A poll released Wednesday by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling finds Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) well-positioned to win re-election if he decides to run for a fifth term in 2012.
No one has declared intentions to run for Senate in Wisconsin in 2012, but the poll indicated that Kohl would defeat the obvious potential Republican challengers. The strongest challenger, Rep. Paul Ryan, came out 7 points behind Kohl, 42 percent to 49 percent. Ryan recently became chairman of the House Budget Committee, and he seems unlikely to pursue a Senate bid.
Kohl fared even better against former Rep. Mark Neumann, 51 percent to 37 percent, and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, 52 percent to 37 percent. The survey of 768 Wisconsin voters was taken Feb. 24 to Sunday and had a margin of error of 3.5 points.
In case the 76-year-old incumbent decides not to run, PPP also tested former Sen. Russ Feingold (D), who lost his seat in 2010 to Ron Johnson, 52 percent to 47 percent.
Feingold also polled well against the Republicans, finishing ahead of Ryan by the same margin as the Kohl-Ryan matchup. The survey showed Feingold ahead of Neumann, 50 percent to 40 percent, and Van Hollen, 51 percent to 39 percent.
Both Democrats had high favorability ratings. Kohl’s approval ratings are among the highest of Senators whom PPP has polled, the firm said: Half of those polled approved of the work he does, and 30 percent disapproved.
Ironically, Feingold got better approval ratings than Johnson. Fifty-one percent of Wisconsin voters had a favorable opinion of Feingold and 39 percent had an unfavorable opinion, while 32 percent approved of Johnson’s job performance and 28 percent disapproved.
Roll Call Politics rates this race Leans Democratic.