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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

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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