A new poll released Thursday showed President Barack Obama is clinging to a narrow lead in Wisconsin over former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., with only a few days left before Tuesday’s election.
The NBC News, Wall Street Journal and Marist College poll indicates Obama leads Romney 49 percent to 46 percent in Wisconsin and is within the three point margin of error. The poll was conducted Oct. 28 to 29 and surveyed 1,065 likely voters in the state.
Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and former Gov. Tommy Thompson are in an even tighter race for U.S. Senate, with Baldwin at 48 percent and Thompson at 47 percent.
A poll released Wednesday by Marquette University Law School showed both Democrats with leads that were at least five points higher than the NBC/WSJ/Marist poll.
A Rasmussen poll released Thursday showed Obama and Romney are tied in the state at 49 percent each and found Thompson leading Baldwin 48 percent to 47 percent.
The University of Wisconsin College Democrats and Republicans debate which of the polls is more accurate. However, UW journalism and political science professor Dhavan Shah said the results from each poll should be taken with a grain of salt.
“Everyone thinks these polls give you a number,” Shah said. “But what they do is they give you a number within a range within of a margin of error, and that’s sampling. You’re going to see a variation around that particular value.”
Shah, an expert on the effects of communication on political opinion, added in most polls shown so far, Obama has had the lead in Wisconsin.
UW College Republicans spokesperson Ryan Hughes said he thinks the NBC/WSJ/Marist and Rasmussen polls are a better representation of how close the presidential contest is in Wisconsin.
“[The polls are] all over the place, but it’s more indicative because you’re seeing the president come here three times in the five days before the election,” Hughes said. “It shows that this state is very competitive. He would not be spending his time here if he did have an eight-point lead.”
Obama was in Green Bay Thursday and will be in Milwaukee Saturday before he returns to Madison Monday. Romney will speak near Milwaukee Friday morning.
Thursday’s NBC/WSJ/Marist poll may not be as accurate as Wednesday’s Marquette poll, according to UW College Democrats Chair Chris Hoffman.
While both polls indicate Obama has the lead, Hoffman noted the presidential race is hotly contested in Wisconsin and will likely be determined by approximately 10,000 voters.
The high frequency of local campaign visits this late in the race demonstrates how significant Wisconsin is to the 2012 election, Hoffman said.
“It not only shows how close it is; it shows how important it is,” he said. “It shows if either candidate wants to win, they’re going to have to win Wisconsin, hands down.”
The NBC/WSJ/Marist poll found among the 25 percent of voters who have voted early or plan to do so before the Friday deadline, Obama holds a substantial lead over Romney, 59 percent to 39 percent. The poll also said Obama holds a slight edge in two other swing states, Iowa and New Hampshire.