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Wisconsin 2020: Biden Maintains Seven-Point Lead

A new Emerson College/NewsNation battleground state poll of Wisconsin shows former Vice-President Joe Biden with a seven-point lead at 51% among likely voters, compared to President Donald Trump who is at 44%. Five-percent (5%) state they are undecided or voting for someone else (n=823, +/-3.4%, mixed-mode, likely voters). Despite all the changes and shifts in the presidential race in the past year and a half, this is similar to the Emerson March 2019 Wisconsin poll that found Biden ahead of Trump by eight points, 54% to 46%.  


The most popular voting option this November in Wisconsin appears to be voting in-person on election day, as the plurality (45%) of Wisconsin voters intend to vote this way. These in-person voters are breaking for Trump 61% to 32%. Thirty-four percent (34%) of voters plan to vote by mail in Wisconsin, and this group is breaking for Biden 78% to 20%. Lastly, the remaining 21% of voters plan to vote in-person early. Forty-nine percent (49%) of in-person early voters intend to vote for Biden and 46% plan to vote for Trump. 

Spencer Kimball, Director of Emerson College Polling pointed out “while the electorate appears stable in Wisconsin, turnout will be the key, as Biden is looking to get his vote through the mail while Trump is looking to get his voters to the polls on election day”.

Among voters under 50, Biden leads Trump 52% to 41%. Biden also leads among voters over 50 by a smaller margin, 49% to 47%. President Trump does better among voters who self-reported to live in rural areas, where he gets 53% of the vote compared to Biden with 42%. In suburban areas, Biden leads 56% to 42%, and in urban areas of the state, Biden also leads, 53% to 39%. 

Respondents were asked if they always vote Republican, usually vote Republican, split their ticket, usually vote Democrat, or always vote Democrat, and among voters who usually vote Republican, 77% plan to vote for Trump and 21% plan to vote for Biden. Those who usually vote Democrat are more strongly abiding by party lines, with 87% planning to vote for Biden and only 5% voting for Trump. Those who say they often split their ticket between Republicans and Democrats are breaking for Biden, 58% to 31%. 


Ninety-two percent (92%) of voters say they will definitely vote for their current preference of candidate, with 8% saying their mind may change before election day. Ninety-six percent (96%) of Trump voters and 95% of Biden voters say they are locked in with their choice. However, for voters who currently indicate they will vote for someone else other than Biden or Trump, 62% said they could change their minds before November.

President Trump has an approval rating of 44% in the Badger State. Of the remaining voters, 52% disapprove and 4% feel neutral on his job performance as President. This is a 3 point shift from the Emerson Wisconsin poll in March of 2019, where the President had an approval rating of 41% and disapproval of 49%.

Voters indicated that the vice-presidential candidates will be important factors in their decision for whom to vote for in November, with 47% saying this choice is very important and 30% saying it is somewhat important. Of the remaining respondents, 17% said it was not very important and 5% said it was not at all important. 

Trust in election results remains high. When asked how confident they are in election results regardless of who wins, 38% said very confident, 42% said somewhat confident, 16% said somewhat unconfident and 4% reported having no confidence at all. 

A majority of voters, 87%, expect to know the final results of the November election sometime within a week of the election. Thirty-percent (30%) expect to know on election night, 31% expect to know the next day and 27% said sometime within the week. Only 13% of voters expect that the results will not be known after one week from election day. The plurality (44%) of Trump voters expect to know the final results on election night, whereas the plurality (40%) of Biden voters expect final results within the week.


In Kenosha, Wisconsin protests are continuing over the police shooting of Jacob Blake. When asked if the President should denounce the 17-year-old Illinois resident Kyle Rittenhouse who was charged with shooting three protestors, 44% of respondents said yes, 19% said no and 37% were unsure. On the matter if voters think the President should have met with Jacob Blake’s family during his Kenosha visit, 41% said he should’ve, 35% said he should not have and 25% were unsure. When asked if they think federal troops should be brought in during situations such as the protests that followed the shooting of Blake; 44% of voters said federal troops should be brought in, 40% said they should not and 17% were unsure. 


Caller ID

The Wisconsin Emerson College/NewsNation poll was conducted September 6-8, 2020. The sample consisted of likely Democratic, Republican, and Independent voters, n=823, with a Credibility Interval (CI) similar to a poll’s margin of error (MOE) of +/- 3.4 percentage points. The data sets were weighted by gender, age, education, party affiliation, race and region based on 2016 voter turnout modeling. It is important to remember that subsets based on gender, age, party breakdown, ethnicity, and region carry with them higher margins of error, as the sample size is reduced. Data was collected using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines (n=552) and an online panel provided by MTurk (n=271).


Key Takeaways
  • Voters who often split their ticket are breaking for Biden by nearly 30 points
  • Plurality of Wisconsin voters plan on voting in-person on election day
  • Majority (61%) expect to know the final results of the November election within a day
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While the electorate appears stable in Wisconsin, turnout will be the key, as Biden is looking to get his vote through the mail while Trump is look...
Spencer KimballEmerson College Polling director
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