Wisconsin Ground Zero for 2012 Election

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"What we saw [in the 2010 election] was that this wasn't just a state and local landslide, it extended to the federal level," Franklin said. "This was major sweep and it really shows up in the polling data with voters in Wisconsin calling themselves much more conservative in the 2010 election than they had done in the 2008. Now some part of that is discouraged Democrats who did not turn out in 2010 who were the reverse of the discouraged Republicans who had not turned out in 2008. So one of the big battles going into 2012 will be are both parties equally energized for the 2012 campaign or is there some imbalance between the parties in enthusiasm then."

But with the Green Bay Packers Super Bowl bid dominating the news cycle throughout Wisconsin, how many will even notice when Air Force One touches down in Green Bay on Wednesday morning?

President Obama probably did not help his reelection campaign much in Wisconsin when he predicted a Chicago Bears win over the Green and Gold in the NFC championship game and announced he would attend the Super Bowl to watch his home team compete for the Lombardi trophy in person.

After a White House press pool spray with President Hu Jintao in the Oval Office last week, a cameraman asked President Obama "If the Bears win, are you going to the Super Bowl?"

"Oh we're going," President Obama replied. "No doubt."

Those comments stung like frostbite in the bitter cold of the frozen tundra. Even players on the Packers took notice of the president's bold prophecy, and while the president's future schedule no longer includes the prospect of a trip to Dallas to attend Super Bowl XLV, the NFL's 2009 Defensive Player of the Year Charles Woodson told the rest of his Packers teammates to make their own plans to see the president at the White House .

"The president don't wanna come watch us [go] to the Super Bowl?" Woodson asked his teammates in the locker room during a huddle following Green Bay's 21-14 victory on Sunday. "Guess what? Guess what? We'll go see him!"

In fact, the Packers have initiated such jubilation among cheeseheads that Governor Walker has announced that he will fulfill the request of a Democratic state senator from Green Bay to light the dome of the state Capitol in green and yellow as "a show of bipartisan support" for the Packers. [http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/blog/article_9db5c3ac-2805-11e0-90fd-001cc4c002e0.html].

President Obama surely knows Wisconsin is crucial to his electoral math in 2012, and has visited the state on multiple occasions during his presidency, including weeks before the midterm election for a massive campaign rally in Madison. But Wednesday's trip is the president's first since the "shellacking" Democrats suffered last November.

"The joke here is of course he's about to need to buy a hunting license," Franklin said. "He needs Wisconsin. Wisconsin is a state he won easily, but if he has to fight hard for Wisconsin in 2012, then he's in serious trouble. So these frequent visits I think are partly laying the groundwork for the 2012 campaign as well as spreading whatever message he wants about jobs coming off the State of the Union."

So what's a bigger deal in Wisconsin -- the Packers heading to the Super Bowl or President Obama visiting Manitowoc?

"It's the Packers hands down," Franklin said. "I don't think Obama could do much of anything except take the ribbing that he's going to get about this."

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