The first Marquette Law School poll of the 2020 election year was released Wednesday. It shows the needle hasn’t moved much in terms of Wisconsin voters' views on impeachment, support for President Trump and the Democratic presidential field. It was, however, the first poll taken since the Iran conflict and voters had plenty to say about that.
The poll of 800 registered voters was taken Jan. 8-12, in the days following President Trump’s order to kill one of Iran’s top military officials. In response, Iran fired missiles into an American air base in Iraq where U.S. troops are housed. Then, the tension subsided.
When asked whether the events would likely escalate into a serious conflict between the U.S. and Iran, 61% said no, while 30% thought it would likely become more dire. Poll Director Charles Franklin says it appears people are breathing easier now.
"I would say this is, if you will, a sigh of relief after the exchange. The public seems fairly optimistic that there won’t be further escalation," Franklin says.
But Franklin says only 43% of those surveyed were pleased that the U.S. had struck back at Iran, while 51% disagreed with the action. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.
As for Trump’s approval rating in Wisconsin, it’s virtually dead even — 48% of respondents approve of the job the president is doing, while 49% disapprove. That compares to last month’s poll, when Trump had 47% approval and 50% disapproval. Franklin notes that during the federal government shutdown in January 2019, Trump’s approval rating hit a low point at 44%. But, it has since inched up.
“If you want to see a trend here, you might see a very small but consistently small improvements over the course of the year and we want to pay attention to this and watch," Franklin says.
Voters also were split on impeachment, as a trial is expected to begin next week in the U.S. Senate — 44% said the president should be removed from office, while 49% said he should be acquitted.
The poll also asked how people would vote if the election were held today. Former Vice President Joe Biden has a 4-point lead over the president, while U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders has a 1-point edge. Trump has a slight lead over the other Democrats — U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Franklin says all these slight leads exemplify Wisconsin’s status as a battleground state.
“The conclusion of all of this is, we still look just like I’m beginning to think we’ll look like for a long time, a real toss-up that can fluctuate one way or another,” he says.
But Franklin says when the next poll is taken in February, the presidential primaries will be underway, with voters having caucused in Iowa and cast ballots in New Hampshire. He says results from those two events could shake up the numbers in Wisconsin.
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