Two new polls released Wednesday show President Trump continuing to trail in Wisconsin, a state where COVID-19 cases are surging while the president downplays the virus.
A Marquette Law poll found former Vice President Joe Biden with a 5-point lead, 48 to 43 percent, relatively unchanged from the respected survey’s early October results. ABC News/Washington Post also released a poll Wednesday showing the Democrat up 17 points in Wisconsin, an outlier from previous surveys of the state.
Trump’s political struggles in Wisconsin come amid its ongoing outbreak of the coronavirus that is the worst in the nation. On Tuesday, Wisconsin set records for new cases and deaths, with the death toll now standing at 1,852. On Monday, the state passed 200,000 cases, with half of them coming in the past 36 days.
“It’s a nightmare scenario, frankly, that this could get quite a bit worse in the next several weeks or months before it gets better,” said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, a medical officer with the state health department, in a call with reporters.
“It’s the worst it’s ever been. The concerning thing is that this has been going on for several weeks and it doesn’t seem like we’ve peaked,” said Nasia Safdar, medical director of infection control at UW Health.
In the ABC News/Washington Post poll, Trump’s net approval rating for the handling of the pandemic is at negative-20, double what it was in September. The Marquette Law poll found similar results, with 40 percent approving of Trump’s response to the pandemic versus 58 percent disapproval, a dip from the May numbers.
Despite the state’s ongoing health crisis, Trump has continued to downplay the pandemic amid mass rallies that have experts worried about further spread of the virus. Trump held a rally in West Salem, Wis., on Tuesday, and further criticized local lockdown efforts meant to curb the virus’s spread.
“We’re turning the corner. We’re rounding, like, this racetrack,” he said of the pandemic that has killed more than 227,000 Americans, adding, “We got to open up our states. You got to tell your governor, we got to open up our states. Does anybody like your governor? Do you like him?”
The state’s Republican-controlled legislature has for months hindered attempts by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to slow the virus’s spread. The Marquette Law poll found 7 percent net approval for Evers and negative-14 disapproval for the legislature.
Vice President Mike Pence is set to visit the state on Wednesday, despite orders for residents to avoid crowds. Trump campaign spokesperson Hogan Gidley was grilled by CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota on Wednesday morning about the visit and seemed to shrug off the concerns.
“I mean, hospitals in Wisconsin are near capacity,” Camerota said, “and so does that give you any pause, or the vice president any pause, about going there and holding a big rally?”
“No, it doesn’t,” Gidley replied. “The vice president has the best doctors in the world around him. They’re obviously contact-traced and have come to the conclusion it’s fine for him to be out on the campaign trail. The American people have the right under the First Amendment to peaceably assemble too.”
Trump is set to visit Green Bay for another rally on Friday.
Trump won Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016, the first Republican presidential candidate to do so since 1984. If he cannot retain the state, his path to reelection becomes significantly narrower.
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