Poll shows few people know about non-incumbents in 2018 races

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WLUK) -- In a crowded race to face Gov. Scott Walker in November, a new statewide poll is telling us most voters don't know enough or anything at all about his challengers.

“These folks really are not well known,” said Charles Franklin, the director of the Marquette Law School Poll. “We use nine Democratic candidates that are frequently featured in news stories as the candidates at forums and so on.”

Of the nine candidates that Marquette Law School asked 800 registered voters about, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers came out with the most name recognition. However, 44 percent of those polled still hadn't heard of Evers or didn't know enough about him to give a favorability opinion.

Seven of the nine candidates failed to reach 25 percent. Besides Evers, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin was the only other candidate above 25 percent, at 29 percent.

“You're not going to see a ton of name recognition right now,” said David Helpap, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Helpap says if he had to pick a front-runner right now, it would be Evers, mostly because he has been on ballots statewide before.

“Does that necessarily mean he's going to be the candidate? No, but that is certainly to his advantage right now,’ said Helpap.

Helpap says the uncertainty isn't unusual this far out from the August primary. However, he says gaining name recognition is paramount if any of the candidates want a chance against Walker come November.

“There is opportunity, sure, but it's going to cost money and it's going to take time,” said Helpap.

The people Marquette polled are split on Walker. Forty-seven percent approve of him right now. Forty-seven percent disapprove.

Of the people who said they’d vote Democrat in the August primary, 44 percent said they aren’t sure yet who they will vote for. Evers registered 18 percent, Soglin 9 percent, Matt Flynn 7 percent, Mike McCabe 6 percent, and Kathleen Vinehout had 5 percent.

Democrats aren't alone when it comes to people not knowing the candidates.

Only 17 percent of those polled said they know enough about Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Leah Vukmir to form an opinion of her. It was only 15 percent for her opponent, Kevin Nicholson.

Before the Aug. 14 primary, voters will pick a state Supreme Court justice next month. Voters also aren't familiar with those candidates.

Twenty-three percent of people polled said they know enough about Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Rebecca Dallet to form an opinion. Nineteen percent provided an opinion of Sauk County Circuit Judge Michael Screnock. Dallet's favorability was 14 percent, compared to 10 percent for Screnock.

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