Battleground Wisconsin: Which issues are driving Wisconsinites to the polls this primary election?

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin voters have a lot on their minds heading into the polls, but what exactly is driving their vote?

Our News 3 Now team took to the streets outside of the Capitol to find out the biggest issues for some voters ahead of the primary. The answers included a variety of different subjects, including climate change, abortion rights, and gun violence.

These are just some of the answers that Susan Yacke with the La Follette School of Public Affairs is seeing in the results of the La Follette Policy Poll. It’s a survey of public opinion in Wisconsin about state and national policy issues, conducted by researchers through the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“What are the issues that Wisconsinites care about?” said Susan Yacke. “This was a huge focus of the survey.”

The survey polled 5,000 Wisconsinites last year about what issues matter the most to them. Yacke said in some situations, the priorities for voters and political party affiliation were directly tied together.

“For our Democratic respondents in the survey, those issues were oftentimes climate change as well as income and wealth distribution,” said Yacke.  “The two issues that really stuck out for our Republican respondents were the federal budget deficit, as well as government regulation.”

The La Follette Policy Poll results are aimed to shed light on both consensus and divisions in the Badger State, pointing to issues that political parties and candidates ought to be talking about most during 2022.

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However, the poll was conducted before some major events fueling voters. The overturning of Roe v. Wade and a near mass shooting in Madison were just a couple of those major breaking news stories that more people are thinking about ahead of the primary this August.

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Yacke says the change in priorities for voters is normal and is dependent on the political climate.

“We’re always going to have shifts in public perceptions based on the hot topics of the day,” said Yacke.

Yacke added that a massive characteristic of primary voters that isn’t changing this fall includes the qualities of a voter in the August primary.

“We know that primary voters tend to have been voters in the past. I mean, that’s one of the firm characteristics of primary voters, they tend to be pretty politically active.”

The La Follette Policy Poll has an interactive website with multiple ways to view the results of their data, addressing both statewide and national issues. That information is available here.

This story is a part of News 3 Now’s Battleground Wisconsin primary election coverage. For an in-depth look at the race and the candidates running, click here.