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Final UW-Madison Poll Shows Biden With 9-Point Lead Over Trump In Wisconsin

Poll Analysis Says Undecided, Third Party Voters Shifting Support To Biden

A blue yard sign says "VOTE" near a line of early voters
Voters at UW-Madison wait in line to vote early Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. Angela Major/WPR

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is leading President Donald Trump by 9 points among likely voters in Wisconsin, according to a poll released Monday by the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The poll, conducted Oct. 13-21, shows Biden with the support of 53 percent of likely Wisconsin voters, compared to 44 percent for Trump. Three percent of voters said they were planning to support another candidate or were undecided. The margin of error is 4.1 percent, which means Biden’s lead is slightly outside the margin of error.

The previous Elections Research Center poll, conducted in mid-September, showed Biden leading by 4 points among likely voters, with a 4.5 percent margin of error.

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Barry Burden, director of the Elections Research Center, said the increase in support for Biden in Wisconsin between September and October can be attributed to an uptick in his favorability among Wisconsin voters, as well as “some consolidating of votes from moderates and independents and people who voted for third party candidates or didn’t vote at all in 2016.”

“The number of undecided voters is quite small — smaller than it was four years ago,” Burden said. “That doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room for the polls to change, or for Donald Trump to make up the deficit he’s currently experiencing.”

Undecided and third party voters played a large role in the 2016 election, with the majority breaking for Trump on Election Day.

The poll also found Biden has a large lead among those who have already cast their ballots in Wisconsin.

According to the survey, 73 percent of people who said they have already voted reported casting their ballots for Biden, compared to 26 percent for Trump. Of those who have not yet voted, 39 percent said they plan to cast their ballot for Biden and 57 percent said they plan to vote for Trump.

Burden said that breakdown of support is “risky” for Trump.

“He is counting on a reservoir of support that has not yet been shown in the early voting patterns, but will come out for him either in the remaining days of early voting or on Election Day itself,” he said. “I think we should expect the Election Day vote to be much more favorable for Trump.”

A recent poll from Marquette University Law School showed Democrats are more likely to vote early than Republicans.

Roughly 1.6 million people have already voted in Wisconsin, either by mail or through in-person early voting, according to Wisconsin Elections Commission statistics. There are about 3.5 million registered voters in the state.

The survey was the fourth and final one this election cycle from the Elections Research Center. The final Marquette University Law School poll of the cycle is expected Wednesday.

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