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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

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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