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Wisconsin's Polling Picture

Updated: 3 hours ago

A possible avenue for Trump's return to Washington

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After not seeing a Badger State poll for several weeks, two new surveys were released yesterday — one covering the statewide races, and the other, the congressional battle in western Wisconsin, which appears to be the state's most competitive House race. 

A recent Marquette University Law School poll of the Wisconsin electorate yielded some seemingly inconsistent answers — especially relating to former President Trump's "hush money" conviction on May 30.

On the presidential ballot test question, the registered voter sample broke 44-44% between President Biden and former President Trump, and 50-50% when undecideds were pushed to answer. Among respondents considering themselves definite or likely voters, Biden held a 51-49% edge when respondents were pushed. When the independent and minor party candidates were added to the questionnaire, Trump came out ahead, 43-40%.

Perhaps most noteworthy, when asked whether Trump was guilty of the "hush money" charges levied against him in New York, independents responded in the affirmative by a margin of 54-28%. Yet, on the ballot test question, independents still broke for Trump 57-41%. This means that many Wisconsin respondents who believe Trump was guilty are still willing to vote for him in the general election.

Wisconsin is one of the key swing states on the presidential map. With Trump polling strongly in Arizona, Georgia and Nevada, he would need only one more state to exceed the minimum 270 electoral vote count to win the national race on Nov. 5. 

The most likely path would be for the former President to take one of the key swing states that touches a Great Lake — either Michigan, Pennsylvania or Wisconsin. Currently, the Michigan and Pennsylvania polling numbers are similar to what Marquette detects in Wisconsin so, today, Trump's chances of reclaiming the White House appear good. 

In the race for Senate, Marquette finds incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) leading Republican Eric Hovde 45-38%, with 17% of respondents indicating they are undecided. However, when the undecideds were prompted to make a choice, Baldwin's lead over Hovde narrowed to 52-47%. This result is relatively consistent with those of other surveys that have recently been taken.

Since late April, six different pollsters have conducted six different polls of the Wisconsin Senate campaign. All have found Sen. Baldwin leading the race, with margin spreads of between two and 12 percentage points. Therefore, on its initial question (which allowed respondents to choose the "undecided" option), the Marquette survey gives Baldwin a seven point advantage — landing at the exact mean average point of the six polls.

Since the state Supreme Court decided not to redraw the congressional map for the 2024 election cycle, most House-related political attention has centered around freshman Rep. Derrick Van Orden's (R-Prairie du Chien) re-election effort.

The GQR survey research firm was in the field in the 3rd District from June 10-16, and found western Wisconsin Rep. Van Orden holding only a small lead over small business owner Rebecca Cooke (D). The ballot test favors the freshman Congressman by just a 50-46% margin. Mr. Van Orden's favorability index, however, is barely positive, at 41:40%.  

Anchored in the city of La Crosse, Wisconsin's 3rd District spans all or part of 19 western counties. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as R+9, but statisticians for Dave's Redistricting App calculate a virtually-even partisan lean. Former President Trump carried the seat in 2020 with a 51.5-46.8% victory margin, despite losing the statewide count. 

Prior to Mr. Van Orden converting this seat to the Republican column in 2022, Democrat Ron Kind represented the district for 26 years. Therefore, this could become a legitimately competitive race in November.

Jim Ellis is a 35-year veteran of politics at the state and national levels. He has served ss executive director for two national political action committees, as well as a consultant to the three national Republican Party organizations in DC, the National Federation of Independent Business, and various national conservative groups.

Born and raised in Sacramento, California, he earned a B. A. in Political Science from the University of California at Davis in 1979. Jim raised his daughter, Jacqueline, alone after his wife died following a tragic car accident. He helped establish the Joan Ellis Victims Assistance Network in Rochester, NH. Jim also is a member of the Northern Virginia Football Officials Association, which officiates high school games throughout the region.

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