When the White House announced Thursday that President Obama is visiting Wisconsin later this month, many probably had the reaction -- again?
Obama has made a regular habit of coming to Wisconsin. He was in Milwaukee on Labor Day to announce a second round stimulus proposal. And he'll be coming to Madison on Sept. 28, ahead of the Nov. 2 general election. He's also been to Racine and Menomonee Falls. His last visit to Madison was in November 2009, when he spoke at Wright Middle School. There's no word yet on where he'll speak this month.
"It is surprising how much he's coming here," says UW-Madison political science professor Charles Franklin. "This frequency of visits is usually reserved for Ohio."
But Graeme Zielinski, spokesman for the state Democratic Party, offered a more cheerleading spin on the visit. "Wisconsin loves barrack Obama. We gave him a 14-point victory here. He raises resources, he raises enthusiasm."
Zielinski says that although the state gave Obama a clear victory in 2008, it "also has been independent. It's a swing state for him.... Right before your eyes, you can see Wisconsin is important to Obama."
But he offered no insight on where the president might speak, saying, "I'd lose my job."
Franklin says it's obvious that Obama sees the state as critical for his reelection. Though he won handily here in 2008, presidential races in 2000 and 2004 were much closer. "You build relationships that will come back to help you later," he says.
Still, Franklin wonders how much of boost it will really give him. "I do wonder if he reaches a point of diminishing returns with so many visits in such a short time. The ones prior to this one have not really broken much new ground," he says. "I don't think his visits here have been fundamentally different from each other. What's the new news? I don't think there is very much."
But Obama would likely benefit by keeping the Democrats in power here. "We're going to do redistricting next year," Franklin says. "That redistricting will turn out differently if there's a Democratic governor than a Republican governor."