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. paul

    Paul Ryan made a negative remark about those "progressives" in Madison and that we (meaning Republicans) needed to weed them out because they are a cancer. The next step is for Republicans and Ryan to keep those "progressives" from voting.

    August 16, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  2. Peacenik2012

    To h#ll with old people. If they didn't save up enough money for retirement then let them eat dog food! I'll even throw in a few cans of ALPO.

    Well, not ALPO per se, but a much less expensive off-label brand like Uncle Sam's Club choice dog food. The good stuff goes to my dog.

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

    What it comes down it is Romney picked a VP that would make him more likable to his own base. By now he should have had that wrapped up and perhaps pick someone that might appeal to the centrist voters. It is the same reasoning behind McCain picking Palin: his own base doesn't like him.

    You're not going to win elections by going to the extremes. Yet republicans keep doing that. Why won't they learn from their mistakes? Are they just hoping the center and left just oversleep on election day?

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

    Ryan is also calculated to bring in the Catholic vote that
    oBummer has rejected with the HHS mandate.
    25% of US voters are CATHOLIC!
    Smart choice for Romney.
    oBummer goes down by a landslide!
    Remember 2010?
    That was just a warm-up for 2012!
    Had his chance and BLEW IT!

    August 16, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  5. Dan

    Obama Biden 2012, no thanks. You would have to pay me 5 trillion dollars to vote for them. Does that number sound familiar?

    August 16, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  6. JD

    Doesn't matter who wins , Congress will still not be doing anything anyway...

    August 16, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  7. John N. Seattle, WA

    Why, I mean, REALLY...WHY is this even a contest? We have a Republican candidate who is woefully out of touch with mainstream America, who owns multiple homes, multiple Cadillacs, and a dressage horse for his wife, who wont release any of his tax information, and who has been LYING about Medicare...and this is still a close race!?!?!? What the hell? Are Americans REALLY that stupid that they would vote for this guy? If this intellectually and morally challenged individual happens to win this November, I am moving out of the country!

    August 16, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  8. clinky

    We'll take FL in exchange for WI if need be, thank you very much.

    August 16, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  9. zizewitz

    Yes, it could hep to put Wiscomsin on the map, but will erase from the same map at least Pennsylvania and Florida

    Not a good deal

    August 16, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  10. Peacenik2012

    Harry Reid should just say he will resign at the end of his current term if Romney will release his tax returns.

    That would immediately solve any questions about Mr. Romney's tax returns. He would have nowhere to go.

    August 16, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  11. RobmeTAXRETURNs

    Please show your original TAX Returns since 2000 Romney. If what your wife says and you say is true that you've done nothing wrong and have nothing to hide then STOP HIDING YOUR TAXES from the American voter.

    August 16, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  12. Unsub

    It's unfortunate that in this modern society in the US that some states will vote a certain way no matter what a candidate stands for. We shouldn't be able to predict with certainty that some states will vote a certain way..but unfortunately they do....this is why we keep voting politicians in that put us in debt and keep us all down.

    August 16, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  13. I am God

    I don't think Romney will win Wisconsin, even with Paul Ryan. I am glad to see a fellow Wisconsinite going for v.p., but his policies are to extreme for anyone. Reality is that Obama will get Wisconsin.

    August 16, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  14. 2008-2016

    to W

    Is this the same Michigan where auto workers were protesting one of Mitt's visits because he voted against the auto
    bailout? The same Michigan where Romney held a rally and much, much smaller turn out caused them to have the rally
    moved? That the same Michigan?

    August 16, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  15. Tr1Xen

    Yes indeed. It's time for real change. Let's get America back on track!

    ROMNEY/RYAN 2012!!!!

    August 16, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  16. 2008-2016

    Something to keep in mind here, ladies and gentlemen, is that during the recent primaries, voter turn-out was extremely
    low. Part of choosing Ryan was to motivate and energize the base. It is not happening.

    August 16, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  17. Alina1

    Is Wisconsin going to became Bush's Florida in 2000. God I hope no.

    August 16, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  18. Dan B

    Romney probably won't win pennsylvania, but he NEEDS to win Florida to beat Obama

    August 16, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  19. Me Stupid

    I just like to say Odumbo and libtard.
    It makes me feel all squishy.
    And then i giggle a iitle bit.
    Mom says i got to stop picking my nose,
    but it taste good.
    Want a bite ?

    August 16, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  20. GI Joe

    R & R will give you more, and bigger, and better, and it won't cost anything. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

    August 16, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  21. Christopher

    This artlicle is complete B.S. If Ryan were governor of Wisconsin it would be a different story as it is the population (and the voters) are concentrated in the cities Milwaukee etc. and those areas are chock full of unions and union members, union members who vote who won't vote for MItt Romney.

    August 16, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  22. The Other Dale

    This is one of those things the Media does when they know it's a dead issue. Wisconsin will go to Obama and they know it. Just as they know that Obama is going to win in November. But people don't watch television news if there's nothing exciting to report, so now Ryan on the ticket means "oh, no! Obama may not win after all!" Right. And when it comes to November and Obama does win ... well, the Media will have already moved on several more steps by then and it'll have been forgotten.

    August 16, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  23. Tom

    Looking at the polling data suggest Romneys pick of Ryan to be genius – dems are distorting the facts about medicare and aim to break America into different groups based on class, age, race, gender and creed. This tactic does not unite, but only divides. If we held President Obama to the same standards as Bush his polling numbers would be at an all time low...however President Obama is treated with kid gloves by the media. It's ok...the American people see through this and at the end of the day the president will be judged on his record. I could see Romney winning the electoral college handily.

    August 16, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  24. GI Joe

    If that's John King, he's married to a republican (that ugly Dana Bash woman) so he has to keep her happy.

    August 16, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  25. 1twinswin

    I rather doubt WI is that much in play. WI is where unions started. Paul Ryan is decidedly anti-union just as much as Romney is pro-robot.

    August 16, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
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