TOWN OF WASHINGTON, Wis. (WEAU) -- The morning after a hard-fought primary race, Leah Vukmir scored a high-profile endorsement from President Trump.
Leah Vukmir (left) with Kathy Bernier.
“Congratulations to Leah Vukmir of Wisconsin on your great win last night. You beat a very tough and good competitor and will make a fantastic Senator after winning in November against someone who has done very little. You have my complete and total Endorsement!” Trump tweeted.
It’s a sign of approval the candidate for U.S. Senate is glad to have in her pocket.
Vukmir’s visit to the Chippewa Valley came one day after results from the latest Marquette University Law School poll were released. Among registered voters, the state senator from just outside Milwaukee trails incumbent Democrat Tammy Baldwin 48%-41%.
The poll also laid out details on President’s Trump’s standing with Wisconsin voters, showing an overall 45% approval rating with 51% disapproving among registered voters. Also,
• On Trump’s handling of the issue of immigration, 41% approve while 54% disapprove.
• Forty-one percent favor building a wall along the Mexico border while 54 percent oppose a wall. Four percent say they don’t know.
• On Trump’s handling of relations with Russia, 37 percent approve while 52 percent disapprove.
With several high-profile items, however, calling Trump’s effectiveness in office into question, could the president’s low approval and rising disapproval numbers make a potential presidential endorsement unwanted?
"I was happy, not only get his endorsement but I had a phone call with him. We had a wonderful conversation,” Vukmir said to WEAU 13 News on Thursday. “He's very engaged in what's happening in Wisconsin and asked a lot of questions about our farmers and we talked a lot about the economy and tariffs.”
Vukmir attended an event in the Town of Washington on Thursday, promoting the state's youth apprenticeship program.
Prof. Charles Franklin, the director of the Marquette Law School poll, said the president's approval rating on the national level is historically a powerful predictor of how many seats in Congress any president's party gains or losses.
For Wisconsin in 2018, there’s an added caveat to Trump’s standing with voters.
“Here in Wisconsin, we have this interesting situation, where the incumbent governor is of one party (Scott Walker), the incumbent senator (Baldwin) is from the other,” he said to WEAU 13 News on Thursday. “That means that these two parties are both going to be out trying to mobilize their voters.
“That may mitigate the impact of the national forces of the president here in the state, but to the extent that the candidates either wrap themselves around Donald Trump or express their disapproval of the president maybe that would bring him into a bigger role here. But, I think two incumbents of opposite parties are likely to reduce the influence of national forces, at least at the margin.”
The Marquette poll shows Trump's approval rating more polarized amongst political ideologies. Among Republicans who responded, 87% said they strongly or somewhat approve of his performance. That figure is 80% for those who lean republican.
After that, there's a drop-off, with 34% of independent voters approving of Trump’s performance in office and 52% disapproving.
“Wisconsin is a lot different than other parts of the country,” WEAU political analyst John Frank said Thursday. “In Wisconsin, voters like to see candidates for themselves, they like to shake their hands, they like to look them in the eye. That doesn't just go for state representative, state senators and governors. That's even presidential candidates.
“You will find that when we will take a look at presidential races, that the presidential candidate that comes through and actually makes a stop usually does better.”
Wisconsin is a state Trump carried two years ago, marking the first time the Badger State sided with a Republican for president since Ronald Reagan was re-elected in 1984.
For Vukmir, she is hoping to parlay the administration’s vote of confidence in her into a winning vote against Baldwin come Nov. 6th.
“I would love for (President Trump) to come to Wisconsin. I welcome his support,” she said. “The Vice President will be here in a few weeks to do an event for me. So, I'm excited about the next couple weeks."