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McCain Making Inroads in Wisconsin

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A Quinnipiac survey of likely voters conducted in late July showed John McCain neck-and-neck with Barack Obama in Minnesota, but trailing by double-digits in Wisconsin. At that time Smart Politics warned that the political history of the region would make it very unlikely for McCain to perform better in Minnesota than in the Badger State.

A new Rasmussen poll released today shows the weight of history bearing down on Obama in Wisconsin – an 11-point Obama lead from early July is now reduced to just 4 points: 47 to 43 percent. This conforms to the recent trend of McCain gaining ground on Obama in other state polls, as documented by Smart Politics earlier this week.

Is the new Rasmussen poll evidence of a true surge for McCain in Wisconsin, or is it a ‘phantom surge’ produced by the imprecision of public opinion surveys? One sign from the Rasmussen poll indicates the new numbers cannot be dismissed so easily: in the July 8th Rasmussen poll, 65 percent of likely Wisconsin voters disapproved of President Bush’s job performance. In the new August 5th poll, precisely 65 percent of likely Wisconsin voters again disapprove of Bush’s performance. In short, it does not appear at first glance that Rasmussen’s likely voter screen oversampled gung-ho Republicans in the new August poll; there is real momentum for McCain.

What is more likely an explanation for McCain’s rising numbers is the ad war he launched in the Badger State several weeks ago. McCain has been running several different ads in Wisconsin that attack Obama’s leadership skills, his energy plan, as well as his ‘celebrity’ (in the now quite famous spot). Obama has responded to the McCain ads in Wisconsin – but mostly on the substantive points on energy policy.

For those political junkies who were worried Obama would win Wisconsin in a cakewalk, have no fear: Wisconsin, you still are a true battleground state.

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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

January's preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show Minnesota's unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was once again lower than Wisconsin's 5.0 percent. That marks the 73rd consecutive month in which Minnesota has boasted a lower jobless rate than its neighbor to the east dating back to January 2009 including each of the last 67 months by at least one point. The Gopher State has now edged Wisconsin in the employment border battle for 204 of the last 216 months dating back to February 1997. Wisconsin only managed a lower unemployment rate than Minnesota for the 12 months of 2008 during this 18-year span.


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