Marquette poll takeaways for 2024 Wisconsin election: On Biden's age, Trump's temperament, Hovde, Baldwin, RFK, abortion

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A Marquette University Law School poll of Wisconsin voters released Wednesday reflects back a key finding from the February survey: the anticipated presidential rematch will be extremely tight in the battleground state.

The poll offers some new indicators, too. It's the first installment since Republican candidate Eric Hovde officially jumped in the race to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who leads among registered voters.

The poll surveyed 814 registered voters in Wisconsin between April 3 and April 10. In that sample, 736 are considered likely voters. The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 4.8 percentage points.

The poll survey makeup was 34% Republican, 31% Democratic and 34% independent — a slightly heavier sample of Republicans than average.

Here are the key takeaways from the poll:

Trump has slight edge over Biden, still extremely close

Among both registered and likely voters, 51% supported former President Donald Trump, compared to President Joe Biden's 49%.

"If anything, there is a slight movement in Trump's direction," said Marquette University Law School poll director Charles Franklin, noting that's within the margin of error. "Let's not get carried away with one point smidgen of a difference."

In the February poll, Biden and Trump were each tied at 49% among registered voters in Wisconsin. Just 2% of those surveyed in that round said they hadn't decided which candidate to support in November.

More: Wisconsin presidential primary comes as voter enthusiasm for 2024 matchup drops

With third-party candidates, Trump still has lead

Trump has a one-percentage point lead when third-party candidates are added into the mix — 41% to Biden's 40% — though that gap has narrowed.

Among likely voters in the February poll, Trump led Biden by three percentage points when third-party candidates were an option, well within the poll's margin of error.

RFK has more support among Republicans than Democrats

In the poll released Wednesday, 13% of voters said they'd choose independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. In the February survey, he was the choice of 16% of respondents.

Kennedy took more votes from Republican respondents than Democrats: 13% vs. 8%. And he took a large share of independent voters, who were split between Kennedy and Trump, at 32% each.

"It's also not just taking away from their parties, but taking away from independents that might otherwise choose Biden or Trump if there was no one else to pick," Franklin said.

Green Party candidate Jill Stein polled at 3%, and independent candidate Cornel West was at 2%. Those two candidates took more away from Democrats than Republicans.

More: Aaron Rodgers not chosen as vice presidential running mate of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Baldwin has lead among registered voters

Among registered voters, 52% supported Baldwin, and 47% supported Hovde. But among likely voters, the race is a tie, with both at 50%.

That includes the 18% of undecided voters who were asked to name the candidate they would support if they were forced to choose. Without those undecided voters, Baldwin led 44% to 37%.

Eric Hovde officially launches his campaign to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin at an event Tuesday, February 20, 2024 in Madison, Wisconsin. Hovde previously ran for Senate in 2012 but finished a close second to former Wisconsin Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson in the primary.
Eric Hovde officially launches his campaign to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin at an event Tuesday, February 20, 2024 in Madison, Wisconsin. Hovde previously ran for Senate in 2012 but finished a close second to former Wisconsin Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson in the primary.

Hovde is gaining more recognition among voters

When registered voters were polled in late January, 82% said they hadn't heard enough about Hovde as a candidate to have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of him. Hovde launched his campaign in mid-February.

More: Who is Eric Hovde? What to know about Republican candidate challenging Tammy Baldwin

The new poll shows that Hovde is gaining recognition: 56% said they hadn't heard enough. Hovde was seen favorably by 19% and unfavorably by 24%.

For Baldwin, 47% saw her favorably, 42% saw her unfavorably and 11% hadn't heard enough about her.

Poll shows continued low enthusiasm for voting

The poll shows a continued trend in low enthusiasm — 30% of voters said they are "not too" or "not at all" enthusiastic about voting. In March 2020, for contrast, 12% of registered voters were in those two categories.

The poll also shows an enthusiasm gap, where Trump voters are more amped up to vote. Trump voters were more likely than Biden voters to say they were "very" or "somewhat" excited to vote. In the February poll, Biden performed better in the "somewhat" category.

Many voters also had negative opinions of both candidates: 17% had an unfavorable view of both Trump and Biden. For Biden, 59% had an unfavorable opinion, and for Trump, it was 56%.

More: The dilemma for Biden and Democrats in Wisconsin: a historically high enthusiasm gap

Age a weakness for Biden, temperament a weakness for Trump

Among registered voters, 80% said Biden is too old to be president, compared to 58% for Trump. That's a slight decrease from the February poll, when 82% said Biden was too old. Biden is 81, four years older than Trump.

For Trump, 59% said he doesn't have the right temperament to be president, compared to 48% for Biden.

Trump leads on immigration, Biden leads on abortion and health care

When asked which candidate would do a better job on issues, Trump had the lead on immigration and border security, the Israel-Hamas war, the economy and foreign relations.

Biden had the lead on health care, abortion policy, and Medicare and Social Security. Voters ranked the economy, immigration and border security and abortion policy as their top issues.

Israel-Hamas war ranks low on ranking of most important issues

Only 2% of voters said the Israel-Hamas war was their top issue, despite the "uninstructed" vote campaign among some Democrats.

The war also had the largest number of voters who said neither Trump nor Biden would do a good job at handling the conflict, about 17%.

Majority of voters favor a national, 15-week abortion ban

A majority — 54% — of Wisconsin voters favor a national ban on abortion after 15 weeks, with exceptions for rape, incest and the life and health of the mother. It's the first time that particular question has been asked.

In the February poll, slightly less — 45% — supported a 14-week ban that Republicans proposed in the state Legislature. That question included the same exceptions, though the actual proposal initially didn't.

On the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, 62% opposed the decision and 37% supported it. That finding has been relatively stable since summer 2022.

More: Wisconsin abortion laws: What to know after Arizona ruling

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Marquette poll takeaways; what they mean for 2024 Wisconsin election