Marquette Poll: Johnson expands lead over Barnes, governor race tightens

Sen. Ron Johnson (left) and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes will face off for U.S. Senate in November.
Sen. Ron Johnson (left) and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes will face off for U.S. Senate in November.(WMTV)
Published: Oct. 12, 2022 at 1:22 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 12, 2022 at 9:38 PM CDT
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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WBAY) - Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson has expanded his lead over Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes in a newly released Marquette University Law School Poll.

This latest poll, released with less than one month to go before Nov. 8 election, highlights once again how independents are the ones who will decide which way Wisconsin goes in November -- and in recent weeks there’s been a dramatic shift favoring Republicans

Among likely voters, 52 percent support Johnson while 46 percent support Barnes. In September, it was Johnson 49 percent to Barnes 48 percent.

Johnson also leads support among independents. The poll found 45 percent support Barnes and 51 percent support Johnson. That’s a shift from August when Barnes led among independents 55 percent to 40 percent.

”It’s independents who are driving that change,” poll director Charles Franklin affirmed. “Barnes led by 15 among independents back in August, but now Johson has a lead with independents by about 6 points, so you can see the movement there.” You can watch our full interview with Franklin above.

The race for Wisconsin governor remains neck-and-neck. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has 47 percent support and Republican Challenger Tim Michels has 4 6 percent support. The race tightened from September when Evers was up 47-44.

Among independents, 43 percent support Evers and 44 percent support Michels. In September, Evers had the lead among independents.

“Inflation remains the top issue, as it has for quite a while now, but we are seeing significant numbers of people mentioning public schools and gun violence. Abortion policy comes in fourth and then crime in fifth place,” Franklin said.

Sixty-eight percent say they are “very concerned” about inflation, followed by public schools (60%), gun violence and crime (both at 56%), accurate vote count (52%), taxes (47%), illegal immigration (40%) and the COVID-19 virus (13%).

The poll shows 64 percent favor legalizing marijuana, while 30 percent oppose it.

When it comes to abortion, 33 percent of registered voters are in support of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade while 60 percent oppose the decision.

As for partisan voters, the poll shows them to be squarely behind their preferred candidate, and there’s still a small number of undecided voters remaining who might not decide until the final week.

“For some independents, they’re only beginning to pay attention to this year’s election. Over the next month I think we will see them focus in, those who haven’t yet made up their minds,” Franklin said.

The poll was conducted Oct. 3-9, 2022. The poll interviewed 810 registered Wisconsin voters, with 652 of them being likely voters. The margin of error among likely voters was +/-4.8 percent

The latest Marquette poll, less than a month from the election, shows independents leaning Republican