By Kirsten Adshead | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON — Mitt Romney and Tommy Thompson have caught up to their Democratic opponents in Wisconsin, fed by increased support among independent and female voters, according to the latest Marquette Law School poll.
“For those of us who like an exciting game, this has become an exciting game,” the poll’s director, Charles Franklin, said.
President Barack Obama’s lead — which two weeks ago stood at 11 percent — has shrunk to a 49 percent to 48 percent advantage against Romney.
Thompson has surpassed Democrat Tammy Baldwin, edging her out 46 percent to 45 percent, in the U.S. Senate race.
But of the 869 likely voters who answered the question, there was just a three-person difference between former Gov. Thompson and U.S. Rep. Baldwin, with 397 saying they’d vote for Thompson and 394 picking Baldwin.
In the presidential race, the Democratic ticket “won” the poll by a mere four votes, 423 to 419.
Marquette conducted the poll Thursday through Sunday. Among the 1,007 registered voters polled, 870 said they were likely to vote in the presidential election next month. The poll had a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.
Romney’s surge “reflects the impact of that very critical first presidential debate,” Franklin said.
“Not only did voters think that Gov. Romney did best in that debate by a large margin, but in our data, of those who watched the first debate, Romney leads 50 (percent) to 48 (percent),” he said. “But among those who did not watch the debate, it’s Obama with the lead, 50 (percent) to 42 (percent).”
Unfortunately for Obama, about three-fourths of poll respondents said they watched the debate.
Thompson and Baldwin made slight inroads in gender over the past couple of weeks. Baldwin gained among men, who still slightly favor Thompson, and Thompson gained among women, who still slightly favor Baldwin.
But where Obama had a steep, 61-percent to 36-percent advantage among women at the end of September, he now holds a slight 51-percent to 47-percent edge.
Self-identified independent voters, meanwhile, shifted from favoring Obama over Romney, 49 percent to 40 percent, late last month, to preferring Romney to Obama, 49 percent to 45 percent, according to the newest poll.
Analysts and public-opinion polls indicate the Obama performed better in the second debate, but Romney held his own.
Democrats are trying to capitalize on Romney’s comment that, in seeking to hire female candidates for high-level positions in his gubernatorial administration, he was sent “binders full of women.”
“I don’t know where Mitt gets his binders full of women, but I won’t tease him too much, because we have binders full of women, too. Binders full of women voters — and men — to contact all over Wisconsin,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Executive Director Maggie Brickerman wrote in a fundraising email Wednesday. “It’s critical that we have the resources we need to contact and turn out every single one of them.”
Election Day is still almost three weeks away — and as the Marquette poll series shows, much can change in a short period of time.
Matt Romney on Wednesday was in Wisconsin, campaigning for his father by having dinner with the University of Wisconsin-Madison College Republicans.
He said the campaign has been sensing the surge that has turned a Romney polling deficit in Wisconsin to an effective dead heat.
“That’s why I’m here,” he said. “It’s a tight race in Wisconsin. It’s going to be very close. But we feel very good about our prospects of winning here.”
First lady Michelle Obama and former President Bill Clinton are scheduled to stump for the president Friday in Wisconsin.
And the third and final presidential debate will be held Monday, focusing on foreign policy.
Marquette’s final pre-election poll is scheduled to be released Oct. 31.
Contact Kirsten Adshead at email@example.com.