Herb Kohl continues to look like a solid favorite for reelection to the Senate from Wisconsin and if he decides to retire Russ Feingold would be favored in an open seat situation to reclaim a place there as well.
Kohl is one of the more popular Senators in the country, with 50% of voters approving of the job he's doing to 30% who disapprove. The key contributor to his strong numbers is where he stands with independents, 54% of whom like the job he's doing to only 27% who disapprove. Also propping him up is that Democrats are much more united in their approval of him (75%) than Republicans are in their disapproval (55%).
Kohl leads by anywhere from 7 to 15 points in hypothetical contests against the trio of Republicans we tested as possible candidates. The strongest of the GOP folks is Congressman Paul Ryan, who trails 49-42. Against former Congressman and 2010 Gubernatorial primary loser Mark Neumann, Kohl leads 51-37. And against Attorney General JB Van Hollen Kohl leads 52-37.
Ryan's statewide favorability numbers have declined in the wake of his giving the GOP response to the State of the Union address in January. In December his favorability was a +8 spread at 38/30. That's now dropped 7 points to just +1 at 36/35. His numbers with Republicans are basically identical to where they were before giving that speech, but he's seen a pretty big hit in his numbers with Democrats. Before 16% had a positive opinion of him and only 51% had a negative one. Now his favorable number has dropped to 9% and his unfavorable has spiked to 62%.
It's still not clear if Kohl will seek reelection. If he doesn't, Feingold would start out with nearly identical poll numbers against this trio of Republicans. He leads Ryan by the exact same 49-42 margin as Kohl, has a 50-40 edge over Neumann, and bests Van Hollen by a 51/39 spread.
Feingold remains a pretty popular figure with Wisconsin voters. 51% rate him favorably to only 39% with a negative opinion. That may seem counterintuitive just four months after he was defeated for reelection, but the reality is he didn't fall out of favor with Wisconsinites as a whole, just the Wisconsinites who bothered to vote in last year's midterm election where Democratic turnout was fatally low. With a Presidential year electorate Feingold's standing is pretty solid.
Winning this seat isn't out of the realm of possibility for the GOP but it's going to be a lot harder next year than it was last year, and it's certainly not very high up the list of seats Republicans could pick off next year.
Full results here