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Marquette poll shows Bernie Sanders leading Wisconsin Democratic primary
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Marquette poll shows Bernie Sanders leading Wisconsin Democratic primary

From the Follow the Wisconsin State Journal's 2020 presidential election coverage series

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has a significant lead over his opponents in the Wisconsin Democratic primary, according to the latest Marquette Law School poll.

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The poll results released Thursday show Sanders leading the state by 29%, 12 points ahead of his next closest rival, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Poll director Charles Franklin called the results “a big move for Bernie Sanders.”

The results of the poll track relatively closely with those of a recent UW-Madison Elections Research Center/Wisconsin State Journal poll that showed Sanders leading the field with about 30% support and Bloomberg taking second place with about 13% support.

In Thursday’s Marquette poll, all major candidates in the race other than Sanders received between 9% and 17% support. Bloomberg received 17% , former Vice President Joe Biden had 15%, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg had 13%, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar had 11%, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren had 9%.

Despite Bloomberg taking second place, the Marquette poll shows Bloomberg as the only major Democratic candidate who respondents viewed as more unfavorable than favorable. Among Wisconsin Democratic primary voters, 37% of respondents viewed him unfavorably, while 35% viewed him favorably.

The Democratic primary race is still volatile, with 56% of voters saying they still may change their minds.

The Marquette poll was conducted between Feb. 13 and 23 and included 1,000 registered voters in Wisconsin interviewed by cell phone or landline with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

Democratic primary voters view Sanders as the strongest candidate to beat Trump, with 34% holding that view. Republicans view Bloomberg as the strongest candidate, followed by Sanders.

Wisconsin’s Democratic and Republican presidential primaries are still more than a month away, on April 7. Before then, Democratic voters are set to decide in contests in South Carolina this weekend and in a number of Super Tuesday states March 3, where roughly one-third of Democrats nationwide head to the polls.

The Marquette poll shows a tight general election match in Wisconsin, with the Democratic candidates and Trump either receiving either the same level of support or sitting within a few points of each other. All general election match-ups are well within the poll’s margin of error.

This comes as Trump for the first time in Wisconsin has net neutral favorability, meaning just as many people view him favorably as those who do not. In previous Marquette polls, more respondents had viewed him unfavorably.

The poll shows Sanders as the only Democratic candidate receiving more support than Trump in a head-to-head match up, although the figures are within the margin of error. In such a scenario, Sanders received 48% support to Trump’s 46%.

A few candidates received the same level of support as Trump. Biden and Trump were tied 46% to 46%, Buttigieg and Trump tied 45% to 45%, and Klobuchar and Trump tied 46% to 46%.

Two Democrats received less support than Trump in the poll. Bloomberg trailed Trump 44% to 45% and Warren received 44% to Trump’s 47%.

The Democratic primary results in the Marquette poll show a significant decline in support for Biden, who led the field with about 23% support in a January poll by Marquette Law School. In that poll, Sanders was a close second, with 19% support.

Warren also received less support than she did in January, dropping from 14% to 9%. Warren had 12% in the latest UW-Madison/State Journal poll.

The UW-Madison/Wisconsin State Journal poll also showed a precipitous decline in support for former Vice President Joe Biden and an upswing for Bloomberg, the newcomer to the race. It also showed the Democratic contenders in a general election match up with slight leads over Trump, but all within the poll’s margin of error.

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