poll showed a near stalemate with Johnson slightly ahead, 49% to 48%.

The Johnson campaign said the numbers reflected a race that was course-correcting after Democrats cleared the way for Barnes before the end of a largely clean primary campaign.

Barnes’ campaign and other Democratic strategists viewed the poll as an outlier. They pointed to a CBS News poll from the weekend showing Johnson up one point, as well as an internal Barnes poll showing him up one point.

Democrats have targeted Johnson over his support for a 2011 measure that would have given 14th Amendment protections to unborn children, without providing exceptions for rape or incest.

Republicans have been laser-focused on crime, pouring millions into ads that highlight Barnes’ previous comments about reallocating police funding, and when his previous social media support for posts calling for the abolition of the ECI.

Poll director Charles Franklin said the movement among voters who identify as independents has driven both races in favor of Republicans.

In August, Barnes led 55% to 40% among independent voters. In Wednesday’s poll, Johnson led among independents, 51% to 45%.

In the gubernatorial race, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ advantage continued to narrow. Evers leads Republican challenger Tim Michels by one percentage point, 47% to 46%. Last month, Evers had a three percentage point advantage, 47% to 44%.

Among independents, a similar but less dramatic shift has occurred in the gubernatorial race, with Michels leading Evers 44% to 43% among independent voters in Wednesday’s poll. In August, Evers had a 49% to 38% advantage among independents.

Franklin noted that this wouldn’t necessarily translate to election results, because while more than 80% of Republicans and Democrats said they were certain to vote this year, that number was closer to 70% for independents. .

“It always matters who shows up on election day, so turnout always matters,” he said. “And of course, in very close elections, that can be the difference between victory and defeat.”

The margin of error in the September and August polls was 4.3%.

The poll also reflected a grumpy electorate. The percentage of voters who said they believe Wisconsin is on the wrong track rose from 53% to 63%; Franklin said it was one of the highest “bad leads” numbers he can remember seeing since he started polling on the matter.

Still, in the two most exposed races, the incumbents had an advantage over the voters. Franklin said that indicates a continuing trend over the past two years: the number of “bad leads” does not necessarily correlate with a politician’s chances of being reelected.

“Usually ‘wrong lane’ is a good predictor of struggling starters,” Franklin said. “It seems a bit less, but since mid-2020, in our polls and our national polls, that bad track number has just skyrocketed and stayed high.”

Franklin said something else to watch ahead of the release of the final UM poll just before the Nov. 8 election is whether the up/down ratings take a sharp turn for any of the candidates running for president. Governor or the Senate.

“Despite all the negative publicity, the four candidates are actually pretty close to a balance between favorable and unfavorable,” Franklin said. “That could still change by election day, but none of them have erupted into becoming much more favorable than unfavourable, none of them have been poisoned into becoming more unfavorable than favorable.”

‘Actually a very good chance’: GOP eyes supermajority

Depending on what happens in a series of smaller races across Wisconsin next month, it doesn’t matter who is governor in January.

Republicans hope to win a supermajority in the legislature, which would allow GOP lawmakers to override a governor’s veto.

During the current session, Evers vetoed a record 126 bills. Legislation Evers rejected included efforts to remove income limits for school choice, enact less restrictive gun laws and ban COVID-19 vaccination mandates.

In order to secure a two-thirds supermajority, Republicans must control at least 22 seats in the Senate and 66 in the Assembly. Currently, the GOP has 21 and 61 seats respectively.

Joe Handrick, who has helped draw maps for Republicans in previous redistricting rounds, said he was confident the GOP would get the necessary Senate seat. Former minority leader Janet Bewley is retiring and her district along Lake Superior has turned Republican in recent years.

“A year ago, I would have said it was highly unlikely that Republicans could win a supermajority in the legislature,” Handrick said. “But as the campaigns have developed, I think there’s actually a very good chance that the Senate will achieve a two-thirds majority for Republicans.”

In the Assembly, Handrick said winning the necessary five seats would be a tough climb, but far from impossible.

“Assembly, which I didn’t think was possible at all, I think there’s now a reasonable chance,” Handrick said. “It’s probably 50% or less, but there’s actually a chance it could happen in the state assembly.”

Matt Rothschild, director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, said the situation was entirely due to heavily gerrymandered cards in favor of Republicans.

A UW-Madison analysis after the Wisconsin Supreme Court adopted the GOP maps found that the districts were far more skewed than the maps generally accepted by courts across the United States.

Rothschild said he was scouring the state, exposing voters to the dangers of having a party, and essentially a branch, under the complete control of the state government.

“Progressive candidates, Democratic candidates are just trying to talk to everyone in their district,” Rothschild said. “And convince them of the value of not having one party in power, but having a balance of power here in Madison.”

If the Senate moves to two-thirds control of the GOP, Handrick said Republicans are also likely to do so with two Assembly districts in northwest Wisconsin currently held by retired Democrats.

Republicans are also almost guaranteed to take the 13th Assembly District at Brookfield and Elm Grove, based on Republicans redrawing the district to weed out Wauwatosa voters who are now leaning toward Democrats.

From there, Republicans are expected to return two more Assembly seats. Handrick said the top contenders were districts around La Crosse, Stevens Point and Oshkosh.

Stevens Point will be tough for the GOP because of incumbent Katrina Shankland, and even though the Oshkosh seat is open after the retirement of former Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, it’s a neighborhood that’s usually blue.

“If Tim Michels and Ron Johnson – and Oshkosh is Ron Johnson’s hometown – can bring this district close enough, perhaps without any Assemblyman, that the Republican nominee could overcome the natural advantage that Democrats have in that Oshkosh seat,” Handrick said.

Rothschild said he’s still optimistic Democrats will avoid a supermajority in both houses. He said he was confident Kelly Westlund, a former aide to Sen. Tammy Baldwin, would keep Bewley’s seat under Democratic control.

But to avoid a supermajority for the remainder of the 10-year redistricting cycle, Rothschild said the stakes are high for April’s state Supreme Court election. The Liberals could swing the court to a progressive 4-3 advantage and then file another lawsuit seeking to have the cards overturned and redrawn.

“Democrats are going to be able to elect a liberal justice that will tip the Wisconsin Supreme Court in favor of liberals,” Rothschild said. “And there will be, I believe, a challenge to existing maps – that they do not reflect the will of the people.”

Michels has yet to give details on the divestment.

Since launching his gubernatorial campaign in April, Michels has said he will divest from Michels Corp., which he co-owns with his brothers, Pat and Kevin.

However, despite being asked for months, Michels offered no further details on what it would look like and how he would avoid conflicts of interest as a governor who oversees major road contracts. .

Corri Hess of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said the lack of detail has puzzled and worried business experts.

“What he could do is he could put his money in a blind trust, or he could donate his share of the business, or do other things,” Hess said. . “But he just didn’t say what he was planning to do.”

Hess noted that the missing details leave answers to questions about how Michels’ immediate family might still benefit from state rulings during his tenure, or even if Michels himself would be able to recoup his share of the profits from company once he leaves office.

“Some of the concerns are, could Tim Michels get his income back when he’s no longer governor?” said Hess. “Or will his children still benefit from it? Will his wife benefit from it? In that case, he will still benefit from it.”

Wispolitics.com discovered that Michels owns stock for six companies that currently have state contracts, including Michels Corp. According to the report, these companies have a total of $1.6 billion in state contracts.

For his part, Michels defended the idea that Michels Corp. continues to obtain state contracts under his tenure as governor. He said the company had won those contracts as the lowest bidder, and that would continue if he was elected.

“Michels brings great value to what we do in road building,” he said. “And the winner is the hard-working taxpayers of Wisconsin.”

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