(Image by Shutterstock)
(Image by Shutterstock)

Still majority support for Evers and safeguards, but less than in March and with more partisan differences

Respondents to a new Wisconsin survey gave Gov. Tony Evers a 20-point margin of support over the state Legislature when it comes to determining the best way to reopen the state during the coronavirus pandemic, and  they oppose the protests against quarantine safeguards issued by his top health officials by a 32-point margin.

The latest Marquette University Law School poll results summarize questions asked of 811 registered voters in Wisconsin from May 3-7. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Support remains strong for the safer-at-home restrictions that were put in place in March and are scheduled to end on May 26, but the margin has shrunk, especially among those who identify as Republicans or conservative voters. 

Approval for the safeguards is at 69 percent in the new May poll, a drop from 86 percent in March, shortly after the rules were put in place and the extent of the pandemic was starting to be felt nationwide. The percentage of respondents who believe the rules are an overreaction has risen from only 10 percent in March to 29 percent in May. Among GOP supporters, 49 percent still support safer-at-home, a tumble from the 83 percent support in March. 

When it comes to reopening Wisconsin to businesses and large gatherings, a majority of 56 percent said they are concerned the reopening will come too soon to ensure public safety, while 40 percent said they are concerned the reopening will not come soon enough due to economic damage.

Among all respondents, 53 percent said they trust the governor most on the issue of when to reopen compared to 33 percent who put more trust in the Republican-led Legislature.

When asked about the public protests against the pandemic safeguards, only 31 percent said they support the protests while 63 opposed them.

The pollsters said the respondents were made up of 38 percent who described themselves as conservative or very conservative, 22 percent who described themselves as liberal or very liberal, and 36 percent who labeled themselves as moderates.

Gov. Evers’ approval rating for handling the coronavirus crisis is 64 percent vs. 32 percent who disapprove. For an overall job rating, Evers is at 59 percent, down from 65 percent in March, while 33 percent disapprove of his overall job performance.

President Trump remains underwater in Wisconsin polling. On handling the pandemic, Trump’s approval rating is 44 percent vs. 51 percent disapproval. And Trump’s overall job approval stands at 47 percent approve, 49 percent disapprove, essentially unchanged since March.

In a head-to-head matchup with former Vice President Joe Biden in the presidential election, the President has slipped slightly but within the margin of error, from 46 percent in February and 45 percent in March to 43 percent in May. Biden’s numbers for the same period are 46, 48 and 46. The May result, Biden 46 to Trump’s 43 percent, once again counts as a statistical dead heat in this critical swing state.

Once the coronavirus restrictions are lifted, respondents said they will feel overwhelmingly comfortable visiting the home of a friend or relative (77 percent) or going to a shop (56 percent). But that comfort is below 50 percent when asked about going to a place of worship (45%), a restaurant (42%), or a large event for something like sports or music (25%).

Respondents now believe the outbreak will last longer than what they thought back in March. And while personal concern about the health and economic impacts has lessened somewhat, it remains especially high in the African American community which has seen a disproportionate share of illness, death and economic loss. In January, for example, only 10 percent of African Americans surveyed said they were struggling financially. In May, the number had jumped to 25 percent.

Asked about elections in light of concerns about polling place health issues, 36 percent said they favor an all-mailed ballot election, and 43 percent said they expect to vote by mail this fall. In-person voting had to be an option, said 57 percent of those surveyed. On Election Day, 39 percent said they expect to vote in-person while 11 percent said they would vote early, in-person by absentee ballot.