United States Senate elections in Wisconsin, 2012

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2012 U.S. Senate Elections in Wisconsin

CandidatesPollsElection History

November 6 Election Winner:
Tammy Baldwin Democratic Party
Incumbent prior to election:
Herb Kohl Democratic Party
Herb Kohl.jpg

Cook Political Report Race Rating
     Tossup (Prior to election)

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2012 U.S. House Elections

Flag of Wisconsin.png
Voters in Wisconsin elected one member to the U.S. Senate in the November 6, 2012 elections.

Tammy Baldwin (D) won election on November 6, 2012.[1]

Candidate Filing Deadline Primary Election General Election
June 1, 2012
August 14, 2012
November 6, 2012

Primary: Wisconsin has an open primary system, in which any registered voter can choose which party's primary to vote in, without having to be a member of that party.

Voter registration: Voter registration requirements may vary by municipality, although voters with valid ID must be granted a provisional ballot at the polls.[2]

See also: Wisconsin elections, 2012

Incumbent: The election filled the Class 1 Senate seat, which was held by Herb Kohl (D). First elected in 1988, Kohl did not run for re-election in 2012.

Election results

U.S. Senate, Wisconsin, General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngTammy Baldwin 51.5% 1,544,274
     Republican Tommy Thompson 45.9% 1,377,253
     Libertarian Joseph Kexel 2.1% 61,904
     Independent Nimrod Allen III 0.5% 16,326
Total Votes 2,999,757
Source: Wyoming Secretary of State "Election Results, 2012 General Election"


Note: Election results were added on election night as races were called. Vote totals were added after official election results had been certified. For more information about Ballotpedia's election coverage plan, click here. If you find any errors in this list, please email: Geoff Pallay.

General election candidates

Democratic PartyTammy Baldwin Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party Tommy Thompson
Independent Nimrod Allen III
Libertarian Party Joseph Kexel

August 14, 2012, primary results

Democratic Party Democratic Primary

Republican Party Republican primary

Note: John Schiess did not gather enough signatures to earn a spot on the primary ballot[7]

Independent Independent candidates

Libertarian Party Libertarian candidate

Race rating

Cook Political Report

Each month the Cook Political Report released race ratings for President, U.S. Senate, U.S. House (competitive only) and Governors. There were seven possible designations:[8]

     Solid Democratic
     Likely Democratic
     Lean Democratic


     Lean Republican
     Likely Republican
     Solid Republican

Cook Political Report Race Rating -- Wisconsin Senate
Month Rating
October 4, 2012[9]     
September 13, 2012[10]     
August 21, 2012[11]     
July 12, 2012[12]     
May 31, 2012[13]     
May 10, 2012[14]     
March 22, 2012[15]     
March 1, 2012[16]     
January 26, 2012[17]     
December 22, 2011[18]     
December 1, 2011[19]     

Sabato's Crystal Ball

The University of Virginia's Center for Politics published an article called Sabato's Crystal Ball on March 22, 2012, detailing the eight races in the Senate in 2012 that decided the political fate of which party will end up with control in 2013.[20] The seat rated a toss-up that the Sabato's Crystal Ball believed could be decided by the party's nomination is the Senate seat in Wisconsin. If former Governor Tommy Thompson (R) won the Republican nomination and made it to the general election in November, the articles believed he would have a significant edge.[20] According to the article, "Given the current state of these toss ups, it’s not a stretch to think that a Thompson victory in Wisconsin could end up giving Republicans their 51st Senate seat."[20]

Race background

Campaign Spending

The primary race generated a lot of money from political action committees outside of Wisconsin. $4.5 million was spent on ads concerning democrats and $3.4 million was spent on ads concerning the Republican candidates.[21]


Tammy Baldwin vs. Tommy Thompson

Tammy Baldwin vs. Tommy Thompson
Poll Tommy Thompson Tammy BaldwinAnother CandidateNot sureMargin of ErrorSample Size
Rasmussen Reports (November 2, 2012
Rasmussen Poll (October 28,2012)
Quinnipiac University (August 23,2012)
Rasmussen Poll (August 15, 2012)
Rasmussen Poll (July 25, 2012)
AVERAGES 48.2% 46% 2% 3.8% +/-4.06 688
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

Election history


On November 2, 2010, Ron Johnson (R) won election to the U.S. Senate, defeating incumbent Russ Feingold (D), Rob Taylor (Constitution Party of Wisconsin), Ernest J. Pagels, Jr. (Write-in Republican), and Michael D. LaForest (Write-in Independent).[22]

U.S. Senate, Wisconsin, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngRon Johnson 51.9% 1,125,999
     Democratic Russell D. Feingold Incumbent 47% 1,020,958
     Constitution Rob Taylor 1.1% 23,473
     Write-in Ernest J. Pagels, Jr. 0% 134
     Write-in Michael D. LaForest 0% 129
     None Scattering 0% 638
Total Votes 2,171,331


On November 7, 2006, Herb Kohl (D) won re-election to the U.S. Senate, defeating Robert Gerald Lorge (R), Ben J. Glatzel (I), and Rae Vogeler (Green).[23]

U.S. Senate, Wisconsin, 2006
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngHerb Kohl Incumbent 67.3% 1,439,214
     Republican Robert Gerald Lorge 29.5% 630,299
     Independent Ben J. Glatzel 1.2% 25,096
     Green Rae Vogeler 2% 42,434
     None Scattering 0.1% 1,254
Total Votes 2,138,297

See also


  1. ABC News, "2012 General Election Results," accessed November 6, 2012
  2. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Registration and Voting," accessed July 27, 2012
  3. 3.0 3.1 Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "Tammy Baldwin enters race for open Senate seat," accessed January 6, 2012
  4. 4.0 4.1 Governing, "Ex-Wis. Gov. Thompson Launches GOP Bid for Senate" accessed April 25, 2012
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Candidates Registered by Office," accessed June 9, 2012
  6. 6.0 6.1 Hudson, WI Patch, "Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson Files Senate Papers With Federal Election Commission," accessed January 6, 2012
  7. John Schiess, "John Schiess 2012" July 30, 2012
  8. Cook Political Report, "Our Accuracy," accessed December 12, 2011 (dead link)
  9. Cook Political Report, "2012 SENATE RACE RATINGS," October 4, 2012
  10. Cook Political Report, "2012 SENATE RACE RATINGS," September 13, 2012
  11. Cook Political Report, "2012 SENATE RACE RATINGS," August 21, 2012
  12. Cook Political Report, "2012 SENATE RACE RATINGS," July 12, 2012
  13. Cook Political Report, "2012 SENATE RACE RATINGS," May 31, 2012
  14. Cook Political Report, "2012 SENATE RACE RATINGS," May 10, 2012
  15. Cook Political Report, "2012 SENATE RACE RATINGS," March 22, 2012
  16. Cook Political Report, "2012 SENATE RACE RATINGS," March 1, 2012
  17. Cook Political Report, "2012 SENATE RACE RATINGS," January 26, 2012
  18. Cook Political Report, "2012 SENATE RACE RATINGS," December 27, 2011
  19. Cook Political Report, "2012 SENATE RACE RATINGS," December 1, 2011
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Center for Politics, "Tilting the Toss Ups – the Eight Races That Will Decide the Senate" accessed April 9, 2012
  21. iWatch News, "Outside spending helps make Wisconsin Senate primary a tossup" accessed August 16, 2012
  22. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2010," accessed March 28, 2013
  23. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 7, 2006," accessed March 28, 2013