WI-GOV: Doyle Leads, We Think

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle has been in office for more than six years and for more than six years, it seems, he's stayed in ...
by | June 15, 2009

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle has been in office for more than six years and for more than six years, it seems, he's stayed in a narrow range between being moderately popular and moderately unpopular. A new Research 2000/Daily Kos poll confirms that nothing has changed, but that Doyle is in a pretty strong position for reelection, should he decide to seek a third term:

Jim Doyle (D-inc)  48

Scott Walker (R)   36

Undecided          16

Jim Doyle (D-inc)  49

Mark Neumann (R)   35

Undecided          16

Jim Doyle (D-inc)  45

Tommy Thompson (R) 47

Undecided           8

Incumbent Gov. Jim Doyle has an unlovely 43-48 approval rating, yet he's still close to the 50% mark against his likeliest opponents, Milwaukee Co. Executive Scott Walker and former WI-01 Rep. Mark Neumann. As is typical for candidates like Walker and Neumann this far out from election day, neither is terribly well known - half the sample has no opinion of Walker, while a third doesn't know Neumann.

Meanwhile, former Gov. Tommy Thompson remains pretty popular (54-36), but only holds Doyle to a dead heat.

These results are pretty surprising to me. Walker is the top elected official in a jurisdiction with close to a million people, so I'd have expected him to be in a stronger position to start out, given Doyle's characteristically mediocre approval numbers. Plus, it's strange that the people of Wisconsin have a more favorable opinion of Thompson than Doyle, yet still are equally divided as to who they would prefer as governor.

Are these numbers too good to be true for Doyle? Maybe.

Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling offered this tease on his blog Friday:

-On Monday we'll have our poll showing a midwestern Governor trailing by eight points for reelection next year.

Only five Midwestern governors are running or potentially running for reelection next year. They are Dave Heineman (Nebraska), Pat Quinn (Illinois), Ted Strickland (Ohio), Chet Culver (Iowa) and Doyle.

I would be completely shocked if Heineman, one of the nation's most popular governors as far as we know, were trailing to anyone. I would be surprised if it were Strickland or Quinn, since Public Policy Polling has surveyed their states fairly recently and both had leads. None of Quinn's possible opponents are very well known.

That leaves Culver and Doyle. We'll find out later today.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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