August 16th, 2012
04:01 PM ET
11 years ago

CNN Electoral Map: Wisconsin moves to true "toss up"

(CNN) - CNN Thursday turned the important battleground state of Wisconsin from "lean Obama" to true "toss up" on its electoral map, in the wake of Mitt Romney's naming of House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, a seven term congressman from the Badger state, as his running mate.

One contributing factor behind CNN's move was a new poll that matched two others from last week that indicate that the presidential contest in Wisconsin is close. While Ryan's announcement did not dramatically alter the presidential poll numbers in Wisconsin, it did change the way both campaigns viewed the state of the race in the state.

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"Both campaigns see the Ryan pick as something that makes Wisconsin more competitive. When we visited this week, every Republican we spoke to suggested it would help keep a Republican base already energized by the recent recall election fired up and hungry for more in November." said CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.

"And we saw the impact on the Obama campaign firsthand. Within hours they rewrote their script for calls to voters to add some sharp criticism of Ryan and his Medicare plan. But the way they did it was telling: A couple of lines about how is a nice guy, sure, but then the segue to the attack and a script that included a line saying President Obama was more in tune with working class voters," added King.

According to the CNN/ORC International survey, which was conducted entirely after Romney added Ryan to the GOP ticket, 49% of registered voters in Wisconsin say they back President Barack Obama, with 45% supporting Romney. The president's four point advantage over the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is within the survey's sampling error.

Two other polls conducted last week, before the Ryan announcement, indicated the president holding a single digit advantage in a state he won by 14 points in the 2008 presidential election.

Wisconsin now becomes the eighth state CNN considers a true toss up, joining Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio and Virginia. CNN considers Michigan, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania as states that lean towards Obama, with Arizona, Indiana, Missouri and North Carolina as states that lean towards Romney.

With Wisconsin's move to true "toss up," the CNN Electoral Map now suggests Obama leading in states with a combined 237 electoral votes, Romney ahead in states with a combined 206 electoral votes, and states with 95 electoral votes up for grabs. 270 electoral votes are needed with win the White House.

While Obama won Wisconsin by double digits, Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic nominee, narrowly captured the Badger State, over President George W. Bush, and Vice President Al Gore edged out Bush in the state in the 2000 contest. It appears the 2012 contest in Wisconsin will be much closer to those competitive contests than the 2008 election.

"The longer term history is on the president's side, but the last couple of years have been good for Republicans. If nothing else, the president is going to have to fight harder – and that means time and resources in Wisconsin that otherwise might have gone to a North Carolina or Colorado. Anything Romney can do to expand the map helps, and this at least for now expands the map," adds King.

While the CNN poll suggests the Ryan announcement barely moved the needle in his home state, the news shouldn't come as surprise.

"That's in keeping with political wisdom which says that Americans pay little attention to the bottom of the ticket , even in the running mate's home state, if he has never run for statewide office," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

But the survey does indicate Ryan's popular in his home state. His favorable rating, at 50%, is actually higher than Romney's, and 56% of all Wisconsinites say that Ryan is qualified to serve as president if necessary, and most rate Romney's pick of Ryan as excellent or pretty good.

According to the poll, the Romney/Ryan ticket is doing best in the southeastern part of the Wisconsin, Ryan's home base. They also do best in outer suburbs that are far removed from major population centers like Milwaukee or Madison - a good description of much of Ryan's congressional district. Obama continues to pile up votes in Milwaukee and Madison, but he is also winning the "Big Woods" area of Wisconsin in the northwestern part of the state - an area he carried four years ago.

"Ryan gets his highest favorable rating among Wisconsinites who consider themselves members of the Tea Party. Tea Partiers are wild about Ryan - 87% have a favorable view of him. His favorable rating is higher among men than women, among higher-income Wisconsin residents than lower-income, and among those outer suburbs that are similar to the places Ryan represents in Congress," adds Holland.

But the survey indicates Wisconsinites are less familiar with Ryan the further they live from the First Congressional District. Only one in ten who live near his district are unsure how they feel about Ryan, but that rises to one in four in the northwestern part of the state.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC on Monday and Tuesday, with 1,005 Wisconsin adults, including 920 registered voters, questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Filed under: Mitt Romney • Paul Ryan • Polls • Wisconsin
soundoff (193 Responses)
  1. JC in Western U.S.

    Wisconsin has 10 electoral college votes. Florida has 29. Let's give it a week and see how things look.

    Right now, Obama needs 33 more electoral college votes in his "firm + likely" category and Romney needs 79 in his "firm + likely category, according to the Real Clear Politics electoral college map.

    August 16, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  2. Dan B

    The race in NC and MI are close too. Should those be swing states?

    August 16, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  3. rob

    Romney/Ryan 2012: Because we don't have enough Republican bigots in office.

    August 16, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  4. Retired Army Officer

    @ Dan

    ***News Flash*** Mr Catholic who has already decided to vote for Obama is gonna change their vote JUST because Ryan is now on the Republican ticket. Just ain't gonna happen!

    And BTW.....the gender gap.....where almost 61% of women favor Obama is now gonna get wider with Ryan on the ticket.....given that Ryan opposes abortion, even in the case of rape, incest and when the mothers health is in danger!

    Also.....Ryan opposes almost every form of birth control; including the pill and IUD's.

    Yeah.....brilliant move, Romney......

    August 16, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  5. George1911

    Today is August 1929, just two months or so to go until Mitt and Paul recreate the Great Depression!

    August 16, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  6. rob

    Stumping in Florida today, Mitt Romney charged President Obama's Affordable Care Act will "cut more than $700 billion" out of Medicare.
    What Romney didn't say was that his running-mate's budget - approved by House Republicans and by Romney himself - would cut Medicare by the same amount.
    The big difference, though, is the Affordable Care Act achieves these savings by reducing Medicare payments to drug companies, hospitals, and other providers rather than cutting payments to Medicare beneficiaries.
    The Romney-Ryan plan, by contrast, achieves its savings by turning Medicare into a voucher whose value doesn't keep up with expected increases in healthcare costs - thereby shifting the burden onto Medicare beneficiaries, who will have to pay an average of $6,500 a year more for their Medicare insurance, according an analysis of the Republican plan by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.
    Moreover, the Affordable Care Act uses its Medicare savings to help children and lower-income Americans afford health care, and to help seniors pay for prescription drugs by filling the so-called "donut hole" in Medicare Part D coverage.
    The Romney-Ryan plan uses the savings to finance even bigger tax cuts for the very wealthy.
    Spread the word. Don't allow the GOP to get away with this demagoguery.

    August 16, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  7. Woman In California

    I've been saying for over a year now, that Willard's lack of personality will cost him the election. Say whatever you want about the high unemployment numbers, but this will be his downfall. Mark my words.

    Obama 2012

    August 16, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  8. ulaby

    1twinswin: You against ATMs too?? Just like your buddy Obama.

    August 16, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  9. namethename

    obama gave 1.8 millions of illegals right to work and stay here.He doesn't care about legal citizens or Americans.
    People tired of this Circus.
    Notice how I wrote words obama and Circus.

    August 16, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  10. Reddog

    Let the count down begin for 1%ers to take back America and put an end to welfare state.... Can't wait for Romney to slash our taxes and bring back tax reform.

    August 16, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  11. Just so NO to the GOP

    Wisconsin is a pretty dumb state if they vote Romney they are voting for their own self destruction

    August 16, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  12. Cooper

    Any state is in play.

    August 16, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  13. 2008-2016

    By the way, everyone should check out Paul Ryan's interview with Fox's Britt Hume. It is quite comical. Especially take
    note of Hume's mounting frustration.

    August 16, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  14. Matthew

    I was planning on voting for Romney but after seeing the enthusiasm from the middle of the country for Paul Ryan. Ive changed my mind. Obama all the way. I dont want to hear about how great and loved the vice precidential canidate is. I wanted to hear about how great Romney is. Soo scroo the rest of the country were going blue again...

    August 16, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  15. kirby

    LOL..! Is this the same state that had the RECALL..!? Need I say more...........................geez.

    August 16, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  16. Fearless Freep


    I like how CNN analyzes polls.

    Obama ahead by 4 %: State is a TOSS-UP

    Romney ahead by 4 %: State LEANS ROMNEY

    And some call CNN liberally biased!

    Romney in the lead, Republicans lap it up.
    Obama in the lead, CNN is biased.
    Ignorance and stupidity at work for the uneducated.

    August 16, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  17. standright

    Governor Romney – a little awkward – but nonetheless a sincere and caring and capable guy, absolutely a success in most everything.

    We're a rock star society – ya gotta be cool to be a President – and Barack Obama is cool.
    Not wise, prudent, sincere, experienced, trustworthy, or focused on the long term employment's good enough, right?

    August 16, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  18. Lou50

    good indicator of how distorted polls are they should be outlawed till two days after the election. Then let them be used to predict the winner. This will keep the cool aide drinking sheeples from being misled.

    August 16, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
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