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New Marquette Poll Finds Biden Lead Over Trump Stable at Five Percentage Points

October 28, 2020 by Dan McCue
Final 2020 presidential campaign debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in Nashville, Tennessee, is seen on TV in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)

The last Marquette Law School poll to be released before Election Day finds former Vice President Joe Biden the choice of 48% of likely voters in Wisconsin, with President Donald Trump trailing with the support of just 43% of likely voters.

The poll found 7% of likely voters will either not vote for either Biden or Trump, don’t know how they will vote or declined to say.

Two percent of voters said they will cast their ballots for Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen.

The results are little changed from the Marquette Law School poll conducted from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4, in which Biden was the choice of 47%, Trump the choice of 42% and Jorgensen the choice of 4%.

Those results also included those who were undecided but leaned to a candidate.

Among Republicans, 7% say they are voting for Biden, while 86% are voting for Trump, 3% for Jorgensen and 4% undecided or declining to say.

Among Democrats, 3% are voting for Trump and 92% are voting for Biden, with none for Jorgensen and 4% undecided or declining to say.

Independents say they are voting for Biden over Trump by a 36-28% margin, with 12% for Jorgensen and 24% undecided or declining to say.

What’s Surprising Is The Stability of the Numbers

According to Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette University Law School poll, the most striking thing about their polling this year is how little things have changed despite “a cacophony of events.”

“We have a five point lead for Biden today, we had a five point margin three weeks ago and we had a four point margin in early September,” Franklin said.

“Over the past 13 polls that we’ve done on the head-to-head matchup between President Trump and former Vice President Biden, Trump has led only once, and there was a tie last February, but the average of them all is about 5.5 %, with Biden in the lead,” he continued.

“And since May, every poll has been Biden by 5%, plus or minus 1%. And that’s really remarkable. That is much more stability than we saw in 2016, when we saw some polls with a substantial Clinton lead, others with a near tie. And in the end, we had Clinton up by six and of course, President Trump won,” he added.

Franklin said there are two messages to take away from that last point.

“The first is the polls can be wrong. And while we do everything we can to make them right, in the end, they are what they are,” he said. “And people should not put an unrealistic level of expectation on our poll or anyone else’s poll for that matter.

“I think our data show a modest but consistent lead for Biden, but I’ll say something now that I say before every election: polls don’t vote,” Franklin said. “It’s people that vote, the outcome of the election doesn’t depend on what the polls show. The outcome depends on people casting their ballots, having those ballots counted, and controlling American government in the way our Constitution calls for.”

Election Expectations

Among likely voters, 91% say their minds are made up while 6% say they might change their minds. Among Biden supporters, 95% say their minds are made up. Among Trump supporters, 93% say their minds are made up.

Sixteen percent of likely voters expect Trump to win the election by a lot, 23% think Trump will win by a little, 29% think Biden will win by a little and 17% think Biden will win by a lot.

Eighty percent of Trump voters expect him to win and 11% expect Biden to win. Among Biden voters, 80% expect him to win and 6% expect Trump to win.

Twenty-seven percent of likely voters say they are very confident that the votes will be accurately cast and counted in the election, with 43% somewhat confident, 21% not too confident and 7% not at all confident.

Among Republicans, 61% say they are very or somewhat confident the votes will be accurately counted and 37% are not too confident or not at all confident. Eighty-two percent of Democrats are very or somewhat confident the vote will be accurately counted, while 18% are not too or not at all confident.

Choice of Ballot Type in November

In the poll, 41% of registered voters say they have already voted either by absentee or in-person early voting. According to the Wisconsin Elections Commission data, 37.5% of registered voters had voted as of the end of the poll’s field period on Oct. 25.

Among those who say they have already voted, 64% report they voted for Biden, 25% voted for Trump, and 2% voted for Jorgensen. An additional 9% declined to say for whom they voted.

Among those likely voters who have not yet cast a ballot, 35% report they will vote for Biden, 56% for Trump and 3% for Jorgensen. An additional 6% said someone else or declined to say how they will vote.

Views of Trump, Biden

Cares about you

Among all registered voters, 43% say “cares about people like you” describes Trump and 54% say this does not describe him.

Fifty-six percent say this describes Biden and 40% say this does not describe him.

Favorability

Among registered voters, 44% have a favorable view overall of Trump and 54% have an unfavorable view of him. Forty-nine percent have a favorable view of Biden and 46% have an unfavorable view of him.

The poll was conducted Oct. 21-25, 2020. The sample included 806 registered voters in Wisconsin, who were interviewed by cell phone or landline, with a margin of error of +/- 4.3 percentage points. There are 749 likely voters, with a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percentage points.

Complete Poll results and methodology information can be found online at law.marquette.edu/poll.

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