The economy is the biggest issue to Wisconsin voters when deciding their choice for president this year, as 4 in 10 say they are falling behind financially. But most of the 6 in 10 who are either holding steady or getting ahead support President Joe Biden over former President Donald Trump. 

Overall, the new Fox News survey of Wisconsin registered voters, released Thursday, shows Biden and Trump tied with 47% each if they were the only two candidates on the ballot.

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Here’s why the race is tight. Women back Biden by 8 points and men go for Trump by 9. Suburban voters favor Biden (+8), while rural voters go for Trump (+13). And college graduates pick Biden (+18), while those without a degree prefer Trump (+10).

Fox News Poll Wisconsin groups favoring Trump for president

The president is also ahead among union voters (+11), while Trump gets the support of White evangelical Christians (+39).

Fox News Poll Wisconsin groups favoring Biden for president

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When potential third-party candidates are included, Biden trails Trump by 3 points (39-42%), with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. getting 7%, Jill Stein 2%, Cornel West 1%, and 7% undecided.

Because the candidates retain equal shares from their respective parties, that 3-point difference comes down to independents narrowly favoring Trump (one-quarter of independents are undecided) — as well as the fact that more Wisconsinites self-identify as Republican than Democrat. Notably, 88% of those backing Trump in the head-to-head stick with him in the 5-way ballot test compared to 83% for Biden.

In a similar hypothetical scenario with GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley, Biden comes out on top by 9 points (37-28%), Kennedy gets 16%, Stein and West each receive 2%, and 11% are undecided. Haley’s hurt by only 46% of Trump voters backing her.

The top two issues for Wisconsinites are the economy (55%) and election integrity (52%), as majorities say those will be extremely important in choosing a candidate. About 4 in 10 say the same about immigration/border security, health care, and abortion, while it’s roughly 2 in 10 on climate change, the Israel-Hamas war, and the Ukraine-Russia war.

Fox News Poll "extremely" important to 2024 vote

Among Republicans, the two most important issues are the economy and immigration, yet those are in the bottom half of priorities among Democrats. In fact, nearly four times as many Republicans (69%) as Democrats (18%) say immigration is extremely important to their vote.

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On the other hand, more than twice as many Democrats (55%) as Republicans (24%) feel abortion is extremely important. Abortion and health care are the highest priorities among Democrats.

Fox News Poll "extremely" important to 2024 vote according to Democrats vs Republicans

In general, views are divided over who can best handle the important issues, as more trust Trump on the economy, while Biden is preferred on election integrity.

Biden is the choice on three of the five top issues (election integrity, abortion, and health care), while Trump is favored on two of the five (the economy and immigration). 

“Biden will have a tough time if voters do not perceive improvements in the economy or the border situation by the fall,” said Democratic pollster Chris Anderson, who conducts Fox News surveys with Republican Daron Shaw. “But if the focus turns more to abortion or election integrity, Biden will be on much more favorable ground.”

Badger State voters want things to change. Seven in 10 are looking for either “a lot” (48%) or even “radical” change (24%) in how things are run in the country.

Most of those looking for radical change go for Trump in the head-to-head matchup (76%), while those who prefer little/no change are heavily pro-Biden (85%).

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On their family’s finances, almost half say they are holding steady. Among the rest, nearly 4 times as many feel they are falling behind as getting ahead.

Over half of Democrats say they are holding steady financially (54%) and about the same number want a lot or radical change in how the country is run (50%). Among Republicans, more than half feel they are falling behind (56%) — and nearly all GOPers want to see big changes (91%).

Recently Haley suggested both Biden and Trump are too old and confused to be president.  While a larger share of voters is extremely or very worried about Biden’s mental soundness (61%), many feel the same about Trump’s capability as well (51%).

More Democrats (28%) are worried about Biden’s mental soundness than Republicans are about Trump’s (16%). Among independents, half are concerned about Trump (51%), while two-thirds feel that way about Biden (66%).

Fox News Poll Wisconsin voters worried about Biden or Trump mental soundness

Equal numbers of Democrats (57%) and Republicans (55%) say they are extremely interested in the election.

In 2016, Trump won Wisconsin by about 23,000 votes and 47.2% supporting him. But in 2020, the state went blue by nearly 21,000 votes and 49.4% backing Biden.

Biden campaigned in this important swing state on January 25, just before the survey began.

Wisconsin voters are in line with voters nationally on the president’s performance: 44% approve of the job he’s doing, while 56% disapprove — including 15% of Democrats and 56% of independents.

President Joe Biden speaking, split with former President Donald Trump pointing

Almost all voters who approve of Biden’s performance back him over Trump in the matchup. And more than 9 in 10 of those who strongly disapprove of Biden support Trump. But among those who only somewhat disapprove, the vote preference splits: 42% Biden vs. 44% Trump.

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Conducted January 26-30, 2024 under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R), this Fox News Poll includes interviews with a sample of 1,172 Wisconsin registered voters randomly selected from a statewide voter file. Respondents spoke with live interviewers on landlines (200) and cellphones (656) or completed the survey online after receiving a text message (316). Results based on the full sample have a margin of sampling error of ±3 percentage points. When necessary, weights are generally applied to age, race, education, and area variables to ensure the demographics of survey respondents are representative of the registered voter population.

Fox News’ Victoria Balara contributed to this report.

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