Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Feingold leads by 2

It's looking more and more likely that Wisconsin will be in the top tier of competitive Senate races this fall. Russ Feingold leads challenger Ron Johnson by only two points, 45-43. Johnson is polling closer to Feingold than Tommy Thompson was as he contemplated a potential campaign.

Wisconsin voters are evenly divided in their feelings about Feingold with 42% giving him good marks and 42% think he's doing a poor job. Feingold's reviews are nearly completely polarized along party lines, with 71% of Democrats approving of him and 72% of Republicans disapproving. Independents are also against him by a 39/46 margin, reflecting their unhappiness with most all incumbents across the country right now.

Johnson is largely unknown to voters in the state. 62% have no opinion of him. Among those who do feelings are pretty divided with 20% seeing him favorably and 18% unfavorably. Johnson's anonymity, in contrast to Thompson, may actually help GOP prospects for winning the seat. Thompson's popularity has been on the decline since he was elected to his 4th term as Governor, and our last poll before he decided not to run had found him with a negative 40/44 favorability spread. A fresher face may be helpful for Republicans as they try to pull off the upset in this race.

Matched head to head Feingold gets 83% of the Democratic vote while Johnson gets 78% of the Republicans. Johnson wins over independents 46-39. Feingold leads the other Republican candidate, Dave Westlake, by a wider45-38 margin. Numbers on the primary to be released later this week show that the race for the Republican nomination is not very competitive.

The potential competitiveness of this race may have more to do with Barack Obama's declining popularity in the state than anything Feingold himself has done. Obama won Wisconsin easily in 2008 but now has just a 45% approval rating with 50% of voters unhappy with his performance. 51% of voters are opposed to the health care bill to just 38% in support. In the places where Obama's fortunes are falling he's bringing the electoral prospects of Democratic candidates down with him.

Feingold is certainly still favored in the race, but it's likely to be a tougher road to reelection than he faced in 2004 and this could be one of the most closely watched races in the country if things develop such that this seat could determine whether Democrats remain in control of the Senate.

Full results here


wt said...

As I recall Rasmussen put out a poll on 5/25 showing a similar 2-point lead for Feingold.

Nate Silver slammed the poll as misleading, calling out Rasmussen for his methods, and that slam was copied throughout the liberal blogosphere.

What do you know. Feingold leads Johnson by 2. Maybe a month ago it was wrong, but now it's the CW.

DBL said...

It's a weird wishful thinking by Democrats that Rasmussen is always wrong. I suppose it makes them feel good to think the Democrats will be fine this fall. We knew 2006 and 2008 were going to stink for us and accepted it.

About 40% of Rasmussen's polls have been an outlier. That's significant but that means 60% are in line with others. That doesn't go well with the "they're always wrong" idea.

The problem I have with Rasmussen is that, unlike Tom, they don't publish in tabs. The two most important factors are electorate composition and independent voting. You can't check Rasmussen that way.

That doesn't mean they're wrong. Likely voters will lean more Republican and they and PPP are among the few to use a likely voter screen.

KS21 said...

Feingold will also have to explain his vote against Financial Reform.

Feingold is an ideological purist. We need less of them in congress.

Anonymous said...

The poll has only 48% Obama voters compared with 47% for McCain. In 2008 the vote was 56-42. If this is what the electorate will look like then it will indeed be a tough race. If the electorate looks more like it did in 2008 Russ will win easily.

herbs814 said...

WT, this is what leftists do. They smear Rasmussen BECAUSE HE IS RIGHT and BECAUSE HE IS RELIABLE. Leftists attack those who tell the truth because they prefer to live in darkness and delusion.

DBL, while Rasmussen's screen is not released on his free site, PPP has admitted that their screen is only people who voted at least once in the last 3 general elections. That is an incredibly light "likely" voter screen, little better than a registered voter poll. Sporadic general election voting to screen for a midterm election? Really? Since this will be a more pro-Republican midterm year, such a light "likely" voter screen is misleading. No wonder Rasmussen is more reliable.

VA Blogger said...

DBL, Rasmussen actually does post their crosstabs, you just have to pay to access them.

thegiggletest said...

I agree with most of the comments. Rasmussen is more reliable because it only takes into account LIKELY VOTERS, not simply ANONYMOUS individuals.

Dustin Ingalls said...

"DBL, Rasmussen actually does post their crosstabs, you just have to pay to access them."

Which is not transparency.

"PPP has admitted that their screen is only people who voted at least once in the last 3 general elections."

No, that's who we call. Those who bother to respond likely vote more often because they sit through a 20-40-question poll when most people hang up. That strengthens our screen, and it's evidenced by the fact that in most states, self-reported McCain voters outweigh the proportion McCain actually got in those states, and in some states Obama won, McCain voters in our poll even outnumber Obama voters. Regardless, both the Wall Street Journal and Nate Silver have rated PPP as more accurate than Rasmussen.

Anonymous said...

You should withdraw this poll. You have Obama voters turning out in Ohio at almost the same percentage as 2008, but you have more than a quarter of the Wisconsin Obama voters not voting.

That is impossible. Both samples can't be right. The Wisconsin is obviously flawed because even with 25% of Obama voters eliminated, Feingold still outperfroms Obama.

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