Wisconsin presidential contest tightening among likely voters

Enthusiasm below normal levels in both parties

The presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump may be tightening as the latest Marquette University Law School Poll, released today, showed a 4 point gap among likely voters in Wisconsin.

The presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump may be tightening in Wisconsin.

Clinton led Trump 45 to 41 percent after being up 46 to 37 in June. The poll of 665 likely voters was taken from July 7 to July 10 and had a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

The poll’s measure of registered voters did not show the same level of tightening. In June, Clinton was up 42-35 and the July poll showed her up 43-37. The registered voter figures included 801 respondents and a margin of error of 4.1 percentage points.

In June, 84 percent of Democrats said they were certain to vote, but that number dropped to 78 percent in July. Republicans had a slight shift, going from 78 percent certain to vote to 80 percent in July.

Charles Franklin, the poll’s director, said the fall off by Democrats was largely responsible for the tightening in the race.

“This could be a meaningful shift, it could also just be turbulence,” he said.

After cautioning that likely voter measurements can have a lot of variation several months ahead of Election Day, Franklin said the poll was taken after the primaries were concluded but before Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders endorsed Clinton.

He also said the likely voter figures were low for both parties compared with where they typically would be at this point in the election.

“If you’re not real happy with your nominee, that’s one of the consequences,” he said.

The poll also included questions that offered respondents the option of choosing Libertarian and Green party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, respectively. Franklin said respondents are usually allowed to volunteer the third-party candidates, but that covers less than 1 percent of responses.

He said the divisions within the parties and Johnson’s performance in particular nationally made it a good time to include the other candidates.

Among registered voters, Clinton received 40 percent, Trump 33, Johnson 10, Stein 4 and 12 percent said they didn’t know, wouldn’t vote or would pick someone else.

“It’s very revealing to show how much appetite there might be for somebody other than the Democrat and the Republican,” Franklin said.

In Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate race, the registered voter results showed former Senator Russ Feingold, the Democrat, expanding his lead from 45-41 in June to 48-41 in July.

The likely voter measure, however, showed the same tightening as the presidential race, with Feingold up 51-42 in June and 49-44 in July.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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