Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) is behind by one percent in a new poll of his race for re-election, in which he is running against Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes, who is currently Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor.
The new poll follows other major polling that recently came out showing Johnson in the lead, although the overall portrait of the race provided by surveys conducted in the general election season is mixed. In the new numbers, which are from Siena College and Spectrum News, Barnes nabbed 48 percent of the support, while Johnson had 47 percent. In the same poll, Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers, who’s also running for re-election this year, was farther ahead of his Republican challenger, Tim Michels. Evers nabbed 49 percent of the support, while Michels got 44 percent. There are relatively recent precedents for close margins in the final outcomes from statewide elections in Wisconsin. After Trump won the state in 2016, Biden was victorious there in 2020, winning with a lead of less than three-quarters of a percentage point. Back in 2016, Johnson won his most recent race for re-election by a little over three percent.
While in power, Johnson has proven himself to be a champion of conspiratorial thinking, including about COVID-19 and, more recently, in the context of the raid of Trump’s southern Florida resort Mar-a-Lago that FBI agents conducted in early August. “I don’t trust the FBI,” Johnson said in the context of the raid and the surrounding probe. “They hold all the cards, they’ve shown and proven themselves to be untrustworthy.” He also called for an investigation of the agency’s actions. Johnson didn’t show up at a rally in Wisconsin ahead of the primaries where Trump himself promoted Michels, but the Senator claims he didn’t stay away because of aversion to Trump. Instead, he said he was avoiding picking a candidate in the Republican gubernatorial primary.
“To me, this election is about Wisconsin and about 2022,” Johnson more broadly said to reporters. “And so from my standpoint, I’ve never asked for anybody’s endorsement. I’m happy to have people’s endorsement, obviously I want as much support as possible.” In the new polling, voters viewed Barnes significantly more positively than Johnson. Just 37 percent of respondents indicated a favorable view of the Senator, while for Barnes, 41 percent did so, with just 39 percent sharing an unfavorable one. For Johnson, half of respondents indicated an unfavorable view. Wisconsin is one of the closest U.S. Senate races on the ballot this year. Others include Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Georgia, where Democrats are remaining competitive, and overall, election forecasters estimate that Democrats have a solid chance of retaining Senate control.