MU Poll Gauges Voter Opinions on COVID-19 Response, 2020 Election

The latest Marquette University (MU) Law School poll showed voter opinions on Wisconsin’s coronavirus response shifting, though a majority of voters still support Safer at Home measures. The May poll also marks the first head to head question evaluating President Donald Trump versus Vice President Joe Biden since Biden became the presumptive Democratic nominee in April.



 Concern about the COVID-19 pandemic has dropped since the April poll, though a large majority of Wisconsinites are still concerned about the virus. Generally, Democrats are more concerned than Republicans, though concern has dropped among all parties from the previous poll.

  • 81 percent of Wisconsin voters are concerned about the coronavirus, with 50 percent describing themselves as “very concerned” and 31 percent describing themselves as “somewhat concerned.” In April, 93 percent said they were concerned, and more people said they were “very concerned” (68 percent) than did in May.
  • 47 percent said their life has been disrupted by the outbreak “a lot,” down from 57 percent in April. Still, just 4 percent say their life has not been disrupted at all.
  • 60 percent are “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about contracting the illness and the seriousness of the illness, down from 70 percent in April.

69 percent agreed with the decision to close schools and businesses, down from 86 percent in April. 26 percent characterized it as an overreaction, up from just 10 percent in April. While April showed bipartisan majorities supportive of the Safer at Home measures, the May poll showed increased partisanship, with over 40 percent of Republicans viewing the measures as an overreaction.

Even as a majority of voters continue to approve of the decision to close businesses, more Wisconsinites have had their jobs disrupted. 41 percent of respondents, someone in their family, or both have lost their job due to the coronavirus outbreak, up from 30 percent in April.

A majority of voters (53 percent) trust the governor, rather than the legislature to decide when to begin reopening the economy. 33 percent trust the legislature more than the governor.

More voters were concerned with reopening the economy too soon than with not opening soon enough, at 56 percent to 40 percent.

Voters’ views on the pandemic seem to have shifted to seeing it as a longer term problem. In April, 44 percent expected the outbreak would by under control by the end of May. Now, just 18 percent agree that the state will return to normal that soon. In April, just 9 percent guessed things would be under control as far as a year or more out. Now, 36 percent agree with that extended timeline.



Amid COVID-19, views on the economy continued to worsen in May. 28 percent say the economy has gotten better in the past year, dropping from 41 percent in April and 47 percent in February. But looking forward, views on the economy are still net positive. Similar to April numbers, 45 percent expect the economy to get better, while 31 percent expect the economy to get worse.


Gov. Tony Evers

Gov. Evers’s approval numbers dropped again after spiking up in mid-COVID-19 response in April. In the May poll, 59 percent approved of Evers, down from 65 percent in April. Evers’s approval rating is still above his pre-COVID-19 numbers, which hovered around 50 percent in late 2019/early 2020.

The governor’s favorability also dropped in May after achieving all time high numbers in April. Now, 50 percent have a favorable opinion of Evers, down from 54 percent in April. 36 percent have an unfavorable opinion, up from 28 percent in the previous poll.

Approval of how Evers is handling the coronavirus also dropped in May, though a significant majority (64 percent) still approve of the governor’s actions, down from 76 percent in April. Approval of Evers’s COVID-19 response has now become a partisan split, with over 60 percent of Republicans disapproving.


Wisconsin Legislature

 The May poll asked about the Wisconsin Legislature for the first time since February, and COVID-19 does not appear to have taken a toll – positive or negative – on the Legislature’s approval ratings. Approval of the Legislature remained at 46 percent. 40 percent disapprove of how the Legislature is handling its job.


President Donald Trump

 The president’s approval numbers remain at 47 percent approval, 49 percent disapproval. These numbers have improved since Trump first took office but haven’t changed much in 2020. Trump’s favorability numbers also remained steady at 44 percent favorable, 51 percent unfavorable.

A majority of voters (54 percent) continue to approve of Trump’s handling the economy, no change from the previous poll. However, a majority of voters (51 percent) now disapprove of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus. In April, 51 percent approved of how the president was handling the pandemic. Specifically, 52 percent of voters believe Trump is not personally managing the response to the pandemic, 49 percent believe the president is not making good policy decisions, and 54 percent say he does not have an understanding of the facts.


2020 Presidential Election

 After beating U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Wisconsin primary in April, Vice President Joe Biden, now the only candidate left in the Democratic presidential primary, gained some ground in favorability numbers. 42 percent had a favorable opinion of Biden, his highest favorability rating since the MU poll first asked about 2020 candidates in September 2019. 46 percent had an unfavorable view of Biden, down from 50 percent in April and 53 percent in February. Biden retained a three point lead over Trump (within the margin of error) in the head-to-head question.

Biden’s numbers in Wisconsin will be closely watched as Wisconsin is expected to be a battleground state in the November general election.