Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Wisconsin Indies Leaning Toward Dems

GOPers in the state will undoubtedly contest the findings in the latest Badger Poll, which shows Doyle up by 14 points on Green and Falk up by 11 points on Van Hollen.

But setting the overall results behind, what's perhaps most telling about the poll is that it shows the wide lead the Dems hold with independents in Wisconsin.

In the gubernatorial race, Doyle holds a 45 to 27 lead over Green with the indies. That's huge.

And much of it is likely a response to Green's campaign tactic of positioning himself as the anti-Doyle above anything else, something I discussed as a problem for Green on this blog back in June.

While attacking Doyle will certainly generate the attention of the diehard GOP base (i.e., those who would vote against Doyle, anyway), many people who don't see themselves as clear-cut Dems or Repubs will shrug it off at best and get turned off from voting altogether at worst.

What Green needed to do early on -- and what he still hasn't done -- is devise and push a clear and centralized campaign theme that tells voters, specifically the indies, why they should vote for him as opposed to simply against the incumbent.

That's the message Green should be hammering home in this last stretch of the campaign; but, instead, he's stuck talking up non-starters like immigration and hyping every poll that has him within the margin of error in the last month of the race.

Another telling stat from the latest Badger Poll is Green's favorables since the last Badger Poll in June. Back in the summer, Green was viewed favorably by 26 percent, unfavorably by 14 percent, and 59 percent didn't know.

This month, those who don't know him have decreased to 34 percent, but it's where those people went that should be concerning for Green. While 6 percent went into the favorable column, bringing it up to 32 percent, a whopping 20 percent opted for the unfavorable column, raising the total there to 34 percent -- a full two percentage points above the favorable column.

That, too, is huge.

And, ironically, this shows that if anyone was successful in convincing voters to not vote for his opponent, it was Doyle. It's clear the "Extreme Mark Green" label went a lot further with Wisconsin indies than the ethics charges Green tried to level against Doyle. Perhaps that should be no surprise considering Green hails from the ethically-challenged GOP-controlled House.

As for the AG race, Falk holds a 35 to 25 lead with the indies. Not quite as strong as Doyle, but a noteworthy lead, nonetheless.

What's most interesting about the AG race, though, is that 60 percent of respondents still don't know enough about Falk to cast an opinion and 75 percent still don't know enough about Van Hollen to do the same, which means there's a lot of guessing when it comes to the choice on the ballot.

Right now, based on the Badger Poll, those guesses are leaning Falk's way, which suggests she may be riding a bit on Doyle's coattails, along with the overall mood in the nation to vote for Dems ahead of Repubs.

Out of the statewide candidate races, it seems the AG race is poised to be the closest. And those are the type of races where it seems the indie votes means the most.

UPDATE: For an excellent overview of the Doyle and Green campaigns, check out this post by the Recess Supervisor.

LATE UPDATE: Dave Diamond adds more on when "Vote for me because my opponent sucks" campaigning works and when it doesn't.

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