Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Senate race moves to “Lean Republican”

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Noted political analyst Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia says the win by former Governor Tommy Thompson moves the Senate race from toss-up to leaning Republican. Sabato also declares the Marquette Law School poll as the one to watch.

In the Crystal Ball newsletter today:

For the second straight week, the Crystal Ball is moving a toss-up Senate race to the Republican column.

Now that ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson has captured the Republican nomination in Wisconsin — winning with 34% of the vote in a crowded, four-way field — we are installing him as a slight favorite to capture the Senate seat now held by the retiring Sen. Herb Kohl (D). The Wisconsin Senate race now leans Republican.

Thompson, a former four-term governor of the Badger State and Health and Human Services secretary under George W. Bush, was seen as the moderate in the race, a status that almost proved to be his undoing in the primary. As National Journal’s Kevin Brennan pointed out last night, the difference between Thompson and another establishment Senate candidate, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in Texas, is the fact that there is no runoff in Wisconsin. If there were, Thompson would probably be doomed: 66% of the primary vote went to other candidates. But Thompson survived, and his more moderate profile is probably good for the general, where he will face Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D), a relatively liberal congresswoman. That’s not to say that Thompson is a sure thing to win the seat, but he has to start off as the favorite.

In the lead-up to the primary, Thompson looked as though he might be a goner, but the top poll in Wisconsin — the Marquette University Law School Poll — stuck with Thompson as a favorite. That poll didn’t nail the margin like it did in the Wisconsin recall, but it did pick the winner. As Wisconsin remains in the spotlight both as a potentially decisive state in the Senate, and as a borderline swing state in the presidential race, that’s the poll to watch.

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