Wisconsin’s Polling Picture

After not seeing a Badger State poll for several weeks, two new surveys were released yesterday, one covering the statewide races and the other the congressional battle in western Wisconsin, which appears to be the state’s most competitive House race. 

Looking at the statewide results, Marquette University Law School released their quarterly Wisconsin electorate poll (6/12-20; 871 WI registered voters; live interview) and found some seemingly inconsistent answers particularly relating to former President Trump’s New York conviction.

On the presidential ballot test question, the registered voter sample broke 50-50% between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump when undecideds were pushed, and 44-44% on the initial question. Among those respondents considering themselves definite or likely voters, Mr. Biden held a 51-49% edge when respondents were pushed. When the independent and minor party candidates were added to the questionnaire, Mr. Trump went ahead 43-40%.

Perhaps most noteworthy, in responding to the question regarding Trump’s conviction and by a 54-28% margin, independents believe the former President is guilty of the charges. Yet, on the ballot test question, the same independents broke for Trump 57-41%. This means that many of the Wisconsin respondents who believe Trump is guilty are rather surprisingly still apparently willing to vote for him in the general election.

Wisconsin is one of the key swing states on the presidential map. With Trump polling strongly in Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada, he would need only one more state to exceed the minimum 270 electoral vote count to win the national race. The most likely path would be for Trump to take one of the key swing states that touch a Great Lake, either Michigan, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin. Currently, the Michigan and Pennsylvania polling numbers are similar to what Marquette detects in Wisconsin, so, today, the former President’s chances of reclaiming the White House appear good.

The Senate race again finds incumbent Tammy Baldwin (D) leading Republican Eric Hovde by a 52-47% count when the undecided respondents were prompted to make a choice. On the initial question, Sen. Baldwin led 45-38% with 17% indicating they are undecided. This survey is relatively consistent with others that have recently been taken.

Since late April, six different polls have been publicly released of the Wisconsin Senate campaign from six different pollsters. All find Sen. Baldwin leading the race with margin spreads between two and twelve percentage points. Therefore, the Marquette survey on their initial question, which gives Baldwin a seven point advantage, lands at the exact mean average point of the six polls.

Since the state Supreme Court decided not to redraw the congressional map for the 2024 election cycle, most of the House political attention has centered around freshman Rep. Derrick Van Orden’s (R-Prairie du Chien) re-election effort.

The GQR survey research firm went into the 3rd District over the June 10-16 period (400 WI-3 likely general election voters; live interview) and found western Wisconsin Rep. Van Orden holding only a small lead over small business owner Rebecca Cooke (D). The ballot test favors the freshman Congressman by just a 50-46% margin. Mr. Van Orden’s favorability index, however, is barely positive at 41:40%. 

Wisconsin’s 3rd District, anchored in the city of La Crosse, spans through all or part of 19 western counties. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as R+9, but the Dave’s Redistricting App statisticians calculate a virtually even partisan lean. Former President Trump carried the seat in 2020 with a 51.5 - 46.8% victory margin despite losing the statewide count. 

Prior to Mr. Van Orden converting this seat to the Republican column in 2022, Democrat Ron Kind represented the district for 26 years. Therefore, this could become a legitimately competitive race in November.

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