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BW Poll shows Biden leads in Michigan and Wisconsin; Ohio and Pennsylvania each in a dead heat

Results from a new Baldwin Wallace University Great Lakes Poll show Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden holding a commanding lead in Michigan and Wisconsin, and running neck and neck with incumbent Republican President Donald Trump in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Spearheaded by BW's Community Research Institute (CRI), in partnership with Oakland University and Ohio Northern University, the poll questioned self-identified registered, likely voters in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin on a variety of topics that may factor into the November election, including how voters plan to cast ballots, attitudes about Black Lives Matter and the handling of the coronavirus pandemic at the state and national level.

Chart of presidential preference by state2020 ELECTION INSIGHTS


Biden holds an 8-point lead in Michigan and a 9-point lead in Wisconsin, but the race remains a toss-up in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Biden is leading among independent voters in all four states. Few voters are undecided at this point.

Analysis: "The tight race in Ohio should concern Republicans. Having to expend resources in a state that was once considered a safe state for Trump means having fewer resources to deploy in other competitive states such as Pennsylvania, which is increasingly seen as the state most likely to decide who wins the Electoral College." - Dr. Lauren Copeland, Baldwin Wallace University


Between 33% - 49% of respondents plan to cast their vote by mail this November. Republicans are far more likely to vote in person (75% - 63%), while Democrats are more likely to vote by mail or absentee (65% - 48%). About 88% of voters are "somewhat" or "very" confident that their votes will be counted, despite conflicting predictions about the reliability of voting systems.

Analysis: "We see a sharp partisan divide in how voters intend to cast their ballots as Democrats are far more likely to vote by mail or absentee. This makes Pennsylvania's recent Supreme Court ruling to not count so-called 'naked ballots' much more important in what should be a close election." - Dr. Robert Alexander, Ohio Northern University


Whereas Trump's favorability ratings are between -7 and -17 points in all four states, Biden's ratings are -4 points in Ohio and between +3 and +8 points in the other three states.



Two-thirds of respondents believe their governor is doing a better job of handling COVID-19 than President Trump, and three-fourths of respondents support their state's decision to require face masks in public. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's approval ratings for his handling of COVID-19 have dropped 8 points since a March BW Great Lakes Poll but remain high at 72%.


A majority of voters support Black Lives Matter, think that racial problems are real and believe that white people enjoy certain advantages because of the color of their skin. Yet, respondents are divided as to whether professional athletes should use their positions to advocate for political causes. Moreover, a majority also feels that society doesn't understand the challenges faced by white rural Americans.

Analysis: "Although slight majorities of respondents support Black Lives Matter and the need for better understanding of the challenges facing rural whites, support for each of these issues correlates to some degree with party affiliation. Trump appealed in 2016 to rural voters who felt ignored by the political establishment." - Dr. Tom Sutton, Baldwin Wallace University


2020 has been a turbulent year, and the political environment has been no different. Many voters are reluctant to talk about politics or share their political leanings on social media. Two-thirds report strained relationships among their family and friends due to the current political environment.


Consistent with results from the January CRI Great Lakes Poll, a strong majority favors electing the president through a popular vote instead of the current Electoral College.


A majority of citizens in all four states are relying on television to get their news about the campaign, not social media platforms. Respondents approve of flagging or removing false or misleading information on social media sites.

Analysis: "Mainstream media are outpacing social media as news sources. Citizens are eschewing social media platforms and choosing television for campaign news, perhaps because they are concerned about misinformation spread by foreign powers on social media." - Dr. Terri Towner, Oakland University


The third of four planned 2020 surveys, the BW Great Lakes Poll provides a side-by-side comparative analysis of voter views in four states that all went for President Obama in 2012 and President Trump in 2016 - three of four by very slim margins.

The Baldwin Wallace University Great Lakes Poll was conducted between 9/8/20 and 9/22/20 in partnership with Oakland University (Michigan) and Ohio Northern University. The survey was conducted online among self-identified registered, likely voters in Michigan (n = 1001), Ohio (n = 1011), Pennsylvania (n = 1012) and Wisconsin (n = 863) using Qualtrics, an online sample aggregator. Sampled individuals were emailed by Qualtrics and responded using a personalized link to the survey. Data were weighted by sex, education, race, income and age.

To access additional information on methodology, full survey instrument, CRI background and more, please visit

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