Marquette Poll: Mandela Barnes Has a Solid Lead Over Ron Johnson—While Tony Evers and Tim Michels Are In a Statistical Dead Heat

Make It Count RoJo Barnes Evers Michels

By Pat Kreitlow

August 17, 2022

Johnson faces sky-high 49% who say he doesn’t “care about people like me,” while Michels’ outcome likely rests with the 23% who say they don’t know him well enough to answer that question yet.

With a nod to the 1992 Bill Clinton campaign cliche, two big 2022 elections in Wisconsin may come down to whether voters believe a candidate “feels their pain.” At the moment, that sentiment gives Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes a solid lead over Sen. Ron Johnson in the latest Marquette Law School Poll, while Gov. Tony Evers and Republican challenger Tim Michels are in a statistical tie.

In a survey of 811 registered Wisconsin voters conducted Aug. 10-15, Barnes leads Johnson, 51% to 44%, well beyond the poll’s 4.2% margin of error.

“People are DONE being represented by an out-of-touch, self-serving multimillionaire like Ron Johnson,” Barnes posted on Twitter. “This is what a people-powered coalition can do.”

In June, Barnes held a slim lead over Johnson of 46% to 44%.

Among independent voters, Barnes’ lead is wider, with 52% compared to 38% who support Johnson, a Republican running for a third term despite a promise six years ago that he would not.

Johnson has never fared well in public opinion polls, even as he won twice over Russ Feingold in 2010 and 2016. The new poll shows Johnson with an unfavorable rating of 47%, while 38% have a favorable view.

The view is even bleaker when respondents are asked if Johnson “cares about people like you,” with 49% saying no. 

In the gubernatorial race, Evers leads Michels by a slim margin of 45% to 43%, with another 7% expressing support for an independent candidate, and 5% offering no opinion. In June, Evers led Michels by 48% to 41%. Both Michels and Barnes were involved in competitive primary races in June—both candidates have gained overall support since becoming their party’s nominee and better known by the general public.

Among independent voters, Evers has 41% support while Michels has 37%.

When asked if a candidate “cares about people like you,” Evers saw 54% say yes and 38% say no. For Michels, 38% said yes while 38% said no.

Survey director Charles Franklin said Michels’ fortunes—and the outcome of the race for governor—may rest on the 23% of respondents who say they can’t answer that question yet.

Evers enjoys a favorable rating from 46% of those surveyed, 41% have an unfavorable view—a slight improvement for Evers from June.

A follow-up article will outline respondents’ views on overall issues rather than candidates.


  • Pat Kreitlow

    The Founding Editor of UpNorthNews, Pat was a familiar presence on radio and TV stations in western Wisconsin before serving in the state Legislature. After a brief stint living in the Caribbean, Pat and wife returned to Chippewa Falls to be closer to their growing group of grandchildren. He now serves as UNN's chief political correspondent and host of UpNorthNews Radio, airing weekday mornings 6 a.m.-8 a.m on the Civic Media radio network and the UpNorthNews Facebook page.

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