Picking Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate has helped GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the Badger State, but just a little, a new poll suggests.
Obama leads Romney among likely voters in Wisconsin, 49 percent to 46 percent, according to a Marquette Law School poll released Wednesday afternoon. The poll was conducted Aug. 16 through 19, following Ryan's selection as Romney's running mate on Aug. 11.
A similar poll from early in the month, before Ryan was named to the Republican ticket, had Obama up by 50 to 45 percent.
"The 2-point shift in Romney's direction is within the margin of error for the poll but suggest[s] Ryan's addition to the ticket may have slightly increased Romney's chances in Wisconsin," said Charles Franklin, a professor and director of the poll.
Obama won the state handily in 2008 with more than 56 percent of the vote. But Wisconsin is now up for grabs, and some pundits had predicted that Romney's pick of Ryan, a longtime congressman from Janesville, Wis., would move the needle for the GOP ticket.
When asked if Ryan's selection had made them more likely to vote for Romney, 29 percent of voters polled said yes. Sixteen percent said it made them less likely to support the Republican presidential candidate, and 53 percent said it would have little effect on their decision.
The Marquette poll, which accurately predicted former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson's recent win and the order of finish in the state's four-way GOP Senate primary, shows Thompson leading Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin, 50 to 41 percent, in the November contest to replace retiring Sen. Herb Kohl, a Democrat.
Gains for Romney reported by Marquette are far more modest than those found by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling firm. PPP's results released Tuesday showed Romney improving his position against Obama by 7 points in Wisconsin, and now leading 48 to 47 percent. The firm's July poll had Obama up 50 to 44 percent in the state.
Ryan's selection, according to PPP's Tom Jensen, unified the state GOP. Before naming Paul as his running mate, Romney had the support of 87 percent of Wisconsin Republicans polled; his support now sits at 93 percent, according to PPP. And Obama's lead among Wisconsin independents has slid in the past month, from a 53 to 39 percent lead to a 47 to 43 percent advantage, the PPP poll found.
PPP also found that Wisconsin Republicans are more enthusiastic, and that the state electorate "looks like it will be considerably more Republican-leaning than it was in 2008," when Obama won the state.
The Marquette poll found Obama's job approval rating at 48 percent, down 2 percentage points from its early August poll. Fifty-two percent of those surveyed had a favorable view of Obama. Romney was seen favorably by 35 percent of those polled, with 45 percent expressing an unfavorable opinion of the former Massachusetts governor.