Opinion poll survey
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Respondents disapprove of campaign rallies in a pandemic, but want the debates to go on.

The most recent Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday shows likely Wisconsin voters haven’t changed their attitudes toward the nation’s presidential candidates in recent weeks and favor Democratic candidate Joe Biden by five percentage points over President Donald Trump. 

The new poll shows Biden with 46% of voters compared to 41% for the president. Those numbers are similar to the poll’s early September figures, when Biden was supported by 47% and Trump by 43%. 

Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen is at 4%, and 8% said they would vote for none of the candidates, don’t know how they will vote, or declined to say, the poll shows.

The slight bump for Biden comes even as twice as many people responding to the poll said Biden outperformed Trump in last week’s chaotic debate in which the president repeatedly interrupted Biden and event moderator Chris Wallace, and during which both candidates called each other names.

Most poll questions were asked of 805 registered Wisconsin voters from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4, while five questions were added after Trump announced on Friday he tested positive for COVID-19.

Favorable and unfavorable views of the two presidential candidates showed a similar trend, according to the poll. Favorable views of Trump have remained steady at 42% since June, while his unfavorable numbers have ranged from 53% to 55%. Biden’s favorable numbers have slowly grown to a 48% favorable figure currently, compared to 45% unfavorable. 

A majority of poll respondents said in-person campaign rallies should be halted, and most said the debates should go on.

Following Trump’s positive COVID-19 test and subsequent hospitalization, 52% said both candidates should cancel in-person campaign rallies, while 37% said those events are safe and should continue. 

However, 67% said Wednesday’s vice presidential debate and the remaining presidential ones should occur as scheduled. Twenty-three percent said those debates should be canceled because of coronavirus concerns.

Trump’s contracting the virus, and the fact that his age (the president is 74) and that of Biden (77) placing them at higher risk of becoming ill with COVID-19, has prompted debate about their vice presidential candidates’ ability to run the country. 

Poll results show 33% of respondents said they are very confident and 23% somewhat confident in Vice President Mike Pence’s ability to be president, while 12% are not very confident and 21% are not at all confident.

Those numbers compare favorably to Biden’s vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris. The poll shows 25% of respondents are very confident in her acting as president and 20% are somewhat confident. Eleven percent are not very confident and 29% said they are not at all confident. 

Pence’s overall favorability figure was 41% and 42% unfavorable, with 17% undecided. For Harris, those figures are 37% favorable, 40% unfavorable and 23% undecided. 

The poll also shows a growing concern by Wisconsin residents about getting ill from COVID-19, and support for requiring face masks in public places is up slightly from August, when the poll last asked that question. The virus is surging across the state, which has become one of the COVID-19 hotspots nationally.

Even as those numbers continue to rise, Republican leadership in the state Legislature continues to oppose Gov. Tony Evers’ extension of a state order mandating the wearing of face masks in public places. On Wednesday the governor announced the state will open an additional care site at State Fair Park in West Allis in response to hospitals running out of space to treat COVID-19 patients. 

In the latest poll, 27% of respondents said they’re very worried about becoming ill with coronavirus, up from 21% one month earlier. Twenty-one percent said they aren’t worried about the virus, up 2 points since September. 

Likewise, the poll shows growing support for masks in public. Seventy-two percent favor wearing them in public, up from 69% in August. Twenty-six percent oppose public masks in the new poll, down 3% from two months ago. 

Support for masks exceeds 60% in all regions of the state currently, according to the poll, with the largest increases taking place in the northern and western parts of Wisconsin, where support grew from 60% to 66% and detractors dropped from 37% to 30%.

“I wasn’t a fan of mandatory masks at first,” said Lorna Switzer, 55, of Green Bay, among the areas hit hardest by the COVID-19 surge. “But with the numbers we’re seeing, we’ve got to start wearing them if we want to get this virus under control.”

For more Marquette University Law School Poll results, visit here