A new Marquette Law School Poll released Wednesday found tight races for governor and U.S. Senate in Wisconsin.
In the senate race, Sen. Ron Johnson captured 49% support among likely voters, while his challenger, Lt. Gov Mandela Barnes, received 48% support. The results are an eight-point swing in Johnson’s favor since August, when Barnes led Johnson by a margin of 52% to 45%.
Meanwhile, incumbent Gov. Tony Evers maintained a slim lead over Republican challenger Tim Michels in the governor’s race, garnering 47% support to Michels’ 44% among likely voters. Those results are nearly identical to August, when Evers received 48% and Michels received 44%.
Both races remain extremely competitive, with Evers’ and Johnson’s leads well within the poll’s 4.9% margin of error.
According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Johnson’s recent barrage of attack ads against Barnes may be responsible for his gains in the Senate race, especially among independent voters. While 55% of likely independent voters supported Barnes in August, that percentage dropped to 46% in September, even as Johnson’s approval rating remained below 40%.
Johnson responded to the new poll results in a tweet Wednesday.
“I assume it’s a dead-even race, that's the way I’m going to run this campaign,” Johnson said. “Wisconsinites are finally beginning to understand who Mandela Barnes is and what he truly believes.”
Barnes echoed Johnson’s tone in his own tweet Wednesday, adding that “every dollar counts” in the close race.
“The latest poll today shows Ron Johnson and I are neck and neck in this race. Social Security, abortion access, marriage equality — everything is on the line. We need the resources to compete and flip this seat.”
Overall, respondents had a more favorable view of Democratic candidates than Republicans, continuing a trend from the past few Marquette polls.
However, the two Democrats’ individual favorability numbers slipped in Wednesday’s poll. In the August poll, 41% of voters said they had an unfavorable view of Gov. Tony Evers, but that number rose to 45% in September. The same was true for Barnes, whose unfavorability percentage rose from 22% to 32%.
Both the governor and Senate races are being watched closely across the nation. Wisconsin’s Senate race could decide which party controls the U.S. Senate, while the governor’s race victor will likely decide where the state stands on issues like abortion access, racial education and LGBTQ+ rights.
Gabriella Hartlaub is a staff writer for the Daily Cardinal specializing in state politics and life & style reporting.