WAUPUN, Wis. -- Helen's Kitchen has been serving the hungry since the 1970s. Breakfast comes with your choice of hash browns or "American Fries."
The customers are both satisfied and loyal. "Best restaurant in the state," says one exiting patron to our Fox News crew.On Tuesday morning, exactly one week before the election, Republican Senate candidate Ron Johnson -- wearing the only tie in the place -- is working the booths and tables.
"Make sure you get out and vote."
"It's down to voting."
"Take nothing for granted."
Here in Dodge County, Republican votes are not that hard to get. In the August GOP primary, Johnson captured 80 percent of the vote. And yet, Johnson is back shaking hands, reminding voters why he decided to run in the first place."We've dug a very deep hole," he said.
Johnson's has stuck with the twin mantras that have carried his campaign: that the federal government spends too much and that the healthcare overhaul needs to be repealed. He admits he frets about everything in the campaign's final days... everything, except the momentum.
"There's no doubt about it," says Johnson. "The momentum's on our side and I'm gonna work hard from now until November 2nd like I'm doing here this morning meeting as many people as I can."
The Democratic incumbent Russ Feingold is working just as hard in the far corners of the state. Tuesday, Feingold was in Superior...which is as far you can go in northwest Wisconsin before you hit Lake Superior.
On a swing through the north and west of Wisconsin, Feingold is upbeat... smiling... confident.
"GO VOTE NOW!" he bellows to a cheering gathering of young and older voters. Feingold needs their early votes and their time.
"Right now, go down there and vote," says Feingold, "so that the rest of the time you can drag other people to the polls, including on November 2nd!"
Polling consistently shows Feingold trailing, but within the margin of error. Mathematically, that's a statistical tie. But a look inside the numbers shows a disturbing trend for the three-term US Senator.
Feingold has regularly done well among women voters. Polls from Fox News and other outlets show the women's vote evenly split. That would be okay for Feingold, but polls also show Johnson with as much as a 15 point lead in likely male voters.
Back at Helen's Kitchen, Roy Derksen says Feingold won't get his vote because of the way the federal deficit has grown, "[Feingold] comes across as if it's an absolute necessity to spend the way they spend."
Derksen dismisses spending as another "hit of heroin." He'll happily vote Johnson.
Johnson works the breakfast crowd a bit longer and then he's off, like Feingold on the other side of Wisconsin, looking to secure a few more votes before Election Day.
(REPORTER'S NOTE: If you have breakfast at Helen's, you won't need lunch...and maybe not dinner either.)
Steve Brown is an author, radio broadcaster and seminary professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida.