Marquette Poll: Candidates have work to do before August primary

MADISON, Wis. — Primaries for Wisconsin governor and U.S. Senate are still about five months away, but results from the latest Marquette Law School poll show candidates in those races will have to work hard to get recognized.

A total of 51% of registered voters say they don’t know yet who they will end up supporting in those primaries, as candidates in both races face crowded fields.

Among those planning to vote in the Republican primary for governor, 54 percent said they are still unsure of their choice. About half of people polled said they haven’t heard enough or don’t know enough about former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch to have an opinion on her candidacy, while the other two Republican candidates in the primary — Kevin Nicholson and State Rep. Tim Ramthun — were far behind in familiarity, with 73 percent saying they didn’t know enough about Nicholson and 84 percent didn’t know enough about Ramthun.

Among those planning to vote in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate to challenge current Sen. Ron Johnson, 48 percent said they were still unsure about their choice, and each of the 12 candidates in the race saw more than half of respondents say they didn’t know enough to form an opinion.

Current Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes saw the most name recognition among likely Democratic primary voters, but 53 percent still said they didn’t feel like they knew enough to form an opinion on whether they viewed him favorably. Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry was the only other Democratic candidate who saw more than 20 percent of poll respondents say they knew about him, but nearly 2 out of every 3 likely Democratic primary voters said they haven’t heard enough.

Ten other U.S. Senate candidates saw very low recognition numbers, with few prospective voters identifying Tom Nelson (19 percent), Sarah Godlewski (16 percent), Chantia Lewis (11 percent), Kou Lee (eight percent), Peter Peckarsky (seven percent), Darrell Williams (six percent), Jeff Rumbaugh (six percent), Steven Olikara (six percent), Gillian Battino (five percent) and Adam Murphy (five percent).

It is not uncommon for most voters not to have an opinion on most candidates at this point in the process, according to poll director Charles Franklin, and the results of the most recent poll show most people are not paying much attention yet.

The latest poll was conducted over the phone between Feb. 22 and Feb. 27, interviewing 802 registered voters. The poll’s overall margin of error for the full sample was +/- 3.8 percent, but the margin of error was significantly higher for the partisan primary questions, at +/- 5.8 percent for the Republican primary and +/- 5.7 percent for the Democratic primary.