WI-Sen, WI-Gov: Both Dems Trail, SSP Moves WI-Sen to Tossup

Public Policy Polling for Daily Kos (9/18-19, likely voters, in parentheses):

Russ Feingold (D-inc): 41 (45)

Ron Johnson (R): 52 (43)

Undecided: 7 (12)

Tom Barrett (D): 41 (38)

Scott Walker (R): 50 (45)

Undecided: 8 (17)

(MoE: ±3.8%)

This poll has already been so thoroughly teased that there’s not much shock value left to it. Also, it shouldn’t be a surprise that PPP finds Ron Johnson with a lead over Russ Feingold, considering that the last five Rasmussen polls have done so (with no one else to give an alternative read in the last couple months). But a double-digit lead is definitely an attention-getter. The question seems to be whether the race has really moved in Johnson’s direction lately (which Rasmussen also would suggest) or if PPP caught a bad bounce on this one… either way, it’s clear Feingold is in a bad position and that complicates the Senate picture (although Wisconsin always seemed to me to be the weakest of the three so-called “firewalls” — and now it’s seeming weaker than Colorado, Illinois, or Nevada, considered by the CW to be on the wrong side of the firewall).

There’s a whole lotta enthusiasm gap going on with PPP’s likely voter screen here, maybe more so than any poll we’ve seen this cycle, with Barack Obama’s approval down to 41/54 (compared with 2008 results, where he won 56-42). Feingold’s approval is down to 40/53, which contrasts with Johnson’s 46/34 faves. Based on that difference, it seems like even if Feingold weren’t running into a stiff headwind from the national climate this would still be a very close race, as Feingold has tended to run close races in the past and has been seemingly searching in vain for an ad strategy that really defines the hard-to-pin-down, generic-wealthy-businessman Johnson.

While we think this particular poll overstates Feingold’s likely doom, there’s no doubt that this race is properly considered a Tossup (which we’re moving from Lean Democratic).

UPDATE: Talking Points Memo today makes reference to Democratic internal polling just prior to last week’s primary (sorry, no link to an actual polling memo, which would certainly be helpful) that had Feingold leading 48-41 among “all voters” and 47-43 among “those definite to vote.”

34 thoughts on “WI-Sen, WI-Gov: Both Dems Trail, SSP Moves WI-Sen to Tossup”

  1. It’s easy to say there is an enthusiasm gap when you have both more Republicans and independents in a state that hasn’t elected a Republican senator since 1986, or voted for a Republican for president since 1984.

    But maybe this will serve as a motivator for Feingold and his supporters in Wisconsin and around the country.

  2. In this poll, PPP only included 7% 18-29 year old voters. Now I know Obama isn’t on the ballot this year and it won’t be as easy to get young folks excited about a midterm, but I’m having a hard time seeing only 7% of the voters being under 30.

    Now I don’t deny Feingold is in a tough race here. However, I am starting to wonder if PPP overstated Johnson’s lead…

  3. While I’m sure that this race will tighten, because the enthusiasm gap in this poll will be significantly narrowed on election day, I’m now pretty confident that Johnson will win.  I move it from Tossup/Tilt R to Lean R.

  4. That’s very problematic, but the good news is, this is a place where he has the opportunity to turn things around.

  5. Their Michigan poll has a sample that equates to if 80% of Mccain voters turnout that 56% of Obama voters will… which works out to be the equivalent of only Obama voters who voted for Gore will turn out.  

    Wisconsin midterm turnout in 2002 and 2006 was about 70% of the previous Presidential election.  So PPP is saying if 70% of Mccain voters turnout, that Obama voters will turn out at a rate of 50%.

    Compared to a 100% unit of McCain voters, 5% of Obama voters won’t vote in CA… while 33% of Obama voters won’t vote in Michican, and 28% won’t vote in Wisconsin.

    This means the lowest turnout in the upper Midwest since before women got the right to vote, while ho-hum not much change in California.

    Those kneejerk defending such nonsense might want to consider why white, middle-class voters in Wisconsin who have voted regularly for their entire lives, changing from one party to the other, are now suddenly going to not vote for anyone in numbers never seen since suffrage.

    It ain’t going to happen.  Wisconsin voters will turnout roughly similiarly to how they have turned out for 90 years and, gasp, some will change their vote from one party to the other.

  6. If he can run a competent GOTV campaign on the UW campus in Madison and in inner-city Milwaukee, Johnson is going to have to dominate the rest of the state to win–he must certainly win the three districts held by Republicans and Kagan’s and Obey’s, and run close in Kind’s as well.  

  7. let’s see Feingold bust out the internal poll that changes all of our minds about the progression of this race.

  8. And if this is what does it, then perhaps this is a blessing in disguise.

    I want to look a little more at the internals of this poll before I make any conclusions on this.  

  9. While I do think this is probably a bit of an outlier, I still think Fiengold is behind.  PPP has done some good work this cycle.

  10. It’s the ideology and age crosstabs that are the problems here. There is no way Wisconsin will have an electorate that conservative and no way in hell will there only be 7% turnout among younger voters (to give an example, in 2006, 18-29 year olds made up 17%(!) of the electorate).

    Even if you readjust, Feingold is still probably behind, but nowhere near 11 points.

  11. “A Democratic source in Wisconsin told us that internal polling before last Tuesday’s primary showed Feingold ahead, by 48%-41% among all voters and 47%-43% among those definite to vote, in contrast to the publicly released polls.”


  12. (to give an example, in 2006, 18-29 year olds made up 17%(!) of the electorate)


    I knew it. This probably means Feingold is still in deep doo-doo, but no way he’s down double digits.

  13. But now they need to do a post-primary poll to see what’s changed (if anything). Johnson may be getting a “bounce” right now, but it will be nice to see what happens in the next few days… Especially if there’s new info showing the bounce is over.

  14. able to overcome adversity. This poll is most likely an outlier. He is probably behind, but close enough to overcome his deficit.  

  15. In races across the country this year, robo-pollers, specifically PPP, have been MUCH closer than live interview pollsters, but yet, people still don’t trust robo-pollers, even the best pollster in America.  

  16. it wasn’t expected to be.  At this time in 1998, we were talking about picking up 25-30 seats in the House and easily getting a filibuster proof Senate by picking up 5+ seats.  Even on election day, the expectations were that we’d pick up 10-15 seats and 2-3 in the Senate.

    On the other hand, the economy didn’t suck then.

  17. At the time, seeing Feingold and Boxer returned to the Senate in 1998 really depressed me.  I was really hoping to see those two turned out (along with Carol Moseley-Braun, who did lose.)

  18. He probably has to win Kind’s. Kind’s is less Democratic than Obey’s. Then again, Duffy has a better shot than Kapanke.  

  19. When Kerry and Bush essentially tied in ’04 (Kerry slightly won, but that was a presidential year so Milwaukee turnout will fall off disproportionately to the rest of the state), each carried four congressional districts. Bush took WI-01, 05, 06, and 08, and Kerry won WI-02, 03, 04 and 07. Johnson is going to need at least one of the Kerry districts, but WI-03 and WI-07 are so similar to each other than you’re right in that Johnson will probably win both if he wins or win neither if he loses.

  20. The Republicans had put their silly marriage amendment on the ballot. While it carried with the support of older bluecollar Dems, it pushed campus turnouts to a record, especially in Eau claire (something like 80%) and less provably non-college young folks.

  21. They called on a weekend with not just nice, but truly splendid weather. Who’s out hiking, biking, whatever, vs who’s sitting by the landline watching football?

  22. has been greatest in the increasingly Democratic madison suburbs, but the Democratic counties along Lake Superior are losing population.

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