POLL: Barnes in driver’s seat in U.S. Senate race, Evers and Michels in tight gov. race

MADISON, Wis. — The race for governor is tightening between incumbent Gov. Tony Evers and his Republican challenger Tim Michels in the first post-primary Marquette Law School poll, while Mandela Barnes opens up a lead against incumbent U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.

Evers has a small edge over Michels, but the two are in a statistical tie at 45%-43% respectively. That is well within the 4-point margin of error.

This marks a significant gain for Michels after the primary. In a June poll, the then-primary candidate was losing to Evers 48%-41%.

This is different in the race for U.S. Senate however, where Barnes is opening up his lead against Johnson. Wednesday’s poll has Barnes ahead 51%-44%, while the same June poll had him ahead but statistically tied with Johnson 46%-44%.

Among the top issues that will impact the campaign this fall, the poll echoes some of what candidates are touting on the campaign trail. Among the issues polled, respondents say they are very concerned about: inflation at 67%, gun violence at 61%, crime at 58%, and abortion at 55%.

Of those top-four issues, they are evenly split among the two parties. While the percentages above reflect all voters, Republicans respond most to inflation and crime, while Democrats express more concern over gun violence and abortion.

That also poses the question of whether these issues are expected to motivate voters to get to the polls. Traditional political trends would have suggested Republicans would be more motivated to get out the vote during a midterm year under a Democratic president, but that trend was thrown into question with the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

According to the latest poll, that “enthusiasm gap” is virtually non-existant. Both Republicans (at 83%) and Democrats (at 82%) say they are “absolutely certain” to vote. Fewer — 66% of independents — say they are similarly certain to vote.

The levels of turnout could impact the election according to the poll. Evers fairs better against Michels in that “certain to vote” group than he does against all voters. Barnes maintains his lead over Johnson however, regardless of those different turnout scenarios.

This story will be updated.