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Poll Finds Kohl Safe, but GOP Warns Finding Is Premature

Sen. Herb Kohl would easily win re-election in 2012, a new survey from Public Policy Polling found.

The Wisconsin Democrat, who is 75, hasn’t announced whether he will run, and no Republicans have declared intentions to run yet. The National Republican Senatorial Committee was quick to point out that a November 2009 PPP survey that found Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) to be in solid shape for re-election in 2010 turned out to be wrong. That survey did not include Republican Ron Johnson, who defeated Feingold in November.

PPP included both Kohl and Feingold in the new survey, hypothesizing that Feingold may decide to run if Kohl retires. Either would defeat the Republicans whom PPP included.

Rep. Paul Ryan, a Republican from southeast Wisconsin, would do best against Kohl and Feingold, losing to Kohl by 6 percentage points and to Feingold by 7 points, according to the survey. Ryan was rumored to be interested in joining the Senate, but he seems less likely to run now that he has secured the chairmanship of the House Budget Committee in the next Congress.

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson, who dropped out of the Republican presidential race before the 2008 primaries and declined to run against Feingold in 2010, would lose to either Kohl or Feingold, 40 percent to 49 percent, according to the survey. State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen would lose to Feingold, 41 percent to 52 percent, and to Kohl, 38 percent to 51 percent.

Wisconsin Republicans had a landmark year in 2010. The GOP took the governor’s office, a Senate seat, two House seats and both chambers of the state legislature from Democratic control.

Roll Call Politics rates the 2012 Senate race Leans Democratic.

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