Senator Feingold struggles in Wisconsin

WASHINGTON Tue Oct 12, 2010 4:12pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Veteran Democratic Senator Russ Feingold is struggling in his bid for re-election in Wisconsin due in part to concerns about his ability to help create jobs, a Reuters-Ipsos poll found on Tuesday.

With three weeks to go until the November 2 congressional elections, the poll found wealthy Republican businessman Ron Johnson leading Feingold by 51 percent to 44 percent among likely voters in Wisconsin.

Feingold, bidding for a fourth six-year term, had long been seen as a safe incumbent but a weak U.S. economy has generated doubts about him and many of President Barack Obama's Democratic allies.

Wisconsin is one of a dozen crucial races in the fight for control of the Senate, now controlled by Democrats.

Republicans are seen winning a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives from Democrats, but their chances of taking the Senate are slimmer.

After the vote, Obama is likely to face a more hostile Congress in 2011 and struggle to get approval for any climate change and immigrations bills.

A key victory for Republicans would be the Wisconsin seat. Johnson was seen in the poll as being "the best person to help generate jobs in Wisconsin" -- 49 percent compared to 36 percent for Feingold.

By a 42-28 percent margin, Feingold was more likely to be seen as "part of the problem with politics right now in this country," according to the poll.

"With some of the right messaging and campaigning and higher Democratic turnout than anticipated, Feingold could pull this back down, I suppose, but it's not looking very good right now," said Ipsos pollster Julia Clark.

Voters said Feingold's support for Obama's healthcare reform this year made little difference to their preference.

Clark said Feingold is likely suffering from an anti-incumbent backlash against Washington.

"I don't think it's that he's seen as incompetent or weak on any particular issue, I think it's simply that this is a race where there's a very specific set of circumstances that means incumbency is no good thing," she said.

In the Wisconsin governor's race, Republican Scott Walker leads his Democratic opponent, Tom Barrett, by 10 points, 52 percent to 42 percent.

Incumbent Governor Jim Doyle, a Democrat, has relatively weak job approval ratings, with 60 percent disapproving and 34 percent approving his job performance.

Republicans are highly motivated to vote in Wisconsin compared to Democrats, an "enthusiasm gap" that worries Democrats. The poll found 80 percent of Republicans and 60 percent of Democrats "certain" to vote in November.

The Ipsos poll of 600 registered voters, including 451 who said they were likely to vote, was conducted from Friday to Monday. The full survey of registered voters has a margin for error of 4 percentage points while the smaller sample of likely voters has a margin for error of 4.6 points.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Christopher Wilson)

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Comments (3)
ginchinchili wrote:
This surely proves that Americans are no longer intelligent enough to have a successful democracy. With enough campaign contributions from big corporations Bozo the Clown could be elected to office, or perhaps Adolf Hitler.

Feingold exemplifies what a good senator ought to be, unbeholden to special interests. It takes a lot of courage to refuse contributions from special interests, but apparently Wisconsins want special interests to run our country. Taking back our country? What a joke.

Oct 12, 2010 7:58pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
ustadh wrote:
Wisconsonians are losing the best senator in the Congress. What is wrong with them?

Oct 12, 2010 10:49pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
GChris2000 wrote:
Russ Is Best for Wisconsin and Nation

As one who grew up in Wisconsin, I am troubled and ashamed that my home State would even consider not re-electing Russ Feingold.
He has done the right things. He is a progressive in the proudest Wisconsin tradition. He is an independent in this time where independence is particularly valued. He has consistently taken on the powerful interests that frustrate us.
If there is anyone who deserves re-election in this tumultuous year, it is Russ. He has cared for Wisconsin; he has cared for the Nation. Hopefully, Wisconsin will now do what is in the best interests of Wisconsin and the Nation.

Gary Christopherson [Nelson, WI]

Oct 13, 2010 8:51am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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