Balance of power in US Senate may hinge on Wisconsin race, Fox News poll reports bad news for GOP

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took a lot of heat this week with his less than encouraging midterm projections, in part because of the reasoning offered, but does “Cocaine Mitch,” as the Kentucky Republican is sometimes referred to, know something the rest of America doesn’t?

With many pundits suggesting Democrats will take a shellacking in November, with the House all but certain to flip, the Senate has never been a sure thing and new polling out of Wisconsin offers a good indication why that is.

Republican incumbent Ron Johnson is trailing his Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes in the state, according to a Fox News survey. Barnes is ahead of Johnson by 50-46%, although the lead is within the survey’s margin of error.

On a more positive note, Johnson does seem to have the edge in “enthusiasm”… more from Fox News:

At the same time, more of Johnson’s backers (66%) than those supporting Barnes (57%) do so “enthusiastically,” as three times as many of those favoring Barnes say their support is about disliking Johnson.

The race is tied among voters who say they are “extremely” motivated to vote in November (49% each) and Barnes is up by 2 points among those who feel certain they will vote (49-47%).

Overall, Barnes is helped by strong backing among moderates (+37), suburban women (+30), voters ages 65 and over (+23), and voters with a college degree (+16).

 

In a sign of how tribal politics are, Barnes enjoys 96% support among Democrats, while Johnson trials with 91% of Republican support — independents favor Barnes by two-to-one, according to Fox News.

The GOP senator, who won in 2026 by 3.4%, enjoys his strongest support among white evangelical Christians (+31 points), men without a college degree (+17), men (+10), rural voters (+8), and voters under age 45 (+6).

“Geographically, Barnes has cut into Johnson’s support in the exurban and rural parts of the state,” says Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who jointly conducts Fox News surveys with Democrat Chris Anderson. “Johnson has to regain these voters and cut his losses with suburban women if he’s to retain his seat.”

Conversely, FiveThirtyEight says Johnson is “slightly favored to win” the race. At the same time, the site says Democrats “currently have the lead in the race for the Senate.”

“This is in part because in a few key races, Republicans have selected weak candidates, hurting their chances of taking the chamber in November,” FiveThirtyEight opined.

All of which comes back to McConnell.

When asked this week about the midterms, he said: “I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate. Senate races are just different, they’re statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.”

The response was seen as a backhand to pro-Trump MAGA candidates and brought a blistering reply from The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway, as seen here:

Of course, given his track record, it may be fair to question whether McConnell wants the majority — after all, you are expected to lead in such cases.

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