New MU Law School poll shows presidential race tightening

MILWAUKEE -- A new Marquette University Law School shows the presidential race is tightening. The latest poll shows President Barack Obama with a 49% lead to Republican Gov. Mitt Romney's 46%.

Two weeks ago, President Obama led Romney by five points. The change is now within the margin of error.

This is the first Marquette University Law School poll since Paul Ryan was selected as the Republican VP candidate. Poll chief Charles Franklin says Ryan's selection may have slightly increased Romney's chances in Wisconsin.

"Don't take Wisconsin for granted. By any stretch of the imagination, we're a competitive state and if there's the smallest of Democratic advantages, it's the smallest and can be competitive," Franklin said.

When asked whether Ryan is qualified to serve as president, 55% of those surveyed say "yes" -- 37% say "no." 

Those surveyed were also asked whether Ryan's selection affects the likelihood of voting for Romney. 29% say they're more likely to vote for Romney, 13% say they're less likely to vote for the GOP candidate, and 53% say it wouldn't change the likelihood.

"I think it shows a little bit of help, but it's easy to exaggerate how big the help is. Ryan is viewed more favorably than unfavorably in this state. People think it was a good choice -- think he's qualified to be president," Franklin said.

Compared to the July Marquette University Law School poll, Ryan's favorables and unfavorables are both up 5 points.

When asked how Wisconsin voters rate Romney's selection of Ryan, 31% said it was an excellent choice; 27% - pretty good, 16% - only fair, and 19% - poor.

The Marquette University Law School indicates 57% of Republicans say Paul Ryan's selection as VP nominee made them more likely to vote for Romney, while 2% of Democrats said so. Among independents not leaning to either party, 23% say Ryan makes them more likely to vote GOP, 17% say less likely.

On the U.S. Senate race, the Marquette University Law School poll puts Republican Tommy Thompson over Democrat Tammy Baldwin, 50% to 41%. Prior to the GOP primary, Thompson led Baldwin 48% to 43%.

"It's a bit of a bounce in Thompson's direction after he sews up the primary. Again, we're seeing very strong levels of partisan voting there. The Republican Party is very unified behind Thompson, despite the hard-fought primary," Franklin said.

When asked about President Barack Obama's job performance, 48% of those surveyed say they approve of it. 45% disapprove of the president's performance. Two weeks ago, the president's favorable rating was at 50%.

The Marquette University Law School poll shows President Obama has an advantage over Romney when it comes to asking whether the candidate "cares about people like me." Obama and Romney have fairly similar results (leaning favorable) when those surveyed were asked if each is a "strong leader."

The issue of Medicare has been discussed at length on the campaign trail. Those surveyed were asked was Wisconsin voters want for Medicare in the future. 55% want to keep the current system, 38% want government support of people buying insurance. But at the same time, 37% say the system can continue as is being run while 55% say major changes are needed.

On the state level, the Marquette University Law School poll says Gov. Scott Walker's approval ratings remain virtually unchanged. He's at 50% approval, 46% disapproval in the new poll.

On Tuesday, August 21st, the latest Public Policy Polling survey showed that adding Ryan to the ticket gave Mitt Romney a slight edge in Wisconsin. The poll showed Mitt Romney with 48% and President Obama with 47%.

You can view the entire poll results by CLICKING HERE.

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