September MU Poll: Presidential Race Remains Tight; Voters React to Kenosha Incidents and Schools Reopening

The latest Marquette University (MU) Law School poll released September 9, shows little movement among Wisconsin voters in their pick for the President. The poll, which was conducted Aug. 30 to Sept. 3, 2020, comes days after Wisconsin was thrust into the national spotlight over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha. In addition to the election, the poll covered protests, police, school reopening and the economy.

2020 Presidential Election

In the head-to-head question between Biden and Trump, Biden prevails by 4 points, 47-43 among likely voters. August’s MU Poll, conducted prior to the Kenosha events, showed Biden up by 5 points, 49-44.

The September MU poll depicts a tighter top of the ticket race than in other recent polls. CBS News/Change Research poll and CBS/YouGov poll, both conducted around the same time period as MU, shows Biden up 6 points. Meanwhile, a Rasmussen Reports poll found Biden leading Trump by 8 points, 51-43.

Just like in 2016, Wisconsin is again a key battleground race. Following the events in Kenosha, both President Trump and Biden separately visited the area, offering starkly different messages to Wisconsin voters, while both rebuking the violence and looting. This past weekend on Labor Day, Vice President Pence, and the Democratic Vice President nominee U.S. Sen. Kalama Harris both stumped in different parts of the state.

Governor Evers

Gov. Evers approval numbers fell in the September MU poll, with 51 percent approve and 43 percent disapprove of Evers’ job performance. This is down from 57 percent approval in September and consistent with his job approval numbers in early 2020.

57 percent of respondents approved of the governor’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, a drop from 61 approval in August. The governor instituted a statewide mask mandate on August 1, however COVID-19 rates continue to climb in Wisconsin with college students back on campus.

President Trump

President Donald Trump’s 44 percent approval rating remained the same from the August MU poll. Voter’s opinions shifted slightly in Trump’s favor regarding his handling of the protests (36 percent approve, and 54 percent disapproval). However, most voters continue to disapprove of his handling of the coronavirus outbreak (41 percent approve, and 56 percent disapprove).

The President’s strongest area continues to be his handling of the economy. 52 percent of voters approved, and 44 percent disapproved, and 2 percent did not know. This is a minor increase from August, where 51 percent approved, and 46 percent disapproved.

Coronavirus, Schools, the Economy and Voting

The concern over COVID-19 dropped a bit in September, with the percentage of “very worried” voters dropping after an increase in August. Meanwhile, voters’ opinions on opening schools have shifted over the summer regarding opening the schools. More people are reluctant to open, with 43 percent are comfortable, 51 percent uncomfortable with opening schools, compared to 54 percent comfortable, 38 percent uncomfortable.

Voters appear to be a bit more optimistic about the outlook of the economy from earlier polls.

Most people still hold the view that the economy has gotten worse over the past year, at 51 percent, down from 56 percent in August, but people seem to view the economy improving over the next year, with 48 percent saying the economy will get better and 18 percent saying the economy will continue to get worse, down from 23 percent in August. 21 percent say the economy will stay the same.