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  5. Biden is lagging in key swing states. But white non-college voters are keeping him afloat in Wisconsin.

Biden is lagging in key swing states. But white non-college voters are keeping him afloat in Wisconsin.

John L. Dorman   

Biden is lagging in key swing states. But white non-college voters are keeping him afloat in Wisconsin.
  • Biden is currently trailing Trump in several critical battleground states ahead of November.
  • But of all the swing states, Wisconsin has largely been the most receptive to Biden's message.

In 2020, Wisconsin was one of Joe Biden's most important electoral victories, as he successfully clawed back the Midwestern swing state that was narrowly won by Donald Trump in 2016.

While Democrats need to perform strongly in the liberal population centers of Milwaukee and Madison in order to win statewide elections, the party still retains a significant level of support in many rural communities. And it's Biden's support among white voters without a college degree — a huge voting bloc in these areas — that's currently keeping him afloat in Wisconsin.

Among the seven major swing states, Biden currently trails Trump by at least three points in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and North Carolina, according to Real Clear Polling averages.

In Michigan and Pennsylvania, Biden has smaller deficits against Trump in the polling averages.

But in Wisconsin, Biden is often tied with Trump in polling, or has a slim lead. And it's the backing of many white working-class voters that has been critical for the president.

The most recent Quinnipiac University poll showed Biden leading Trump by six points (50% to 44%) among registered voters, while a recent Cook Political Report survey had Biden and Trump tied at 45% among Wisconsin voters.

In the Quinnipiac poll, Wisconsin voters gave Biden positive marks on issues like abortion rights and the preservation of democracy. But even on the question of who would better handle international conflicts — where Trump has opened up a lead in many recent polls — the former president only led Biden by one point (48% to 47%).

When it came to economic issues, Trump had an eight-point lead over Biden (52% to 44%) in Wisconsin, per Quinnipiac, a relatively stable number for the incumbent on an issue where he has struggled in national polling. For Biden, the Wisconsin number represents a much more positive outlook from voters compared to his standing in states like Arizona and Nevada.

Among white voters in Wisconsin, Biden actually led Trump by four points (50% to 46%) in the Quinnipiac poll. And college-educated white voters in Wisconsin backed Biden by 27 points (61% to 34%).

But among white voters without college degrees, Biden only trailed Trump by eight points (44% to 52%), a deficit that is much narrower than in virtually every other swing state.

That Biden has been able to hold on to a sizable level of support from this voting bloc — despite their overall migration to the GOP — shows the uniqueness of the president's electoral coalition in Wisconsin.

And it's a coalition that could help send him back to the White House, especially if he's also able to capture Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Nebraska's Omaha-anchored 2nd Congressional District — in addition to the core of blue states that are the foundation of any Democratic presidential victory.

"In order to win, Democrats have to overperform — by a lot — with white working-class voters in the state, because most voters in Wisconsin are white working-class voters," Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Ben Wikler recently told The Washington Post. "No one who's active in politics forgets that for a second."

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