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Obama's Bandwagon Rides Through Wisconsin

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On February 19th, Wisconsin voters will have the somewhat rare opportunity to weigh in on a presidential nomination process while the outcome is at least somewhat in doubt.

As Smart Politics wrote on Monday, Wisconsinites will move in greater numbers to the side of Barack Obama, owing to his sweep through Tuesday's primaries and his increased presence in the Badger State through media buys. But Obama did even better than that by speaking to a capacity crowd at the Kohl Center in Madison last night—the Illinois Senator will no doubt benefit from additional free advertising from subsequent local news coverage.

A new survey by the Republican polling firm Strategic Vision currently gives Obama a 45 to 41 percent edge over Hillary Clinton, but that poll's ending field date was Sunday. Expect the vast majority of undecided voters (14 percent in that poll) and some Clinton supporters to break to Obama in the coming days.

If this blog author has any particular insights into the political climate of the Badger State, it may be attributed, at least at the margins, for having grown up there: in a moderate to conservative rural area, but about an hour away from both Madison and Milwaukee—the liberal strongholds in the state.

Obama will not only draw a significant number of traditional Democratic voters to his side next Tuesday, but also the vast majority of the state's more rabid left wing elements (i.e. Madison). Wisconsin has an open primary, so Obama should also benefit from the state's large number of (disaffected) independents, who will be less tuned in to the nearly decided (and less publicized) Republican race. The independent streak in Wisconsin can be strong: 14 percent of Wisconsin voters in the 2002 Wisconsin Governor's race gave the nod to third party candidates.

In the end, Wisconsin will not be unlike many other states on the campaign trail that have already crossed the path of the Obama momentum machine—getting themselves hitched to a fast-moving bandwagon as it travels from state to state. Clinton strategists know this, and perhaps that is why the New York Senator was in Texas last night (gearing, perhaps, for an Alamo-like defense against this bandwagon). Obama followed his rally in Madison Tuesday evening with multiple additional appearances in Wisconsin today, while Clinton's upcoming schedule is packed with appearances in Texas and Ohio.

But, to be fair, the oncoming shift to Obama in Wisconsin cannot solely be attributed to the fact that Wisconsin likes a winner. For example, while it is true that the number of Green Bay Packer fans increased significantly in the Badger State during Brett Favre's reign, the state still had a substantial core following of the Green and Gold during the two decades of lean years since Vince Lombardi—especially in blue collar towns.

However, it is also true that in Madison (the antithesis of a Wisconsin blue collar town) you did not see many sell-out crowds for Badger football or basketball games prior to the arrival in the 1990s of star head coaches Barry Alvarez and Dick Bennett.

Obama too is a star, and certainly flashy enough to interest and motivate Madison's liberal (and radical) base next Tuesday.

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Remains of the Data

Which States Own the Best Track Record in Backing Eventual GOP Presidential Nominees?

Nine states (each with primaries) have an unblemished record in voting for the eventual Republican nominee since 1976 - and not all host contests on the back end of the calendar.

Political Crumbs

Evolving?

When Scott Walker "punted" back in February after being asked if he was comfortable with the idea of evolution he added, "That's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or the other." However, it may very well be a question that is asked at one of the upcoming GOP debates this year. In South Carolina during the first GOP debate in 2012, FOX News' Juan Williams asked Tim Pawlenty, "Do you equate the teaching of creationism with the teaching of evolution as the basis for what should be taught for our nation's schools?" Pawlenty replied, "There should be room in the curriculum for study of intelligent design" but that it was up to the local school districts if it should be in a science class or comparative theory class. At the fourth Republican debate held in California, Jon Huntsman addressed the GOP becoming "anti-science" thusly: "Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science. We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy."


73 Months and Counting

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