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Former President Donald Trump speaks in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Former President Donald Trump speaks in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., in 2022.Spencer Platt / Getty Images file

Two battleground polls paint very different pictures of the 2024 election

A new poll out of Wisconsin poll shows President Joe Biden ahead of Donald Trump by 9 points. But a Pennsylvania poll has them tied.


A pair of polls released Wednesday in two of the most important battleground states paint very different pictures of a hypothetical rematch between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump — and of the GOP presidential race in those two states.

In battleground Wisconsin, the gold-standard Marquette Law poll (which just changed its methodology for reaching respondents) has Biden ahead of Trump by 9 points among registered voters in the Badger State, 52%-43%, which is outside the poll’s margin of error.

When the candidates are Biden and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the same survey has it Biden 49%, DeSantis 47%.

And measuring the race for the GOP presidential nomination in Wisconsin, the Marquette poll has Trump at 31% and DeSantis at 30% — followed by former Vice President Mike Pence at 6% and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., at 5%.

Meanwhile, Quinnipiac University released a poll on the same day showing Biden and Trump essentially tied in the battleground state of Pennsylvania — with Trump at 47% and Biden at 46% among registered voters.

(Quinnipiac did not test a hypothetical match-up between Biden and DeSantis.)

And gauging the Republican presidential race in the Keystone State, Quinnipiac shows a fundamentally different GOP contest there — Trump 49%, DeSantis 25%.

Can both of those polls be right? Is Biden really ahead in Wisconsin (a state he won by about 0.6 percentage points in 2020), but tied in Pennsylvania (which he won nearly twice that margin)? And is DeSantis really running neck-and-neck with Trump in one of the states despite trailing badly in national polls of the GOP primary?

When it comes to a general election that’s still more than a year away, our recent national NBC News showed a hypothetical Biden-versus-Trump race right in between the Marquette and Quinnipiac results: Biden 49%, Trump 45%.

That 4-point Biden lead in the NBC News poll is nearly identical to his popular-vote margin in 2020. But it’s also worth noting that the NBC survey is a national poll, while Marquette’s and Quinnipiac’s are state polls.

And when it comes to the state of the Republican presidential race, the NBC News poll and other surveys are finding Trump with large leads over DeSantis — unlike Marquette’s finding in Wisconsin.

That said, Wisconsin wasn’t a strong state for Trump in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, where Sen. Ted Cruz defeated Trump — even though Trump went on to capture the GOP presidential nomination that year.

All of this, of course, comes at a time when there are serious concerns about the state of polling, especially after the results from the 2016 and 2020 presidential contests. 

Here’s some early advice: For the 2024 general election, brace for another close race.

And for the current GOP contest, most polling has Trump with a significant lead — but each state's unique mix of voters can throw out a different result.

The Marquette Law poll of Wisconsin was conducted June 8-13, 2023 of 913 registered voters (which has a margin of error of plus-minus 4.3 percentage points) and of 419 GOP voters (plus-minus 6.5 percentage points).

The Quinnipiac University poll of Pennsylvania was conducted June 22-26 of 1,584 registered voters (plus-minus 2.5 percentage points) and of 614 GOP voters (plus-minus 4.0 percentage points).