A poll released Thursday shows Democratic contenders in Senate recalls closing the gap between them and their Republican challengers, which could mean a possible switch in the control of the Senate toward a Democrat majority after the recall elections this summer.
These new polls, officially released Tuesday, differ from an April 17 Public Policy Polling poll. Both are Democratic polling companies. They placed most of the Republican Senators leading all the Democratic contenders, often by a 10-point lead.
The poll was conducted by Virginia-based polling group Myers Research in late March and early April under the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, a Washington-based group dedicated to electing Democrats to state legislative seats around the country. The new poll claims to have a 4.9 percent margin of error.
The polling report has Democrat and former member of the Assembly John Lehman leading Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, by a 51 to 47 percent margin. The PPP poll had Wanggaard leading 49 to 47.
“The poll results released today are very similar to what we have seen previously. They are slightly encouraging given the massive ad campaign the governor has been running for months,” Lehman said.
Nevertheless, Lehman said the district is historically a competitive district, often splitting evenly between Democrats and Republicans. In order to further his success in this campaign, Lehman said he is counting on many enthusiastic recall volunteers, including circulators in Racine, to help him.
The poll also had Democrat Kristen Dexter trailing Republican Sen. Terry Moulton, R-Chippewa Falls, by 49 to 47 percent. The PPP poll had Moulton leading Dexter 51 to 41 percent.
For the recall of former Sen. Pam Galloway, R-Wausau, the DLCC poll had Rep. Donna Seidel, D-Wausau, trailing Republican Jerry Petrowski, R-Marathon, 51 to 45. The PPP poll gave Petrowski a wider lead at 51 to 37. Galloway resigned for family reasons in early March.
Other than simply predicting the outcomes of the upcoming election, the Myers Research Group observed that in 2010, two of the three districts polled showed a significant enthusiasm gap as well as a lack of party self-identification.
However, these recent polls have shown a completely different trend. Partisan identification has improved and enthusiasm about the recall elections has rebounded, the Myers Research Group said.
In a statement, DLCC Executive Director Michael Sargeant said the poll shows Wisconsin voters are tired of Republican policies and the poll shows their frustration.
“Van Wanggaard, Terry Moulton and Jerry Petrowski betrayed the working families of Wisconsin by voting in lock-step with Scott Walker’s extreme anti-worker agenda, and now all Wisconsinites are suffering the consequences,” Sargeant said in a statement. “Voters are demanding a change.”
However, Common Cause in Wisconsin Executive Director Jay Heck said polls could vary week by week, especially since the election is about a month away. He said the election is going to be close since all the districts are swing districts.
For example, he said Racine has been the biggest swing district in the state, and over the past 30 years the area has seen six Senators.
“Anybody reading anything into these polls is reading too much,” Heck said. “Next week’s polls could show a different picture.”
The poll did not include any data on the race between Lori Compas and Senate Republican Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau. The PPP poll put Fitzgerald at 54 and Compas at 40.