Presidential, Senate Races Both a Dead Heat, New Poll Says
Marquette University Law School's newest poll puts the presidential race between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney and Wisconsin's U.S. Senate race as too close to call.
The presidential race is a dead heat in Wisconsin, according to a Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday.
President Barack Obama has 49 percent of the support of likely voters polled, while Republican Mitt Romney has 48 percent.
"The candidates are separated by fractions of percentages," noted Professor Charles Franklin, who oversees the poll for the university.
The first presidential debate had a signficant impact on the respondants, he added. Just two weeks ago, Obama led Romney by 14 points; 54 to 40 percent, but among those who watched the first debate, Romney took the lead by two points, 50 to 48. Obama retains a wide margin by those who did not watch the debate, 50 to 42 percent.
"Rarely has a debate produced such a large movement in the polls," Franklin said in a written release. "President Obama held a steady lead, but now the race is a pure tossup, in large measure because of the first debate."
Who will we send to Washington?
When it comes to the U.S. Senate race between Democrat Tammy Baldwin and Republican Tommy Thompson, there's also a tie.
Thompson edges Baldwin by a point - 46 to 45 percent, but it's too close to call it anything other than another dead heat.
"The difference is three respondents, not percent, people," said broadcaster Mike Gousha, who, along with Franklin, released the poll results as part of MU's year-long polling project.
Last month, Baldwin lead Thompson by nine points, a complete turn-around from the August poll when Thompson was the one in the lead by nine points. Two weeks ago, Baldwin's lead narrowed to just four points.
The difference seems to be in the advertising, Franklin noted during the presentation.
"It would seem the more recent negative ads against Baldwin are working where Thompson already suffered a month of negative advertising," he continued. "It is convenient to say ads drive a lot of this, but now we have evidence."
Franklin pointed specifically at ads that ask residents if Baldwin is too liberal for Wisconsin and if Thompson is working for them. The poll data revealed that for Baldwin, the ads are making a difference.
Two weeks ago, respondents were split pretty evenly at 45 percent each for agreeing and disagreeing that Baldwin is too liberal. Now, though, that number has moved further apart to 48 percent agree and 41 percent disagree.
That same poll had residents agreeing at 49 percent that Thompson doesn't work for them and disagreeing at a rate of 42 percent. Today's poll results see a slight tightening, with those figures moving to 48 percent agree and 41 percent disagree.
What about the running mates?
Before the single vice presidential debate on Oct. 11, Vice President Joe Biden had a 49 percent favorable rating over a 41 percent unfavorable rating. Congressman Paul Ryan, the Republican VP candidate, had a 46 percent favorable to 41 percent unfavorable rating.
After the debate, though, Biden's rating percentages flipped a bit with voters giving him a 44 percent favorable versus a 47 percent unfavorable rating.
Ryan, on the other hand, did better among voters after the debate.He came in at 50 percent favorable and 40 percent unfavorable.
Not surprisingly, Franklin noted, voters who identify with a party each thought their candidate came out on top. But perhaps the candidates should take a closer look at Independents; they thought Ryan did better than Biden, 53 to 39 percent, respectively.
The latest poll included 870 likely voters from Oct. 11 to Oct. 14 over the phone with live interviewers. The margin of error is 3.4 percentage points.
But do we like them?
The new poll used data from 1,007 registered voters with a margin of error of 3.2 percent to answer questions about favorable ratings for the presidential candidates. Franklin said the poll has been using registered voters for these questions throughout the year.
Overall, the president continues to edge out his challenger when it comes to how voters see him, with a 52 percent favorable to 45 percent unfavorable rating. Romney's favorable/unfavorable ratings sit at about 46 and 48 percent, respectively.
The next Marquette University poll - and last before the election - will be released Oct. 31.