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Biden holds steady lead over Trump in Wisconsin, final Marquette poll finds

Vice President Joe Biden, left, and President Donald Trump
Vice President Joe Biden, left, and President Donald Trump (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Former Vice President Joe Biden continues to hold a steady lead over President Donald Trump in Wisconsin, according to a final preelection Marquette University Law School poll in the state.

Biden leads Trump 48% to 43% among voters, with 8% undecided, the poll found. The survey of 806 registered voters between Oct. 21 and Oct. 25 has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

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“As we’ve seen since May, this is a very stable race,” said Marquette pollster Charles Franklin, noting that the poll’s results have hovered around 5 points over the last five months.

Marquette’s poll finding Biden with a lead just outside the margin of error runs counter to several other recent polls that have shown the former vice president opening up a larger lead in the state.

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A new battleground states poll released by the University of Wisconsin at Madison this week found Biden with a 9-point lead over Trump. That survey also previously had shown Biden’s lead hovering around 5 points.

A new ABC/Washington Post poll released Wednesday put Biden’s lead at an expansive 17 points, 57% to 40%. A recent Fox News survey had the contest tighter, with Biden leading 49% to 44% for Trump.

All told, 55 polls have been conducted in Wisconsin this year and Trump has led in just three — and none since August, according to polling data tracked by Real Clear Politics. Biden’s average polling lead in recent days in the state is about 8 percentage points.

In 2016, however, the polls told a similar story for Hillary Clinton, who never trailed in a Wisconsin poll four years ago and trailed in just one Michigan survey, only to lose both states to Trump by less than 1 point. This time, pollsters have said they believe their surveys will be more accurate because there are fewer undecided voters, there is less support for third-party candidates and the polls better account for Trump’s support among noncollege-educated white voters.

Trump and Republicans largely have discounted polls showing the president behind. However, earlier this month, Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Andrew Hitt referred to the Marquette poll as the state’s “gold standard,” noting that it had shown Trump down 5 points while a recent New York Times/Siena poll had the president trailing by 10 points.

“The Marquette poll understands Wisconsin better than those other national polls, knows the behavior of people here and how they function here, and that poll has been incredibly stable most of the year,” Hitt said.

Prior to the new survey, the Marquette poll showed Biden ahead by 5 points in early October, 4 points in September, 8 points in June and 3 points in May and March.

The recent battleground states survey conducted by the Elections Research Center at UW at Madison and the Wisconsin State Journal also found Biden with a 10-point lead in Michigan, 52% to 42% and an 8-point lead in Pennsylvania, 52% to 44%.

Biden held large leads among voters who already cast their ballots — 75% to 23% in Michigan, 87% to 9% in Pennsylvania and 73% to 26% in Wisconsin, the poll found. Trump, however, was leading in the larger group of people who had not yet voted — 57% to 35% in Michigan, 59% to 38% in Pennsylvania and 57% to 39% in Wisconsin, the poll found.

The most recent polls show Biden up by an average of nearly 9 points in Michigan and nearly 4 points in Pennsylvania.

While Biden has campaigned on a message of unity and promising to govern Democrats and Republicans alike, the Marquette poll found 86% of Republicans are planning to vote for Trump, while 7% say they plan to vote for Biden. Conversely, 92% of Democrats said they are voting for Biden compared to 3% who are casting ballots for Trump, the poll found.

The poll also found fluctuations in voters' confidence that results will be counted accurately. Among likely voters, nearly one third said they were not too confident or not at all confident that the vote counts would be accurate. Broken down by party, 37% of Republicans weren’t confident in the accuracy of the vote count compared to 18% among Democrats.

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Twitter @BillRuthhart

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