Politics & Policy

Wisconsin Wrap: New Poll, NYT Weighs In

• A new CNN/Time poll shows Ron Johnson leading Sen. Russ Feingold 52 to 44 percent among likely voters. The result does indeed “suggest that [Feingold] is fighting for his political life,” as the poll points out, but that is hardly news to anyone who has followed the race over the past month or so.

Even among registered voters, Johnson still leads 48 to 45 percent, according to the poll. That ought to be frightening news for Feingold, as it marks a turnaround from some earlier polls that showed him leading among registered voters. For an incumbent to be this far below 50 percent this close to Election Day, well, there’s a reason why most handicappers no longer view this race as a pure “Toss Up.” This says it all: Johnson leads 57 to 38 percent among likely independent voters.

The New York Times has weighed in on the race, in an editorial titled “Uphill in Wisconsin,” declaring Monday night’s debate in Wausau, Wis. a resounding victory for Sen. Feingold (BATTLE ‘10 respectfully disagrees) and praising the incumbent Democrat for defending his support for unpopular measures like Obamacare and the stimulus package — policies that the ungrateful masses would support too if they weren’t so busy taking orders from Glenn Beck. The Times’ take on the race, and the overall political mood of the nation, can be summed up in this one (partial) sentence: “The public’s lack of attention to detail, and Mr. Johnson’s willingness to exploit it, could end the career of Mr. Feingold…” Boo. Hoo. 

In summary (emphasis added):

Many Democrats are running away from their solid accomplishments of the last two years, apologizing for their association with President Obama. Mr. Feingold is one of the very few with the self-confidence to offer a full-throated defense of his votes.

But the Wisconsin electorate he faces seems to have lost its progressive streak and become more like other Midwestern states. Several polls have shown that the number of likely voters who consider themselves conservative has risen from a quarter of the electorate to nearly half. The misinformation and simplistic solutions propounded by talk radio and the Republican Party are having an effect even in a state that preferred Mr. Obama by 14 points two years ago.

Around the country, the Obama voters who were so energized in 2008 are rueful and dispirited, taking their cue from the timid races run by so many fearful Democratic candidates. Mr. Feingold is making the case that there is a choice to make on Nov. 2 and that there is a need for thoughtful voices in Washington.

Yes, it seems that enlightened, “progressive” Wisconsin, where voters shrewdly embraced the humble wisdom, postpartisan rhetoric and realistic promises Mr. Obama was peddling in 2008, but have since soured — through a combination of ignorance and mind-control — on his “solid accomplishments,” is in real danger of becoming “more like other Midwestern states.”

As for that final sentence — “Mr. Feingold is making the case that there is a choice to make on Nov. 2 and that there is a need for thoughtful voice in Washington.” — BATTLE ‘10 agrees, and refers you to the top half of this post.

Andrew StilesAndrew Stiles is a political reporter for National Review Online. He previously worked at the Washington Free Beacon, and was an intern at The Hill newspaper. Stiles is a 2009 ...

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