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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

Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

Political Crumbs

Six for Thirteen

Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


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.


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