Make It Count Guns Prices Voting Booth
The Marquette Law School Poll conducted Aug. 10-15, 2022 among 811 registered voters in Wisconsin measured public concern on a range of issues that included inflation and gun violence. (Left, images via Shutterstock; right, photo by Pat Kreitlow)

Centrists tend to align with Republicans on concerns about inflation, but they stand with Democrats on abortion rights and gun safety.

With a new poll from the Marquette Law School showing immense differences between Democratic and Republican voters on various issues, it may be the views of self-identified independent voters that determine the fortunes of candidates on the Nov. 8 ballot.

A changing climate tops the list for Democrats, with 79% of respondents saying they are very concerned about the issue. For Republicans, it was dead last on their list, with only 6% saying they are very concerned.

Republicans overwhelmingly listed inflation as their top concern (91%), but the issue was near the bottom for Democrats (42%). Similar splits could be seen on immigration concerns, taxes, crime, gun violence, and abortion policy.

Progressive political analyst Joe Zepecki said the road map to November success can be found by following the type of voter that frequently tips the balance in a state so “purple.”

“Because we are such a 50-50 state,” Zepecki said, “I was most interested in what are the top three issues among independent voters, who are the most likely to be determinative in contests where both Democrats and Republicans are highly engaged, highly motivated, and there’s about the same number of them.” 

Those top issues for independent voters are inflation, gun violence, and abortion policy. Zepecki notes Democrats recently passed the Inflation Reduction Act, and improvements are already being seen in the economy. The other two issues tend to indicate Democratic votes, especially abortion policy in the wake of healthcare rights being repealed by the US Supreme Court.

Tom Bonier, CEO of the Democratic data firm TargetSmart, released data Wednesday showing that among new, recently registered voters, Wisconsin has the third-highest gender gap—with 17% more women than men. The top-ranking state was Kansas, where there was a 40% gap as women turned out in record levels to defeat a recent referendum that would have repealed state-level abortion rights. 

In the Marquette Poll, 60% of all respondents (and 62% of independents) disagreed with the US Supreme Court decision to repeal Roe v. Wade. And 88% of all respondents (and 79% of Republicans) said abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest—an indication that politicians like GOP gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels remain far outside mainstream values on the issue.

Democratic respondents who said they were very concerned about an issue: Climate (79%), gun violence (77%), abortion policy (73%), public schools (53%), crime (53%), inflation (42%), coronavirus (40%), taxes (26%), illegal immigration (19%).

Republican respondents who said they were very concerned about an issue: Inflation (91%), crime (80%), taxes (72%), illegal immigration (67%), public schools (60%), gun violence (45%), abortion policy (39%), coronavirus (9%), climate (6%).