Marquette Law School poll predicts another close presidential race in November

Published: Oct. 28, 2020 at 12:46 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 28, 2020 at 1:17 PM CDT
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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WBAY) - The last Marquette Law School Poll before the election indicates another close presidential race in Wisconsin.

Democrat Joe Biden leads Republican President Donald Trump among likely voters by 5 percentage points, 48 to 43 percent. That slim lead is similar to what we saw in the two previous Marquette Law School Polls released earlier this month and in early September which Biden led by 5 points and 4 points, respectively.

91% of respondents said their mind was made up and only 6% said they might still be swayed. In fact, 41% of respondents said they’ve already voted.

Almost two-thirds of people who voted early are Biden supporters (64%), while Trump supporters make up the majority (56%) of people who haven’t voted yet.

The election results could be a shocker. Eighty percent of Trump voters expect he’ll be declared the winner. Eighty percent of Biden voters say the same about their candidate. Some of those voters are hedging their bets, though: 11% of Trump voters still expect Biden to win, while 6% of Biden voters expect it’ll go Trump’s way.

Biden leads among independent voters 36 to 28 percent but Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen makes a strong showing there with 24 percent of the independent vote, though Jorgensen only received support from 2% of the respondents overall. The independent votes could be important as we saw with the 2016 election in which Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by fewer than 23,000 votes.

If you dig into the data, the race gets tighter -- not wider. Biden only has a 4-point lead looking at all 806 people who participated in the Marquette poll, not just likely voters. It’s down to a 3-point lead if a lot of people who say they’re “likely voters” don’t show up, although the strong interest in early voting suggests a high turnout this year.

The survey’s findings make an outlier of an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Wednesday morning that gave Biden a double-digit lead over Trump in the Badger State, even when adjusted for respondents skewing left (see related story).

That earlier poll also found 70% of Wisconsinites concerned that they or a loved one will contract the COVID-19 virus, while 57% of voters in the Marquette poll expressed that level of concern. According to the Marquette survey, 58% of people disapprove of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus while 40% approve -- the highest disapproval rating the survey’s received on that question.

Trump’s job approval rating overall is still underwater, with 47% approving and 52% is approving. That’s a slightly higher approval rating than he had in September (44%) while the disapproval rating remains the same.

Trump has a favorable rating of 44% while 54% have an unfavorable view. Biden is under 50% on both counts -- 49% view him favorably while 46% view him unfavorably.

Asked if they believe a candidate cares about “people like you,” 54% of all the respondents said no, they don’t think Trump does, but 43% said yes; 56% said yes, Biden cares, but 40% think he doesn’t.

Asked if they’re confident the votes will be counted accurately, 70% said they were “very” or “somewhat” confident, with 43% saying “somewhat.” One in five surveyed said they are “not too confident” about the vote count.

Marquette says 806 registered voters were surveyed last week, Oct. 21-25, including 749 likely voters. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 4.3% for the full group.

You can find complete results and details about the polling methods, including how questions were phrased, at

Other issues tackled in the wide-ranging poll:

Governor Tony Evers' job approval: 50% approve, 43% disapprove. Earlier this month, his approval rating was 52%. (On a separate question, 47% said they have a favorable opinion of Evers compared to 43% with an unfavorable opinion.)

Gov. Evers' handling of the pandemic: 52% approve, 45% disapprove. Earlier this month, 56% approved of his performance.

Legislature’s job approval: 36% approve, 50% disapprove. Back in May, the last time this question was asked, it had a 46% approval rating.

Closing schools and businesses in the spring: 68% say it was the right thing to do, 26% say it was an overreaction.

Would you eat in a restaurant now? 52% said they’re comfortable with that, 47% said they’re not comfortable.

Are you wearing a mask in public? 64% say they always do, 20% say most of the time, 12% some of the time, and 3% never.

Should the U.S. Senate have confirmed Judge Amy Coney Bennett for the Supreme Court? 48% said they would voted for her confirmation (including 87% of Republicans and 38% of independents), 38% would have voted against.

Should the Supreme Court strike down the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare? 55% say no, 35% say yes.

On the protests of police shootings of Black people: 50% approve of the protests, 45% disapprove.

Watch an analysis of the poll with Dr. Charles Franklin above.

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