Marquette Law School poll shows gap between Thompson, Baldwin shrinking

MILWAUKEE -- The latest Marquette University Law School poll shows the gap between Wisconsin's U.S. Senate candidates -- Republican Tommy Thompson and Democrat Tammy Baldwin appears to be shrinking. The latest results show Baldwin with 48% support to Thompson's 44%. Two weeks ago, Baldwin led by 9%.

Marquette Law School Professor Charles Franklin says these latest results reflect Thompson's recent campaign ad buys. Prior to the last poll, Baldwin campaign ads dominated the airwaves.

Franklin says the majority of voter interviews for this latest poll were conducted prior to Friday's debate between Baldwin and Thompson.

The new MU Law School poll says independents are split evenly in the Senate race -- with Thompson and Baldwin each sharing 43% support. Two weeks ago, Baldwin lead independents.

The gap between the presidential contenders has shrunk ever so slightly. The latest poll shows President Barack Obama with 53% support in Wisconsin to Mitt Romney's 42%. The president led by 14 points just two weeks ago.

"The margin in the Obama-Romney race has been pretty substantial in these last two polls, but let us remember it was just a couple of months ago it was a three-point race, so things can change," Prof. Franklin said.

Independents still lean towards President Obama over Romney, 49% to 40%. Those same independents leaned toward Republicans in August and to Democrats in mid-September. Now, Prof. Franklin says they are "swinging back to a more competitive balance."

In this latest poll, 34% of likely voters identified themselves as Democrats. 28% said they were Republicans.

The gender gap appears to be playing a substantial role in the latest results. In the Senate race, Baldwin holds a 54% to 38% lead over Thompson among women. Thompson has the lead among men, 50% to 41%. In the presidential race, Obama is favored by women, 61% to 36%, but Romney leads among men, 49% to 44%.

On issues in the presidential race, those polled were asked who would do a better job handling certain aspects. Here are the results...

    The MU Law School poll shows only 2% of likely voters say they are "very likely" to change their minds as a result of the presidential debates. 10% say they are "somewhat likely" to change their minds. 66% say they "not at all likely" to change their minds because of the debates.

    Prof. Franklin says Wednesday night's presidential debate could sway a small but significant percentage of voters.

    "I think we should not underestimate the potential of debates to effect people," Prof. Franklin said.

    The Marquette University Law School poll provides a comprehensive, independent survey of voter attitudes in Wisconsin. It is the largest independent polling project in state history. Monthly polls measure voter attitudes toward the 2012 presidential and U.S. Senate elections, citizen reaction to current state policy debates and possible recall elections and a wide range of opinions among Wisconsin voters.

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