When the Marquette University Law School polled Wisconsinites (or, as they like to be called, "Hoosiers") at the end of September, Hillary Clinton maintained a narrow lead over Donald Trump in the state. Among likely voters, she got the support of 44 percent in a head-to-head contest; Trump got 42 percent.
The school went back into the field on Thursday to get a new sense of the electorate. As it turned out, this was an interesting moment to do so. On Friday afternoon, The Washington Post broke the story about Trump's 2005 comments on “Access Hollywood,” in which he is heard describing how being “a star” allowed him to grope women.
The pollsters noticed an immediate effect.
The way live-caller polls work is that a bank of interviewers calls landlines and cellphones to reach a certain number of people. This is a slow process, and a poll is usually in the field for several days. So Marquette called from Thursday through Sunday, ending before the second debate. In a series of tweets, they revealed what they found.
On Thursday, likely voters backed Trump by a one-percentage-point margin. This is well within the margin of error; since each day's calls is only a part of the overall sample, the margins of error are necessarily larger.
On Friday, the day the tape came out late in the afternoon, Clinton led by six points.
On Saturday and Sunday, she led by 19.
That's a 20-point shift over the course of the survey, and why Clinton now leads Trump by seven points in a four-way contest.
That drop-off post-tape held across demographic groups. (All of these shifts are in a four-way race.)
The biggest decline was with a group that Trump's had trouble holding on to: whites with college degrees. That's a group Mitt Romney won easily in 2012 but which has leaned toward Clinton this year. Only among evangelicals did Trump retain a lead (of the groups Marquette singled out on Twitter), but his support with that group fell by 24 points between Thursday and the weekend. The drop among women was the same, probably in part because his support with that group was low. Trump's support with women fell twice as much as his support with men.
A national poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal on Monday had similar findings: a big shift away from Trump. It's possible that the debate — which happened after each poll — moved the numbers once again in one direction or the other. But these numbers may help explain why Wisconsin native and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan was willing to put a little more distance between himself and his party's nominee on Monday: Wisconsinites seem not to have been terribly enthusiastic about Trump's “locker-room talk.”
Since this article was published, a number of people have pointed out that the proper term for people from Wisconsin is not "Hoosiers." It is "Buckeyes." I do not regret the error, as it was intentional.