Aerial view of the Marquette University campus from the school's website.
Aerial view of the Marquette University campus from the school's website.

New Marquette poll shows major crisis impact. Bipartisan support for Evers. Big surge for Biden.

Wisconsinites have strong, bipartisan support for the restrictions that have been imposed to fight the spread of coronavirus, according to the April poll done for the Marquette University Law School. The survey of 813 residents also shows approval for how Gov. Tony Evers is handling the crisis, and it shows a major shift of support to Joe Biden among the state’s Democratic voters.

When it comes to the “Safer at Home” directive by Gov. Evers that closed school and non-essential businesses and imposed strict limits on gatherings, 86 percent of those surveyed supported the measures. Only 10 percent labeled the moves as an overreaction. The support for the limits was equally high among Democrats and Republicans surveyed. The positive reaction to the efforts comes even as 85 percent of those surveyed said the pandemic had caused some or a lot of disruption to their lives.

Asked specifically about how elected leaders are handling the health emergency, respondents gave Evers a 76 percent approval rating in the poll, compared to 17 percent disapproval. Even Republican voters gave Evers a 63 percent approval rating; among Democrats, it was 89 percent. For President Trump, his overall approval rating on the crisis was 51 percent versus 46 percent disapproval. 

Partisan differences were more apparent when respondents were asked about their personal level of concern about the pandemic. Only 43 percent of those who said they “lean Republican” described themselves as “very concerned” compared to 74 percent of self-described independents and 87 percent of strong Democrats.

On the subject of providing assistance to affected Americans, 79 percent were in favor to some degree of the planned direct cash payments while 15 percent disapproved.

The state’s continued preparations for holding spring elections next Tuesday, April 7, face legal challenges, and the Marquette poll shows 51 percent support delaying the balloting while 44 percent say the election should go on as scheduled. As for the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, 62 percent say it should not be held as an in-person event; only 22 percent of respondents say it should go on as planned.

Former Vice President Joe Biden surged in support since the February poll which showed Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, leading among likely Democratic primary voters in Wisconsin. At the time, Sanders had 29 percent support, followed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and then Biden in third place with 15 percent. Now, with most of the candidates having dropped out, Sanders’ support has risen five points to 34 percent, but Biden picked up most of the rest of those voters who had supported someone else. Biden went from 15 percent in February to 62 percent now, far ahead of Sanders and well beyond the six percent margin of error for the Democratic voter subset.

In head-to-head matchups, Biden has a 48-45 lead over President Trump, but that is within the 4.2 percent margin of error for the overall poll. And Trump’s 47-45 lead over Sanders is also a statistical tie.

President Trump’s overall approval-disapproval rating is 48-49. In February, voters were evenly split 48-48. The 48 percent approval remains the best Trump has achieved in recent Marquette polls.

Gov. Evers’ overall approval-disapproval rating is 65-29, a marked improvement over February’s 51-38. Asked if the state of Wisconsin is on the right track or wrong track, 61 percent said right track versus 30, a nine-point increase since February.

When respondents were asked if they had a favorable or unfavorable impression of high ranking officials, Gov. Evers logged a 54 percent favorability rating. Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin has a 40 percent favorability rating while Republican Sen. Ron Johnson’s favorability rating was only 35 percent.

The overall poll surveyed 813 people between March 24-29.