By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023
PresidentWisconsin Poll: Key State Indicates Trouble for Biden — Marquette Law School surveyed the Wisconsin electorate as they do every quarter (Sept. 18-25; 781 registered Wisconsin voters; live interview) and arrived at some stunning results. Since the Badger State will be one of four places that decides the next presidential election, the importance factor of data coming from this domain merits greater attention.
Wisconsin is known for close political races. In the past two presidential elections, the winner, Donald Trump in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020, scored a victory margin with less than one percentage point. In the 2022 governor’s race, incumbent Tony Evers (D) was re-elected with a 51-48 percent margin and Sen. Ron Johnson (R) won a third term with only a 50.4 – 49.4 percent spread.
What makes this poll particularly interesting is that the sampling universe, while now preferring Trump over Biden by a slim 51-48 percent margin when leaners to both candidates are included, claims to have voted for President Biden in a seven percentage point margin when asked whom they supported in 2020. In actuality, Biden’s final Wisconsin victory spread was just 49.4 – 48.8 percent.
The presidential support discrepancy, therefore, suggests that these polling results actually skew left, so it is reasonable to assume that Trump is faring even better than the three-point spread that this poll calculates.
As mentioned above, Wisconsin is part of a quartet of states that will likely determine who ultimately wins the 2024 presidential campaign. In order to deny President Biden a second term, Trump must convert some combination of Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Trump is now ahead in the Marquette Wisconsin survey, and approximately tied in Pennsylvania (Quinnipiac University posts Trump to a 47-45 percent lead; Susquehanna Polling & Research sees President Biden leading in exactly the same percentage, suggesting the race is already a dead heat).
The latest Georgia poll, from Rasmussen Reports (Sept. 8-11; 1,061 likely Georgia general election voters; interactive voice response system) posts Trump to a surprising 47-38 percent advantage. There is no recent polling from Arizona.
Therefore, as the key state polling data suggests, if the election were held this past September, Trump would have had enough swing votes to wrest the White House away from President Biden. Yet, much will happen to potentially alter these results between now and November 2024.
This poll also confirms a rather unique pattern seen nationally. That is, either the Republican Party or former President Trump is viewed more favorably to handle certain issues by generally a wide margin, but those perceptions do not commensurately transform into votes for the party candidates or Trump.
For example, in the Marquette Wisconsin poll, Trump is viewed as “better at handling,” the economy (52 percent say Trump; 28 percent Biden), immigration/border (52:28 percent), inflation (50:27 percent), job creation (49:30 percent), and foreign relations (43:38 percent). Conversely, Biden is favored on climate change (44:24 percent), better viewed on abortion (43:34 percent) and has a slight edge on Social Security/Medicare issues (39:37 percent).
Yet these generally favorable Republican ratios translate into only a three-point advantage among responses to the ballot test question. This discrepancy problem is not confined to Trump. It appears to affect most Republican candidates, meaning the GOP again has a messaging disconnect with the general election voter base.
In order to best take advantage of their current stronger issue standing, the Republican consultants must revamp their messaging operation to concentrate on the future and explain in a resonating fashion how their ideas will solve the nation’s problems.
The window will soon close on Republicans’ ability to formulate that message for the current election cycle. We can count on seeing an aggressive effort from the Biden campaign, the Democratic National Committee apparatus, and their outside allies to improve the issue area perception for their side and relate to what likely voters want in terms of national policy goals and objectives.
While the latest polling suggests that former President Trump would be in position to unseat President Biden if the election were held during this period, there is no guarantee we will see similar numbers once the campaign messages are cemented and actual votes are cast and recorded.