In the midst of the highly polarizing and unprecedented gubernatorial recall election, Wisconsin is once again considered a swing state for the 2012 presidential election on November 6. A poll released May 16 by the Marquette Law School shows President Barack Obama and likely Republican challenger Mitt Romney in a tie at 46%.
Just three months ago, a similar poll from the same source showed Obama with a 53% to 38% lead over Romney.
While that time period coincides with increasing divisiveness over the upcoming June 5 recall elections, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse political science professor Joe Heim says that has not necessarily led to the tightening of the presidential race in Wisconsin.
"How people are deciding to vote between Romney and Obama is not directly related to how people are going to vote in a recall election," he says.
Instead, Heim says Wisconsin is following national trends and staying true to its battleground reputation.
However, the outcome of the June 5 recall election for governor will provide a "morale boost" to the winning party, whether that be Republicans with incumbent Gov. Scott Walker, or Democrats with challenger and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
The winner is likely to use that lift to build on what Heim called "extraordinary" get-out-the-vote efforts currently under way. He expects those efforts to continue, and possibly increase, in the lead-up to November.
"If it works this summer, they're going to use it again," he says.
He says the campaigns will similarly be keeping an eye of which ads pack the most punch.
According to Ben Sparks, communications director for the Republican Party of Wisconsin, Republican voters in the state are much more enthusiastic than in past years because of the recall election, and he expects that to help both Walker and Romney in their upcoming elections.
"With this heightened Republican intensity throughout the state, Wisconsin has been moved into a toss-up, and we expect there to be a very close battle waged for Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes in November," Sparks says.
If Walker wins in June, Heim says Barrett supporters could feel defeated, at least temporarily. "They really laid it on the line here," he says.
But Oma Vic McMurray, who has been active in the effort to recall Walker, says in an email the effort she has put in will be worth it, regardless of what happens in June and November.
"This is not about operating out of fear, this is about operating out of love -- love for my family, my community and my state," she says. "I am not going to be so afraid of a national election that I won't work to restore democracy locally."
While the gubernatorial race is the main event, Heim says the four state Senate recall elections may also help determine what happens in November. If the elections are split between Democrats and Republicans, Heim expects both parties to downplay their losses and focus on the victories. But if either party wins all four, it will make a difference.
"If there's a sweep for one side or the other, that would have a more significant impact going into the fall," he says.