Businessman Ron Johnson, endorsed at last weekend’s state Republican Convention, is now running virtually even against incumbent Democrat Russ Feingold in Wisconsin’s race for the U.S. Senate.
A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in Wisconsin shows Feingold with 46 percent support to Johnson’s 44 percent. Three percent (3 percent) prefer some other candidate, and six percent (6 percent) remain undecided.
As he has in surveys since the beginning of the year, Feingold continues to fall just short of 50 percent regardless of which Republican he’s matched against. Incumbents who earn less than 50 percent of the vote at this stage of a campaign are considered potentially vulnerable. Feingold was reelected to a third term in 2004 with 56 percent of the vote.
This is the first survey to include Johnson, the latest entrant in Wisconsin’s topsy-turvy GOP Senate field. Former Governor Tommy Thompson froze the field for months with speculation that he would run, and Rasmussen Reports surveys consistently showed him running even or better against Feingold.
Then in April Thompson announced he wasn’t running, and Richard Leinenkugel, the state’s Commerce secretary, jumped in. But Feingold outdistanced Leinenkugel and two longtime candidates in the race, real estate entrepreneur Terrence Wall and businessman Dave Westlake, in a survey last month.
Johnson has entered the contest since then and won the party endorsement on the first ballot of the convention, after Leinenkugel in a surprise move threw his support to the newcomer. State Republicans will pick their nominee in a September 14 primary, but Johnson for now is widely expected to win.
Feingold now earns 47 percent support against Wall, who picks up 41 percent of the vote. Five percent (5 percent) like another candidate, and seven percent (7 percent) are undecided.
In a match-up with Westlake, Feingold again gets 47 percent to his GOP opponent’s 38 percent. Seven percent (7 percent) favor some other candidate in the race. Eight percent (8 percent) are undecided.
The survey of 500 likely voters in Wisconsin was conducted on May 25, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4.5 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC.
In all three match-ups, Feingold carries female voters by a double-digit margin, while the Republicans hold similar leads among male voters. Voters not affiliated with either party give the edge to the Democrat.
Voters in Wisconsin oppose the recently passed national health care bill that Feingold supported and favor an immigration law like the one Arizona has adopted.
Fifty-six percent (56 percent) of voters in the state favor repeal of the health care bill, while 38 percent oppose repeal. This includes 45 percent who strongly favor it and 30 percent who are strongly opposed. This marks slightly less support for repeal than is found nationally.
Eighty-one percent (81 percent) of those who strongly favor repeal support Johnson; Westlake and Wall get the majority of those voters, too, but not as many. Feingold in all three match-ups picks up 89 percent support from those who Strongly Oppose repeal.
Fifty-seven percent (57 percent) of Wisconsin voters favor passage of a law like Arizona’s in their state, roughly comparable to voter sentiments nationwide. Twenty-nine percent (29 percent) are opposed, and 15 percent are undecided.
Most voters who support such a law favor the Republicans. Feingold earns similar support from those who oppose a law like Arizona’s in the state.
Support is stronger for the chief provision of the Arizona law. Sixty-six percent (66 percent) think a local police officer should be required to check the immigration status of anyone stopped for a traffic violation or some other kind of violation if the officer suspects the person is an illegal immigrant.
Twenty-four percent (24 percent) oppose that requirement.
Feingold is viewed very favorably by 32 percent of voters in Wisconsin and Very Unfavorably by 26 percent.
For Johnson, Very Favorables are 12 percent and very unfavorables six percent (6 percent).
Six percent (6 percent) hold a very favorable opinion of Wall, while eight percent (8 percent) view him Very Unfavorably.
Westlake is seen Very favorably by four percent (4 percent) and Very Unfavorably by seven percent (7 percent).
At this point in a campaign, Rasmussen Reports considers the number of people with a strong opinion more significant than the total favorable/unfavorable numbers. The low level of strong opinions for Johnson, and the fact that the incumbent’s support is virtually unchanged no matter which Republican is asked about, suggests that the overall survey results should probably be viewed primarily as a referendum on Feingold rather than a choice between two candidates.
Wisconsin voters have mixed feelings about Elena Kagan, President Obama’s latest nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, but 40 percent think the Senate should confirm her. Thirty-two percent (32 percent) oppose confirmation, and 28 percent more are not sure. Those results, however, are much more positive than the national average.
Just 29 percent are at least somewhat confident that Congress knows what it is doing with regards to the nation’s current economic problems. Sixty-eight percent (68 percent) are not very or not at all confident of that. That’s about the same as voter views nationwide.
Thirty-eight percent (38 percent) are at least somewhat confident that their representative in Congress represents the voters’ best interests. Fifty-nine percent (59 percent) don’t share that confidence.
Thirty-seven percent (37 percent) in Wisconsin say a group of people randomly selected from a phone book would do a better job addressing the nation’s problems than the current Congress. Forty-three percent (43 percent) disagree, but another 20 percent aren’t sure. Nationally, 41 percent prefer the phone book and 38 percent disagree.
Voters in Wisconsin are now evenly divided in their assessment of the president. Forty-nine percent (49 percent) approve of the job he is doing, while 50 percent disapprove. However, this is slightly better than Obama’s approval ratings nationally in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll.
In 2008, Rasmussen Reports projected nationally that Obama would defeat John McCain by a 52 percent to 46 percent margin. Obama won 53 percent to 46 percent. Four years earlier, Rasmussen Reports projected the national vote totals for both George W. Bush and John Kerry within half-a-percentage-point.
In Wisconsin during the 2008 campaign, Rasmussen Reports polling showed Obama defeating McCain by a 51 percent to 44 percent margin. Obama won 56 percent to 43 percent. Four years earlier, Rasmussen polling showed Kerry leading Bush in the state by a 48 percent to 46 percent margin. Kerry won 50 percent to 49 percent.
In 2006 Senator Herb Kohl was ahead of Robert Lorge 64 percent to 25 percent in the final Rasmussen poll. Kohl won 67 percent to 30 percent. In the governor’s race that year, Rasmussen polling showed Jim Doyle leading Mark Green 48 percent to 44 percent. Doyle won 53 percent to 45 percent.
In 2004, the last time Feingold won re-election, Rasmussen polling showed Feingold leading 53 percent to 43 percent. Feingold won 55 percent to 44 percent.