Feingold in real electoral trouble in Wisconsin?

posted at 10:12 am on January 28, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

If Republicans have taken to calling Scott Brown ’41′ as a nickname after his victory in Massachusetts, perhaps Democrats can start calling Russ Feingold ’43.’  No, that’s not to say that Feingold will switch parties and bring a friend along for company.  That’s the percentage of likely voters in Wisconsin that would support Feingold over potential challenger and former Governor Tommy Thompson in a head-to-head match this fall:

One more Democratic senator who has long been regarded as a safe prospect for reelection may be facing a challenging year in 2010.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in Wisconsin finds Republican Tommy Thompson edging incumbent Russ Feingold 47% to 43% in a hypothetical U.S. Senate match-up. Five percent (5%) like some other candidate, and four percent (4%) are undecided.

Any incumbent who attracts less than 50% support at this point in a campaign is considered potentially vulnerable.

Thompson, who served as governor of the state from 1987 to 2001 and as secretary of Health and Human Services in President George W. Bush’s first term, is being urged by Republicans to enter the race. However, it remains unclear if he will enter the race. Feingold is seeking a fourth six-year term in the Senate this November.

Until just recently, people calculating risk for Democratic incumbents have mostly focused on the obvious problems in otherwise red states.  Arkansas (Lincoln) and Indiana (Bayh) have gotten a lot of attention, as has Nevada, which is more independent than red but where Majority Leader Harry Reid is drowning in voter anger over the Obama-Pelosi agenda.  Massachusetts made it clear that no state was entirely safe for Democrats, but in Massachusetts, Democrats didn’t have a longtime incumbent running in the race, either.

Wisconsin could be a big surprise, too.  It has sent reliable liberals like Feingold and Herb Kohl to the Senate for several cycles (21 years for Kohl, 17 years for Feingold), but outside of the big college towns, the state is more conservo-populist, not unlike the Dakotas.  Feingold has built a reputation for straight talk which has kept his constituents’ respect even when Feingold goes more to the left than they do.

Those days are apparently over.  Not only does Feingold trail Thompson by four points, his job approval numbers have gone underwater, 47/48.  The voting public has also turned more substantially away from Feingold on policy.  Fifty-nine percent want to see tax cuts as a cure for a bad economy, against only 15% for more government spending.  Almost two thirds (65%) reject the Democrats’ argument that the economy is improving (41% say worse, 24% says it’s the same), while only 28% believe it’s improving.

Can Barack Obama help Feingold in Wisconsin?  Obama won by a much larger margin than John Kerry did in 2004, but he’s not winning any more.  His job approval among likely Wisconsin voters has dropped underwater, with a majority disapproving (54%/46%, no one unsure).  Furthermore, the Democratic Governor, Jim Doyle, has even worse approval numbers — 36/62. He won’t be any help to Feingold, and may well help stoke Republican and independent turnout in the fall.

Thompson has not yet committed to this race, but the seat may be his for the asking.  It looks like 2010 will be at least as bad for Democrats in Wisconsin as anywhere else, and perhaps worse.

Update: Kevin at Lakeshore Laments says that Thompson needs to stop his “Hamlet-Brett Favre act” to be taken seriously.


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VelvetElvis on January 28, 2010 at 12:14 PM
Yeah, a couple of us have already pointed that out. He prefers to change the subject and deflect blame from the racist scum Coleman Young, the man who basically single-handedly destroyed Detroit.

PimFortuynsGhost on January 28, 2010 at 12:21 PM

–The original post talked about MI, not Detroit. I’m trying to get back to the original topic. But it’s difficult to believe that Coleman Young “single-handedly destroyed Detroit” because the decline started with Cavanagh. I’ve heard that Young, early in his career, did a “suburbs vs. Detroit” thing that made Detroit unfriendly to suburbanites. But suburbanites weren’t particularly interested in going to downtown Detroit much after the 67 riots, anyways.

Jimbo3 on January 28, 2010 at 12:27 PM

Minimal state money ever gets over for legitimate projects that would generate new business and revenue (such as completing the RTE 31 upgrade)

–They were finishing the expressway between GR and Lansing when I left the area. That’s not US 31, but it does show they did put money back into the area.

Jimbo3 on January 28, 2010 at 12:30 PM

Ummm, the topic of the post is Feingold. Feingold is a senator from Wisconsin (I refuse to acknowledge him as “my’ senator). Wisconsin is not Michigan.

God, lefties are thick.

PimFortuynsGhost on January 28, 2010 at 12:31 PM

All I can say is Muhahahahahaha!

NathanG on January 28, 2010 at 12:46 PM

Thompson reluctantly went to HHS, and would have preferred to stay as governor. The people would have had him too.

For all of the people who think Wisconsin is some liberal backwater, it’s true that the state has had two Democrat senators for quite some time. It’s also true that during that *same period* the state had a Republican governor.

Furthermore, the state is almost evenly split among Republicans and Democrats. In 2000, George Bush lost the state 47.83% to 47.61% – 5,000 votes. In 2004, Bush lost 49.70% to 49.32% – about 10,000 votes. (2008 is another story, but it was another story everywhere.) It’s perhaps the most perfectly divided state in the country, and all it takes to win is to peel off a fraction of independents; Tommy has always had the ability to do that.

alflauren on January 28, 2010 at 12:47 PM

Any news on a Schummer poll… I would love to see that man the hell out of there.. Do they have a “chattering class” in NY?

shar61 on January 28, 2010 at 12:48 PM

All I want to say is that if the GOP are fortunate to take control of the house in 2010.. perhaps the senate, I hope they have been scared tons by this whole experience and do not squander their opportunity to do the right thing.

shar61 on January 28, 2010 at 12:50 PM

No wonder Wisconsin is such a wasteland; can we sell the state to Canada?

Bishop on January 28, 2010 at 10:18 AM

I am 50 years old, and a nursing student. Once the ink is dry on my degree…I’m outta here! And the politicians wonder why there is such a “brain drain” in Wisconsin? Idiots!

5th highest taxes in the United States.
Winter, winter, winter…everywhere!
Summers that are shorter than the lifespan of a gnat

“Back to to you Bishop, this is Jimmy Gee reporting live from “wasteland”

P.S: Little known secret, Canada was offered a chance to BUY Wisconsin, they just laughed (really hard).

JimmyGee on January 28, 2010 at 12:54 PM

–Did you ever check out the Kalamazoo pizza place?

Jimbo3 on January 28, 2010 at 11:26 AM

I don’t remember a pizza place in Kazoo that you might have mentioned before. I am in the grand rapids area and am STILL looking for good pizza here. Papa Ramno’s over on the east side of the state is good. Battle Creek has Sir Pizza, a local place with good pizza.

They have rebuilt the freeways here in MI. I-69 is refinished all the way to Lapeer from IN and I imagine they will finish it to the Canada border this summer. I-196 along the shoreline from grand rapids down to I-94 has had a lot of work done but still has some really bumpy sections in the middle. So Granholm has spent some money on freeways, but they have NO incentives for business to create non-manufacturing jobs here in the state. My company is slowly hiring, all office jobs, and zero, zip nada for job creation incentives. Granholm has ONLY pandered to union type jobs during her whole 8 years.

karenhasfreedom on January 28, 2010 at 12:59 PM

What? WI is over Soupy Sales?

leftnomore on January 28, 2010 at 1:52 PM

“I’m not saying no.”

Pols need to learn how to say these lines:

Yes, I am running for office; and
No, I am not running for office (re-election)

The American people are tired of the guessing game. We will move on with other candidates and potentional pols.

madmonkphotog on January 28, 2010 at 2:15 PM

Karen, if you’re going to Battle Creek, you might want to try Martinis in Kalamazoo: http://www.martinispizza.net

And the Cottage Inn franchises are good as well. I’m sure you have at least one in the GR area.

Jimbo3 on January 28, 2010 at 2:36 PM

P.S: Little known secret, Canada was offered a chance to BUY Wisconsin, they just laughed (really hard).

JimmyGee on January 28, 2010 at 12:54 PM

–Was that before or after the Michigan upper peninsula was offered to them?

Jimbo3 on January 28, 2010 at 2:38 PM

Karen, if you’re going to Battle Creek, you might want to try Martinis in Kalamazoo:
Jimbo3 on January 28, 2010 at 2:36 PM

I was once visited by an angel and he showed me life as it would be if I never existed. Martini’s Pizza was now Nick’s Pizza.

WashJeff on January 28, 2010 at 2:44 PM

Why the picture of Soupy Sales in the header?

Wade on January 28, 2010 at 2:48 PM

Feingold has a few problems:

1. 2010 gubernatorial election featuring an unpopular Democrat. (Bigger conservative turnout)
2. House race featuring Sean Duffy in his state. (Bigger conservative turnout)
3. He was just a little too condescending in the toen halls he recently attended. Even this late in the game after the huge fervor over the summer they were still very upset. (Bigger conservative turnout)

And he is not alone check out how many gubernatorial racess are going to coincide with Senate races

Oregon
California
Nevada
Colorado
Wisconsin
Illinois
Pennsylvania
Arkansas
Michigan
New Hamshire
Connecticut
New York
Rhode Island
Kansas

Sheesh the DSCC hs to be loading up on Tums. And what big donors from the private sector do they turn to? The unions spent most of their money on Obama…

Theworldisnotenough on January 28, 2010 at 5:33 PM

P.S: Little known secret, Canada was offered a chance to BUY Wisconsin, they just laughed (really hard).

JimmyGee on January 28, 2010 at 12:54 PM

–Was that before or after the Michigan upper peninsula was offered to them?

Jimbo3 on January 28, 2010 at 2:38 PM

Does it really matter? Yah-Der-Hay!

The people in Wisconsin (we are still talking about WISCONSIN aren’t we?) are really great, salt-of-the-earth types. Unfortunately they vote for socialists and then complain about the high taxes, and lack of good jobs. We have Obey, in the western part of the state, POS Doyle (I would be hard pressed not to punch him in the face if I ever saw him), and on the eastern side of the state we have own do-nothing senators Kohl and Feingold (I thought we were talking about Feingold in this thread, not Michigan…LOL).
I heard rumors that Kohl will retire after his term is finished.
I think that Paul Ryan should run against Feingold! I called his office and they said he would not run against an incumbent. WTF? If Ryan wants to be considered a viable VP candidate in 2012 or 2016, he needs to run against Feingold. He would win.
Question…What is the best state to move to? I’m thinking AZ.

JimmyGee on January 28, 2010 at 5:39 PM

Does it really matter? Yah-Der-Hay!

The people in Wisconsin (we are still talking about WISCONSIN aren’t we?) are really great, salt-of-the-earth types. Unfortunately they vote for socialists and then complain about the high taxes, and lack of good jobs. We have Obey, in the western part of the state, POS Doyle (I would be hard pressed not to punch him in the face if I ever saw him), and on the eastern side of the state we have own do-nothing senators Kohl and Feingold (I thought we were talking about Feingold in this thread, not Michigan…LOL).
I heard rumors that Kohl will retire after his term is finished.
I think that Paul Ryan should run against Feingold! I called his office and they said he would not run against an incumbent. WTF? If Ryan wants to be considered a viable VP candidate in 2012 or 2016, he needs to run against Feingold. He would win.
Question…What is the best state to move to? I’m thinking AZ.
JimmyGee on January 28, 2010 at 5:39 PM

–AZ isn’t much good for jobs–at least the Phoenix area isn’t. A whole bunch of the Phoenix economy runs on hospitality (hotels and tourism) and real estate development. When things go bad, they go real bad. This last bust is the third time that’s happened in the last twenty five years. And AZ’s state income tax is a graduated one in the 4-7% range if I remember correctly. Yes, you generally have good weather (apart from about 8 weeks in June-August where it gets real hot; 120 degrees is hot whether or not it’s a dry heat) and yes, you can buy a house much cheaper than you could five years ago. No, you may not be able to find a job and so, no, you may not be able to sell your house quickly because of the lack of demand.

If you want warmer weather and a better economy, I suggest three places in Texas instead: San Antonio; Houston or the Dallas areas. No state income tax. Slightly cooler and more humid weather (much more humid during the summer in Houston). But the real estate is, even now, generally cheaper than in AZ and the economy is better, and should continue to be so.

Jimbo3 on January 28, 2010 at 5:53 PM

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