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Marquette Poll finds strong majority of Wisconsinites remain supportive of “Stay at Home” policy

A strong majority of Wisconsin residents continue to support the decision by Governor Tony Evers to close businesses and schools to slow the spread of COVID-19, according to the latest poll numbers from Marquette University Law School.

But approval for those restrictions slipped over the past month, driven largely by a drop in support among Republicans. Marquette interviewed 811 registered voters from May 3-7. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The poll found that 69 percent of voters said it was appropriate to close schools and businesses and restrict public gatherings. In late March, that number was 86 percent.

Support for the closures remained high among Democrats (90 percent) and independents (69 percent), but Republicans were more split. Just 49 percent of GOP voters said they supported the moves, down substantially from 83 percent of Republicans who supported the closures in late March.

When it comes to the handling of the coronavirus, 64 percent approved of Evers, which was down from 76 percent in March. That was considerably higher than approval for President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic, which was 44 percent, down from 51 percent in March.

While Republicans generally deferred to Evers during the early days of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, that changed over the past several weeks, particularly after Evers extended the statewide “Safer at Home” order until May 26.

GOP leaders sued Evers, and if they are successful, any future stay-at-home orders could need the Legislature’s approval. They had initially called for a regional approach to reopening, but Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said on May 11 that it was time to “get everyone back to work in every part of the state.”

According Marquette’s latest poll, 53 percent say they trust the governor more than the Legislature to decide when to begin reopening, while 33 percent say they trust the Legislature more to make those decisions. Voters showed a willingness to get back to some aspects of life before the quarantine, and a reluctance to get back to others.

If “Safer at Home” were lifted, 77 percent said they would feel comfortable visiting a friend of family’s home compared to 56 percent for shopping at a mall, 45 percent for going to worship services and 42 percent for eating at a restaurant. Just 25 percent said they’d feel comfortable going to a major sporting event or concert.

Despite major changes to daily life in Wisconsin, other numbers remained relatively unchanged in the latest Marquette poll, which found Trump’s overall approval rating remaining stable at 47 percent. His approval for handling the economy was 54 percent. The survey also found Trump trailing likely Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden 46-43 in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup.

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