Politics & Policy

Hillary Has a Serious Problem in the Upper Midwest

Clinton at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa. (Scott Olson/Getty)

Charles Franklin is one of the best pollsters in the business, and his fantastic Marquette Law Poll is indispensable. The poll is accurate: It called the Wisconsin recall, predicted both Scott Walker and Barack Obama’s reelections, and forecast Tammy Baldwin’s win over Tommy Thompson. Even better, it’s detailed. Franklin’s meticulous crosstabs, which are unmatched by any other state poll in the nation, break down by region and boast valuable sample sizes.

As I have highlighted before over at Ace of Spades, elections in Wisconsin tend to come down not to turnout in the Milwaukee suburbs, in Madison, and in Milwaukee as one might think, but to turnout in the northern regions: specifically, in Green Bay and Appleton, and in the mishmash of smaller media markets that make up the northwestern portion of the state. In 2012, President Obama barely lost in Green Bay, but he won in the swingy northwestern region. Governor Walker carried both areas convincingly in 2012 and 2014. If you want to zero in on any place in order to figure out what is going to happen next November, it is there that you should put your ear to the ground.

If you do, you will hear bad news for Hillary Clinton. In MuLaw’s inaugural poll of February 2012, President Obama enjoyed a not great but not bad net approval of +2 and -1 in Green Bay and the “rest of” the northwestern part of Wisconsin respectively. For the balance of the year, he maintained decent numbers in both, and he eventually won the state by nearly seven points.

How do things look now for Mrs. Clinton?

Data pulled from the MuLaw Poll November 19th 2015

Simply put: Things look precarious. In the Green Bay area, Hillary is strongly disliked. Moreover, only 3 percent of respondents said either that they hadn’t heard of Clinton at all, or that they had no opinion of her. In the state’s other regions, where she is similarly unpopular, her “don’t know” number was just 5 percent. By contrast, Marco Rubio and Ben Carson have even favorability scores in both regions, and a sizable portion of respondents who have yet to form an opinion. This is no blip in the data. MuLaw’s August poll found Clinton at -20 and -12, while the September poll found her at -24 and -15.

#share#What does this mean? Well, the usual caveats apply: Yes, it is just one poll. But it is also a good poll, from a pollster with a fantastic record and a tradition of full methodological disclosure. Moreover, Clinton’s poor numbers in critical areas are not an artifact of a bad sample, they’re consistent. These regions are overwhelmingly white and blue collar, and that matters. Why? Because while President Obama did poorly among white voters nationally, he did well enough with these Protestant northern moderates to win reelection. In 2008, Hillary Clinton did poorly in Green Bay and beyond. Alarmingly for her, it looks like the last seven years have seen no improvement in her situation.

A Midwest that looks a lot like the 2000 election map may be materializing right before our eyes, providing another opening, perhaps, in the faux “blue wall” in the Electoral College.


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