Wisconsin's election season never seemed to end after the 2010 elections. Scott Walker and the Republican majority started a firestorm with their laws aimed to fix the state's massive budget deficit at the expense of cush public sector jobs. Almost immediately after passage, a series of Republicans faced recall elections. When his time came, Scott Walker did too. Although they were bruised by the union left, Walker and the Republican machine emerged relatively unscathed. By some accounts, Walker actually emerged from that fight in a better position to govern.
The latest recall fight ended in June, meaning Scott Walker's immense machine he built to survive the recall could be packaged up with a bow and handed off right to Romney. Staff, facilities, data ... all resources that take time and energy to build in a swing state. When the opportunity cost is minimalized for a campaign, they can make the state competitive. Real Clear Politics has the split at 5%, although that "gap" has only widened in the last two days. According to Dan Conrad, a Wisconsin voter (and admitted Romney supporter), "Obama is falling back on scaring seniors, misrepresentations, and class warfare."
Generally, negativity in a race is reserved for campaigns that have a distinct fear of losing or rubbing salt in the wound. Conrad also notes that Romney's ads have been far more positive and upbeat, especially in the closing weeks and says "I have never seen normally conservative people so fired up. It goes beyond being enthusiastic ... I have attended multiple events at the county level and there is optimism." It also helps a bit that Paul Ryan is a popular congressman in the state.
The Tommy Thompson vs Tammy Baldwin Senate race has probably been far more negative than Romney-Obama. Each has continually accused the other of very unpatriotic acts. Thompson has accused Baldwin of radicalism in voting against a 9/11 resolution on the attack's five year anniversary. Baldwin has accused Thompson of profiteering by denying 9/11 first responders health benefits. The nastiness of the race reflects the back-and-forth nature of the polls. Both Baldwin and Thompson have settled in for a dogfight after each held significant leads at one time or another. Conrad further noted that Walker has come out with television ads endorsing Tommy Thompson, and the current governor's popularity among a majority of voters is helping the former Governor Thompson at the end.
Wisconsin is a state that epitomizes the electoral partisanship right now in America. Republicans and Democrats have dug in for a long fight that started before the current presidential cycle came into full swing. It's carrying over, though, and that is going to help Romney and Thompson in the end. Look for Tommy Thompson to beat Tammy Baldwin by 2-3%, and for Romney to pull out a win in Wisconsin by about a point.
Editor's Note: Each day, Rob Lee will provide analysis of key swing states leading up to the election. Each of these states are identified as swing states by Real Clear Politics. In addition to the presidential contest, each state also offers an array of competitive Senate and House races that will influence the agenda of the president, whoever emerges victorious next week. Tune back in tomorrow as Colorado is evaluated.