February 11, 2016

Presidential, U.S. Senate races are tossups

President Barack Obama is ahead of Republican Mitt Romney by just one point in the Badger State, according to a new Marquette Law School Poll, with Obama at 49 percent and the former Massachusetts governor at 48 percent among likely voters. Two weeks ago, Obama had an 11-point lead. That was before the first debate.

Professor Charles Franklin conducted the poll. “We see strong evidence that the first debate played a big roll in the two weeks between the debate and our new poll.”

In September, President Obama held a steady lead, but now the race is a pure tossup, Franklin says, “We’re having three debates; each one of them can shift the nature of the campaign.”

Franklin says four polls in recent days, including the Marquette Poll, show the presidential race in Wisconsin is within the margin of error. Wisconsinites can expect a number of visits from candidates and their surrogates in the coming days, as well as beefed up advertising in this battleground state.

“It’s much more a pure tossup as of today, and we’re still waiting to see what effect last night’s debate and next week’s debate have as we go through these last three weeks.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate race in Wisconsin is also in a dead heat. After lagging behind, former Governor Tommy Thompson climbs to 46 percent support among likely voters in Wisconsin’s US Senate race and Representative Tammy Baldwin gets 45 percent, according to that same poll. “That’s a race that tightens from a four-point margin two weeks ago and from a nine-point margin four weeks ago.”

Franklin says a big factor is advertising. “For four weeks following the Republican primary, Governor Thompson said that he was broke and refilling his campaign coffers.” A time that the airwaves were dominated by Baldwin and her supporters.

But, Franklin says, over the past four weeks, Thompson has come up with new advertising dollars, and outside groups supporting him have beefed up their advertising, as well. To equal degrees, the negative advertising themes of the Senate campaign have affected voters’ opinions of each candidate. Baldwin and Thompson are vying for the seat being vacated by US Senator Herb Kohl.

The new poll was conducted October 11-14, before the second presidential debate, and released Wednesday, October 17.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 2:40

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