Over the past month, events have shaken Wisconsin, notably the shootings in Kenosha by police and militia, yet the news hasn’t altered Wisconsinites’ thinking much when it comes to voting, the Black Lives Matter movement or the presidential candidates.
The Marquette University Law School Poll was conducted from Aug. 30 to Sept. 3, 2020, with half of the respondents surveyed before President Donald Trump’s visit to Kenosha and half surveyed after it. Poll director Charles Franklin says while the police shooting and killing of protesters did not cause a significant change in voters’ opinions, Trump’s visit to Kenosha increased his popularity, but only among one group.
“When we zoom in, it’s clear that he did move opinion among one segment of the electorate. That is, people who identify themselves as Republicans,” said Franklin. “Among Republicans, prior to his visit 65% approved of his handling of the protests. And after his visit 87% approved. That’s a substantial shift. On the other hand, independents and Democrats barely budged.”
Both national conventions have also taken place since the previous poll — including the Democrats’ nominal presence for their virtual convention in Milwaukee. Yet neither side got much of the usual post-convention bump, says Franklin. Democratic nominee Joe Biden leads by four points at 47% to Trump’s 43%.
Worth noting, however, is that Biden’s lead is within the poll’s 4.3% margin of error. It is also just one point higher than Hillary Clinton’s lead in Wisconsin at this point in 2016. Trump’s job approval rating remains exactly the same as it was in the last Marquette poll, released in August, at 44%.
“We’re very, very close to the usual,” said Franklin, with a note of surprise in his voice given the convention and protests. “Despite all those real world events there’s very little change in this poll.”
Among the most startling findings of September’s Marquette poll was concern over a potential vaccine against COVID-19 that scientists, pharmaceutical companies and others are scrambling to get ready.
A full one-third of Wisconsin residents surveyed said they are not likely to get a free vaccine when it is ready. That includes 15% who said they would probably not get vaccinated and 18% who say they would definitely not get vaccinated.
The remaining two-thirds are split roughly in half between whether they would definitely get vaccinated (35%) and probably get vaccinated (29%).
“So that’s sort of a large percent of reluctant folks when you consider all the impact the virus has had in the last six months,” Franklin stated. “We see what you might expect — older people are more likely to get the vaccination. They’re also more concerned about getting COVID. But there’s a substantial partisan gap.”
The number of people who want to receive the vaccination is much higher among Democrats than Republicans, who are split almost evenly on whether they would be willing to get a vaccine.
Back to school
Looking at the August and September poll there was a “modest” decline among voters who feel comfortable (43%) with the idea of students returning to school for in-person classes. Unless, that is, you separate out the parents of school-age children.
“Where we see a big change is among parents — people who have school aged children,” Franklin noted. “In August 53% of those parents were comfortable, 45% uncomfortable, but this month those numbers are reversed 44% comfortable and 54% uncomfortable. The people without children haven’t changed their views at all over the month. So all of the shift we see here is from parents of school aged children.”
Protesters vs. police
Approval of protests over police shootings of Black Americans declined over the summer from June to early August, but that was prior to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha. The numbers did not drop further after the Kenosha shootings and protests. The same trend is true of favorable reactions to the Black Lives Matter movement.
The favorability in August, before Kenosha events, stayed relatively the same in September at 48% — but it was far higher earlier in the summer. In June, 61% of those surveyed approved of the protests.
In this month’s poll, 49% had a favorable view of the Black Lives Matter movement, while 37% viewed it unfavorably — same as in August.
“So, just as we saw with the approval of the protests, we also see a tightening on the Black Lives Matter movement, though a plurality continue to be favorable rather than unfavorable to the BLM.”
On police, “there is less movement,” said Franklin. Police had a 72% v rate in June, which rose to 76% in August, “and it did fall a little bit to 73% now.”
He added that in attitudes toward the police, subsets of voters are telling.
“We do see that as you look across racial groups, favorability to the police declined among Black, Hispanic and white respondents,” Franklin said. “The decline was not large among white respondents but it was substantial among both Black and Hispanic respondents in the wake of the Kenosha shooting. So that’s something that did change from early August till early September.”