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Monday, September 12, 2016

 10:33 AM 

Pollsters: Feingold has edge in U.S. Senate bid, but presidential race unclear


Wisconsin may not be a top presidential swing state this year, but the race between Ron Johnson and Russ Feingold likely will boost Dems' effort to regain control of the U.S. Senate, two top pollsters told a WisPolitics.com D.C. breakfast. 

Dem pollster Paul Maslin and Republican pollster Gene Ulm agreed while the presidential race is far from decided at a national level, Wisconsin's importance is diminished from past years. 

The Senate race, however, has a favorite. 

"If you were going to Vegas and bet, you would bet on Russ Feingold because of past results" in Wisconsin Senate races during presidential years, Ulm told the audience at the Monocle on Capitol Hill, adding: "He's also the only guy Johnson could beat.''


"Last time, Johnson controlled that race; this time, it's the reverse,'' said Maslin, noting most poll results have been in a consistent range, leading him to expect a final margin similar to Tammy Baldwin's 5 percentage-point victory over Tommy Thompson in 2012. 

But a Feingold victory in Wisconsin wouldn't necessarily hand the Senate to Dems because of a tighter presidential race, the two pollsters said. 

Ulm, who is with Public Opinion Strategies, and Maslin, who is with FM3 Research, rated the chance of Democrats controlling the Senate at 50-50. 

They also expressed a lot of caution about the outcome of the presidential race. 

Maslin called the race "very volatile,'' speculating Donald Trump was attempting to drag down Hillary Clinton so it becomes a race where the winner's share of the popular vote may be in the the low 40s. 

Ulm called the outcome "completely unpredictable,'' saying as much as 20 percent of the electorate was up for grabs. "This race really starts on the 26th of this month,'' he said, alluding to the first debate between Trump and Clinton. 

Ulm said the influence of the Libertarian and Green party candidates would fade quickly to some 3 percent because Gary Johnson and Jill Stein won't be part of the debates. 

Maslin speculated the minor parties could garner as much as 8 percent of the vote because Trump and Clinton are turning off so many people, particularly younger voters. "The average person dislikes both right now,'' he said. "That's a truly unique situation.'' 



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