The Center for Excellence in Polling recently surveyed a sample of likely voters in Wisconsin on issues facing the state. Results show broad and bipartisan support among Wisconsinites on a wide range of issues, including tax cuts, election interference, and reforms to welfare and unemployment insurance.
Wisconsin voters overwhelmingly support middle-class tax cuts
As record-setting inflation continues to roil the country, including Wisconsin, voters in the Badger State express high levels of concern about the cost of living. A full nine in 10 Wisconsinites (90%) say they are somewhat or very concerned about the cost of living in Wisconsin. Wisconsinites’ high concern about the cost of living likely explains the overwhelming support (90%) for middle-class tax cuts, including 94 percent of Republicans, 90 percent of Independents, and 86 percent of Democrats in favor.1
And despite the governor’s plan to use the state’s $4 billion budget surplus to subsidize the daycare industry in Wisconsin, voters overwhelmingly want that money returned to taxpayers. Nearly nine in 10 voters (87%) say that the surplus should be returned to Wisconsinites through tax cuts and rebates, compared to only 13 percent who support temporary cutting costs through subsidies.
Voters favor policies that get Wisconsinites back to work
Concern about the worker shortage in Wisconsin is likely driving high levels of support for policies that get Wisconsinites back to work. More than seven in 10 voters (73%) say they are very or somewhat concerned about the worker shortage, leading voters to favor welfare and unemployment policies that promote work.
of likely voters support temporarily suspending individuals from unemployment benefits if they repeatedly fail to show up for scheduled job interviews. Similarly, voters support requiring businesses to report unemployment beneficiaries when they fail to show up for work after being hired (82%) or refuse an offer for suitable work (76%). Support for these work-centric policies is broad and crosses party lines.
Voters also want individuals collecting unemployment benefits to actually look for work. Three-quarters of voters support requiring individuals on unemployment to perform at least one meaningful work search activity each business day (77%) and requiring the state to verify work search activity reports submitted by unemployment beneficiaries (78%).
of likely voters support requiring able-bodied adults with no children at home to work, train, or volunteer for at least 20 hours per week as a condition of eligibility for food stamps. Broad bipartisan support for food stamp work requirements echoes the referendum passed by Badger State votes in April.2
Voters support policies that promote accountability and transparency in public schools
As public schools increasingly treat parental involvement with disdain and hostility, Wisconsin voters support reforms that will put parents and voters, rather than politicians and unions, back in charge of taxpayer-funded schools.
of likely voters support holding school board elections on the same ballot as general elections for statewide or federal offices, rather than during off-cycle or special elections when fewer voters participate. Support for this turnout-boosting reform is broad and across party lines. Support is strongest among Republicans (89%) and Independents (82%) with more than three-quarters of Democrats (78%) also in favor of on-cycle school board elections.
of likely voters support requiring school boards to publicly disclose all proposed school curricula. Classrooms are increasingly a battlefield in the culture wars, and voters want transparency about what children are taught in schools, with 85 percent of Independents and 81 percent of women voters saying schools should publicly disclose curricula.
of likely voters support requiring school officials to communicate with a child’s parents about issues the child is facing, including health problems or issues surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity. Support for parental involvement comes from 88 percent of Republicans, 82 percent of Independents, and two-thirds (66%) of Democrats. Three-quarters of women voters (74%) also say school officials should involve parents in their children’s issues.
Wisconsinites want an impartial and transparent justice system
Three-quarters of voters (77%) say that Wisconsin Supreme Court justices should recuse themselves from cases when they have made political statements that show they have a bias in a case before the court. When justices with a clear conflict of interest in a case refuse to recuse themselves from that case, 66 percent of voters support the state legislature impeaching the judge. Support for an impartial justice system is strong among all groups of voters, including across party lines and among both men and women.
As local prosecutors across the country face the wrath of voters for their soft-on-crime policies, Wisconsin voters overwhelmingly (74 percent) support requiring local prosecutors to send a yearly report about criminal cases and victims of crime to the state legislature. Voters, regardless of political affiliation, support prosecutorial transparency.
Voters oppose politically driven investment of taxpayer funds
Wisconsin voters express strong bipartisan opposition to investing taxpayer dollars in politicized investment funds that focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria.
of likely voters oppose investing taxpayer money in banks and investment funds that make business decisions based on their political agenda. This includes a full three-quarters (76%) of Independents and two-thirds of Democrats and Republicans (67% each). Voters are even more opposed to politically driven investing when they know that Wisconsin’s pension system would be at risk. More than three in five (64%) voters say they are less likely to support politicized investing of taxpayer funds after learning it could negatively impact Wisconsin’s pension system.
Wisconsin elections should be for Wisconsinites
The majority of voters (51%) say that out-of-state interests should not be involved in overturning Wisconsin elections and that out-of-state college students should not vote in Wisconsin’s election.
of likely voters support universities providing out-of-state college students absentee ballot applications to vote in elections in their home state. Wisconsin voters overwhelmingly support college students’ right to vote but believe that right should be exercised in their permanent state of residence, and bipartisan majorities (71% of Democrats and 55% of Republicans), along with 62 percent of Independents, support this solution for allowing college students to vote.
However, if out-of-state college students wish to become Wisconsin residents, voters believe the same residency requirements should apply to both voting rights and tuition rates. Currently out-of-state college students are eligible to vote as a resident in Wisconsin elections after only 28 days in the state, but they are not eligible for resident tuition rates until after two years. More than six in 10 (63%) of voters say residency requirements should be the same, including 70 percent of Republicans and nearly six in 10 Independents and Democrat (59% each).
of likely voters oppose efforts by Washington, D.C., political groups to create maps for Wisconsin’s legislative districts. This out-of-state interference in the redistricting process is opposed by roughly two-thirds of Independents (69%) and Republicans (63%) along with the majority of Democrats (51%).
The Bottom Line
Badger State voters of all political stripes favor policies that cut taxes, get fellow Wisconsinites back to work, secure elections, and promote transparency in public schools. Elected officials and policymakers would be wise to pay attention and move forward meaningful reforms that make Wisconsin work for everyone.
1 Support and oppose results throughout are obtained by combining “strongly support/oppose” and “somewhat support/oppose” responses.