August 16th, 2012
04:01 PM ET
10 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. Jon

    with Romney leading in Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio and Virginia ... this give Romney the election ...

    Yes liberals I said winning ... but you will argue that the most accurate polling firm over the last two presidential elections could be wrong ...and that is true ... but the sad thing for you is that Not only Rassmuson says Romney leads in those 4 states, but Gallup says so too (they are the third most accurate polling firm)

    August 16, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  2. markiejoe

    The day Christian conservative Wisconsinites elect a Mormon for President will be the day Hades freezes over. Just bring out the magic underwear at the Wisconsin State Fair.

    August 16, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  3. us_1776

    Wisconsinites aren't too bright seeing they elected this Walker screwball.


    August 16, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  4. Woman In California

    @ guyfromla

    I feel the exact same way but what do you expect from someone who idolizes Any Rand?

    August 16, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  5. Ryan-MN

    Congrats Mitt....You have a chance in WI. You likely now have no chance in Florida.

    August 16, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  6. rrd

    Polls are just polls. Just a snapshot at a given point in time. The only poll that really matters is the one on Nov 6

    August 16, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  7. cj1

    Yep easy, easy win for Romney no question

    August 16, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  8. Ram Riva

    Yes....Paul Ryan's pick puts WI in a true toss up state...but at the same time, Ryan puts FL, CO, NV, OH in leaning Democrat state....."get your hands off my Medicare and my Social Security...."
    Going to be heard all over the US..... cutting social programs solely to benefit the the same time themselves....incredible....

    August 16, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  9. Jim

    I answer differently every time pollsters call, just to throw them off.

    August 16, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  10. julnor

    Note the poll is of "registered voters", not "likely voters". Romney generally does significantly better when "likely voters" are polled. This is trouble for Obama.

    August 16, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  11. Barry from Wisconsin

    I seriously doubt that Ryan as VP candidate puts Wisconsin "in play." Media hype will not change the fact that Ryan is little known in Wisconsin – outside of the 1st Congressional District. Any "home" bounce will be more than offset by his extreme financial plan – the one that guts programs for the elderly and poor and sends those dollars to the already very rich.

    As anyone in politics understands, no one votes for the VP candidate in a Presidential election.

    August 16, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  12. orion7x

    Wisconsin has now proven that they are not worth saving and one of the stupidest states in the country. They don't learn anything. They win the big DUH! award...

    August 16, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  13. Aaron

    Wisconsin turns into a true 'toss-up' state while Florida turns 'Lean Obama'

    August 16, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  14. Maxwell

    Obama/Biden 2012;

    August 16, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  15. strangerq

    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.

    ^ Really if Ryan hadn't been selected these numbers wouldn't have been news.

    August 16, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  16. Bob

    Romney is clearly gaining momentum. I really wish Obama hadn't gotten so negative. He really needs to stop listening to wacko progressives and start listening to us regular Democrats. The positive message is gone.

    August 16, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  17. bb

    Tguyfrom where ever did u read the intire bill NOT just listen to pro democrap, if u read the bill u will find u like the rest of the democraps this is not the case. All i ask is that democraps quit taking things out of context or read the facts not some unconfirmed msnbc B.S. In case of your death ??? U should have life insurance if u dont thats on u, and yes ss would kick in and cover your wife and children. Like the rest of u democraps IF U CANT AFFORD A FAMILY DONT HAVE ONE

    August 16, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  18. Blaine

    Who cares, move to Canada where all "tea baggers" get squished in a tea cup!

    August 16, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  19. SPF

    By CNN's logic, Florida should have moved to "for Obama" because of Ryan as a pick.

    August 16, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  20. outlawgodsucks

    Just the beginning LOL!! Carter was ahead of Reagan nine points at this time during their campaign. Odumbo wishes he was Jimmy Carter. Romney isnt Reagan but most people will vote for a can of soup before they vote for Odumbo!

    August 16, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  21. Mike

    I guess they want to be a red state and be one of the poorest states.

    August 16, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  22. LiLa

    I'm a Wisconsin voter and there is no way that Romney/Ryan will get my vote; backing that up with donations to the Obama and Baldwin (Senate candidate) campaign. I've had enough of right wing extremists to last a lifetime.

    August 16, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  23. CNNuthin

    Obviously. Unless Ryan did something as terrible as Romney did to MA, of course his home state is going to favor him. Romney did not pick Ryan for his ideas. He picked him for his votes.

    August 16, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  24. Jason

    Just wait until Wisconsin people see SWISS MONEY's tax returns.....oh wait, he won't release them.

    August 16, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  25. Manuel J.

    @ guyfromia... where did you get that crock of dog doodoo regarding Social Security and Ryan? Talk about rumor mongering and eating the media chum!

    My friend, YOU ARE CLUELESS!!!

    August 16, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
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