It isn't the eye-popping 14-point margin that caught the political world off guard last month, but President Barack Obama continues to boast a wide lead in Wisconsin, according to the latest Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday.
Obama leads Romney 53 percent to 42 percent among likely voters in a state that looks a lot less like the battleground that many anticipated after Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan joined the Republican ticket in August. The president claimed a commanding lead in Marquette's previous mid-September poll, 54 percent to 40 percent.
Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School poll, said at the time that the partisan composition of last month's poll skewed Democratic more than his other surveys taken this year, something he chalked up to either post-convention momentum for Obama's party or a simple sampling aberration.
But Wednesday's poll includes the same portion of Democrats, 34 percent, and roughly the same number of Republicans. Franklin said that confirms that last month's sample was "not just a blip."
"The forces that advantaged Obama throughout September are actually persistent forces," Franklin said during a webinar that coincided with the poll's release. "At the moment, the month of September has generally been a good month for Democrats."
Obama draws an enormous advantage among women, besting Romney among female voters in the state, 61 percent to 36 percent. Romney claims the edge among male voters — albeit by a decidedly smaller margin — 49 percent to 44 percent. Obama also leads Romney by 9 points among Wisconsin independents.
When it comes to the issues, the president is preferred over Romney by Wisconsin voters to handle all six policy areas tested by Marquette: the federal budget deficit, economy, taxes, health care, foreign policy and social issues.
Moreover, Romney's personal popularity is in the cellar in Wisconsin. Only 39 percent of likely voters view the Republican nominee favorably, compared with 52 percent who view him unfavorably.
Obama, on the other hand, is viewed favorably by 55 percent of likely Wisconsin voters, while 43 percent have an unfavorable view. More voters view Obama as a strong leader: 54 percent said the term is applicable to the president, compared with 47 percent who said the same of Romney. An equal number of Wisconsin voters, 44 percent, said that neither Obama nor Romney is a strong leader.
Franklin noted that an anemic favorability rating has dogged the Romney throughout the 2012 campaign, but that the uproar surrounding the infamous "47 percent" remarks had not exacerbated former Massachusetts governor's already low personal popularity in Wisconsin. Marquette's previous poll a month ago — conducted before the video from the private fundraiser was unearthed — also showed only 36 percent of Badger State voters had a favorable view of Romney, while 51 percent had an unfavorable view.
"It's clear that the difficulty Romney has had all year long has not abated in recent times," Franklin said.
The PollTracker Average currently shows Obama leading Romney by 10 in Wisconsin, after the president held a much narrower lead there in the summer.
The Marquette University Law School poll was conducted Sept. 27-30 using live phone interviews with 1,003 registered voters and 894 likely voters, with margins of error of 3.2 percentage points and 3.3 percentage points respectively.
Charles Franklin serves as a consultant to TPM's PollTracker.