President Donald Trump is trailing his Democratic challenger Joe Biden in Minnesota and Wisconsin, two states recently home to large protests against racial injustice, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Wednesday.
The poll found Biden up 6 percentage points, 52%-46%, among likely voters in Wisconsin. The state had not backed a Republican presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan before Trump won it by just under 23,000 votes in 2016. In Minnesota, which hasn’t broken for the GOP candidate since 1972, the poll found Biden up a whopping 16% with likely voters, 57%-41%.
Both states have been at the center of protests against police brutality and racial discrimination this year.
The first wave of protests began in Minnesota at the end of May, when George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly 9 minutes. Minneapolis and dozens of cities across the country saw days of demonstrations and protests, some peaceful and some that turned destructive. A police precinct in Minneapolis was burned down, and several businesses were looted and burned.
As protests continued in some cities through the summer, another unarmed Black man, Jacob Blake, was shot in the back multiple times by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August, leaving Blake paralyzed. In the protests that followed, two men were shot and killed. A third was shot and injured. The suspect, Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, was reportedly in the area trying to protect private property from damage during the protests
Trump responded to both incidents with calls for strong crackdowns on the demonstrators while accusing Biden of tolerating violence. Biden, who denounced violent demonstrators as early as May 30, accused Trump of trying to divide Americans and stoking the flames.
The president’s demands for the restoration of law and order may have resonated more with registered Wisconsin voters, who were split 48%-48% over which candidate they trusted more to handle crime and safety, according to the poll. Registered Minnesota voters trusted Biden more on the issue by a 24-point margin, 59%-35%.
Voters in both states said they trusted Biden more to discourage violence at political protests, though the margin was much narrower in Wisconsin (49%-45%) than in Minnesota (54%-40%).
The ABC/Post poll contrasts sharply with a Morning Consult poll of Minnesota released Sunday, which showed Biden with a 4-point lead in the state. Overall, polls have been positive for Biden there, with polling site FiveThirtyEight showing him with an average lead of 8.9 points.
Both Trump and Biden are scheduled to visit Minnesota on Friday, when early voting begins there.
Democrats’ longest winning-streak is in Minnesota, the only state to back the Democrat in Reagan’s 1984 victory, but Trump came within about 1.5 percentage points of winning it in 2016.
Trump and his supporters have expressed optimism he could flip it this year. While most surveys have not found Trump performing as badly in Minnesota as the new ABC/Post poll, the results did not offer much to support the Trump campaign’s hopes.
Nearly 60% of Minnesota voters said they did not approve of the job Trump has done in office, while 40% said they approved.
In most national polls, one area Trump performs well is on the economy. But Minnesota voters narrowly disapproved (49%-47%) of his job managing it and trusted Biden more on the issue, 50%-45%. They also said they trusted Biden more on handling coronavirus (58%-36%), racial equality (59%-35%) and health care (56%-39%).
Minnesota voters said Biden was more honest and trustworthy than Trump, 56%-34%. When asked who they thought better understood their problems, 55% said Biden and 37% said Trump. And 51% thought Biden was the stronger leader, compared to 44% who said Trump was.
One bright spot for Trump in Minnesota was voter enthusiasm. While 67% said they were “very” enthusiastic about voting for Trump, 44% said the same for Biden.
The numbers were better for Trump in Wisconsin. His job approval rating was 6 points higher (46%) and his disapproval rating was 7 points lower (52%). And, unlike in Minnesota, more voters approved (53%) than disapproved (46%) of his handling of the economy.
Wisconsin voters said they trusted Trump more on the economy, 50%-45%, but they trusted Biden more on the coronavirus (49%-42%), racial equality (51%-41%) and health care (50%-43%).
On the coronavirus, 44% of Wisconsin voters said they approved of Trump’s handling of the outbreak and 54% disapproved.
When asked who they considered more honest and trustworthy, 49% said Biden and 38% said Trump. And when asked who they thought better understood their problems, 49% said Biden and 44% said Trump. But more Wisconsin voters (49%) thought Trump a strong leader than Biden (46%).