Wisconsin could play a critical role in the outcome of the race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
While the Badger State has traditionally leaned Democratic (Obama comfortably won the state in 2008), Mitt Romney chose Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Janesville as his running mate and has campaigned hard for the state’s 10 electoral votes.
Romney held a big campaign event Friday in West Allis, delivering what his campaign called a closing argument to voters.
“The door to a brighter future is there, open, waiting for us,” Romney said to supporters who packed Products Pavilion at the State Fair Park. “I need your vote, I need your help.
Romney was introduced by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who survived a recall election over his attempt to strip collective bargaining rights for most public sector workers in June.
“In poll after poll, it’s about as close a tie as you can get, 49 to 49 repeatedly in a number of polls out there,” Walker told Fox News on Friday, referring to the right-leaning pollster Rasmussen.
In reality, the final average of Wisconsin polls by Real Clear Politics, which included Rasmussen, showed Obama leading Romney by a margin of 4.2% (50.4 to 46.2). And the latest NBC News/Marist poll shows the president leading Romney by three points in the Badger State.
Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan is not only running for vice president, he’s also spending $2 million on nine different TV commercials to keep is House seat, just in case.
The polls show Ryan leading Democrat Rob Zerban 47-39 percent. But Ryan has never received less than 57 percent of the vote in seven elections. And Zerban, a member of the Kenosha County Board and former small-business owner, raised more money than Ryan in the last quarter. So there is a chance that Ryan could become a two-time loser on Tuesday night.
“I drove through the [Republican leaning] district [Thursday] and I saw Zerban signs in some of the most Republican areas,” John Nichols, Washington Correspondent for The Nation magazine told The Ed Show on Friday. “He`s clearly made an impact there. We`ll see what happens on election night.”
The state’s U.S. Senate race has also attracted a lot of national media attention. Democrat Tammy Baldwin is battling former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson for the seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Herb Kohl. The Real Clear Politics average of polls shows Baldwin up by 2.2%. And the latest NBC News/Marist poll shows Baldwin leading by one point in the Badger State.
Wisconsin traditionally has one of the highest voter turnouts among the states (officials predict a 70% turnout.) Lawmakers tried to suppress the vote by passing a voter ID law, but that was struck down in court.
An official at Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board tells NBC’s John Boxley that they’ve had a few issues with voting machines jamming up, but no serious problems.
There are reports of long lines in Milwaukee, Madison, Racine and Kenosha, which has drawn some complaints from voters. Rain and light snow in parts of the state is not expected to impact turnout.
By the way, don’t show your Facebook friends and Twitter followers how you voted because it’s illegal in Wisconsin to post photos of completed ballots. State law prohibits voters from showing their completed ballots to anyone to prevent people from selling their votes and then showing their ballots as proof they voted as requested.
The Badger State also held early voting. Polls in Wisconsin close at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT.