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. cptpooppants

    I live here in Wisconsin and I can say,with a frown on my face, that this state is going red. Too many stupid people here.

    August 16, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  2. smartmovedude

    it worked: everyone forgot they wanted to see his tax returns

    August 16, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  3. Justin

    When you poll 1 person per state, no wonder ya get crappy poll figures.

    August 16, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  4. Jerry

    Learn to edit your articles. Your typos and grammar are atrocious

    August 16, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  5. Paul

    And no "non-white" voters polled? Come on now, Wisconsin's not ENTIRELY milky white...

    August 16, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  6. John Tucker

    Why are all the places known for having not smart people red mommy?

    August 16, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  7. milopup09

    I'm surprised CNN doesn't call the election for Romney based on Rasmussen polling.

    August 16, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  8. zlulz

    A new poll, by CNN a left leaning site, shows leftist Obama in the lead. Shocker.

    August 16, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  9. HEHE

    I hope all the poor rednecks living off food stamps enjoy the irony of how hungry they are when Romney is president.

    August 16, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  10. milopup09

    Yeah, Obama destroyed Medicare. Ryan just wants to "restore" it with vouchers.

    August 16, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  11. DG

    Vote for Obama and all Democrats who are running for election. Let's not go back to those horrible Bush-Cheney nightmare years.

    August 16, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  12. jon

    Wisconsinites are not the brightest lights on the block. And neither are about half of this country who vote against their best interests for some odd reason. I guess they think if they vote Republican they too shall become among the "well to do" class. NOT!

    August 16, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  13. sovereignhominin

    Why am I being censored for stating my opinion that voting for Romney or Obama is a vote for Goldman Sachs?

    August 16, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  14. marillynn

    You may want to check the difference between what the Tea Party voters in WI. say and what they did in the primary on Tues. After the Koch Brothers flooded the State with ads for the Tea Party candidate for Senate who had two other Repubs running against him, his numbers started going up in the polls and Tommy Thompson the old line Repub. started to drop like a rock. But when it came election time, the tea party never showed at the polls and Thompson won. I think the voters of wisconsin are having second thoughts about selling the state to Kochs and Rove-and if you do your homework, you will find that is who owns Ryan. Checks out the facts.

    August 16, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  15. Daniel

    Sooo...the poll numbers haven't changed at all, but now Wisconsin is a "toss up?" Sorry, but that's absurd.

    August 16, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  16. milopup09

    @W Obama is up by 5 % over Romney in Michigan!

    August 16, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  17. Ken

    They don't mention that Pennsylvania is now in play also. Obama's once 11 point lead has shrunk to 5 points which is within the error of margin for the polls, meaning in play. But hey are unwilling to call that as moving even more to inplay right now would show how Obama's negative campaigns are beginning to backfire and drive up his own negative rating. And since Obama can't campaign based on substance or achievements (which people hate), all he has left is negative ads. And once those start failing, he's as good as gone.

    August 16, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  18. I repeat

    Wisconsin voters know more about Ryan than any other state and are moving to becoming a red state. I wonder why?

    August 16, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  19. milopup09

    The so-called "Liberal Media" is Romney's biggest cheerleader. And this alleged "breaking news" PROVES it!

    August 16, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    This is not surprising, 'favorite son' status always has done that. Just as VP picks always have an almost instant effect on polls, and as surely as the 4th estate, the press, makes of it what they can.

    Personally I welcome Paul Ryan to the race. I respect him He is far more predictable than politicians iin general-far more predictable than his would-be boss-to speak his mind honestly and forthrightly. He is a worthy adversary to me, a man willing to put figures to paper, which I see as simply stating an opening position. Given that, one can work numbers. Unlike the give-no-quarter his boss took when he pledged the Norquist pledge.

    I will be voting Obama/Biden, but I hope Ryan remains to put substance into an otherwise hot-air conservative ideology.

    August 16, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  21. Michael39

    FiveThirtyEight still currently has Wisconsin at an 80.9% chance of an Obama win – And 538 is the most accurate site around, bar none.

    August 16, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  22. Lagos

    You will see just as many of your gay friends flee to canada and Europe if Republicans win as when Bush won two consecutive terms. Gay rights have progressed substantially in multiple years, and they're not going to regress. Maybe they won't progress as quickly, but nobody's going to leave the country.

    August 16, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  23. mark ducharme

    It's quite sickening how few states dictate the countrys elections.

    August 16, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  24. ulaby

    "UNCHAIN" my wallet. Let if free.

    August 16, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  25. SPF

    Tomorrows headline, all blue states are now toss ups. Polls should be outlawed. The news, if they can call themselves that anymore, should be reporting on what the candidates truly have done and what they stand for, not 5 second sound bites. CNN, pathetic again. A chance to set a new standard in news, but continues to fail.

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