Skip to main content

New battleground poll to help bring swing states into focus for election 2020

February 10, 2020 By Veronica Rueckert

This year, the University of Wisconsin–Madison Elections Research Center will conduct new polls in three Midwestern battleground states: Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

“Voters in Midwest battleground states are likely to be key players in deciding who wins the 2020 presidential election, so the surveys will illuminate how these voters are thinking about the race,” says Barry Burden, director of the Elections Research Center.

Studio portrait of Barry Burden

Barry Burden, professor in the Department of Political Science and director of the Elections Research Center

The ERC will conduct multiple polls over the course of the 2020 campaign, working in partnership with the Wisconsin State Journal for all polling done in Wisconsin.

The first poll will be fielded in all three states in February immediately following the New Hampshire primary. Another will be conducted before the national party conventions (in July and August) take place; and a final poll will be taken after the conventions, during the general election campaign.

Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, which all had voted for Democratic presidential candidates going back to at least 1992, flipped to the Republicans in 2016 to help President Donald Trump win the Electoral College.

The ERC Battleground Poll was created to gain a deeper understanding of the unique political dynamics at work in these key swing states, and what they indicate about the electorate and the political climate this election year.

The new poll joins the longstanding Marquette Law School Poll, the only consistent Wisconsin-specific survey until now.

“The UW–Madison Elections Research Center is a welcome addition to state polling in Wisconsin and the Midwest,” says Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette poll. “Barry Burden and the YouGov team bring deep political and polling expertise and a comparative perspective to the analysis of three crucial battleground states in 2020.”

John Smalley, editor of the Wisconsin State Journal, sees potential for the polling partnership to continue beyond the current election cycle.  “The State Journal is one of the most widely read sources for objective political news in the state, and as such we’re proud to partner with our state’s flagship university to enhance polling in Wisconsin,” Smalley says.

All surveys will be conducted by YouGov under the direction of the Elections Research Center. YouGov is a leading marketing and polling firm that conducts polling surveys for CBS News, the Economist, the Huffington Post, and other partners. Interviews will be conducted online with respondents selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel. A sample will be selected and weighted to reflect the adult population in each state based on gender, age, race and education.

More results and information about the poll are available on the Elections Research Center’s website:

Experts from the center are available for analysis of the ERC Battleground Poll and the ERC-Wisconsin State Journal Poll. Bookings are available at UW–Madison’s ReadyCam studio for live or taped satellite interviews.