Destination 270

SMU Students Analyze the 2012 Presidential Election

Wisconsin Senate Race Tightens

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Five-term U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (D) decided not to run for re-election which gave Republicans another prime opportunity to pick up a seat from Democrats. Tammy Baldwin (D) is leading in the most recent polls and has maintained at least a two point advantage in the RealClearPolitics average for over a month now. Nate Silver increased Baldwin’s chances of winning by 1.3 percent since last week. President Obama also hold a large lead in the Badger State according to the most recent polls, so Baldwin could benefit if the Romney campaign gives up on Wisconsin.

Silver has the race labeled “likely democratic,” but the race has narrowed recently.

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Thompson is enjoying a “coattail effect” from Romney’s increasing poll numbers, but time will tell if it will help push him over the top. Also affecting outside spending is the fact that Baldwin is openly gay. Although that has not been an issue in the campaign, it is helping drive donations from national liberal groups like MoveOn.org and the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. If elected, Baldwin, who has served in the US House of Representatives since 1999, would be the first openly gay US senator in history.

While not related to the campaign directly, a video of Thompson’s son Jason also went nationwide Monday. In the video, Mr. Thompson is heard speaking at a fundraiser for his father where he tells the audience they have “the opportunity to send President Obama back to Chicago – orKenya.” The remarks were interpreted as endorsing the “birther” movement, which has been largely discredited. The younger Thompson later apologized for the comment.

Thompson’s electability was once assured based on his name recognition and vast likability in the state as a moderate conservative dating back to his years as governor. That shifted during the Republican primary, when he took hard right positions that many perceived as catering to national trends in his party, says Dennis Dresang, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Those positions helped Baldwin portray him early in the race as unreliable and dogmatic.

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