Challengers Mandela Barnes and Tim Michels both saw post-primary bumps in the first Marquette University Law School Poll since they won their parties’ nominations for U.S. Senate and guv.

Fifty-one percent of registered voters surveyed backed Barnes, the Dem lieutenant governor, in the U.S. Senate race over Republican Ron Johnson, who was favored by 44 percent.

In June, it was 46-44 for Barnes.

Meanwhile, 45 percent supported Dem Gov. Tony Evers, while 43 percent backed Michels, a GOP construction exec. Independent Joan Beglinger, a nurse from Cross Plains whose platform aligns with the views of many Donald Trump supporters, was at 7 percent.

In June, Evers was up 48-41.

The poll went into the field Aug. 10, one day after the primaries.

Poll Director Charles Franklin said the difference between the U.S. Senate and guv contests was largely driven by independent voters.

Barnes had slightly more crossover support from Republicans than Evers. But he had a 14-point advantage among independents at 52-38. Evers had a 4-point edge at 41-37.

The latest poll also found the enthusiasm gap between Republicans and Dems has largely disappeared.

Eighty-three percent of Republican registered voters said they are absolutely certain to vote, while 82 percent of Dems and 66 percent of independents said the same. Since the June poll was released, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision overturning a 1973 ruling guaranteeing the right to an abortion. Insiders have been watching if that and legislative victories for Dems in Congress would spur the party’s base to turn out this fall.

Among those who said they were certain to vote — which Franklin said is his traditional definition of likely voters — it was 48 percent for Evers and 44 percent for Michels. The Senate race was largely unchanged, with a 52-45 edge for Barnes among those certain to vote.

The June poll posed a slightly different question, asking if respondents were enthusiastic to vote. Seventy-four percent of Republicans said they were very enthusiastic to cast a ballot this fall, while 60 percent of Dems said the same.

Beglinger’s share of the vote in the poll is better than any third-party or independent candidate has done in a Wisconsin gubernatorial race over the last 16 years.

In 2002, Libertarian Ed Thompson took 10.4 percent of the vote in the guv’s race as the two major-party candidates combined for 86.5 percent of the overall vote.

In the guv elections since, the vote share of the Dem and GOP candidates has been: 98.01 percent in 2006; 98.8 percent in 2010; 98.85 percent in 2014; and 97.98 percent in 2018.

The August 2018 Marquette Law School Poll found Libertarian Phil Anderson was at 6 percent while Evers and then-Gov. Scott Walker were neck and neck among registered voters.

Anderson pulled less than 0.8 percent of the vote that November.

Franklin noted that in the June poll, 12 percent of voters expressed a preference for someone other than Evers or Michels in their head-to-head matchup. With Beglinger included in this poll, 12 percent again expressed a preference for someone else. She was included in this month’s survey and picked up her support from those voters.

Other key numbers from the poll include:

*47 percent approved of the job Evers is doing, while 45 percent disapproved. That’s largely unchanged from 48-45 in June. Still, it’s down from a 50-41 split in February.

*40 percent approved of President Biden’s job performance, while 55 percent disapproved. In June, that split was 40-57. The 40 percent job approval from June and August are Biden’s lowest mark in the poll since becoming president.

*Johnson was viewed favorably by 38 percent and unfavorably by 47 percent, compared to a 37-46 split last time. Meanwhile, Barnes was viewed favorably by 37 percent and unfavorably by 22 percent, with 41 percent saying they hadn’t heard enough or didn’t know. It was a 21-16 split in June.

Johnson’s fav-unfav numbers in the Marquette Poll have yet to show signs they will turn around significantly, unlike the trend in 2016.

Ahead of beating Dem Russ Feingold in a rematch, Johnson started 2016 with 26 percent viewing him favorably and 33 percent unfavorably.

His numbers were about even by March and stayed that way until October, when he hit 41-33. It was the first Marquette Poll of the year that had him with a significant net-positive number. The final poll ahead of the November election had him at 41-38.

This poll of 811 registered voters was conducted Aug. 10-15. Seventy-five percent were reached via cell phone and 25 percent by landlines. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

Franklin said this is the first sample to include cell phone numbers for those who live in Wisconsin but have out-of-state area codes. They make up about 16 percent of the state.

The next poll will be released in September, and two more are planned ahead of the November election.

See the results:

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