Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

Trump Isn’t Scaring Wisconsin

His law-and-order scare tactics against Biden aren't working. So far.

By - Sep 14th, 2020 03:54 pm
Donald Trump. Photo from

Donald Trump. Photo from

It’s almost the only message President Donald Trump is selling, and he needs people to buy it in Wisconsin, or he probably can’t win reelection. But it isn’t working so far, a new poll of the state by the New York Times and Sienna College found.

“President Trump has leveled scathing law-and-order attacks on Joseph Biden for weeks,” the Times reports, but the poll shows Democrat Joe Biden still maintaining a lead in Wisconsin.

The poll shows Trump is essentially tied with Biden on the issue of law and order in Wisconsin and Minnesota, with 48 percent saying Biden would do a better job, and 47 percent saying Trump would. Meantime the polls shows these voters believe — by wide margins — that Biden would do a better job of handling race relations, unifying America, the coronavirus pandemic and protests. Only on handling the economy does the President lead by 50 percent to 45 percent.

But it gets worse for Trump when you look closer at the details of the both the Times/Sienna poll and recent Marquette Law School poll.

The Times poll surveys four swing states, including Nevada, Minnesota and New Hampshire (all narrow wins for Hillary Clinton in 2016, but Trump has hopes of turning Minnesota and Nevada) and Wisconsin, which Trump barely won in 2026. The poll shows his ads have successfully sold a lie, with 44 percent of respondents saying Biden favors defunding the police and 39 percent saying he does not, which Biden has said repeatedly. Yet even if voters are getting persuaded of this, they still are evenly divided as to who will be stronger on law and order.

Meanwhile the four-state poll shows Trump losing women voters by a huge margin (38 percent to 54 percent for Biden) while getting a modest boost from men (47 percent to 42 percent for Biden). Trump is losing non-white voters by a jaw-dropping 32 percent and also losing white voters by three percent. He is losing in the city (by 32 percent) and the suburbs (by 11 percent) while winning only rural voters (by 10 percent) in those states. Without turning around that significant margin in the suburbs he has no chance of winning these states.

“The poll results suggest that Mr. Trump retains a path to re-election that runs through these states, but that he has not yet made enough headway in any of them to catch up with Mr. Biden,” the Times concludes.

And the least likely state would seem to be Minnesota, where Biden leads Trump by nine percentage points compared to five percentage points in Wisconsin. Biden was ahead by 20 percentage points among suburban voters in Minnesota, while it was just a five percent lead in Wisconsin.

Perhaps the worst news for the president is the vote by age, where Trump is losing seniors, whom he carried easily against Clinton in 2016, but now trails Biden by 12 percent in those four states.

And while Wisconsin kooks more winnable for Trump than Minnesota, the breakdown by region in this state by both the Times and MU polls does offers some warning signs for Trump.

Consider the WOW counties of Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington, the citadel of Republican power in Wisconsin, which Romney carried with 67 percent of the vote in 2012 and Trump carried with 62 percent of the vote. The Times poll shows Trump at just 54 percent, while the MU Poll includes the Republican-leaning Milwaukee county suburbs with the WOW counties and Trump has just 48 percent of the vote versus 38 percent for Biden, a lead that pales compared to the City of Milwaukee vote, where Biden leads by 75 percent to 14 percent or Madison where Biden leads by 63 percent to 28 percent.

One bright spot for Trump is the swing region of the Fox Valley, which has gone from a 5 percent lead for Biden in an earlier MU poll to a three percent lead for Trump. And the rest of Wisconsin, which was mostly Trump country in 2016 and he won by 12 percentage points, looks slightly better, giving him a 15 percent lead in the latest MU poll.

But the Times polls suggests these voters may be less likely to turn out: it found 81 percent of urban voters were “almost certain” to vote, compared to 69 percent of suburban voters and 68 percent of rural voters. The latest MU poll found 80 percent of Democrats were “very enthusiastic” about voting compared to 73 percent of Republicans.

All told Wisconsin will not be easy for Trump to win, but looks more winnable than Michigan or Pennsylvania, and may be his only chance of winning reelection. Perhaps only second to Florida, it looms as the most important state for Trump and will be hotly contested by Biden. Meaning you can expect to be buried by dueling ads.

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