• Herb Kohl,  Paul Ryan,  U.S. Senate 2012

    WI-Sen: Herb Kohl is Out and a GOP Senate Majority is More Likely

    U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) speaks at a news conference Friday, May 13, 2011, in Milwaukee. Kohl said he has decided not to run for re-election after serving in the U.S. Senate since 1989

    The conventional wisdom was the GOP had a more than a likely chance they would replace Harry Reid as majority leader and take control of the U.S. Senate after the 2012 elections. This is reinforced by the announced retirement of incumbent democratic Senator Herb Kohl.

    Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will be on everyone’s mind to replace Kohl, but many think he won’t run. After all, he passed up a chance in 2010 to run against Russ Feingold. Republicans also like the state attorney general, J.B. Van Hollen, one of the few Republicans to win statewide in 2006. In 2010 he was reelected with 58 percent of the vote. Unlike other contenders, he could run without risking his current job. Duffy also mentions former congressman Mark Neumann but notes that he “made an unsuccessful bid against Feingold in 1998 and ran for the GOP gubernatorial nomination last year. He got 38 percent after running a dreadful campaign.” A GOP operative with whom I spoke also says “worth mentioning” is wealthy businessman Tim Michels, who ran in 2004.

    For now, the betting on the Hill is that the Senate will flip to a Republican majority. I won’t say “control” because 60 is well out of reach. Nevertheless, with Wisconsin, Virginia, Florida, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, West Virginia and Nebraska as potential pick-ups, the Republicans could wind up in the mid-50s. Much will defend, of course, on the nominees and whether the GOP has a strong candidate at the top of the ticket.

    Wisconsin will also be in play for the Presidential race and will be a key battleground state. With a contested Senate contest, the spending and media attention will accelerate.

    The GOP’s Senate prospects are only looking better.

  • Herb Kohl,  J.B. Van Hollen,  Mark Neumann,  Paul Ryan,  Russ Feingold

    WI-Sen Poll Watch: Dem Sen Herb Kohl Looks Safe Against all GOP Challengers

    According to the latest PPP Poll.

    Favorable Vs Unfavorable:

    • Rep. Paul Ryan 36% Vs. 35%
    • Former Rep. Mark Neumann 24% Vs. 27%
    • Atty. Gen. JB Van Hollen 25% Vs. 28%
    • Former Sen. Russ Feingold 51% Vs. 39%

    Job Approval Vs. Disapproval:

    • Sen Herb Kohl 50% Vs. 30%
    • Sen Ron Johnson 32% Vs. 28%

    Heads Up:

    • 52% Kohl Vs. 37% Van Hollen
    • 49% Kohl Vs. 42% Ryan
    • 51% Kohl Vs. 37% Neumann
    • 51% Feingold Vs. 39% Van Hollen
    • 49% Feingold Vs. 42% Ryan
    • 50% Feingold Vs. 40% Neumann

    PPP surveyed 768 Wisconsin voters from February 24th to 27th. The survey’s margin of error is +/-3.5%.

    It has been rumored for some time that Senator Herb Kohl will retire and that defeated Senator Russ Feingold (who is still popular in the state despite being beaten by Ron Johnson last November) would try to regain a Senate seat.

    No matter from this polling data, either Democrat, Kohl or Feingold looks safe.

    Also, it is doubtful that Rep. Paul Ryan who is the best Republican in this poll is interested in running for the Senate.

    Note, however, Wisconsin WILL be a key battleground state for the 2012 Presidential race and voter participation will be high in this election. This will not be a priority for the NRSC unless Kohl retires and the seat becomes open.

    The full poll results are here (Pdf.)