New MU Poll, Retirements, & Assembly Override

New Marquette University Law School Poll Numbers

Marquette University Law School released a new poll yesterday. The latest numbers illustrate a first look in 2020 at the presidential race and provide  insight into important state issues to Wisconsin voters.    

After months of proceedings, the impeachment of President Donald Trump yet again proves to be unpopular among Wisconsin voters. Forty-four percent of respondents indicated they believe the United States Senate should convict Trump. Additionally, opinions on the allegations have decreased since December’s polling. Forty percent of respondents said they believe Trump did something “seriously wrong”, a four-point drop since December. 

Yesterday’s numbers indicate Trump’s approval rating is at forty-eight percent and disapproval is at forty-nine percent. This is the first poll since March 2017 to show Trump’s disapproval is below fifty percent.

In Wisconsin’s Democratic Presidential Primary race, the top four candidates are former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Biden leads the field with twenty-three percent of respondents indicating he is their first choice. Nineteen percent indicated Sanders as their first choice. Fifteen percent indicated Buttigieg, and fourteen percent selected Warren.

However, only thirty-eight percent of Democratic primary voters said “their minds are made up.” Sixty percent said they “might change their minds.” 

In head to head polls, Trump trails Biden and Sanders by four and one points respectively. However, Trump leads Warrant and Buttigieg by three points and two points respectively. It is important to note that all differences fall well within the poll’s margin of error, which means these races are toss-ups. 

The new poll numbers also indicate Governor Tony Evers’ job approval rating continues to be above the fifty percent mark at fifty-one percent.  

Other data includes:

Wisconsin is headed in the:

  • Right Direction: 46%
  • Wrong Direction: 47%


  • Will provide as much or more benefit to the state as provided in incentives: 35%
  • State is paying more than the plant is worth: 46%

It is more important to:

  • Reduce property taxes: 41%
  • Increase spending on public schools: 55%

The economy has:

  • Gotten Better: 48%
  • Gotten Worse: 17%
  • Stayed the Same: 33%

In 2020, the economy will:

  • Improve: 33%
  • Worsen: 23%
  • Stay the same: 37%

Democrat Senator Tammy Baldwin Favorability Rating:

  • Favorable: 44%
  • Unfavorable: 40%

Republican Senator Ron Johnson Favorability Rating:

  • Favorable: 39%
  • Unfavorable: 29%

The poll, conducted among 80 registered Wisconsin voters, has a margin of error of +/- 4.2 percentage points.

Veteran Legislators Announce Retirement

This month, Senator Dave Hansen (D – Green Bay) and Representative Bob Kulp (R – Stratford) announced they will not seek reelection in November. They join a growing list legislators in announcing their departures from the State Legislature at the end of the 2019-2020 legislative session.

Hansen was first elected to the State Senate in 2000. During his tenure, he served in multiple roles in Democratic Senate Leadership, including Assistant Minority and Majority leader during several legislative sessions in his career. He also served a brief stint as Majority Leader in 2010. 

“As much as it has become a cliché in politics, I truly am retiring to spend more time with my family,” Hansen told the media. “I have no fears about my chances for re-election having survived an attempted recall in 2011 and winning handily in a district that Republicans told me they gerrymandered specifically to defeat me. I believe had I chosen to run again I would win.”

Hansen’s Senate district has trended towards Republican-leaning in recent years. President Donald Trump won the seat in 2016. Some political spectators speculate there is good chance a Republican could actually win the seat in November. 

Kulp was first elected to the State Assembly in a Special Election in 2013. He currently serves as chair of influential Assembly Committee on Transportation.

“It has been one of the great honors of my lifetime to serve my friends and neighbors in the State Assembly and to represent the 69th District,” said Kulp in a statement. “I’ve enjoyed doing that for six years. I’ve learned a lot personally, grown in every human way imaginable, but now it’s time to make way for someone new to bring their best to this job.”

Hansen and Kulp join Representative Mike Rohrkaste (R – Neenah) in retiring from legislative politics altogether. However, the following state legislators are leaving their legislative seats to seek higher office as noted in a previous HC Report.

  • Senator Scott Fitzgerald (R – Juneau): Running to replace Congressman James Sensenbrenner in the 5th Congressional District
  • Representative Rob Stafsholt (R – New Richmond): Resigning his Assembly seat to run against State Senator Patty Schachtner (D – Somerset) in the 10th Senate District
  • Representative Amanda Stuck (D – Appleton): Resigning her Assembly seat to run against Congressman Mike Gallagher for the 8th Congressional District

Additionally, State Senator Tom Tiffany (R – Minocqua) is currently running in a special election primary for the 7th Congressional District, which was vacated by former Congressman Sean Duffy, in 2019. Should Tiffany eventually win the seat, he would resign from the 12 Senate District. 

Assembly Tries to Override Veto

The Wisconsin State Assembly met on Wednesday, January 15 to take up several pieces of legislation. The highest profile vote was an attempt to override Governor Tony Evers’ veto on Assembly Bill 76, which first passed the Assembly May 15, 2019 on a 66 to 31 vote.

The bill aimed to make the required minimum hours of training for nurse aides consistent with federal requirements, which would have decreased Wisconsin’s hourly requirements. Proponents argued the bill made it easier for nurse aides to meet certification requirements in hopes it would increase the number of nurse aides practicing in rural areas. Opponents, including Evers, said the decreased training requirements could lead to concerns for patient safety.

“Research has shown that higher training standards result in better outcomes for patients, lower staff turnover, and higher job satisfaction. There are better ways to address the shortage of nurse aides than reducing the quality of training programs,” said Evers in his veto message.

The State Assembly needs at least 66 votes in favor (two-thirds of the body) to override a veto. Assembly Bill 76 originally passed with exactly 66 votes in favor with all Republicans and three Democrats voting in favor. It was unclear leading up to Wednesday’s vote if those three Democrats, Rep. Beth Meyers (D – Bayfield), Rep. Don Vruwink (D – Milton), Rep. Steve Doyle (D – Onalaska), would again vote against their party to override the veto or change their votes consistent with Evers’ veto message.

After significant debate on the bill, the override failed on a vote of 63 to 36 with Meyers, Vruwink, and Doyle voting with their Democratic colleagues in opposition. The legislation remains vetoed.