Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball Report, produced by the University of Virginia Center for Politics, says Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) is no longer at the top of the endangered Senator list.
“Baldwin spent much of the cycle looking like a top-tier target for the GOP, and along with Sens. Brown of Ohio and Bill Nelson (D-FL), she appeared to be one of the only truly endangered Democratic senators in a state that Barack Obama carried twice,” wrote Geoffrey Skelley, the Crystal Ball Report’s associate editor. “However, the environment in the Badger State appears to be sufficiently favorable for her reelection chances to receive an upgrade.”
The report has moved the Baldwin campaign’s chances from “leans Democratic” to “likely Democratic,” an improved position for Baldwin in the Crystal Ball rating system.
Skelley wrote that recent special elections were a sign that Baldwin’s chances in November may be improving.
“In four special elections for the Wisconsin state legislature in 2018, Democrats are outperforming Clinton’s district margin in the 2016 election by 20 points, on average,” Skelley wrote. “That is, if Clinton lost a district by 17 points, the average Democratic improvement would result in a Democratic victory by three points. To be sure, this is a small sample, but along with the state judicial election, the results seem to warrant the concern expressed by Walker and other Wisconsin Republicans.”
In addition to the special election results pointing to a Baldwin win in November, Skelley said that the two Republican candidates challenging Baldwin, businessman Kevin Nicholson and state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield), are not getting respect from Washington D.C.
“…Baldwin’s potential GOP opponents are not engendering much confidence from GOP leaders,” Skelley wrote. “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) recently made headlines when he did not include Wisconsin and other purported Republican Senate targets on a list of key contests that he thought would determine control of the Senate.”
The Democrats also demonstrated they are confident in Baldwin’s re-election chances when the main Senate Democratic Super PAC did not include Wisconsin in its initial nine-state, $80 million ad reservation, according to Skelley.
The Crystal Ball Report did take into account the latest Marquette poll. However, they ignored how 43 percent of those polled have an unfavorable opinion of Baldwin while only 41 percent have a favorable opinion, keeping her favorability rating “upside down.” Instead, the Report focused on Baldwin’s advantage in the head-to-head match ups. Baldwin leads Nicholson 50 percent to 39 percent with 7 percent undecided. Baldwin leads Vukmir 49 percent to 40 percent with 8 percent undecided.