POLL: Wisconsin Economic Optimism Wanes Compared to Last Year

Gov. Evers’ Job Approval Positive, But Tax Increase Proposals Opposed

MADISON – Wisconsinites are less optimistic about the economy than they were just over a year ago, according to a recent scientific poll commissioned by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC). The poll also found that while voters currently approve of the job Gov. Tony Evers is doing, they are not supportive of many of the proposals included in his first budget.

“This new poll shows Wisconsinites are concerned about the direction of the state’s economy,” said WMC President & CEO Kurt Bauer.

The poll of 501 Wisconsin voters was taken April 15-17 and was conducted by the Washington, DC-based Tarrance Group. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.5 percent.

According to the poll, 21 percent of voters believe the state’s economy will improve in the next year, which is significantly down from 39 percent last year and 35 percent two years ago. Fifty-four percent believe the state economy will stay the same, and 21 percent believe it will get worse.

The poll also asked about important public policy issues being considered by Gov. Evers and the legislature.

“While voters still seem to have a generally positive view of Gov. Evers, it is clear they are not fully onboard with his plans to increase taxes,” added Bauer. “The governor should carefully consider the attitude of voters when it comes to working on the budget with the legislature this spring and summer.”

Included in Gov. Evers budget proposal is language similar to so-called “dark stores” legislation. This proposal would substantially raise property taxes on business – a move Wisconsin voters do not support. When asked “would you favor or oppose” increasing property taxes on businesses, only 33 percent of voters are in favor, while 60 percent are opposed. Interestingly, 56 percent of Democrats support raising property taxes on business and 84 percent of Republicans oppose the tax hike.

When it comes to Gov. Evers’ proposal to raise taxes on manufacturers – which would likely result in fewer middle-class jobs – voters are opposed. When asked “would you favor or oppose raising taxes on manufacturing production in our state, which would likely result in the loss of many middle-class manufacturing jobs,” 77 percent of respondents said they are opposed and 16 percent are in favor.

The poll also showed a lack of support for a gas tax increase of eight cents per gallon. Forty-six percent of voters favor the tax hike and 53 percent of voters are opposed. Additionally, only 24 percent of Republicans favor an eight cent increase, while 70 percent of Democrats do.

Voters are also opposed to Gov. Evers’ plan to eliminate property tax caps (19% favor / 69% oppose), his plan to increase taxes on utility bills (19% favor / 77% oppose) and his plan to automatically increase the gas tax each year without a legislative vote (16% favor / 83% oppose).

The poll also asked voters if they approve or disapprove of the job Gov. Evers and President Donald Trump are doing. Of those surveyed, 49 percent approved of Gov. Evers and 38 percent disapprove. President Trump had a job approval rating of 46 percent, while 52 percent disapprove – a noteworthy change from January 2018 when only 38 percent of voters approved of the job he was doing, while 57 percent disapproved.

Other Key Findings:

  • Fifty-one percent of voters believe property taxes are too high. Only 2 percent say they are too low, and 43 percent say they are about right. Voters also weighed in on state income taxes (36% too high / 2% too low / 57% about right) and sales taxes (21% too high / 3% too low / 74% about right).
  • When asked which economic system is better for their family, 62 percent said capitalism and 22 percent said socialism. Fourteen percent were undecided. Young people are more likely to support socialism, according to the poll.
    • 18-34: Capitalism 44% / Socialism 39%
    • 35-44: Capitalism 57% / Socialism 25%
    • 45-64: Capitalism 63% / Socialism 22%
    • Over 65: Capitalism 71% / Socialism 15%
  • Fifty-five percent of Wisconsin voters believe public schools are preparing students to be successful after graduation, while 41 percent do not.
  • When asked if they support giving parents the choice to decide which school their child attends, 78 percent said yes and 21 percent said no.
  • Eighty-four percent of voters favor giving schools financial incentives to provide internships, apprenticeships or job shadowing with local businesses as a part of their coursework.
  • When it comes to health insurance, 44 percent of voters said costs went up in the last year, 50 percent have stayed the same and 4 percent decreased.
  • Sixty-three percent of voters oppose the elimination of drug testing for individuals to qualify for food stamps or welfare benefits, while 36 percent are in favor.

Click here to view the full poll results.

Click here to view the polling memo from The Tarrance Group.

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For more information, please contact:
Nick Novak, 608.239.4866