The main polling story today, though it is not the only data point on this Friday, is the new NBC/Marist poll out of the Badger State. Though there are some quirks (their downballot polling is a bit strange), the clear message is twofold: Mitt Romney might win the battle (the GOP primary this coming Tuesday), but he is in poor position to win the war (the state's 10 electoral votes) in November.
In those national tracking polls, Gallup has Romney pulling away again in the primary sweepstakes, but the House of Ras reverses field today and puts the president back in front of Mittens in November.
I smell a pattern here.
GOP (PRESIDENTIAL) PRIMARY POLLS:
NATIONAL (Gallup Tracking): Romney 42, Santorum 27, Gingrich 11, Paul 10(PRESIDENTIAL) GENERAL ELECTION TRIAL HEATS:
WISCONSIN (NBC/Marist): Romney 40, Santorum 33, Paul 11, Gingrich 8
WISCONSIN (Rasmussen): Romney 44, Santorum 34, Gingrich 7, Paul 7
WISCONSIN (WPR/St. Norberts College): Romney 37, Santorum 32, Paul 8, Gingrich 4
NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking): Obama d. Romney (46-45); Obama d. Santorum (47-42)DOWNBALLOT POLLING:
"CORE FOUR STATES"—FL, NC, OH, VA (Rasmussen): Obama d. Romney (47-44); Obama d. Santorum (49-42)
WISCONSIN (NBC/Marist): Obama d. Santorum (51-38); Obama d. Paul (51-36); Obama d. Romney (52-35); Obama d. Gingrich (56-31)
WI-GOV (NBC/Marist): "Democratic candidate" 48, Gov. Scott Walker (R) 46A thought or two about today's numbers, right after the jump...
WI-SEN (NBC/Marist): Tammy Baldwin (D) 45, "Republican candidate" 40
- First off, about those downballot polls. My colleague David Nir today noted the oddity of Marist (polling on behalf of NBC) using generic candidates in both the gubernatorial and Senate elections in their Wisconsin poll. After all, not only are the main players on both sides generally known, there are even commonly accepted leaders in the races where they chose to use generic candidates (Milwaukee's Democratic Mayor, Tom Barrett, in the gubernatorial race, and former GOP Gov. Tommy Thompson in the Senate race). My suspicion is twofold—one, they were treating these downballot races as sort of an afterthought, and two, they didn't want to presume a favorite in a multi candidate field. To do those downballot races "right", they'd have to have polled Kathleen Falk in the gubernatorial race for the Democrats (at a minimum, because there's also LaFollette and Vinehout), and they'd have to have polled Neumann and Fitzgerald in the Senate race. Rather than poll multiple options, they went generic. It makes it possible to poll both races in just two questions, but I think it plays hell with the validity of the responses. Tommy Thompson, for example, has done considerably better than "generic Republican" did here.
- Remember the good ole days, when Rick Santorum's "authenticity" and cultural conservatism were supposed to bring home the heartland for him? Yeah, about that—once again, we see Santorum poised to lose a midwestern state by a single-digit margin. And with Rasmussen showing Romney up close to twenty points in Maryland (and, notably, no pollster as of yet even bothering to join the House of Ras in polling Maryland), it looks like Santorum will have to wait until his home state votes in over three weeks to notch a win.
- On the subject of notching a win, Barack Obama looks like he has the Badger State on lockdown. A couple of days after the House of Ras gave Obama a double-digit edge over Mitt Romney in Wisconsin, the NBC/Marist poll takes it even a step further, stretching the lead out for the incumbent.
- One final, intriguing, item from the Marist poll—if anyone needs evidence of how badly the primary season has worn out the welcome for Mitt Romney with the general electorate, look no further than this poll. Mitt Romney actually performs worse when paired with Barack Obama than either Rick Santorum or Ron Paul. Only the almost comically unpopular Newt Gingrich is actually less electable than Romney right now in Wisconsin. What's more—if you go back through previous editions of the Wrap (or check out the Weekend Digest), this is not the first time that particular phenomenon has reared its head. There was a time when Romney was clearly more palatable with the general electorate than the rest of his GOP colleagues. That time, for the moment at least, has passed.