Two-term incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson and Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes of Wisconsin are in a close race for U.S. Senate with less than a month to go until the election.
Johnson is a staunch Republican and ally of former President Donald Trump. While Johnson originally stated his current term would be his last, he decided to run again due to what he described as “Democrats’ complete takeover of government and the disastrous policies they have already inflicted on America,” in a Wall Street Journal editorial from January.
His challenger Barnes has served as Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor since 2019. In many ways, he represents the antithesis to Johnson’s agenda, with his liberal views on abortion rights, immigration and marijuana policy.
According to a Marquette Law School Poll from Wednesday, 52% of likely voters supported Johnson with Barnes at 46%, well within the 4.8% margin of error. In August, polls had Barnes at 52% compared to Johnson’s 45%.
Wisconsin’s Senate race outcome has wide implications for federal politics. A Barnes win would give the Democrats one of two Senate seats needed for the party to strike down the Senate filibuster and pass much of President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda.
On the other hand, a Johnson win could hand the GOP control of the Senate, likely blocking Biden’s agenda for the remainder of his term.
Both candidates met for the first debate on Oct. 7, where they reiterated their main talking points on abortion, crime and other issues. The two will debate again on Thursday.
Johnson has heavily attacked Barnes on crime issues. Ads supporting Johnson have condemned Barnes’ support of cash bail reform, saying it would release more criminals into the community. Ads have also called Barnes “different” and “dangerous,” leading some of Barnes’ supporters to accuse the ads of having racist undertones.
Barnes, on the other hand, has painted himself as a working-class ally. His ads find him in mundane places like his kitchen table or the grocery store , accusing Johnson of being “out of touch” with regular Americans.
Gabriella Hartlaub is an arts editor for the Daily Cardinal. She also reports state politics and life & style stories. Follow her on Twitter at @gabihartlaub.