President Biden won Wisconsin by less than a percentage point in 2020, and the state remains tightly divided. Democratic Governor Tony Evers and Republican Senator Ron Johnson are battling to keep their jobs, according to a new Fox News survey of Wisconsin voters.
In the Senate race, Democrat Mandela Barnes trails Johnson by three percentage points (45%-48%). That’s virtually unchanged from last month, when Barnes was up four points in August.
There are enough undecided/third party voters to change the race one way or the other, and Johnson’s advantage is within the poll’s margin of error.
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Among the subgroup of those who have already voted or say they are sure to vote (a 10 out of 10), it’s a two-point race: Barnes 46% against Johnson 48%.
An equal number of Democrats back Barnes (93%) while Republicans back Johnson (93%). The Independents favor Barnes by 7 points. Johnson’s advantage in vote preference comes from the fact that more Wisconsin voters identify as Republicans than Democrats.
Johnson is favored among men, voters without a college degree, white evangelical Christians and rural voters. Barnes is the choice among women, voters 65 and over and under 35, voters with a college degree and urban voters. Suburban voters are sharply divided.
About the same number of Johnson (61%) and Barnes (58%) supporters support their candidate “enthusiastic”, but by a margin of 7 points, more of those favoring Barnes say their support consists of not not like Johnson.
Meanwhile, Johnson has managed to portray Barnes as extreme — 36% of independents think that way, down from 19% in August. Among Republicans, 84% worry that Barnes is too extreme, compared to 56%.
For Johnson, 41% of independents and 87% of Democrats fear his views are too extreme.
Overall, the same number of voters, 44%, worry that Barnes and Johnson will be too present.
Inflation (30%) and abortion (24%) are the top two issues Wisconsin residents face when deciding their Senate vote. Those who prioritize inflation choose Johnson (by +64 points), while abortion voters support Barnes (+54).
“As expected, Wisconsin is fiercely competitive,” says Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who leads the Fox survey with Democrat Chris Anderson. “Johnson’s advantage is driven by two facts. First, issues where the public favors the GOP are prevalent. Second, he’s successfully branded Barnes as too liberal. But the race remains tight.”
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Forty-nine percent of Badger State voters approve of Evers’ job as governor. Yet only 90% of those who approve support his re-election.
That leads to a tight gubernatorial contest, with 46% favoring Evers, while 47% opt for Republican challenger Tim Michels. Last month it was 47% each.
It is also a race to 1 point among those who say they are certain to vote/already voted: 47% Evers against 48% Michels.
There is little split-ticket voting: 3% of those backing Johnson in the Senate race cross parties to back Evers in the gubernatorial race, and 2% of those backing Barnes favor Michels.
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“With supporters mostly solidified behind their candidates, these races come down to turnout,” says Anderson. “If the Democrats win, it will likely be due to higher turnouts among college-educated women and younger voters.”
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Conducted October 26-30, 2022, under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company (R), these Fox News surveys include interviews with 1,000 registered Wisconsin voters randomly selected from a voter registry of across the state and who spoke with live investigators on both landlines and cellphones. The total sample has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.
Fox News’ Victoria Balara contributed to this report.