Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has closed the gap in Wisconsin after his strong debate performance on Wednesday night. President Obama edges him by a 2-point margin in the state, 49 percent to Romney's 47 percent, in a new poll from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP). Obama had a lead outside the margin of error in PPP's mid-September poll, 52 percent to Romney's 45 percent.
Wisconsin voters think Romney won the debate by a 61 percent to 25 percent margin, and it seems to have helped Romney on his personal rating -- he's now seen favorably by 49 percent of likely voters, while unfavorably by 48 percent. That's up from a negative 44 percent favorable, 51 percent unfavorable split last month.
The president retains a strong lead in the overall PollTracker Average of Wisconsin, however, as he was breaking away in the state during the weeks leading up to the debate. His advantage now stands at 8.5 percent.
The poll isn't all bad for Obama. While Romney's image has certainly recovered, the president still bests him on who is more trusted to handle the economy, 49 percent to Romney's 47 percent, down slighty from the previous poll that showed Obama leading on the question 51 percent to Romney's 46 percent.
Much of that seems to be from Republicans coming home to Romney on the issue: 10 percent of the Wisconsin GOP faithful trusted Obama on the economy to Romney's 89 percent in September, while only 6 percent trust Obama now and 93 percent go for Romney. Obama lost no support among independent voters on the question -- 50 percent of them broke toward the president in both surveys -- and he lost a single point among Democrats.
The main shift compared to 2 weeks ago in Wisconsin is an increase in Republican enthusiasm about Romney and the election in general. He's gone from leading Obama by 79 points with Republicans (89-10) to an 85 point advantage (92-7). One thing that might be reassuring for Democrats is that Obama's held steady with independents in the state, continuing to hold a 9 point lead.
There's also been a big uptick in Republican enthusiasm about the election. Two weeks ago there was basically no enthusiasm gap with 65% of Democrats and 63% of GOP voters saying they were 'very excited' to vote this fall. Now the Republicans are seeing an advantage on that question with their share of 'very excited' voters climbing to 72% while the Democrats have declined to 63%.
The PPP poll used 979 automated interviews with likely voters via landline (automated surveys are prohibited from calling cell phones) conducted Oct. 4-6. It has a sampling error of 3.1 percent.