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Marquette poll: Presidential race in Wisconsin virtually unchanged from last month

Marquette poll: Presidential race in Wisconsin virtually unchanged from last month

  • Updated
State Capitol

Wisconsin Capitol building in Madison. 

A lot has happened since the last Marquette Law School Poll — weeks of civil unrest in response to a police shooting in Kenosha, two political conventions and visits by presidential candidates — but the latest poll finds views in Wisconsin remain virtually unchanged.

According to the poll, 47% of likely voters in the crucial swing state say they would back former Vice President Joe Biden and 43% would support President Donald Trump. In the last Marquette poll in early August, the Democratic nominee led the Republican president 49% to 44%.

Also notable, the poll found support for the Black Lives Matter movement has not changed, even as protests in Kenosha over the police shooting of Jacob Blake led to tens of millions of dollars in property damage and an armed counterprotester has been charged with killing two people and wounding a third.

The presidential race has tightened since June. Biden led Trump by 8 points among registered voters in a June Marquette poll. At that time, Biden received 49% support while Trump got just 41%. The June poll found a 6-point lead among likely voters who said they are certain to vote.

The latest polling of the state shows the events of the past month did little to change the presidential vote choices of Wisconsinites.

“Lots going on in the world, but it didn’t shift opinions very much,” said Marquette poll director Charles Franklin. “It didn’t shift the vote and it didn’t shift very many attitudes.”

The biggest exception to the static race came from people who already view the president favorably. Among Republicans, approval of Trump’s handling of protests jumped from 65% to 87% after his recent visit to Kenosha.

Support among Democrats and independents, however, hardly budged. The latest poll shows that after Trump’s visit, just 4% of Democrats approve of Trump’s handling of protests, while 31% of independents do.

Overall, 36% of registered voters say they approve of Trump’s handling of protests, while 54% disapprove.

Trump is viewed favorably by 42% of voters, while 54% view him unfavorably, slightly worse than before the pandemic began. In January, 46% of respondents said they viewed the president favorably, and 51% said they viewed him unfavorably.

Trump continues to get relatively good marks on his handling of the economy, with a majority (52%) of registered voters saying they approve, and 44% disapproving. That’s only slightly down since May, when 54% of voters said they approved.

The poll was conducted from Aug. 30 to Sept. 3, during Trump’s visit to Kenosha, and included 802 registered voters interviewed by cellphone or landline, with a margin of error of +/-4 percentage points. The poll also asked questions of 688 likely voters, with a margin of error of +/-4.3 percentage points.

Police and Black Lives Matter

Support for protests and the Black Lives Matter movement stayed mostly unchanged since the Kenosha police shooting of Blake on Aug. 23, though support decreased since George Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody on May 25.

The latest poll found 47% of registered voters approve of protests against police shootings and 48% disapprove. Support for protests has significantly decreased from June, when 61% of registered voters approved of them and 36% disapproved.

Support for the Black Lives Matter movement similarly decreased over the summer, but remained virtually unchanged in the September poll, when 49% of registered voters viewed the movement in a favorable light, and 37% viewed it unfavorably. Those were the same percentages as the August poll.

In June, 59% of registered voters in Wisconsin viewed Black Lives Matter favorably and 27% unfavorably.

Support for the movement declined over the summer, as protesters in Madison tore down statues of “Forward” and a Union Civil War colonel, assaulted state Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee, and set a small fire in a city building Downtown after the arrest of a Black activist earlier in the day.

Support for police has ticked down only slightly since August, with nearly three-quarters (73%) of registered voters viewing police favorably and 18% unfavorably.


Despite talk of a potential coronavirus vaccine and the continued increase in COVID-19 case counts in Wisconsin and elsewhere, one-third (33%) of Wisconsinites say they aren’t likely to get a potential COVID-19 vaccine. Fifteen percent of registered voters say they probably wouldn’t get vaccinated and 18% said they definitely wouldn’t.

There are also significant partisan differences between Democrats and Republicans on the vaccine question. Thirty-one percent of Republicans said they’d definitely get a potential COVID-19 vaccine, while 45% of Democrats said they would. Nearly a quarter (24%) of Republicans said they definitely wouldn’t, while only 13% of Democrats said they definitely wouldn’t.

People over the age of 60 are more likely to say they’ll get a potential vaccine, with 44% saying they definitely would compared to 28% of people 45-59; 30% of people 30-44; and 35% of people 18-29.


The amount of people who say they are “very worried” about COVID-19 declined in September to 21% after ticking up in August to 27%. The Marquette poll found the highest levels of worry at the beginning of the pandemic in March, when 30% of respondents said they were very worried about COVID-19.

In the latest poll, 39% of respondents said they were somewhat worried about COVID-19, up from 36% in August; 19% said they were not very worried, up from 17% in August; and 19% said they were not worried at all, unchanged from the month before.

A majority (56%) of registered voters in Wisconsin disapprove of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, while 41% approve. Support for Trump’s handling of COVID-19 has trended down since March, when 51% of registered voters said they approved of the president’s handling of it, and 46% disapproved.

Support for Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ handling of the coronavirus has also declined, from 76% approval in March, to 57% approval in the latest poll.

As schools and universities open for the fall semester, a smaller share of respondents said they are comfortable with the re-openings. Forty-three percent of respondents said they are comfortable with schools and universities re-opening amid the pandemic, while 51% said they are uncomfortable.

In June, 54% of respondents said they would be comfortable with schools and universities re-opening, while 38% of respondents said they were uncomfortable.

Choice of ballot type

Despite a surge in mail-in voting this year due to the pandemic, a decreasing share (32%) of voters say they’ll cast their ballot absentee by mail for the Nov. 3 election. The latest poll shows half of voters say they’ll vote in-person on Election Day, and 14% of registered voters say they’ll vote early in person.

In May, 39% of respondents said they’d vote in-person on Election Day, 43% said they’d vote absentee by mail and 11% said they’d vote early in-person.

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