Marquette Poll: Voter Opinions on COVID-19 Response, Biden Leads Wis. Primary

The latest Marquette University (MU) Law School poll, conducted in late March, questioned voters on state and federal response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Voters shared their opinions on the governor’s and president’s responses to the crisis, the virus in general, and how it has affected their daily lives. The poll also gave a snapshot of voter opinions in the Democratic primary for president for the final time before Wisconsin’s spring elections on April 7.



 The March MU poll asked voters several questions about the coronavirus. The numbers show a majority of Wisconsinites very concerned about the virus and its impact on their daily lives but agree with government’s response to the virus so far.

  • 76 percent are following the news about coronavirus very closely.
  • 68 percent are very concerned about a coronavirus epidemic in the United States. 25 percent are somewhat concerned. Just 7 percent said they are not concerned.
  • 70 percent are very worried or somewhat worried about contracting the illness and the seriousness of the illness.
  • 57 percent said the outbreak has disrupted their life “a lot.” Only 3 percent said the virus hasn’t disrupted their life at all.
  • 87 percent agreed the state or federal government should have the authority to limit public gatherings.
  • 86 percent agreed with the decision to close schools and businesses, while just 10 percent characterized it as an overreaction.

30 percent of respondents, someone in their family, or both have lost their job due to the coronavirus outbreak. 51 percent have had work hours reduced.

A plurality of respondents (44 percent) said they think the outbreak will be under control by the end of May. 27 percent guessed the end of August. 11 percent said sometime next fall. 9 percent said a year or more.



 Wisconsinites’ views on the economy have shifted, but remain net positive, as nonessential businesses are shut down and unemployment claims reach record highs due to the coronavirus. Of those polled over March 24-29, closely after Gov. Evers issued the Safer at Home order, 44 percent said they expect the economy will get better, compared to 36 percent in the previous poll conducted in February. 34 said the economy will get worse, up from 21 percent in the previous poll. 13 percent said they expect the economy to say the same, significantly down from 37 percent in the previous poll.


President Trump

President Donald Trump’s approval rating remains at 48 percent approval, 49 percent disapproval in the March poll. Even in light of COVID-19 closings, voters’ opinions on President Trump’s handling of the economy didn’t change much from the February poll. 54 percent approve of the president’s handling of the economy, and 41 percent disapprove.

A majority of voters (51 percent) approve of President Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak. Voters are divided on the president’s handling of the virus along party lines.


Gov. Evers

Gov. Tony Evers’s approval ratings spiked to an all time high in the latest poll as he leads the COVID-19 response for Wisconsin. 65 percent approve of his handling his job as governor, up from 51 percent in February. Gov. Evers’s March approval ratings were over ten points higher than his previous record high numbers in September 2019. The governor’s favorability also increased significantly, with 54 percent of voters stating they have a favorable opinion, compared to 43 percent in February. 28 percent have an unfavorable opinion of the governor, down from 40 percent in February.

A significant, bipartisan majority of Wisconsinites (76 percent) approve of Gov. Evers’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak. Read more about Gov. Evers’s actions to address COVID-19 in Wisconsin.


Wisconsin Senators

 Voter opinions of Wisconsin’s U.S. senators remained largely the same in March. Republican Sen. Ron Johnson sits at a 35 percent favorable, 32 percent unfavorable rating. Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin has a 40 percent favorable, 39 percent unfavorable rating.


2020 Presidential Primary & April Elections

The Democratic primary for president has narrowed to two candidates: Vice President Joe Biden, who has a significant lead, and U.S. Bernie Sanders. Sanders had led the polls in Wisconsin in February, before Biden obtained his strong lead on Super Tuesday and in subsequent states’ primaries. Now, in the final MU poll before Wisconsin’s primary on April 7, Biden’s appears to be ahead in Wisconsin.

Biden beats Trump in a head-to-head matchup, 48 to 45 percent, while Sanders loses to Trump 45 to 47 percent. 60 percent of Wisconsin voters think Biden would run the strongest race against Trump, compared to just 25 percent who selected Sanders. 62 percent of Democratic primary voters said they would vote for Biden, and 34 percent said they would vote for Sanders.

The poll release noted that, given high uncertainty created by more absentee voting and unusual turnout from COVID-19, poll findings “should be viewed with more than the usual caution.”

According to the poll, 51 percent of voters believe Wisconsin should move the April 7 election date, and 44 believe the state should keep it on April 7. Gov. Evers and the Legislature have decided not the move the April 7 election date because of the pandemic, though there are several lawsuits seeking a new election date and other changes to elections in light of COVID-19. Updates on Wisconsin’s spring election in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis can be found here: /covid-19-in-wisconsin/.


Right Track-Wrong Track

Despite the uncertainty of the pandemic, the number of Wisconsin voters who believe the state is on the right track reached a record high since January 2019. In the March poll, 61 percent of voters said they feel Wisconsin is headed in the right direction, up from 52 percent in the previous poll. 30 percent say Wisconsin is headed in the wrong direction, down from 39 percent in February.