Biden Lead in Wisconsin Shrinks to Four Points in New Poll

Supporters of both President Donald Trump and Black Lives Matters clash in a park in Kenosha, Wis., on Sept. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

MILWAUKEE (CN) — A new survey shows a tightening race for the presidency in the critical battleground state of Wisconsin, with Republican incumbent Donald Trump narrowing former Democratic vice president Joe Biden’s lead to 4 percentage points. 

That data comes from a telephone poll of 802 Wisconsin voters published Wednesday by Milwaukee’s Marquette University Law School. Conducted between Aug. 30 and Sept. 3, the poll found Biden leading Trump 47% to 43% among 688 likely voters and 46% to 40% among all registered voters.

That’s a slight slip from polling done in early August, which showed Biden at 49% to Trump’s 44% among likely voters but did not account for Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgenson, who took 4% in Wednesday’s poll.

Importantly, the latest survey reports a 4% margin of error, meaning Trump could essentially be neck and neck with Biden in the Badger State.  

Now a battleground state after over two decades as a Democratic stronghold, Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes played a crucial part in Trump’s 2016 victory over former secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton. As of late August, Trump was trailing Biden in Wisconsin and fellow 2016 upset state Michigan, alongside four other swing states.  

Since last month, the president has pulled forward in Florida, meeting Biden head on at 48% each in the Sunshine State. Survey respondents in the other three states – Pennsylvania, Arizona and North Carolina – gave Biden slight leads of 3%, 2% and 1%, respectively.

The Marquette poll also focused on the impact of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin – and the protests that followed it – on public opinion. Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey shot Blake several times in the back on Aug. 23 while responding to a domestic dispute call. Protests erupted shortly afterward in Kenosha and across the country, with fires and property damage lasting for several days and violence leading to homicide charges for a 17-year-old who allegedly shot three protesters on Aug. 27, killing two.

The poll showed a very slight dip in approval of protests and the Black Lives Matter civil rights movement following those events. From a dead-even split at 48% early in August, approval for protests slipped to 47%, with disapproval holding steady amid a slight rise in a third “don’t know” category. The August data was down still further from polling in June, which showed a 61% approval rating for racial justice protests.

Approval of the police, meanwhile, fell 3 percentage points to 72% in September after a four-point bump in early August. Trump’s handling of the protests also saw a slight bump in its chronically low approval rating, with 36% of the 802 polled voters approving of it and 54% disapproving in September. That rose from 32% approval and 58% disapproval in August.

Protests, which data recently revealed have been largely peaceful, have nevertheless figured heavily into both candidates’ campaigns in recent weeks, with Trump condemning protesters as “thugs” and “terrorists” and deploying federal agents to Kenosha, while Biden visited the city to meet with Blake’s family last week.

Both candidates also had surrogates visiting the neighboring state of Minnesota this week, with Biden’s wife Jill and Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. making stops around the state. Trump has targeted Minnesota, a solid Democratic stronghold since 1976, for a possible flip this year. He has reserved $14 million in airtime in the state from Labor Day through Election Day in an effort to improve on his 2016 totals, which saw him lose Minnesota to Clinton by fewer than 45,000 votes.

Minnesota was ground zero for this year’s widespread protests against police brutality after a video of a Black man, George Floyd, gasping for air under the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer before his death went viral, leading to a week of destructive clashes between police and protesters and a crackdown by Minnesota’s National Guard.

Trump isn’t spending money he doesn’t have. His campaign announced Wednesday that it had raised $210 million in August, an impressive sum that was nevertheless dwarfed by Biden’s $364 million.  Both amounts broke the previous record of $193 million, raised by then-Senator Barack Obama in September 2008 for his successful presidential campaign.

%d bloggers like this: