GOP could turn Wisconsin red in 2010

posted at 1:30 pm on August 1, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

For decades, Wisconsin has served as a bastion of Upper Midwestern populism, which has mainly served the Democratic Party.  At the moment, its entire slate of constitutional offices and its legislative leadership are all held by Democrats.  The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel sees change in the air, though, and reports that the state’s GOP has a shot at capturing every post in the upcoming midterms (via Lakeshore Laments):

If this is a year of opportunity for victory-starved Republicans, no state in the country offers more bounty than Wisconsin, where an entire Democratic power structure is in peril this fall.

Wisconsin is one of two states in the United States where Republicans have a plausible chance to take away from Democrats a governorship, both chambers of the Legislature, a U.S. Senate seat and one or more House seats. (Colorado is the other).

“There’s nothing that’s not on the table,” says state GOP chair Reince Priebus. “My expectation is this is going to be the biggest Republican year in the history of Wisconsin.”

The opportunity is easily grasped from Gallup’s study of party affiliation in the state.  Two years ago, Democrats held a whopping 18-point lead in party identification among the general population, while nationally that split was 12 points.  Barack Obama won by only seven, which shows that Gallup significantly overestimated Democratic strength in its sampling by almost half.  Earlier this year, however, that split had drawn down to a mere six points in Wisconsin and four nationally, and given the moribund state of the economy now, it’s probably even lower rolling into the fall campaigns.

Why is this important in Wisconsin?  The state provided plenty of fireworks in 2004 as an oh-so-narrow win for John Kerry, and the upcoming redistricting may make the Congressional representation look much different in the next decade.  Plus, the legislature wants to work on the voter fraud that has become a recurring theme in Wisconsin’s elections:

First, the party that controls the governor’s office and the Legislature controls the once-in-a-decade redistricting process and can draw legislative and congressional districts in a way that helps perpetuate its own majorities.

Second, governors can be helpful to their party’s presidential candidates in swing states such as Wisconsin (though this effect is often overstated). And third, whoever controls state government in Wisconsin will set the rules on voting and ballot access, a hugely contentious issue that can have an effect on the sort of ultra-close contests that Wisconsin had for president in 2000 and 2004, both decided by less than half a percentage point.

Losing Wisconsin as a Democratic-dominated state would also have tremendous psychological impact nationwide.  After the 2008 election, pundits crowed that the GOP had become a regional rather than national party, mainly limited to the South, with enclaves in the interior West and lower Midwest.  Taking Wisconsin would put that meme six feet underground — and it may not just be Wisconsin where Republicans take control, either.

A lot would have to break in favor of the GOP in Wisconsin for this to happen, of course.  Russ Feingold would have to lose his Senate seat, and Republicans would have to organize well enough in legislative elections while focus remains mainly on the US Senate and gubernatorial races.  Republicans on the ground have been feeling more optimistic about their chances for a while now, though, and if the Journal-Sentinel sees these trends developing, they may well have good reason for cheer in November.

Update: Steve Eggleston reminds me that Wisconsin’s Attorney General is a Republican — which I should know, since I’ve interviewed J.B. Van Hollen before.


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Good story…but why the hell are you allowing a Charlie Crist campaign advert anywhere on the face of HotAir.com?!? Do you not have control over what gets put in these ad spaces?

CLEAN HOUSE!

MechEng5by5 on August 1, 2010 at 1:35 PM

It would be good to have Wisconsin in play for the Republicans in 2012.

Conservative Samizdat on August 1, 2010 at 1:35 PM

Pennsylvania has an open seat for governor, since Fast Eddy Rendell is term-limited. The GOP controls the state senate, and could take the house.

Meehan will easily take Seatak’s old house seat, and Murphy is likely to lose in Bucks County. Kanjorski is way behind Barletta and Kathy Dahlkemper isn’t doing too well after her Obamacare vote. Toomey can take Arlen’s senate seat, and then who knows.

At least we might see state voter ID laws and med-mal reform. And then there is the reapportionment after the 2010 census.

Good times, good times.

Wethal on August 1, 2010 at 1:40 PM

Red cheese, baby!

Leinenkugels for everybody!

novaculus on August 1, 2010 at 1:40 PM

Things are looking good even in Madison. There are Scott Walker signs up on college houses and people were being outright hostile to Tom Barrett at the farmers market at the capital building the other weekend. There was even a positive article on Ron Johnson in the paper. Things are looking up.

sammypants on August 1, 2010 at 1:41 PM

Leinenkugels for everybody!

novaculus on August 1, 2010 at 1:40 PM

We can do better then that.

sammypants on August 1, 2010 at 1:42 PM

FYI –

ALERT! Sharron Angle will be appearing on Fox News today (Sunday) at 12pm and 6pm PST (3pm and 9pm EST).
The segment, entitled “The Fight to Control Congress” covers six Congressional races, one each in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, New York, Arkansas, Colorado and Nevada. Our part is the last section.

From Angles camp.

VegasRick on August 1, 2010 at 1:43 PM

Good story…but why the hell are you allowing a Charlie Crist campaign advert anywhere on the face of HotAir.com?!? Do you not have control over what gets put in these ad spaces?

CLEAN HOUSE!

MechEng5by5 on August 1, 2010 at 1:35 PM

If they are Google Adsense ads the ad selection is done automatically by Google, depending on your location and possibly even your browsing habits (eventually?).

Ogabe on August 1, 2010 at 1:44 PM

CLEAN HOUSE!

MechEng5by5 on August 1, 2010 at 1:35 PM

Hey! If Crist wants to waste his campaign cash at Hot Air, I say “Go for it Charlie!”

He’ll find no quarter here.

IrishEi on August 1, 2010 at 1:44 PM

Here’s hoping the people are getting tired of being milked more than the cows!

tim c on August 1, 2010 at 1:46 PM

If they are Google Adsense ads the ad selection is done automatically by Google, depending on your location and possibly even your browsing habits (eventually?).

Ogabe on August 1, 2010 at 1:44 PM

I’m getting anti – Angle, pro – harry red ads all of the place here at HA. I just don’t click on them.

VegasRick on August 1, 2010 at 1:46 PM

OK, lets clear out the left coast of trash.

dragondrop on August 1, 2010 at 1:46 PM

Hey! If Crist wants to waste his campaign cash at Hot Air, I say “Go for it Charlie!”

He’ll find no quarter here.

IrishEi on August 1, 2010 at 1:44 PM

I requested “more info” from harry red’s camp. Wasted $$$ indeed!

VegasRick on August 1, 2010 at 1:47 PM

If Wisconsin goes Republican not even Olbermann can blame it on racism.

Ted Torgerson on August 1, 2010 at 1:48 PM

good update.

ted c on August 1, 2010 at 1:49 PM

I think the good people of Wisconsin are ready to take off their Cheesehead hats, put down the beer and the brats, and throw every single Democrat rascal from Feingold on down out of office on their collective ear!

If it happens there, maybe the momentum could carry across the state line into Illinois and we could start cleaning house there as well!

pilamaye on August 1, 2010 at 1:49 PM

Great politically speaking but Wisconsin is still a wasteland, second only to Gaza on the list of places that people should never visit.

Bishop on August 1, 2010 at 1:50 PM

Now if only we had some national politican with a big connection to the Upper Midwest that understood the harsh winter’s snowmobling, hunting, fishing etc that could place the entire Upper Midwest in play come 2012. some one with big cojones that could go toe to toe with Obama.

Yes the connection Palin would bring to that area is a huge plus for her chances in 2012. It would place the dems on the defensive in Minn, Wis, and MI

No other national GOP candidate could do that. Mitt might help in Mi but not all three

unseen on August 1, 2010 at 1:59 PM

Now if only we had some national politican with a big connection to the Upper Midwest that understood the harsh winter’s snowmobling, hunting, fishing etc that could place the entire Upper Midwest in play come 2012. some one with big cojones that could go toe to toe with Obama.

Mitch Daniels? Mike Pence? Paul Ryan? Tim Pawlenty?

cpaulus on August 1, 2010 at 2:04 PM

Mitch Daniels? Mike Pence? Paul Ryan? Tim Pawlenty?

cpaulus on August 1, 2010 at 2:04 PM

I said someone with BIG COJONES none of the ones you mentioned fullfill that requirement

unseen on August 1, 2010 at 2:05 PM

Mitch Daniels? Mike Pence? Paul Ryan? Tim Pawlenty?

cpaulus on August 1, 2010 at 2:04 PM

I said someone with BIG COJONES none of the ones you mentioned fullfill that requirement

unseen on August 1, 2010 at 2:05 PM

I don’t think any of them would be considered outdoors men,and I like Mike Pence as a fine leader in the House.

tim c on August 1, 2010 at 2:11 PM

I said someone with BIG COJONES none of the ones you mentioned fullfill that requirement

unseen on August 1, 2010 at 2:05 PM

Do you mean big cajones like having a national platform for reforming our entitlement programs or big cojones like she makes liberals mad by making making statements that rile up both the conservative and liberal base?

cpaulus on August 1, 2010 at 2:14 PM

I don’t think any of them would be considered outdoors men,and I like Mike Pence as a fine leader in the House.

tim c on August 1, 2010 at 2:11 PM

I like most of them, well don’t have much against any of them except for Paul Ryan who voted for TARP, auto bailouts, AIG bonus cuts, medicare part D then want to pretend to be a conservative in 2010.

Pence seems like a good house leader T-PAW seems like a decent man and gov, Mitch let’s surrender Danials looks a little limp wristed next to Jan Remember the Alamo! Brewer. thune is an empety suit ready to be filled by the establishment with whatever the polls say they should fill him with come nov 2012.

and I agree none seem like outdoors type people. None seem like men of the people. and none seem like reagan democrates nor do they seem like Reagan GOP either.

unseen on August 1, 2010 at 2:16 PM

Bishop on August 1, 2010 at 1:50 PM

Yooper?

Ted Torgerson on August 1, 2010 at 2:17 PM

GOP Obamalaise could turn Wisconsin red in 2010

While I would suspect the Wisconsin GOP is doing a fine job (as anti-big government attitudes are being heard at the local/state level), let’s not give the national party any slack until they prove something

phreshone on August 1, 2010 at 2:23 PM

I like most of them, well don’t have much against any of them except for Paul Ryan who voted for TARP, auto bailouts, AIG bonus cuts, medicare part D then want to pretend to be a conservative in 2010.

You do realize that Palin supported the bailouts at the time for the same reason Ryan did, right?

cpaulus on August 1, 2010 at 2:23 PM

Not only Wisconsin, but I sense states like Washington, Pennsylvania, and Michigan are beleaguered states that want a little of what New Jersey has with Chris Christie. And who knows California may not be readily in play for 2012, but if Meg Whitman and Fiorina can do good things there, it could be in play in 2016. In other words, states that were GOP states before the whole Dixiecrat switch could return home after being run by liberals all these years.

milemarker2020 on August 1, 2010 at 2:24 PM

Good story…but why the hell are you allowing a Charlie Crist campaign advert anywhere on the face of HotAir.com?!? Do you not have control over what gets put in these ad spaces?

CLEAN HOUSE!

MechEng5by5 on August 1, 2010 at 1:35 PM

Whenever a liberal ad appears on here, I click it like crazy. What could be better than making liberals pay out of their own pockets to keep AllahP and Ed on the air? :-)

Mary in LA on August 1, 2010 at 2:27 PM

Terry Branstad R will take the governorship for IA from the lib Culver. Grassley will retain his seat as will my congress patriot Steve King. Leonard Boswell needs to go but hes’ Des Moines area congress critter and lots o libs there and east in the University towns Ames and IA City!

Legislatures dominated by D’s don’t know if that can be changed maybe someone else has that info.

We must take our country back before its’ too late.
States rights needs to be the push to eliminate the power of the Federal Govt and its’ extra constituional mandates!

dhunter on August 1, 2010 at 2:28 PM

I’m getting anti – Angle, pro – harry red ads all of the place here at HA. I just don’t click on them.

VegasRick on August 1, 2010 at 1:46 PM

Click on them Rick, for God’s sake CLICK ON THEM! Every time you do the advertiser gets charged!!!

alexwest on August 1, 2010 at 2:36 PM

Click on them Rick, for God’s sake CLICK ON THEM! Every time you do the advertiser gets charged!!!

Yep, its not hard, it doesn’t take a lot of time and it is the free market at work. What better way to fund a site than have its opponents willfully finance it.

cozmo on August 1, 2010 at 2:43 PM

alexwest on August 1, 2010 at 2:36 PM
cozmo on August 1, 2010 at 2:43 PM

Good advise and I will from now on.

VegasRick on August 1, 2010 at 2:56 PM

Yep, its not hard, it doesn’t take a lot of time and it is the free market at work. What better way to fund a site than have its opponents willfully finance it.

cozmo on August 1, 2010 at 2:43 PM

Tee Hee. As a Vegas resident, I get to drain a BUNCH of harry reids librul union-thug cash right into funding HA. Pretty sweet.

Fishoutofwater on August 1, 2010 at 3:03 PM

I think the good people of Wisconsin are ready to take off their Cheesehead hats, put down the beer and the brats, and throw every single Democrat rascal from Feingold on down out of office on their collective ear!

pilamaye on August 1, 2010 at 1:49 PM

Were going to give it our best shot!

WhoU4 on August 1, 2010 at 3:04 PM

Please, please, please! We can’t take much more.

wi farmgirl on August 1, 2010 at 3:05 PM

Leinenkugels for everybody!

novaculus on August 1, 2010 at 1:40 PM

Make mine a Summer Shandy.

wi farmgirl on August 1, 2010 at 3:06 PM

The state provided plenty of fireworks in 2004 as an oh-so-narrow win for John Kerry,…

A win that was produced by the electoral corruption you mentioned.

irishspy on August 1, 2010 at 3:11 PM

Great politically speaking but Wisconsin is still a wasteland, second only to Gaza on the list of places that people should never visit.

Bishop on August 1, 2010 at 1:50 PM

How’s Minnesota?

Oh yeah. Sewer.

MadisonConservative on August 1, 2010 at 3:11 PM

wi farmgirl on August 1, 2010 at 3:06 PM

Yeah, those are good. I’m going to have one later after I get done with the yard work, there’s a Summer Sampler 12 pack in the frig. I’m partial to the Creamy Dark and the 1888 Bock, too.

novaculus on August 1, 2010 at 3:15 PM

I think the good people of Wisconsin are ready to take off their Cheesehead hats, put down the beer and the brats,
pilamaye on August 1, 2010 at 1:49 PM

That’s asking a lot…just sayin.

wi farmgirl on August 1, 2010 at 3:16 PM

A lot would have to break in favor of the GOP in Wisconsin for this to happen, of course. Russ Feingold would have to lose his Senate seat, and Republicans would have to organize well enough in legislative elections while focus remains mainly on the US Senate and gubernatorial races

….and the rampant voter fraud would have to be neutralized. Does the GOP have boots on the ground to observe polling places and ballot counting, and be ready to launch lawsuits if necessary? Have they learned from Minnesota? If not, why are we even discussing this?

However, if they do uncover lots of fraud, and make a big stink about it, that gives the Dems even more nationwide bad publicity as the Voter Fraud Party. Great opportunity for the GOP. Will they take it?

YehuditTX on August 1, 2010 at 3:17 PM

Great politically speaking but Wisconsin is still a wasteland, second only to Gaza on the list of places that people should never visit.

Bishop on August 1, 2010 at 1:50 PM

Don’t let Ann Althouse hear you say that. :-)

YehuditTX on August 1, 2010 at 3:19 PM

Where is all this advertising you guys keep seeing? I never see any Crist ads or bikini girls or anything like that.

trigon on August 1, 2010 at 3:20 PM

I said someone with BIG COJONES none of the ones you mentioned fullfill that requirement

unseen on August 1, 2010 at 2:05 PM

Speaking of cojones, did anyone see Sarah on Fox today?

wi farmgirl on August 1, 2010 at 3:24 PM

Have you ever been to Wisconsin? That is just an absurd statement.

Great politically speaking but Wisconsin is still a wasteland, second only to Gaza on the list of places that people should never visit.

Bishop on August 1, 2010 at 1:50 PM

Alfresco on August 1, 2010 at 3:26 PM

<blockquoteWhenever a liberal ad appears on here, I click it like crazy. What could be better than making liberals pay out of their own pockets to keep AllahP and Ed on the air? :-)

Mary in LA on August 1, 2010 at 2:27 PM

Hmmm, I didn’t think of if that way…good point
I just don’t want them (Crist Reid Pelosi) getting any support. When they cry out out for their supporters I want them to hear hollow echoes.

MechEng5by5 on August 1, 2010 at 3:31 PM

Wisconsin, I’m all in.

Not only does it break the meme of the GOP becoming a regional party, but it gives us a chance to make real inroads into a Blue state and region.

I think its also important because Iowa and Minnesota are not too far behind. MN, WI and IA make a block of 27 electoral votes (I think). It would be devastating to BO and the Dems if a GOP could steal that region, its a 54 EV swing. Nearly impossible to make up.

Its also significant because there is real talent there. I rally like what Paul Ryan is doing. Waving flags, citing principles and screaming RINO is not enough. We need some real debaters, some real policy guys, guys with mass appeal. Sean Duffy is other bright star.

swamp_yankee on August 1, 2010 at 3:41 PM

One more thing.

I think NH has a better chance of a GOP sweep then CO. CO is still dicey. Lynch is tough, but the CO gov race is falling apart for the GOP. Ayotte is a lock if nominated and they should win both house seats and both chambers of the state house.

swamp_yankee on August 1, 2010 at 3:54 PM

none of the ones you mentioned fullfill that requirement

herman cain?

knob on August 1, 2010 at 4:15 PM

Whenever a liberal ad appears on here, I click it like crazy. What could be better than making liberals pay out of their own pockets to keep AllahP and Ed on the air? :-)

Mary in LA on August 1, 2010 at 2:27 PM

Amen.
If a lib ad shows up on a site like this you should click on it like mad.
Every click drains money out of Crist’s war chest.

billy on August 1, 2010 at 4:21 PM

Wisconsin is all about cheese, beer and bowling with snow mobiles and ice fishing thrown in during the long winters. Feingold acts like a rebel and they like rebels. But today the Tea Party are the true rebels. Look out Dems!

jimw on August 1, 2010 at 4:35 PM

Great politically speaking but Wisconsin is still a wasteland, second only to Gaza on the list of places that people should never visit.
Bishop on August 1, 2010 at 1:50 PM

That hurts…and is not true. *sniffle*

JediArashi on August 1, 2010 at 4:58 PM

We will see. When it gets down to it, plenty of people are still going to vote Dem. Turnout, turnout, turnout.

WisCon on August 1, 2010 at 5:24 PM

Do you mean big cajones like having a national platform for reforming our entitlement programs or big cojones like she makes liberals mad by making making statements that rile up both the conservative and liberal base?

cpaulus on August 1, 2010 at 2:14 PM

You need to go look at Palin’s record from city council member to Governor. She is all about reform.

Sarah cut Alaska’s budget by 10 percent. Stuffed billions in the bank for a rainy day. Sent corrupt Republicans to prison with the help of the FBI.

She walks the walk, and is one tough hombre.

You do realize that Palin supported the bailouts at the time for the same reason Ryan did, right?

cpaulus on August 1, 2010 at 2:23 PM

Wrong.

The only time she “supported” any of this was when she was running with Johnny Mac. A Veep candidate doesn’t generally undercut the top of the ticket in public.

Ryan actually voted for em.

Again, go look at her record. It is unmatched among anyone even fleetingly being considered for POTUS.

In the end, it all boils down to trust, and when it comes down, Palin is the only one you can trust to do the right thing.

gary4205 on August 1, 2010 at 5:25 PM

Great politically speaking but Wisconsin is still a wasteland, second only to Gaza on the list of places that people should never visit.

Bishop on August 1, 2010 at 1:50 PM

Well, that ought to keep the flatlanders out for a while. Now, how do we go about getting rid of all those a$$hats from MN and MI?

tcn on August 1, 2010 at 5:26 PM

Here, gary4205

Compare:

http://www.ontheissues.org/House/Paul_Ryan.htm

http://www.ontheissues.org/sarah_palin.htm

One’s more libertarian, one’s more populist.

cpaulus on August 1, 2010 at 5:32 PM

Wisconsin is all about cheese, beer and bowling with snow mobiles and ice fishing thrown in during the long winters.

Can’t be anywhere near as bad a Gaza, they’re all about beer!. Cheers, bowling and ice fishing does sound awfully depressing though.

swamp_yankee on August 1, 2010 at 5:50 PM

Cheese, not cheers…

swamp_yankee on August 1, 2010 at 5:50 PM

Great politically speaking but Wisconsin is still a wasteland, second only to Gaza on the list of places that people should never visit.

That’s only because the Democrats have been in charge for too long, something that will change come November. I hope.

Although if you remember Kevin Smith’s movie “Dogma”, the angels cast out of heaven (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon) were sent to live all of eternity in…Wisconsin as punishment for their disloyalty.

englishqueen01 on August 1, 2010 at 6:18 PM

Wisconsin going red would be good for Mitt Romney if he decides to run for POTUS in 2012…

Conservative Samizdat on August 1, 2010 at 6:30 PM

Mitt Who? Where?

dhunter on August 1, 2010 at 6:56 PM

I’m getting anti – Angle, pro – harry red ads all of the place here at HA. I just don’t click on them.

VegasRick on August 1, 2010 at 1:46 PM

You should. Reid gets charged for every click.

angryed on August 1, 2010 at 7:15 PM

Have you ever been to Wisconsin? That is just an absurd statement.

Alfresco on August 1, 2010 at 3:26 PM

Shhh we don’t want anymore of them here. Think we should start doing our own border checks.

wi farmgirl on August 1, 2010 at 7:57 PM

Wisconsin is all about cheese, beer and bowling with snow mobiles and ice fishing thrown in during the long winters. Feingold acts like a rebel and they like rebels. But today the Tea Party are the true rebels. Look out Dems!

jimw on August 1, 2010 at 4:35 PM

Most of the working class have much more in common with Sarah Palin than Feingold. They just want someone to fight for them and let them keep what they work so hard for. Then there are those who want to rule or be “kept”.

wi farmgirl on August 1, 2010 at 8:03 PM

Well, that ought to keep the flatlanders out for a while. Now, how do we go about getting rid of all those a$$hats from MN and MI?

tcn on August 1, 2010 at 5:26 PM

Take away all their lake cottage mansions?

wi farmgirl on August 1, 2010 at 8:09 PM

Great politically speaking but Wisconsin is still a wasteland, second only to Gaza on the list of places that people should never visit.

Bishop on August 1, 2010 at 1:50 PM

Bishop, pretty sure I saw you up on Lake Noquebay over Memorial Day weekend, this post was a pretty good attempt at keeping your hideaway secret. Maybe all the FIBs, FIBWATs & FIBWABs will believe you & stay away from Vilas & Door counties ;)

As for our fair state going red, I’d love to see it! I am a cautious optimist/pessimistic realist in that regard though. Remember the David Spade (Jeremy Piven too) flick PCU? That’s Madison & unless things have changed in the last 2 years, the only red going on there is the communist shade. Put it this way, Air America still exists there… Milwaukee’s got it’s issues too. It’s going to be pretty hard to overcome, but a worthy goal,

Mike in GB on August 1, 2010 at 10:48 PM

This is remarkable news, if it happens.

Jaibones on August 1, 2010 at 11:22 PM

Good. The GOP cannot afford to get shut out in Big 10 territory as it did in 2008. We have to take back Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa at the least.

NebCon on August 1, 2010 at 11:46 PM

Go red Wisconsin.

Sincerely, REDwhiteblue

redwhiteblue on August 2, 2010 at 10:49 AM

Since Ed decided to name me for remembering the only GOP candidate to take a statewide/Congressional office held by a Democrat in 2006, I suppose I should throw in my two cents’ worth over a couple comments. Do bear in mind that the all-but-open primaries haven’t been held yet, and most of the leading Republican candidates have somewhere between token and serious challengers (and some of the Democrats have, despite the best efforts of the machine, token challengers).

On the gubernatorial side, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker has enjoyed a lead in the polls over presumptive Dem nominee Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett. In fact, the latest Rasmussen poll gave Walker a 50%-43% lead, the first time Walker has been up to 50%.

Walker has, at least on paper, a credible challenger in former Congressman Mark Neumann. While Neumann has been within the margin of error against Barrett (with a turn toward the losing end as Neumann went negative against Walker), there have only been a couple polls on the primary, and Neumann’s been on the serious-losing end of them.

The good news for Neumann is he seems to have realized the anti-Walker campaign has backfired, and he has returned to what worked in his Congressional campaigns and very-nearly worked against Russ Feingold in 1998 – a focus on his brand of fiscal conservatism. Whether that results in a closer-than-expected showing (much like 1998) or even a win remains to be seen as this renewed focus only happened after the last poll.

steveegg on August 2, 2010 at 5:38 PM

Next up, the Senate race, and IMHO the toughest nut for the GOP to crack. Way back in January, Rasmussen showed a potential vulnerability for incumbent Dem Russ Feingold against former Governor Tommy Thompson, who was considering taking on Feingold as his triumphant return to politics. While the neck-and-neck part of that never translated to the two announced candidates at the time (Terrence Wall and Dave Westlake, both of whom were about 10 points back), Feingold couldn’t crack 50% against either person.

In April, Thompson decided not to run, and Wall actually started to close the gap on Feingold, getting as close as 6 poins. However, shortly after the Thompson drop-out, Ron Johnson decided to get in, and he made it known that he would be ready, willing and able to self-fund the campaign if necessary. That is vital because despite the fact that Feingold’s name is associated with campaign finance “reform”, he has over $4 million cash on hand, and he hasn’t been afraid to spend to keep his seat in the past.

That translated into an endorsement of Johnson at the state GOP convention in mid-May, despite no public polls that included Johnson being released at that point. Immediately after that, Rasmussen validated that endorsement by showing Johnson neck-and-neck against Feingold. In the wake of that, Wall dropped out.

Various polls have shown the Feingold-Johnson matchup to be essentially neck-and-neck, though only Rasmussen has, at least to this point, given the edge to Johnson. Meanwhile, Feingold has extended his lead against the woefully-underfunded Westlake, finally cracking the 50% margin in a couple of Rasmussen polls. Of note, this is the first election cycle, outside a single poll at the end of the 1998 campaign against Mark Neumann, that the polls showed an announced challenger to Feingold within even the margin of error (though I note no publicly-released poll showed Feingold winning either the hotly-contested Dem primary or the general against incumbent Bob Kasten).

Feingold has gone back to his pre-Senate state of mind, casting aside a carefully-crafted “nice guy/high road” image that earned him the 1992 upset that somehow survived the far-closer-than-expected challenge from Neumann in 1998, when just about every Feingold supporter threw the mud for Feingold. Feingold’s first TV ad of the campaign falsely accused Johnson of wanting to drill in the Great Lakes, and in a rally speech at his Hudson campaign office last week, he made some “curious” remarks involving fire, robbery, and Johnson’s family being the victim of said fire and robbery.

steveegg on August 2, 2010 at 6:13 PM

On the Congressional side, the telling tale is that Dave Obey, who represents the 7th (northwest part of the state), decided to drop out a week after he spent $30,000 on a poll. I don’t think that we’ll ever really know whether GOP front-runner Sean Duffy (the District Attorney in Ashland County) would have beat someone who entered Congress before the moon landings in a district that is, under normal circumstances, rather solidly Democrat, but the fact the Democrats were unwilling to sacrifice either of the two state Senators facing re-election this year who really wanted to succeed Obey, including Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, speaks volumes of what they think their chances of holding the seat are (slim and none).

Over in the 8th Congressional District (northeast), there is real optimism that the “swing district” in Wisconsin will see its 3rd party change in the last 12 years. Incumbent Dem Steve Kagen is just the 3rd Dem/Progressive over the last 100 years to last more than a single term. On the Presidential side, the 8th has been a bellwether, choosing the winner since 1980.

There is even hope for optimism in the 3rd (southwest). Despite almost no attention given that race, incumbent Dem Ron Kind faces a real challenge from state Sen. Dan Kapanke. A recent poll put Kapanke within 5 points, 44%-39%, and as poll-watchers know, an incumbent under 50% is vulnerable.

steveegg on August 2, 2010 at 6:39 PM

In the Legislature, it is almost a given that the current 52 D (including 1 “independent”)-48 R advantage in the Assembly will be wiped out after all 99 seats are up for election. That “independent”, former Republican Jeff Wood, will not be returning after multiple drunk driving convictions, and he represents a Republican-leaning district. Meanwhile, one of the Democrats, Bob Ziegelbauer, is running for re-election as an “independent”, and I somehow doubt he will be caucusing with the Democrats come January if he survives a dirty trick played by the Democrats to put their candidates on both the Democrat and Republican spots of the ballot. Regardless of how the Ziegelbauer race turns out, I believe the Republicans will pick up at least 3 seats to give them the majority in the Assembly.

Going into the “odd district” election cycle in the Senate, the Dems have an 18-15 advantage. There are three strong Republican challengers to incumbent Democrats this time around – Leah Vukmir taking on Jim Sullivan in the west suburbs of Milwaukee, Van Waangard taking on Jim Lehman in Racine, and Ed Thompson (yes, he’s the brother of Tommy) taking on Kathleen Vinehout in western Wisconsin.

steveegg on August 2, 2010 at 7:10 PM

On the partisan split, that is a bit harder to measure in Wisconsin than in most other states. Wisconsin does not maintain party registration. Indeed, the only person who knows in which party’s primary one voted is the person who cast the ballot; every party eligible to hold a partisan primary appears on the same ballot handed out to every voter.

The one part of the recent UW-Madison Badger Poll I can put even a little bit of confidence into is the partisan split question. In that month-long poll, the split among all 500 adults was 40% independent/31% Democrat/29% Republican, but among the 297 “likely” voters among those 500, it was 40% independent/34% Republican/26% Democrat.

steveegg on August 2, 2010 at 7:22 PM

Oops – that should be 52 D (including 1 “I”)/47 R in the Assembly. I should know better than to type while packing :-)

steveegg on August 2, 2010 at 7:37 PM

I’m getting anti – Angle, pro – harry red ads all of the place here at HA. I just don’t click on them.

VegasRick on August 1, 2010 at 1:46 PM

Actually, you should click on those ads – more money into the HotAir/Townhall coffers drined from the Dingy One’s campaign funds. Just be prepared to fumigate the computer afterwards.

steveegg on August 2, 2010 at 9:09 PM