GOP’s Wisconsin Problem

Former Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin announced earlier this week that he would indeed pursue a rematch with Ron Johnson, the Tea Partyish Republican who beat him in one of 2010’s biggest upsets. And the early polls confirm that a presidential cycle with its very different turnout patterns come make all the difference in the world. An April survey by the respected Marquette Law School polling unit showed Feingold leading Johnson by a big 54/38 margin.

There’s a long way to go, obviously, and Feingold, a career-long campaign finance reform advocate, will almost certainly face a big financial disadvantage. But just about every handicapper has this as the first or second most likely Senate seat to change hands next year, right up there with Mark Kirk’s.

This could be a big deal for more than the obvious reason. If we go into the presidential nominating contests with Scott Walker as a co-front-runner like he is right now, it certainly won’t help the credibility of his claim that he’s turned Blue Wisconsin into a beer-and-brats version of supine job-creating paradises like South Carolina if general election polls in the state are showing Johnson being trounced by Feingold–and his very own self getting stomped by HRC. It’s something to watch.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.