Romney And Obama Essentially Tied In Wisconsin

With twenty days to go until Election Day, the race in Wisconsin is incredibly close:

A new poll released Wednesday shows President Obama and Mitt Romney tied in Wisconsin, erasing the significant lead that Obama had built following the Democratic convention and putting the state’s 10 electoral votes firmly in play.

The Marquette Law School poll shows Obama leading Romney, 49 percent to 48 percent, well within the poll’s margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.4 percentage points. Only 2 percent of voters remain undecided.

In late September, just before Romney’s impressive performance in the first presidential debate, Obama held an 11-point lead, 53 percent to 42 percent.

Likely voters are split on the president’s job performance: 48 percent approve, and 48 percent disapprove. A slim majority, 52 percent, view Obama favorably, compared to 45 percent who view him unfavorably. That is slightly better than Romney’s image, which is 46 percent favorable, versus 48 percent unfavorable. Forty-nine percent of Badger State voters have a favorable impression of home-state Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP vice-presidential nominee.

Marquette is considered a very reliable poll in Wisconsin, and it’s results put the RealClearPolitics poll average at +2.0 in the President’s favor, with clear signs that Romney has been inching up recently:

Wisconsin has been the biggest surprise toss-up of the race this year, and if Romney/Ryan can some how manage to push the state into their corner then those 10 Electoral Votes would go a long way toward off-setting a possible disappointment in a state like Virginia.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Geek, Esq. says:

    Wisconsin wouldn’t be needed to offset Virginia–it would be needed to partially offset Ohio.

    Because if Romney loses Virginia, he ain’t winning Wisconsin.

    Only two polls–both robopolls from mid-August–have shown Romney leading in WI. And those showed him a scant +1.

    13 polls in a row show an Obama lead–where they differ is how large that lead is.

  2. @Geek, Esq.:

    Marquette is not a robo-poll. Is indeed one of the most respected political polling units in the state of Wisconsin. And, I’d just say that polls from a month ago tell us nothing about where the race is today.

    Yes, Romney could still lose Wisconsin, but if Marquette and the current trend is right then he also has a good chance of winning it too

  3. Geek, Esq. says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    When there’s a legit poll showing Romney tied or ahead in WI, then I’d worry about it swinging Romney’s way.

    The disagreement between polls isn’t regarding which candidate is ahead, but rather by how much is one candidate ahead of the other. If every single poll shows one candidate ahead in a state, that candidate is almost certainly ahead.

    Obama’s status is much more tenuous in places like Virginia and Colorado, where a number of surveys show Romney ahead.

    Wisconsin has given its electoral votes to the Democrat in every election since Walter Mondale. Even Dukakis won it.

    Nate Silver puts it at 78.5% chance of going to Obama. He won’t win it by double-digits, but it’s not notably dissimilar to Michigan or Minnesota or Iowa–all likely Obama states.

  4. Geek, Esq. says:

    Also, the poll shows Obama +6 in registered voters.

    I would be very suspicious of a LV screeen that changed the race by 5 points (standard is usually +2). That would indicate to me that if the poll is in error, it’s probably in error towards Obama. (Many unlikely voters do in fact vote).

  5. Me Me Me says:

    “biggest surprise toss-up of the race this year”

    Surprise, why? You are surprised that putting the boy wonder on the ticket didn’t put the state in the bag for Romney? The primary job of the VP pick is to deliver their home state – happens 75% of the time.

  6. Me Me Me says:

    @Geek, Esq.: also Doug – there is no reason to suggest that robo-polls are less reliable simply because they are robo-polls.

  7. Me Me Me,

    Robo-pollsters do not call cell phones because they are legally forbidden from doing so. Therefore, they leave out a sizable and growing portion of the electorate.

  8. Tsar Nicholas says:

    This isn’t really all that surprising. Bush in ’00 came within some Buchanan throw away votes and a little bit of Chicago-style politics in Milwaukee from winning WI. In ’04 that state again was very close. Between Walker and Ron Johnson Republicans have won three statewide elections there within the past 23 months. Ryan hails from the state. It’s a blue-collar state. It’s a white as Wonder Bread. A much lower than average percentage of blacks. An older than average demographic too.

    There’s also the flaming neon elephant in the room, of which somehow large segments of the chattering classes still are insouciant. Obama is down everywhere from the ’08 Hemlock session. Every geographical region. Without exception. Various states he won in ’08 by double digits now are within the MOE. WI too falls into that category. If that’s not a trend I’m not sure what would qualify.

    Lastly, regarding that poll, Marquette has a good track record, but this particular poll is weird. Not necessarily wrong. Just weird. They undersampled whites. They oversampled Independents. But they oversampled conservatives and undersampled union members. Maybe it all evened out. Maybe not. We’ll find out soon enough.

  9. Geek, Esq. says:

    @Me Me Me:
    It only happens because very often the VP is from a safe state.

    2008: Biden and Palin both from safe states
    2004: Cheney from a safe state, Edwards not from a safe state (doesn’t deliver)
    2000: Cheney and Lieberman both from safe states.

    Biden doesn’t get credit for getting DE to vote for Obama, and Cheney doesn’t get credit for getting WY to vote Republican.

    Ryan’s swinging WI to Romney would be an uncommon occurrence.

  10. Anderson says:

    Doug is right: it’s surprising that Wisconsin is this close. I’m surprised the Ryan pick has been so effective in this respect. Makes you wonder what if Romney had tapped Portman.

    If Obama lost WI, he would have to hold onto OH NE NH IA (assuming losses in VA and FL). The best polling news I’ve seen this week is Obama +3 in Iowa, according to Rasmussen.

    Of course, if Obama takes Florida, or even Virginia + Ohio, he wins. But we’ve known that for months.

  11. Geek, Esq. says:


    Plouffe was telling reporters (per National Journal) that Obama has “significant leads” in OH, IA, NV and NH.

    Obama’s map has narrowed as well, but Romney’s is still much narrower. The question is how does the race move in the final weeks.

  12. Anderson says:

    Late polls today bear out Plouffe re NV – I wrote NE earlier, oops.

  13. KariQ says:

    @Geek, Esq.:

    The disagreement between polls isn’t regarding which candidate is ahead, but rather by how much is one candidate ahead of the other. If every single poll shows one candidate ahead in a state, that candidate is almost certainly ahead.

    This. Obama’s lead is certainly smaller than he’d like it to be, but he does have a lead at the moment.

  14. Geek, Esq. says:


    Nevada is a tough state to poll, and LV polls tend to underestimate the Democratic share of the vote by a significant margin. Compare the polls in 2008 and 2010 to the final results, and then note that Democrats have maintained their registration edge and built infrastructure to work alongside the service unions.

    During the same time, the Nevada state Republican party has been taken over by Ron Paul’s followers. rEVOLution!!!

  15. Curtis says:

    After the best two weeks of the campaign, Romney is still behind in Wisconsin. The headline for this article is poor, and Doug, you should know better.

    You put up a RCP polling average that shows anything but essentially tied. One candidate has been polling consistently at 50% or above for months. The other, obviously, hasn’t. The graph betrays your headline.

    Wisconsin is a close state, and while it has a long winning streak for the D’s, it has never been by huge margins. But Wisconsin is a siren for the Republicans the same way that Pennsylvania is. They can get close cycle after cycle, but they can’t ever seem to win. I think we will see the same thing this go around.

  16. Davebo says:

    NBC/WSJ/Marist has Obama + 6 in WI up from +5 the previous poll.

    The October polls range from Rasmussen’s +2 for Obama to the +6 from NBC/Marist.

    Doesn’t really look all that close and the momentum swing is clear.