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Marquette poll: Trump, Biden race a tossup in Wisconsin with one year until 2024 election

Biden support among registered voters slips in matchups with other GOP primary candidates

A sign that says "VOTING ENTRANCE"
Voters walk to an early voting location Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, at Waukesha City Hall. Angela Major/WPR

With less than one year until the 2024 election, a new survey of Wisconsinites shows President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump essentially neck and neck among registered voters.

The results also show Biden’s support drops in head-to-head matchups with other Republican primary candidates.

The Marquette University Law School poll surveyed 908 registered voters in Wisconsin between Oct. 26 and Nov. 2. Among those respondents, 50 percent said they would vote for Biden and 48 percent said they would choose Trump. That slim difference is smaller than the poll’s margin of error of 4.5 percent.

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Marquette pollster Charles Franklin described the race between the major party front-runners as a tossup.

But when voters were presented with alternative Republican choices, things shifted in the GOP’s favor.

In head-to-head matchups one year out, 53 percent of all registered voters said they would pick former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and 44 percent said they’d pick Biden. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had a 2 point edge over Biden, but again, the gap was well within the margin of error.

“I don’t think I’m giving anything away to say Donald Trump is the front-runner for the GOP nomination, but he runs weakest of these three comparisons against Biden,” Franklin said.

In terms of favorability, all the candidates were “underwater,” according to the survey results, meaning the number of people who viewed them unfavorably outnumbered those who had a favorable opinion.

Just 37 percent of those polled had a favorable view of Trump compared to 61 percent who viewed him unfavorably. Biden’s numbers were negative, with 42 percent viewing him as favorable compared to 56 percent who view him unfavorably.

While both DeSantis and Haley had negative overall ratings, a total of 33 percent of registered voters said they didn’t know enough about Haley to form an opinion. Franklin said the lack of name recognition may seem like a vulnerability, “but I’m going to claim it’s really her superpower.”

“She’s sort of the generic Republican hare,” Franklin said. “At the very least, she’s not Donald Trump and she’s not the somewhat similar Ron DeSantis. And people may like her on her own. But of those 33 percent that don’t know much about her, they’re still kind of drawn to her because she’s a Republican alternative to Joe Biden. And that’s where a lot of her strength comes from.”

Franklin said Marquette will conduct another 14 state and national polls between now and the November 2024 presidential election.

In addition to the closely-watched race for president, Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin will also be up for reelection in 2024, but Marquette did not poll on any head-to-head matchups between Baldwin and potential GOP opponents.

Forty-three percent of respondents said they had an unfavorable view of Baldwin, while 41 percent said they had a favorable view of her.

Majority of voter approve of Evers, but not the Legislature

At the state level, the survey found 53 percent of voters said they approve of how Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has handled the job, while 46 percent disapproved.

The inverse was true for the Republican controlled Wisconsin Legislature, with 40 percent saying they approve of how the body is handling its job compared to 57 percent of respondents who disapprove.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court fared slightly better with 51 percent of voters saying they approve of how the court is handling its job, while 43 percent disapproved.

Notably, 80 percent of those surveyed said judicial candidates should talk about issues while campaigning. That comes amid a lingering threat from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, of a potential impeachment of liberal Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz over comments she made about redistricting on the campaign trail.

Despite extensive news coverage of the Vos threat, the Marquette poll found only 31 percent of voters had heard a lot about impeachment efforts, 39 percent had heard a little and 29 percent had heard nothing at all.