With his Senate career hanging in the balance, incumbent Democratic Senator Russ Feingold is doing something other at-risk Democrats are not. He is standing with President Obama.
"The president and I worked together to pass health care reform, which the American people were waiting for, for 70 years," he said. "The recovery act has done good things for Wisconsin. It helped us avoid a depression. Everybody knows if we go back to the policies that put us in the mess in the first place, which is what my opponent wants to do, it's gonna be bad for the country."
With that message, even though he was thought to be untouchable six months ago, Feingold is trailing 7 points in most polls. The left leaning PPP poll shows him down 9 points. "A year ago Russ Feingold was a lock for re-election and now here we are a couple days before the election and he is probably going to lose," says Mordecai Lee, professor of government affairs, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.
His story is typical of embattled incumbents across the nation. The days of whistle stop touring and promising money for roads, courthouses and other federal projects in the home state seem to be gone. Voters care about the big picture in D.C.
Those who intend to vote have heard the drumbeat of the Tea Party and a substantial number of those polled are marching with it. "Here you have a national tide, practically a tsunami, that has swallowed Wisconsin whole," says Lee.
So, the ground was soft and fertile for a political nobody like Ron Johnson to take root. He wrote a couple of speeches that got him a good response, handed a copy to a talk radio host and soon he found his message going viral.
The message he repeats is simple, repeal health care and get the spending under control as well as the debt. That takes hold with the Tea party and Johnson embraces support of the members. "The Tea Party provides energy. Certainly the passion and the dedication we are seeing from the people coming out, a lot of those are tea party folks," says Johnson.
Citizens in Wisconsin can register and vote in the same day. Therefore, a last-minute rally can make the election-day numbers look different than the polls. So Feingold has staffers working the phones. "We have to get something in terms of what happened in 2008. Not in terms of numbers, but in terms of enthusiasm," Says Feingold. "We need to get those people that voted in 2008 to come out. I think many of them will."
Johnson knows that last minute effort has been successful for Wisconsin Democrats in the past. So, he's also working the phone banks and making all the campaign stops in the final days. "We're taking everything seriously. We just need to get our voters exited," he says.
Michael Tobin joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in 2001 and currently serves as a Chicago-based correspondent.