A poll conducted by Republican pollster Luntz Global, released on August 17th, found Democratic former Senator Russ Feingold comfortably ahead of incumbent GOP Senator Ron Johnson 50-42 percent in the 2016 Wisconsin Senate race. The contest is a rematch of the 2010 race, when Johnson unseated Feingold.
Senator Johnson rode a GOP wave to victory in 2010, the same year Scott Walker was first elected Wisconsin Governor. Although Walker survived a recall effort and also won re-election in 2014, Wisconsin voters appear to have soured on Senator Johnson. Many of them would like Russ Feingold to return to the U.S. Senate to represent them.
Although Feingold holds a solid lead in the Senate race in the Republican commissioned poll, GOP strategist Frank Luntz hilariously tried to spin the poll as a positive for Senator Ron Johnson. In a press release, Luntz stated:
Wisconsin voters are clear: they want leaders who will make the world safer, more secure, and more stable for the long term. And Russ Feingold is not that leader.
Clearly Mr. Luntz had trouble understanding his own poll numbers. He interpreted a Democratic candidate beating a standing U.S. Senator by 8 percentage points, as a clear sign that Wisconsin voters do not want the guy with the big lead to win. Only in the deluded mindset of a Republican pollster could an 8-point deficit be considered proof that voters really, really want Ron Johnson to win.
In the Wisconsin senate race, the situation has gotten so bad for the Republicans that they actually consider being down by 8 points as “good news.” Not only did Luntz conduct the poll, but he decided to release it. Usually partisan pollsters are reluctant to release polls that show their candidate trailing, but apparently Luntz felt trailing by 8 was something he could spin as a sign that Ron Johnson still has a chance to hang onto his senate seat.
When an incumbent senator is reduced to having his supporters brag that he still has a chance to win, you can be pretty sure that behind the boast is a senator who is toast. The election is still over a year away, but at this point Senator Johnson appears to be in serious danger of giving his seat back to Russ Feingold.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.