A new poll indicates Wisconsin voters – by a nearly three-to-one margin – don’t think the Democratic National Convention should be held this July in Milwaukee anymore because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Sixty-two percent of registered voters questioned in a Marquette Law School survey released Wednesday said that given the outbreak, the convention should not be held as an in-person event, with 22 percent saying the massive gathering should be held as scheduled July 13-16.
The pandemic, which has spread globally, has forced most Americans to huddle inside their homes in hopes of preventing the spread of the virus, which causes the deadly COVID-19 disease. Those venturing outside are urged to practice social distancing – keeping a minimum of six feet apart – and all large gatherings have been scrapped.
Former Vice President Joe Biden – the all-but-certain Democratic presidential nominee – said Tuesday night in an interview on MSNBC that “it’s hard to envision” thousands of Democratic convention delegates, officials, media and other spectators packed inside an arena this summer.
But Biden added that “we ought to be able to do what we were able to do in the middle of the Civil War all the way through to World War II: have Democratic and Republican conventions, and primaries, and elections, and still have public safety. And we're able to do both. But the fact is that it may have to be different."
Democratic National Convention Committee CEO Joe Solmonese, in a statement to Fox News, emphasized that “as we continue to put plans in place for a successful Democratic National Convention this summer, we will balance protecting the health and well-being of convention attendees and our host city with our responsibility to deliver this historic and critical occasion.”
The poll also indicated that 51 percent of Wisconsin voters say the state’s April 7 primary should be delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak, with 44 percent saying the contest should continue to be held on next Tuesday’s scheduled date.
Most states holding primaries or caucuses in late March, April and early May have delayed their contests or moved them to 100 percent vote-by-mail and absentee balloting.
But as of now, Wisconsin is moving forward with their contest, where there’s a lot more at stake than just the Democratic presidential primary between Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. There’s an important battle for a Wisconsin Supreme Court seat that could influence general election voting rules in the crucial presidential battleground state, as well as numerous mayoral contests.
The Democratic National Committee is urging states not to postpone their primaries, but instead offer voters much more access to mail-in or absentee ballots and to expand polling locations and hours to prevent large lines of people waiting to vote.
Sanders is urging that the contest be postponed.
"People should not be forced to put their lives on the line to vote, which is why 15 states are now following the advice of public health experts and delaying their elections. We urge Wisconsin to join them," the senator said in a statement on Wednesday.
Biden has yet to weigh in on whether the primary should be delayed.
Wisconsin residents have been urged for weeks to vote by absentee ballot, which has led to a tidal wave of demand for vote-by-mail ballots.
The poll indicates that if the primary is held, the former vice president would win in a landslide.
Biden holds a 62-34 percent lead over Sanders among likely Democratic primary voters questioned in the survey.
The poll points to a tight general election showdown, with Biden holding a slight 48-45 percent edge over President Trump. Wisconsin was one of three so-called Rust Belt states – along with Pennsylvania and Michigan – that Trump narrowly flipped from blue to red in the 2016 election to win the White House.
The Marquette Law School poll was conducted March 24-29, with 813 Wisconsin registered voters questioned by phone. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points