The loser now will be later to win, the noted social commentator Bob Dylan predicted in 1964 in his generation-defining “The Times They Are A-changin.”
In Wisconsin, both Republicans and gay rights activists can take encouragement from those words.
And both can be encouraged by the results of a statewide public opinion poll conducted in September for the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute by the UW-Madison Political Science Department.
Less than a year after Barack Obama won Wisconsin in the 2008 presidential race by 17 points and Democrats captured the state Assembly after 14 years of Republican control, favorable opinions on Obama have softened, and the political affiliation of the poll respondents suggests a modest swing to the Republicans.
Furthermore, while younger voters voted heavily for Obama and Democrats in 2008, the WPRI poll shows little substantial difference among younger, middle-aged and older voters on party affiliation. Democrats continued to draw more favorable responses than Republicans, but the results suggest Republicans are gaining ground.
For example, in the November 2008 exit polls, Wisconsin voters age 18 to 29 preferred Obama over Republican John McCain by 29 points, a 64%-35% margin. But in the WPRI poll, less than a year later, sentiment on Obama was remarkably similar across age groups.
Among the 700 randomly selected Wisconsin adults for the telephone survey, 57% said they strongly approved or somewhat approved of the presidents performance. And the comparable figures by age group were 59% for the younger group, 58% for those 36 to 64, and 54% for those 65 and over.