Today is the last round of recalls in Wisconsin for at least a little while. This time, it’s the Democrats that have seats to lose, as the 12th District’s Jim Holperin (Conover) and the 22nd District’s Robert Wirch (Pleasant Prairie) face, respectively, Kim Simac and Jonathan Steitz. Since, unlike last week, I’m in town and will be able to better track the results, and also because Michelle Malkin linked to last week’s analysis, I’ll put down what trends I’m looking for once the polls close at 8 pm.
There are a pair of dueling polls, one from Public Policy Polling for their biggest partisan client, Daily Kos, and one from We Are America for the right-advocating Red Racing Horses (crosstabs of the latter courtesy WisPolitics). Even though both polled roughly the same number of people over the weekend and have an effectively-identical 2.6% margin of error, the top line can’t possibly be more different. While PPP/DKos has Holperin up 55%-41% overall, and 51%-43% among “independents”, WAA/RRH has Holperin up 51%-49% (actually a few tenths less) overall, and Simac up 52%-48% among “independents”.
The big difference is, as is often the case, the partisan weighting. PPP/DKos has the Democrat/Republican/”independent” ratio at 35%/26%/39%, while WAA/RRH has it at 28%/28%/43% (with 1% refused, and the Dems with a statistically-insignificant advantage). As followers of Wisconsin politics know, there is no such thing as partisan registration in Wisconsin, so one has to dig into the results to figure out which is right and which is BS. My “generic R-v-D” calculation, averaging out the 2008 Presidential and 2010 gubernatorial results, gives the generic Republican a 5.0 percentage point advantage. The high-water mark for the Democrats in competitive races this past decade was, ignoring minor-party and write-in candidates, a 7.0 percentage-point margin, gained by long-time incumbent state Senator Roger Breske in 2004 (who departed for a state job in 2008, opening the door for Holperin), US Senator Russ Feingold in 2004, and Barack Obama in 2008. Holperin, against the same opponent as Breske, managed only a 2.4 percentage point margin in 2008.
I could almost argue that both polls overweight Democrats, especially since Red Racing Horses cited Republican internal polls that have Simac up by at least 4 percentage points, and last week, incumbency was worth an average of roughly 3 percentage points over “generic”. However, the race is all about turnout, and despite both campaigns pouring everything into it (story via WisPolitics), nobody really knows what the turnout is going to be.
The problem is nobody is going to have fully-collated reporting-unit-level results, partly because not every county clerk will have them available on their websites. If those numbers are available, I’ll be looking at the following places for the trend:
Strong Republican areas - Towns of Minocqua (R+17) and Three Lakes (R+19) in Oneida County, towns of Boulder Junction (R+24), Lincoln (R+15, and Simac’s home) and St. Germain (R+25) in Vilas County
Strong Democrat areas - City of Tomahawk (D+8) in Lincoln County, Menominee County (D+60), city of Rhinelander (average of D+24 in the various wards) in Oneida County, town of Lac du Flambeau (D+17) in Vilas County
There haven’t been nearly as much focus on this district, though WTMJ-AM’s Charlie Sykes got an interview with Steitz (go to the 39:00 mark), and WISN-TV’s Mike Gousha did a joint interview with both candidates. I haven’t seen any TV ads the past week (though I don’t watch much TV) and what little music radio I catch (including a Kenosha-licensed station) has been essentially ad-free, though Steitz’s ads have been on conservative talk radio stations.
The only recently-released poll is a PPP/DailyKos poll from the weekend that had Wirch up 55%-42%. While the partisan split is 39% D/28% R/34% I, given the generic Democrat has a 4.8 percentage point advantage, and up until last year, the only Republican to win a district-wide election the past decade was Congressman Paul Ryan, that split is actually closer to reality.
It’s basically the city of Kenosha (and to a lesser extent, the town of Somers) versus the rest of the district. If Steitz can get to 41% in the city of Kenosha (what current RNC chair Reince Priebus did in his unsuccessful run at Wirch in 2004 and a couple points less than what Scott Walker did in the 2010 gubernatorial election) and 64% in the city/town of Burlington (again, a couple points less than what Walker did, though several points more than what Priebus did), he may well pull off the upset.