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Marquette poll offers good news for Haley and Biden, and some cautions for both

Nikki Haley and Joe Biden
James Pollard / Matt Rourke
Associated Press
Republican White House hopeful Nikki Haley is nine points ahead of Democratic President Joe Biden in Wisconsin in the Oct. 26-Nov. 2, 2023 Marquette poll.

A new Marquette Law School poll, released Wednesday, on the 2024 presidential contest in Wisconsin has some good news for Democratic incumbent President Joe Biden. He's two percentage points ahead of former Republican President Donald Trump in a hypothetical matchup.

But the Marquette poll also has some challenging news for Biden. In other matchups, Republican candidate Nikki Haley is nine points ahead of the president, while Republican contender Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is two points ahead of the Democrat.

Marquette pollster Charles Franklin explained the good showing by Haley, the former South Carolina governor, who was a U.N. ambassador under Trump: "I think it's because she doesn't put off sort of swing voters if you want to think of it that way. I think we see evidence in the poll that both Trump and to a lesser degree DeSantis, do put off independent voters, and some weaker Republican voters. Haley's image is not so incendiary. So it doesn't put those people off. But she still has the Republican label so that anyone who's a Republican can more easily support her."

But Haley has troubles, too. The Marquette poll has her 27 percentage points behind Trump among GOP respondents in the state. DeSantis is 20 back of Trump. National polls continue to show Trump dominates the GOP primary, despite his legal problems. If those problems continue or get worse, Professor Franklin said that could affect the presidential contests.

two people standing at the front of a room
Chuck Quirmbach
Marquette pollster Charles Franklin (left) and Derek Mosley, director of Marquette University Law School’s Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education, discuss the poll results Wednesday afternoon at the law school.

Franklin said one of Biden's biggest obstacles is public perception of his age. Fifty-five percent of those polled say "too old to be president" describes the 80-year-old very well.

"So, seeing him campaign effectively and vigorously is potentially one way to affect that. Likewise, if he fell down on stage or had a bad gaffe, those would be potentially devastating to him," Franklin said about Biden.

The 77-year-old Trump fares better on age in the Marquette poll, with 9% saying "too old to be president" describes him well.

The Marquette poll of 908 registered voters was conducted Oct. 26-Nov. 2. It has a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percentage points.

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