Why a Wisconsin Poll Is Getting So Much Attention

It shows Biden up by 17 points
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2020 12:02 PM CDT
Why a Wisconsin Poll Is Getting So Much Attention
Joe Biden arrives at the Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

GOP strategist Karl Rove this week said President Trump could secure a second term if he wins Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, or Michigan, along with the other states he took in 2016. "If he carries Wisconsin out of those three states, only Wisconsin, he's got 270," said Rove, per Fox News. But a new ABC News/Washington Post poll has that path looking pretty unlikely. Joe Biden is leading 57-40 among likely voters in the state for a mammoth 17-point margin. Biden led by just 6 points in mid-September. In its report on the poll, ABC News attributes the surge to the coronavirus, which has rapidly worsened in the state: Average daily cases are up 53% over the last two weeks, and deaths have risen 112%. More:

  • The Post adds some context, reporting, "When it comes to handling the pandemic, Biden is trusted more than Trump by double digits in both states, and large majorities support their state's rules on masks and restrictions on businesses and public gatherings."

  • Women appear to be a big driver in Biden's gain, per the Post; he is up 30 points among likely female voters in Wisconsin.
  • But how much faith should we really have in the poll? A healthy amount, reports Nathaniel Rakich at FiveThirtyEight. That's partly because ABC News/Washington Post follow what the site terms the "gold standard" in terms of methodology: It involves live phone interviews carried out via both cellphones and landlines, for instance. And while it's "definitely an outlier [as] no other poll has shown Biden with that large a lead in Wisconsin since June," it "doesn't exactly exist in a vacuum." Rakich looks at polling in states surrounding Wisconsin and finds Biden has recently strengthened his position there, too.
  • The Hill reports the poll comes on the heels of a survey released Tuesday from the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It has Biden up 53-44 among likely Wisconsin voters, a 9-point margin.
  • In terms of history, Trump won the state in 2016 by less than 1 percentage point; the Chicago Tribune reports that at the time of the election, polls showed Hillary Clinton winning the state by 6 points.
(More Election 2020 stories.)

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