Marquette Poll: Obama Loses Big Lead In Wisconsin Following First Debate

Tom Kludt

President Barack Obama's once-massive lead in Wisconsin is now virtually nonexistent, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The latest Marquette University Law School poll shows Obama with a negligible lead over Mitt Romney among likely Badger State voters, 49 percent to 48 percent. That's a big dip for Obama since Marquette's previous two polls, both of which were conducted prior to the Oct. 3 debate in Denver. In Marquette's mid-September poll, Obama claimed a 14-point lead in Wisconsin. The president's lead shrunk some by the end of September, but Marquette still showed him up 11.

Obama moved to a 4.6-point lead over Romney in Wisconsin, according to the PollTracker Average.

There's little doubt the outcome of the first debate, of which Romney was widely seen as the winner, was the trigger for the shift. Among voters who watched that debate, Romney leads 50 percent to 48 percent. Conversely, Obama holds a lead with voters who didn't tune in 50 percent to 42 percent.

The president has seen his across-the-board policy advantages either weaken or vanish completely from previous Marquette polls. Romney is now narrowly preferred by Wisconsin voters over Obama to preside over the economy, 50 percent to 49 percent. Voters give a wider edge to Romney to handle the federal budget deficit 52 percent to 45 percent. Obama is still the preferred candidate to handle taxes, foreign policy and health care, but not by the double-digit margins shown in the late-September survey.

Moreover, Obama's commanding advantage among Wisconsin women has diminished considerably. In Marquette's poll two weeks ago, he led Romney by 25 points among female voters in the state; in Wednesday's poll, the president's lead among the group is 4 points.

The poll, conducted after last week's vice presidential debate, shows an uptick in personal popularity for native son Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). Forty-nine percent of Wisconsin voters have a favorable view of Ryan, up from 46 percent in the previous Marquette poll. Forty-one percent have an unfavorable view of him, amounting to little change. Vice President Joe Biden, on the other hand, went from a positive favorability rating previously to a negative one on Wednesday. Forty-five percent of Wisconsin voters have a favorable view of Biden, who took a demonstrative approach to his debate with Ryan, while 46 percent have an unfavorable view.

The Marquette University Law School poll was conducted Oct. 11-14 using live phone interviews with 870 likely voters with a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.