Sanders leads among Democratic candidates in latest law school poll

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Photo by Jordan Johnson

Mike Gousha presented results of the law school poll at "On the Issues."

For the first time in this election, former United States Vice President Joe Biden was surpassed in the Marquette University Law School Poll as the first choice in the Democratic primary candidates among Wisconsin voters. Both Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg topped Biden with 29% and 17%, respectively. Biden earned 15%.

Sanders, Bloomberg and Biden are followed by South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 13%, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar with 11% and Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren with 9%. Tulsi Gabbard and Tom Steyer each received 1%. Steyer, Buttigieg and Klobuchar announced Saturday, Sunday and Monday — respectively — that they are dropping out of the race.

The poll, conducted Feb. 19-23, took place after the Iowa and New Hampshire caucuses and after the Nevada debate. One thousand registered Wisconsin voters were surveyed, increased from the usual 800. This allowed for a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points. Of this sample, 490 said they would be voting in the Democratic primary.

Charles Franklin, director of the poll, presented the results at “On the Issues” with Mike Gousha at Eckstein Hall’s Lubar Center Feb. 27.

When discussing favorability of the Democratic candidates, Franklin said the candidates have similar favorability, though they do not have similar numbers in terms of who will vote for them.

“People like these candidates within the party, but it doesn’t line up all that well with who they’re voting for,” Franklin said.

Among Democratic primary voters, 56% have “made up their mind” for president, while 42% said they might still change their mind.

“People still seem open to looking at other potential options,” Gousha said. “This is something we’ve seen. … There are still people out there that are still receptive.”

In general election matchups, many Democratic candidates were neck and neck with President Donald Trump. When pitted against each other, Biden and Trump each received 46%. Sanders received 48% while Trump received 46%. Warren received 44% and Trump received 47%. Bloomberg received 44% while Trump received 45%. Buttigieg and Trump both received 45%. Klobuchar and Trump both received 46%.

The poll also asked about Trump’s job approval. He received the highest percentage of approval since the March 2017 poll, with approval at 48% and disapproval at 48%. This approval has been maintained since the last law school poll in January. When broken down by party, 95% of Republicans approve, 38% of Independents approve and 6% of Democrats approve.

Trump’s handling of the economy is met with 56% approval and 41% disapproval.

The president’s handling of foreign policy is met with 43% approval and 51% disapproval.

The most recent law school poll was also the first to ask about impeachment following Trump’s acquittal. In February, after the Senate vote, 42% of respondents said he should be removed from office, and 52% said he should’ve been acquitted. About 5% said they didn’t know. In January, prior to the Senate vote, 44% of respondents believed he should be removed from office, and 49% believed he should be acquitted. About 6% said they didn’t know.

The poll also asked about several national policy issues, including abortion, same-sex marriage, undocumented citizens, free trade agreements and Medicare.

Franklin said in the past few weeks, there has been some other people out in the polling fields, including polls by University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Wisconsin State Journal. He added that Fox News and The New York Times have started polling in Wisconsin.

“I think it will be a rich year for seeing and comparing polls,” Franklin said.

This story was written by Alexa Jurado. She can be reached at alexa.jurado@marquette.edu.