The latest Marquette University poll shows a virtual tie in Wisconsin's U.S. Senate race between Republican Tommy Thompson and Democrat Tammy Baldwin. The survey comes as the two candidates prepare for their second debate tonight in Wausau.
The last two Marquette surveys showed leads of nine and four points for Baldwin, but the poll released Wednesday had Thompson up by one point. Marquette Pollster Charles Franklin says the race is actually a tie. Of the 870 likely voters surveyed, Thompson edged Baldwin by a total of just three voters.
Nearly half of voters viewed Baldwin unfavorably--up several points from the last Marquette survey. And half viewed Thompson unfavorably. Franklin says it's a reflection of the political ad war on television where nearly all commercials have been negative, "I think it's far too early to judge where this campaign will end up. But it's certainly appropriate to recognize that the negativity of this campaign has taken its toll on both candidates and the negative messages that have been featured in the advertising have also taken their toll and have to some significant degree stuck to both of the candidates."
For example, nearly half of those polled agreed with the idea that Thompson had sold out to special interests and an identical number said Baldwin was too liberal for Wisconsin.
Franklin says the close race gives added significance to tonight's U.S. Senate debate, "I think the potential is there for it to be important especially when we see a race as tight as this one is."
The Marquette survey found a similarly close race for Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes with President Obama leading Mitt Romney by one percentage point. That race was also a virtual tie.
You can hear tonight's U.S. Senate Debate live at 7 pm on the Ideas Network of Wisconsin Public Radio.