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Biden Leads Trump In Head-To-Head Presidential Match In Wisconsin, Marquette Poll Shows

Sean Rayford
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Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden addresses a crowd at a town hall event at Clinton College on Aug. 29 in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

On Wednesday, the perennial presenters Mike Gousha and Charles Franklin were back at it again with the first Marquette Law School Poll since April. As always there's a range of questions posed to Wisconsin residents, from gun control to water safety. But the topic that generated the biggest buzz was voter leanings for the 2020 presidential election.

One of the first questions was: How is President Donald Trump doing? Turns out, not so good.

"Overall job approval though, in this sample, is 45% approve, 53% disapprove. That's just barely changed. In April, it was 46-52," says Franklin, director of the poll. 

Even though Trump's approval rating continues to be low among Wisconsin voters, Franklin says there's only one potential Democratic challenger who had a clear lead against the president in a hypothetical match-up: Joe Biden.

"Joe Biden is way up there with 70% favorable among Democratic voters, primary voters, 20 unfavorable, and 10 who don't have an opinion — either haven't heard enough or don't know," says Franklin.

Fifty-one percent of voters backed Biden in a head-to-head with Trump, while 42% supported the president. That was something that audience member Tim Atkins finds particularly surprising. However, he notes that polls are not infallible.

READ: Breaking Down Election Polls

"If you go back to the last election, Wisconsin is going for Clinton, and it didn't turn out that way. Know that what we're reading today could be different 24 hours from now," says Atkins.

The presidential race wasn't the only thing pollsters asked about. This time they posed a question never asked before: What are Wisconsin resident's thoughts on Red Flag Laws. "Red flag" laws would allow police to take away guns from people who have been found by a judge to be a danger to themselves or others. 

Eighty-one percent of respondents in households with a gun support such red flag laws, as do 86% of those without a gun in the household. 

READ: Lawmakers Push For 'Red Flag' Laws To Take Guns Away From People In Crisis

On the topic of guns, the poll also asked Wisconsin residents about their thoughts on the National Rifle Association (NRA). Interestingly, if 100 is the most favorable leaning toward the NRA, rural women favor the NRA almost 20 points higher than suburban women.

"Rural women are actually the polar opposite of the suburban women. So, this is a really unusual gender gap to see," Franklin says.

But upon further speculation, Atkins — the audience member — says he could see why there's such a differing of opinion, citing a big difference between suburbia versus rural areas.

Atkins isn't the only one speculating what the Marquette Poll means for Wisconsin residents. The projections for 2020 come at a time when it's becoming increasingly clear that Wisconsin will be a key battleground state for the presidential election.

The poll interviewed 800 registered Wisconsin voters by landline or cellphone between Aug. 25 and Aug. 29. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points for the full sample.

The Democratic presidential candidate preference items were asked of Democrats, independents who lean Democratic and independents who do not lean to either party. That sample size is 444 with a margin of error of plus or minus 5.3 percentage points.

Issues-related questions had a smaller sample size, with a margin of error of about 5.5 percentage points.

You can find more information on poll results here.

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