After Bernie Sanders’ weak performances in the Democratic contests over the last two weeks, PPP decided to take a look at two of his strongest states from 2016 to see how he is faring in them and whether they might provide some hope for the path ahead.
The answer is no. Wisconsin has the most delegates of any state Sanders won in 2016 that has yet to vote. He won it by a 14 point margin over Hillary Clinton. Our new poll finds Joe Biden leading there with 55% to 39% for Sanders and 3% for Tulsi Gabbard. We also polled Kansas- Sanders won it by 36 points in 2016 when it was a caucus. There we find Biden up by an even wider margin, getting 59% to 35% for Sanders and 3% for Gabbard- a result relatively similar to the victory he won in neighboring Missouri on Tuesday night.
In both states Biden is buoyed by strong support from women and seniors. In Kansas he has a 64-29 lead with women (51-43 with men) and in Wisconsin he has a 61-33 lead with women (tied with men at 46.) In Wisconsin he has an 81-13 lead with seniors and in Kansas he has an 81-12 lead with them. Sanders dominates with younger voters in both states- a 61-34 lead with those under 45 in Wisconsin and a 59-33 lead with the same group in Kansas- but it’s not nearly enough to overcome the deficit with older voters.
Biden (66/22 in Wisconsin and 68/19 in Kansas) and Sanders (62/21 in Wisconsin and 61/24 in Kansas) have relatively comparable favorability numbers with Democratic primary voters. But for now they’re siding with Biden, and Sanders will need a big debate Sunday night if he’s going to get that turned around.
PPP also looked at the general election picture in both states. In Wisconsin, which could be the decisive state in the election, Biden (48-45) and Sanders (48-46) both have small leads over Trump. Trump’s approval in the state is upside down at 45/51. In Kansas Trump leads both Biden and Sanders 52-40, which may not sound like much but would actually be the closest Democratic showing in the state since Bill Clinton’s first election in 1992.
Wisconsin and Kansas both exemplify something PPP has found repeatedly in its general election polling- almost all of the undecideds are Democratic leaning voters who hate Trump but either support Biden and are reluctant to vote for Sanders in the general or support Sanders and are reluctant to vote for Biden in the general.
In Wisconsin the undecideds in Biden/Trump give Trump a 7-69 approval rating and support Sanders 52/11. If they ended up voting based on their Trump approval Biden would be ahead by 7 and if they voted the same way they did in the match up with Sanders, Biden would be ahead by 6. The undecideds in Sanders/Trump give Trump at 7-67 approval rating and support Biden 61/5. If they ended up voting based on their Trump approval Sanders would be ahead by 6 and if they voted the same way they did in the match up with Biden, Sanders would also be ahead by 6. With a little more party unity the race in Wisconsin wouldn’t even be terribly close and Trump’s path to reelection would be just about closed.
In Kansas undecideds in Biden/Trump give Trump a 12/58 approval rating and support Sanders over Trump 44/14. Undecideds in Sanders/Trump give Trump a 7/69 approval rating and support Biden over Trump 53/2. The party coming together would give either Biden or Sanders a 3-4 point boost relative to Trump there, just as in Wisconsin.
This month marks the 10th anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act and our numbers in Wisconsin and Kansas show just how popular it’s become over the years. In Wisconsin voters support it by double digits, 46/33, making it clear which side of the issue gives the political high ground in possibly the most pivotal state in the 2020 election. And even in Kansas, one of the most conservative states in the country, voters support it by a 43/34 spread.
A few other little notes:
-Tammy Baldwin (44/39 approval) beats out Ron Johnson (35/40) as Wisconsin’s more popular Senator.
-Laura Kelly (44/27 approval) beats out both Jerry Moran (33/30 approval) and Pat Roberts (33/39 approval) as Kansas’ most popular politician. Mike Pompeo (36/39 favorability) isn’t all that popular in his home state.