MILWAUKEE - With the November election now just three weeks away, Wisconsin poll numbers for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Herb Kohl appear to be tightening.
The latest Marquette Law School poll reveals that among likely voters, Rep. Tammy Baldwin's lead over former governor Tommy Thompson has shrunk by two points in the last month.
With tighter races, it becomes more important for party workers to energize their base, since researchers say that about 90 percent of voters are loyal to a particular party.
The key then becomes getting them engaged enough to cast a ballot.
"If you can turn out all of your supporters," said Professor Charles Franklin, the director of the Marquette polls, "you're close to 50 percent. But you aren't quite there. That's where that smaller group, that's where the 7 to 15 percent of persuadable voters comes into play."
Rep. Tammy Baldwin is working hard to engage younger voters on the UW-Madison campus. She has traditionally garnered strong support from the demographic.
"Young voters were such a key part of our success," said Baldwin, "but they also have the most at stake in this election."
Franklin said the "undecideds" or "persuadables" are hard to identify, but they are crucial for a victory.
"You can't go to a Madison or Waukesha and find a whole lot of swing voters or persuadable voters, so that's where using advertising more to reach them or maybe direct phone calls to reach them," said Franklin.
Franklin said both parties realize that for the next three weeks they'll be pulling double duty.
"The challenge for the parties is to do both things: Get your base to turn out and try to win the battle of those persuadables," said Franklin.
We'll know soon which campaign has been most successful recently on Wednesday.
That's when Professor Franklin is expected to release the results of his latest poll.
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