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A Snapshot of Wisconsin’s Mood

Sustaining Wisconsin is not a poll-driven campaign, but rather a public education project driven by our state’s challenges and the public’s desire for better, more useful policy-oriented information. Nevertheless, a recent poll released by WisPolitics.com, Wisconsin’s premiere on-line news service (http://www.wispolitics.com), conducted by Madison-based Wood Communication Group, reveals some interesting information about Wisconsinites and their thoughts on issues, government and the economy.

Our Profile this week, then, is you, the general public — at least that tiny cross-section revealed to us through a survey of about 500 likely voters in Wisconsin. Go to WisPolitics.com for more information and analysis of the survey and its results, including how the results vary across income levels, gender, and age.

Overall, local taxes and the quality of public education were basically tied as the most important issues on people’s minds. The importance of these issues to Wisconsin voters amplifies a significant tension running throughout public policy in the state — between people’s desire for high quality public schools, yet their desire for lower taxes, despite the fact that state and local taxes are how we pay for quality public education. Public discussion seems key to making progress on the age-old debate between the economy and taxes, on the one hand, and providing services like health care and quality education, on the other.

Percent mentioning the most important issue facing Wisconsin:
Taxes 28.6%
Education 22.6
Economy 10.0
Health Issues 8.4
Crime 6.6
Environment 5.0
No Problems 1.2
Don’t Know 5.6
Other 13.2

Where are we headed?

59 percent of those responding to the survey felt Wisconsin was headed in the “right direction;” 27 percent felt we were headed in the “wrong direction.” As recently as this past Fall, as many as 65% felt the state was going in the right direction.

The Economy

The economy as a broad issue area of concern jumped up quite high in the overall rankings, from previous levels of 3-5% of respondents indicating it as an area of concern, to 10% in this most recent survey.

Comparing perception of the state economy to their personal economic situation, respondents tend to be more concerned about the state than they are about possible problems at home.

State Economy: 32% said they expect it to get worse
25% said they expect it to get better
37% expect it to stay the same
Personal Economy: 13% said they expect it to get worse
31% said they expect it to get better
53% expect it to stat the same

Public Confidence

More than half of those surveyed (51.8%) have little or no confidence that the issue they identified as most important to the state would be dealt with successfully in the next year or so. The majority of those who are confident are only “somewhat confident.”

Those in the Green Bay/Appleton media market are the most confident, compared to those in the Madison media market who were the least confident among survey respondents.

Who’s Doing a Good Job?

WisPolitics survey also inquired about job approval ratings for the Legislature and Governor McCallum.

Legislature 61% approve
16% disapprove
22% unsure
McCallum 50% approve
6% disapprove
31% unsure