The Wisconsin Senate race is looking like a sheer toss up, with Tammy Baldwin polling within the margin of error against all 3 of the Republican front runners. She trails Tommy Thompson 46-44, edges Mark Neumann 44-43, and has a larger lead over Jeff Fitzgerald at 44-40. She also has a 44-37 advantage against Frank Lasee, who seems like a fringe candidate at this point.
Baldwin's standing is much improved from when PPP polled Wisconsin in August. She's up 6 points against Thompson, who she had trailed by 8, and she's doing 5 points better against Neumann, who she had trailed by 4. The reason for Baldwin's progress is a consolidation of the Democratic vote. Where before she led Thompson 81-13 with her own party, now it's 86-8. And where before it was 80-7 against Neumann, now it's 86-5.
We've seen this phenomenon in both Nevada and Wisconsin this week of Democratic Senate candidates pulling into ties after trailing over the summer, and in both cases it's probably a function of emerging clarity that Shelley Berkley and Tammy Baldwin will be the Democratic nominees in those races with other potential candidates dropping out or choosing not to run. That's causing Democratic voters to unite around both women and bring up their numbers.
While Baldwin has shown progress there are a couple of red flags for her within the numbers. She trails all 3 of her potential GOP foes with independents- it's 47-34 against Thompson, 42-36 against Neumann, and 39-38 against Fitzgerald. And she has virtually no crossover support from Republican voters- just 2% against Neumann, 4% against Thompson, and 5% against Fitzgerald. Her issues with the middle and across party lines mean that she will be relying on 2008 like Democratic turnout replicating itself next year- she is heavily reliant on support from the base.
Tommy Thompson's favorability on the poll splits even at 42/42. This is not the Thompson of the 90s- he is not transcendently popular with voters in the state any more. None of the other candidates have numbers that set the world on fire either- Baldwin is at 28/30, Neumann at 23/30, and Fitzgerald at 20/33.
Baldwin's improved numbers are good news for Democrats, but this is still another usually blue state where the party's going to have to fight hard to keep a Senate seat next year. The list of races likely to be very close is very long- and it's mostly populated by places currently under Democratic control.
Full results here