Likely voters from Wisconsin and two other swing states agreed 4-1 that former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney won the first debate against President Barack Obama last week, which has narrowed Obama’s lead, according to a new poll.
A Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times poll released Thursday indicated Obama still holds a three-point lead in Wisconsin. After leading by six points in September, the poll found Obama is up 50 to 47 percent. However, 65 percent of likely voters said Romney won the first debate.
University of Wisconsin College Republicans Chair Jeff Snow said he thinks Romney’s performance debate last week was a turning point in his campaign.
“I think that the debate clearly shows Mitt Romney is the person that can actually get the middle class working again, that can restore the greatness of America and that resonates with people in Wisconsin,” Snow said. “This will be the first election since 1984 where Wisconsin will turn red.”
Sixty-five percent of likely Wisconsin voters also support Romney’s leadership qualities. Most also believe the former Massachusetts governor would better address the nation’s budget deficit than Obama. But the poll indicated voters think the president cares more than Romney about their needs and would best handle health care.
Regarding last night’s vice presidential debate, the Oct. 4-9 poll showed 49 percent of likely Wisconsin voters predicted fellow Wisconsinite Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, to win the debate versus 32 percent of voters for Vice President Joe Biden.
Prior to last night’s vice presidential debate, UW Political Science Professor David Canon projected Romney’s impressive showing at last week’s debate put more pressure on Ryan.
The poll also found the Senate race is essentially tied, as Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin’s lead has dwindled. Baldwin is up 48 to 46 with a three-point margin of error over former Wis. Gov. Tommy Thompson. Among likely independent voters, the candidates are deadlocked at 46 percent apiece.
According to John Kraus, spokesperson for Baldwin’s campaign, Thursday’s poll is not significant in terms of the scope of the election, as 11 recent public polls show Tommy Thompson is losing support. Kraus said this is because voters understand Thompson is not representative of Wisconsin anymore.
Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate agreed, adding Tammy Baldwin is a fighter for the middle class who supports education, health care and job growth. He contrasted this with Thompson, who he said has lost touch with the values of average voters in Wisconsin.
“Tommy Thompson is just not the same guy anymore,” Tate said. “This is a guy that went off and made millions of dollars. He’s a lobbyist selling his influence and can’t even remember how many homes he owns anymore.”
Canon noted Thompson is regaining ground due to the rise in support for Republicans in general since Romney’s debate accomplishment.
Nevertheless, he said the Quinnipiac poll is indicative of a more competitive Senate race, although Wisconsin is still leaning Democratic in other polls.
“You can’t ever base any kind of conclusions about what a race is doing based on one poll,” he said.