In a couple of days the new Marquette poll comes out. That will be the biggest day in this election cycle, perhaps until election day itself.
For me, these are the big questions to be answered:
Has RoJo made any headway? Mandela Barnes took a significant seven point lead over Ron Johnson in the last poll, taken just after the primary. Have Johnson’s attack ads worked to narrow the gap and increase Barnes’ negatives?
Has Michels held serve? Tony Evers held a narrow two point advantage over Tim Michels in that same poll, down from a seven point lead earlier in the summer. Was that just a post primary bounce for the Republican or is it sustained?
In the races for constitutional officers, is there much daylight between those and the marquee races? There are lower profile races for Attorney General, Secretary of State and State Treasurer. The AG race matters a lot and the Secretary of State race will be important only if the Republican wins and the Legislature tries to give her power over elections. Nobody cares who the Treasurer is. But with so little information about these contests (there’s a little more about the AG candidates) there’s reason to think that whoever wins the Governor and Senate elections will pull their party along with them.
Have Biden’s numbers improved? When the last poll was taken he and Donald Trump were about equally unpopular. But things were just starting to turn around for Biden at that time. Now he’s got a string of legislative victories to tout, gas prices are down and the economy continues to chug along even as fears of recession remain. You would think that his approval rating should nudge higher, though I wouldn’t expect anything spectacular. Still, any improvement helps all the Dems on the ballot.
I’m especially interested in the Barnes-Johnson numbers. All indications are that RoJo’s attacks aren’t working. For one thing, Johnson has challenged Barnes to a series of debates and gone so far as to have his staff explore sponsoring organizations and venues. That’s a strategy taken by candidates who are behind and need the debates to gain ground. Also, Johnson started running biographical ads touting him as a father, husband, fisherman and all around good guy. That suggests that his negatives are sticking and impeding his ability to make progress against Barnes, who comes off like a genuinely nice guy.
For Evers, I think he’d have to be happy to see his lead grow to the margin of error — four points or so. Any more is probably too much to hope for and if he’s behind to Michels that would be truly alarming.
Anyway, Wednesday’s the day. Check back here then and we’ll misinterpret the results for you.