The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the Public Policy Polling released a poll Thursday that has President Barack Obama with a six point lead over Mitt Romney in Wisconsin. This joined several other polls all giving the president about a five to seven point lead heading into the final six weeks of the campaign. The polls have come out at a time when the nation is looking at Wisconsin as a litmus test for the nation’s leanings headed into the election.
The New York Times blog FiveThirtyEight wrote about waiting to hear from Wisconsin, a swing state that had not been polled since the convention cycle. Specifically, they wondered what had happened since the selection of Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan had gotten him within two points of the president.
Nevertheless, Romney is doubling down on Wisconsin with the ‘Super PAC’ Restore Our Future putting $820,000 into ads for the state. This came after Romney had already invested in eight other swing states, and is surprising that they made a later decision to invest in Wisconsin, where we have been such a clear example of the economic and social conversations happening around the country.
The president has also increased his interest in Wisconsin, spending $353,000 on ads this week and attending a rally in Milwaukee this past Saturday.
The heightened attention and perceived ‘in-play’ aspect for Wisconsin is certainly interesting. Romney’s spokesman Ryan Williams told USA Today, “The president’s team never thought he would need to seriously defend Wisconsin, but his failed economic policies, crushing tax hikes and abysmal jobs record have put the Badger State in play.”
Consider that with the fact that it is Paul Ryan’s home state and presidential candidates have carried their VP’s state 72 percent of the time since World War II. Not to mention the loud majority of support Gov. Scott Walker received in his recall, and it is almost surprising it is not Romney with the slight edge heading into October.
Actually, the seven-point lead for the president looks strikingly similar to Gov. Walker’s 53 to 46 percent victory over Tom Barrett in the recall election in June. I think it is a testament to the people of Wisconsin that the numbers could vary so widely. As an electorate we do a good job of separating issues, but it seems for many in the middle, defending Walker and his decisions doesn’t translate automatically to Romney.
Walker won because he effectively convinced the people of Wisconsin he cared about their needs and was willing to take definitive actions to help. This is exactly the kind of thing Romney desperately wants to rub off on him, but for now it doesn’t seem like Wisconsinites are buying it. The Public Policy Poll showed Obama with a 17-point lead over Romney when voters were asked if the candidate cared about their needs and problems, a number perhaps inflated by the Mother Jones video in which Romney called 47 percent of the country “victims … who believe the government has a responsibility to take care of them.” Romney wrote those 47 percent of people who don’t pay federal income tax off as automatic Obama supporters, but right now, he probably wants them back.
John Waters ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in journalism.