A strong majority of Wisconsin residents continue to support the decision by Governor Tony Evers to close businesses and schools to slow the spread of COVID-19, according to the latest poll numbers from Marquette University Law School.

But approval for those restrictions slipped over the past month, driven largely by a drop in support among Republicans. Marquette interviewed 811 registered voters from May 3-7. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The poll found that 69 percent of voters said it was appropriate to close schools and businesses and restrict public gatherings. In late March, that number was 86 percent.

Support for the closures remained high among Democrats (90 percent) and independents (69 percent), but Republicans were more split. Just 49 percent of GOP voters said they supported the moves, down substantially from 83 percent of Republicans who supported the closures in late March.

When it comes to the handling of the coronavirus, 64 percent approved of Evers, which was down from 76 percent in March. That was considerably higher than approval for President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic, which was 44 percent, down from 51 percent in March.

While Republicans generally deferred to Evers during the early days of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, that changed over the past several weeks, particularly after Evers extended the statewide “Safer at Home” order until May 26.

GOP leaders sued Evers, and if they are successful, any future stay-at-home orders could need the Legislature’s approval. They had initially called for a regional approach to reopening, but Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said on May 11 that it was time to “get everyone back to work in every part of the state.”

According Marquette’s latest poll, 53 percent say they trust the governor more than the Legislature to decide when to begin reopening, while 33 percent say they trust the Legislature more to make those decisions. Voters showed a willingness to get back to some aspects of life before the quarantine, and a reluctance to get back to others.

If “Safer at Home” were lifted, 77 percent said they would feel comfortable visiting a friend of family’s home compared to 56 percent for shopping at a mall, 45 percent for going to worship services and 42 percent for eating at a restaurant. Just 25 percent said they’d feel comfortable going to a major sporting event or concert.

Despite major changes to daily life in Wisconsin, other numbers remained relatively unchanged in the latest Marquette poll, which found Trump’s overall approval rating remaining stable at 47 percent. His approval for handling the economy was 54 percent. The survey also found Trump trailing likely Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden 46-43 in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup.

Donate: Wisconsin Public Radio
Help support the mission of free public radio services with a contribution to Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR).
The Milwaukee Independent began reporting on what was then referred to as the mysterious “Wuhan Virus” in January 2020. Other local media did not picked-up on the story until many weeks later. Our early features focused on the economic impact, social issues, and health concerns long before other Milwaukee news organizations even mentioned the coronavirus. Over the following year, we have published hundreds of articles about the pandemic and how it has affected the lives of Milwaukee residents. This extensive body of work can be found on our COVID-19 Special Report page, a chronological index of links by month. Our editorial voice remains dedicated to informing the public about this health crisis for as long as it persists.
For medical resources, please visit the CDC’s COVID-19 page or the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. All editorial content published by Milwaukee Independent can be found at mkeind.com/COVID19. With a mission of transformative journalism, our staff is free from commercial bias and are not influenced by corporate interests, political affiliations, or a public preferences that rewards clicks with revenue. As an influential publication that provides Milwaukee with quality journalism, our award-winning photojournalism and features have helped to achieve a range of positive social impact that enriches our community. Please join our effort by entrusting us with your contribution. Your Support Matters - Donate Now