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Joe Biden maintains slight edge in latest Marquette poll
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Joe Biden maintains slight edge in latest Marquette poll

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The latest Marquette Law School Poll again shows Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden maintaining a steady edge over Republican President Donald Trump as the campaign enters the final weeks before the Nov. 3 election.

The poll, conducted between Sept. 30 and Oct. 4, after the first presidential debate and amid the news that Trump was infected with COVID-19, shows Biden slightly ahead of the president 46% to 41% among likely voters, close to the poll’s margin of error of +/-4.6 percentage points.

The result giving Biden a 5-point lead is close to a month ago, when it was 47% to 43%, underscoring how stable the race has remained despite a turbulent news cycle featuring the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the political skirmish to replace her, Trump and several White House officials contracting COVID-19, and the continued rise in infections nationwide, especially in Wisconsin.

“The story of stability gets awfully old as we have to keep repeating it, but it is what we’re seeing,” said poll director Charles Franklin.

Since May, Biden has led Trump in the state by between 4 and 6 percentage points among likely voters. The polling has been more stable than in 2016, when Hillary Clinton was ahead in the final stretch, but lost by fewer than 23,000 votes.

In this month’s poll, Libertarian Party presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen received 4% support, unchanged from early September, and 8% of likely voters refused to say, didn’t know or would vote for none of the presidential candidates, up 1 point from early September’s poll.

The latest Marquette results come after the first presidential debate between Trump and Biden, with registered voters saying Biden won the debate by a 2-to-1 margin, 41% to 20%. Another 14% of respondents said both candidates did badly, while less than 0.5% said both candidates did well.

Few partisans thought the candidate of the opposite party did better in the debate. Among Republicans, 9% thought Biden did best, while just 1% of Democrats thought Trump did best.

An analysis by political news outlet FiveThirtyEight shows Biden leads Wisconsin’s polling average with 52.6% support compared to Trump’s 46.5%.

Battleground states

The stability seen in Wisconsin polls, as well as in other battleground states, doesn’t bode well for Trump.

A New York Times and Siena College poll found Biden leading Trump 49% to 42% in Pennsylvania. That’s close to Siena’s pre-debate Pennsylvania poll, which found Biden leading 49% to 40%.

Another Pennsylvania survey from CBS News and YouGov showed Biden ahead 51% to 44%. That, too, is close to a survey the same pollsters conducted two months ago, which showed Biden leading Trump 49% to 43%.

Ohio, another battleground state, appears similarly stable. A CBS News/YouGov poll, again taken between Sept. 30 and Oct. 2, found the candidates tied there at 47% each. Trump won Ohio by about 8 points in 2016, so a tie indicates Trump is bleeding support.

Arizona also didn’t change after the debate, with a New York Times/Siena poll finding Biden ahead of Trump 49% to 41%. The same pollsters found Biden ahead 49% to 40% in a survey conducted Sept. 10-15.

Trump’s diagnosis

Among Wisconsin voters interviewed after Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, 33% said they think Trump has a mild case, 13% a moderate case, 8% a serious case, and 3% a very serious case.

Just before Trump’s COVID-19 announcement, he had planned to hold two rallies in the state that he canceled: one in Green Bay and one in La Crosse that was set to be moved to Janesville. The latest poll shows 52% of Wisconsin respondents interviewed after Trump announced his COVID-19 diagnosis think both Trump and Biden should stop holding in-person campaign rallies, while 37% say rallies are safe and should continue.

Still, more than two-thirds of respondents say Wednesday’s vice presidential and remaining presidential debates should be held as scheduled, while just under a quarter say the debates should be canceled.

COVID-19 concerns

With hospitalizations for COVID-19 soaring in Wisconsin in recent weeks to the point that the state plans to open an overflow facility for patients, most (61%) Wisconsinites say they are very or somewhat worried about contracting COVID-19, virtually unchanged from the month before and down slightly from the 70% of respondents who said they were very or somewhat worried about getting the virus at the beginning of the pandemic in March.

In the latest Marquette poll, 27% of respondents said they were very worried about getting COVID-19, up from 21% a month ago. Thirty-four percent of respondents said they are somewhat worried, down from 39% a month ago.

Sixteen percent of respondents said they are not very worried, down 3 points since the late August/early September poll; 21% said they aren’t worried at all and 2% said they already had COVID-19.

Half of respondents think the pandemic will continue for another year or more before things start to return to normal, and 20% say it will be under control within three months.

Forty-one percent of respondents approve of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus in the latest poll while 56% disapprove, unchanged from the month before.

Voting

A higher share of respondents, 54%, said they plan to vote in person on Election Day, up from 50% in the late August/early September poll and 39% in early May. Thirty-two percent of respondents say they plan to vote absentee by mail, unchanged from last month but down from 43% in May.

The type of ballot voters plan to use differs by partisanship.

Most Republicans, 69%, say they plan to vote on Election Day in person, while 11% plan to vote early in person and 18% said they will vote absentee by mail. For Democrats, a lower 39% say they plan to vote in person on Election Day; 11% plan to vote early in-person; and 47% say they plan to vote absentee by mail.

Supreme Court

Wisconsinites are divided largely by partisanship on the question of whether to confirm U.S. Appeals Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court before Election Day.

Eighty-one percent of Republicans want the Senate to vote on Barrett’s nomination before the election, while 90% of Democrats want the Senate to wait until after Election Day.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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