Poll: Obama Surges In Wisconsin, Leads Romney By 14

Tom Kludt

President Barack Obama has opened up a 14-point lead in Wisconsin, according to a new poll.

Mitt Romney's selection of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan solidified the Badger State as a battleground, but a successful month for Obama and continuing campaign woes for Romney have blunted the GOP's momentum there. The Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday shows Obama leading Romney among likely Wisconsin voters, 54 percent to 40 percent.

The PollTracker Average currently shows Obama leading Romney by 6.3 points in Wisconsin, eclipsing the 50 percent threshold in the last month.

That's a big change from Marquette's previous poll, conducted the week following Romney's V.P. pick , in which Obama led by 3 points among likely voters.

But the national conventions changed the equation. Obama's job approval among registered voters in Wisconsin ticked up from 48 percent in August to 54 percent in Wednesday's poll. His favorability rating went from 52 percent to 55 percent. Romney's favorability rating, meanwhile, has barely inched up over the last month, from 35 percent to 36 percent, although the number of Wisconsin voters with an unfavorable view of the Republican nominee went up 6 points to 51 percent.

Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School poll, acknowledged that his survey shows a larger gap between the candidates in the state than other polls, including another poll released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University, CBS News and the New York Times that showed Obama leading by 6 points in Wisconsin. Franklin said the sample in the Marquette poll skewed slightly more Democratic than its previous surveys this year.

"A plausible explanation is that after each party's convention, there was a bit more enthusiasm on the Democratic side," Franklin said Wednesday, a point backed up by a new poll from Pew Research Center.

But Franklin said that Obama retains a comfortable lead -- 51 percent to 43 percent -- even when the sample is adjusted to produce a more balanced partisan composition.

Voters are sharply divided on a question being pushed by the Romney campaign: 49 percent of Wisconsin voters say they are not better off than they were four years ago, while 47 percent say they are better off. Forty-seven percent say the the economy will get better over the next year, compared with 12 percent who believe it will worsen and 27 percent who believe it will stay the same.

Moreover, 55 percent attribute the country's economic problems to the policies of former President George W. Bush, compared with 30 percent who blame Obama -- a continuation of a national trend that has spanned the last four years.

"Will those perceptions continue to persist, which is clearly to President Obama's advantage?" said Franklin. "Or as Republicans put it, is it a slow recovery that would have been better under someone else? That's the responsibility of the two campaigns to make that case."

The Marquette University Law School poll was conducted Sept. 13-16 using live phone interviews with 705 registered voters and 601 likely voters, with margins of error of 3.8 percentage points and 4.1 percentage points respectively.

Charles Franklin serves as a consultant to TPM's PollTracker.