The Republican dream of taking back the Senate could be fading away as Democrat Tammy Baldwin has opened up a three point lead on Tommy Thompson, 48%-45%.
A new Democracy For America poll of Wisconsin found that the presidential race is staying close in the state, with Obama leading Romney 49%-48%, but in the Senate election Tammy Baldwin has taken a three point lead over Tommy Thompson 48%-45. The biggest difference in the Senate contest is in approval ratings. Thompson has a net (-13) rating. Only 40% of those polled have a favorable rating of the Republican, compared to 53% who hold an unfavorable view. Baldwin is also underwater, but she is at a net (-1). Forty four percent of those polled view her favorably, and forty five percent unfavorably.
As with other contests in 2012, voters have pretty much already made up their minds. Ninety percent of Wisconsin respondents are firmly committed to their choice. The remaining ten percent who might change their minds will be aggressively pursued by both campaigns between now and Election Day.
If Baldwin’s lead and Elizabeth Warren’s surge in Massachusetts continue to hold, it is going to be very difficult for Republicans to take control of the Senate. Republicans need to flip four seats, but lackluster candidates and a few of the typical tea party primary implosions in Indiana and Missouri have turned what looked like a potential sure thing into an uphill battle.
What is becoming clearer by the day is that the Democratic Party is drawing its energy from the top. The performances at the Democratic convention seem to have energized the base and brought Democrats back home. As we saw in the recent round of polling in Massachusetts, it is possible to for voters to view their Senate elections through a national prism. Democrats are keenly aware of what Republican senate victories mean for the future even if they are successful in reelecting Obama.
Thanks to his selection of Paul Ryan, Wisconsin is perhaps the only state where Romney’s presence at the top of the ticket isn’t an immediate killer down ballot. Romney is being helped by Ryan, but the sense of growing doom surrounding the Romney campaign is depressing Republicans who were already not enthused about supporting their nominee.
If Republicans fail to flip the Senate they can look back on the nomination of Romney as a symptom of a greater condition. Republicans have been plagued by their unpopularity in Congress and terrible candidate selection for two cycles now. Democrats have again fielded a stronger slate of candidates, and as support for Obama has grown, the Democratic rocket has launched.
Tea Party Senate candidates and establishment Republicans like Thompson are equally struggling. Democrats seem to be taking the message of giving Obama a Congress that he can work with to heart. While Republicans fumble, Democrats are active, engaged, and ready to win.
Given the Republicans attitudes about same sex marriage and women, how fitting would it be for an openly gay candidate to crush the Republican Party’s Senate takeover dreams?