Election 2020 Politics

Post-ABC Wisconsin poll shows Biden holding narrow edge over Trump


Joe Biden at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wis., on Sept. 3. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Former vice president Joe Biden holds a narrow edge in the key battleground state of Wisconsin as President Trump’s law-and-order message has so far failed to translate into significant support or change the dynamic of the race there, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Trump has seized on the protests that erupted after last month’s police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, denouncing the burning and looting that took place and warning of worse across the country if Biden is elected.

The poll shows Biden standing at 52 percent to 46 percent for Trump among likely voters and by 50 percent to 46 percent among all registered voters. Neither gap is significant, with a 4.5-point margin of sampling error among likely voters applying to each candidate’s support.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

Biden holds narrow edge over Trump in Wisconsin

Q: If the presidential election were held today, for whom would you vote/lean toward?

Among likely voters

Biden/ Harris 52%

Error margin

Trump/ Pence 46%

Note: “Other” and “No opinion” not shown.

Sept. 8-13, 2020, Washington Post-ABC News poll of 605 likely voters in Wisconsin with an error margin of +- 4.5 percentage points.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

Biden holds narrow edge over Trump in Wisconsin

Q: If the presidential election were held today, for whom would you vote/lean toward?

Among likely voters

Biden/ Harris 52%

Error margin

Trump/ Pence 46%

Note: “Other” and “No opinion” not shown.

Sept. 8-13, 2020, Washington Post-ABC News poll of 605 likely voters in Wisconsin with an error margin of +- 4.5 percentage points.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

Biden holds narrow edge over Trump in Wisconsin

Q: If the presidential election were held today, for whom would you vote/lean toward?

Among likely voters

Biden/Harris 52%

Error margin

Trump/Pence 46%

Note: “Other” and “No opinion” not shown.

Sept. 8-13, 2020, Washington Post-ABC News poll of 605 likely voters in Wisconsin with an error margin of +- 4.5 percentage points.

The president recently visited Wisconsin to highlight his support for law enforcement and to reinforce his message that he is best suited to tamp down violence — with force, if necessary. Biden traveled to the state days later, meeting with the Blake family and calling for unity and healing in the community, though he, too, denounced the violence that followed the shooting.

The poll finds Trump and Biden tied on the question of whom voters in Wisconsin trust more on issues of crime and safety, at 48 percent each. Marginally more voters say they trust Biden over Trump on discouraging violence at political protests, though the difference is not statistically significant.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

Wisconsin voters trust Biden more on equal treatment, the coronavirus, health care; are more divided on other issues

Q: Who do you trust more to handle _____ –Trump or Biden?

Among registered voters

Trust Biden

more

Trust Trump

more

Equal treatment

of racial groups

The coronavirus

outbreak

Health care

Discouraging violence

at political protests

Crime and safety

The economy

Note: “Both,” “Neither” and “No opinion” not shown.

Sept. 8-13, 2020, Washington Post-ABC News poll of 702 registered voters in Wisconsin with an error margin of +/- 4 percentage points.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

Wisconsin voters trust Biden more on equal treatment, the coronavirus, health care; are more divided on other issues

Q: Who do you trust more to handle _____ — Trump or Biden?

Among registered voters

Trust Biden more

Trust Trump more

Equal treatment

of racial groups

The coronavirus

outbreak

Health care

Discouraging violence

at political protests

Crime and safety

The economy

Note: “Both,” “Neither” and “No opinion” not shown.

Sept. 8-13, 2020, Washington Post-ABC News poll of 702 registered voters in Wisconsin with an error margin of +/- 4 percentage points.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

Wisconsin voters trust Biden more on equal treatment, the coronavirus, health care; are more divided on other issues

Q: Who do you trust more to handle _____ — Trump or Biden?

Among registered voters

Trust Biden more

Trust Trump more

Equal treatment

of racial groups

The coronavirus

outbreak

Health care

Discouraging violence

at political protests

Crime and safety

The economy

Note: “Both,” “Neither” and “No opinion” not shown.

Sept. 8-13, 2020, Washington Post-ABC News poll of 702 registered voters in Wisconsin with an error margin of +/- 4 percentage points.

Meanwhile, the former vice president holds a clear advantage — 51 percent to 41 percent — on the question of who is more trusted to provide equal treatment of racial groups.

A bare majority — 51 percent — of Wisconsin voters say they support recent protests against police treatment of Black people, while 44 percent say they oppose them. Those who support them overwhelmingly support Biden; those opposed back Trump by a smaller but still sizable margin.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

Roughly half of Wisconsin voters support recent protests against police treatment of Black people

Q: Do you support or oppose recent protests against police treatment of Black people? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?

Among registered voters

Note: “No opinion” not shown.

Sept. 8-13, 2020, Washington Post-ABC News poll of 702 registered voters in Wisconsin with an error margin of +/- 4 percentage points.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

Roughly half of Wisconsin voters support recent protests against police treatment of Black people

Q: Do you support or oppose recent protests against police treatment of Black people? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?

Among registered voters

Note: “No opinion” not shown.

Sept. 8-13, 2020, Washington Post-ABC News poll of 702 registered voters in Wisconsin with an error margin of +/- 4 percentage points.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

Roughly half of Wisconsin voters support recent protests against police treatment of Black people

Q: Do you support or oppose recent protests against police treatment of Black people? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?

Among registered voters

Note: “No opinion” not shown.

Sept. 8-13, 2020, Washington Post-ABC News poll of 702 registered voters in Wisconsin with an error margin of +/- 4 percentage points.

Trump won the state by less than a percentage point in 2016, or about 23,000 votes, but through this spring and summer, Biden has consistently led the polls there — though by a smaller margin than in national polls. The most recent round of surveys in Wisconsin has been highly anticipated, coming after a Republican National Convention that focused heavily on the law-and-order message and in the wake of the Blake shooting and the subsequent protests.

The Post-ABC polls in Wisconsin and Minnesota, where Biden holds a broader lead, are the first in a series of surveys examining attitudes of voters in key election battlegrounds, all conducted by professional interviewers through random sampling of cellphones and landlines. The Wisconsin poll is consistent with other recent polls in the state, with The Post’s average showing Biden’s margin at seven points, narrower than in midsummer but not much different from what it was immediately after the GOP convention.

Biden is seen by Wisconsin voters as more honest and trustworthy by a margin of 11 points and as someone better able to understand “problems of people like you” by a narrower five points. The two are roughly tied on who is the stronger leader, with Trump at 49 percent and Biden at 46 percent.

As earlier national polls have shown, Trump supporters are more enthusiastic than Biden supporters are. In the Post-ABC Wisconsin survey, more than 9 in 10 who say they back Trump express enthusiasm for his candidacy and more than 2 in 3 say they are very enthusiastic. For Biden, nearly 9 in 10 say they are enthusiastic, though a smaller 50 percent say they are very enthusiastic.

Women, who have bolstered Biden nationally, also are making the difference for him in Wisconsin. Trump has a 10-point advantage among men, but Biden has a 21-point advantage among women. Biden holds narrow leads among voters below the age of 50.

Education continues to be a significant divide in the electorate in Wisconsin, as it is nationally. Biden leads among White men with college degrees 56 percent to 42 percent and among White women with college degrees by an even larger 65 percent to 35 percent. Biden has a slight edge among White women without college degrees, 54 percent to 45 percent, while Trump leads 65 percent to 32 percent among White men without college degrees.


President Trump tours an area damaged during demonstrations that followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., on Sept. 1. (Evan Vucci/AP)

The survey results indicate some shifting since the 2016 campaign. Four years ago, Trump carried White voters without degrees nationally by more than 30 percentage points, according to surveys of confirmed voters, a group that accounts for nearly 6 in 10 Wisconsin voters. Trump holds a 10-point advantage among this group in the Post-ABC poll, 54 percent to 44 percent.

Registered voters in Wisconsin rate the state of the national economy negatively — 54 percent, to 44 percent positive — but nonetheless give the president positive marks for his handling of the economy, with 53 percent narrowly approving and 46 percent disapproving. Slightly more say they have confidence in Trump rather than Biden to deal with the economy.

But the president’s ratings overall and on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic are in negative territory and are drag on his candidacy. On the pandemic, 54 percent disapprove of the way he has handled things, while 44 percent approve. More than 9 in 10 who disapprove back Biden, and more than 9 in 10 who approve support Trump.

Three in five voters in Wisconsin express worries that they or someone in their immediate family might contract the coronavirus, with about a quarter overall saying they are very worried. Three in four of those who say they are worried support Biden, while nearly 9 in 10 of those who say they aren’t worried support Trump.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

Women favor Biden by wide margin in Wisconsin, while Trump fares best with voters who are not

worried about the coronavirus

Vote choice by group among likely voters

Support

Biden

Support

Trump

White college

graduates

White

non-college

Veteran

household

Non-veteran

household

Worried about

family catching

coronavirus

Not worried about

family catching

coronavirus

Note: “Other,” “Neither,” “Would not vote” and “No opinion” not shown.

Sept. 8-13, 2020, Washington Post-ABC News poll of 605 likely voters in Wisconsin with an error margin of +\- 4.5 percentage points. Error margin larger among subgroups.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

Women favor Biden by wide margin in

Wisconsin, while Trump fares best with voters who are not worried about the coronavirus

Vote choice by group among likely voters

Support Biden

Support Trump

White college

graduates

White

non-college

Veteran

household

Non-veteran

household

Worried about

family catching

coronavirus

Not worried about

family catching

coronavirus

Note: “Other,” “Neither,” “Would not vote” and “No opinion” not shown.

Sept. 8-13, 2020, Washington Post-ABC News poll of 605 likely voters in Wisconsin with an error margin of +\- 4.5 percentage points. Error margin larger among subgroups.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

Women favor Biden by wide margin in Wisconsin, while Trump fares best with voters who are not worried about the coronavirus

Vote choice by group among likely voters

Support Biden

Support Trump

White college graduates

White non-college

Veteran household

Non-veteran household

Worried about family

catching coronavirus

Not worried about family

catching coronavirus

Note: “Other,” “Neither,” “Would not vote” and “No opinion” not shown.

Sept. 8-13, 2020, Washington Post-ABC News poll of 605 likely voters in Wisconsin with an error margin of +\- 4.5 percentage points. Error margin larger among subgroups.

Overall, Trump’s approval rating stands at 46 percent positive and 52 percent negative in Wisconsin, which is better for him than many national polls. But presidents seeking reelection often struggle to outperform their approval rating on Election Day, and the poll underscores that split. More than 9 in 10 who approve of Trump’s job performance support his candidacy, and more than 9 in 10 who disapprove support Biden.

The key issues for Wisconsin voters track with the candidate they are supporting. The economy ranks as the top issue in the state, with 27 percent of registered voters citing it as the single most important issue in their choice for president. Among voters who say the economy is the most important issue, Trump leads Biden 84 percent to 12 percent. The coronavirus outbreak ranks second, at 20 percent, and those voters break 88 percent to 8 percent for Biden.

Crime and safety and health care rank next on the list of most important issues. Although voters overall split over which candidate can better handle crime and safety, those who name it as the single most important issue in their vote go overwhelmingly for Trump, 83 percent to 15 percent. Those who say health care is their single top issue back Biden 77 percent to 19 percent. Among all registered voters, Biden is narrowly seen as more trusted on health care, by seven percentage points.

Voters in Wisconsin are closely following the election, and 9 in 10 say they are certain to vote in November. About half say they plan to vote on Election Day, while more than 4 in 10 say they will vote early.

There are wide partisan differences, however: 71 percent of Democrats say they will vote early, while 76 percent of Republicans say they will vote on Election Day. Trump leads by 38 points among likely voters who plan to vote on Election Day, while Biden leads by 59 points among those who plan to vote early.

Over half of independents, 55 percent, say they will vote on Election Day, while 38 percent say they will vote early.

Coronavirus fears are also tied to how people plan to cast their ballots, with nearly 6 in 10 voters who are worried about a family member becoming infected saying they plan to vote early, compared with about 2 in 10 of those who are less worried. Among the less worried group, 75 percent plan to vote on Election Day.

This Post-ABC poll was conducted Sept. 8 to 13 among a random sample of 802 adults and 702 registered voters in Wisconsin, 75 percent of whom were researched on a cellphone and 25 percent on a landline. The margin of error among the sample of registered voters is plus or minus four percentage points. Among the sample of 605 likely voters, the margin is 4.5 points. The general population sample was weighted to match census benchmarks by education, sex, age, race/ethnicity and geopolitical regions.

Graphics by Daniela Santamariña. Scott Clement and Alauna Safarpour contributed to this report.

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