If the November election for the First Congressional District were held today, Congressman Paul Ryan would probably win, according to new polling data released this week.
But, the numbers also say Democratic challenger Rob Zerban is gaining ground.
The polls were each commissioned by the Ryan and Zerban campaigns, respectively, and were released a day apart. Links to both polls can be found at wispolitics.com.
From Ryan's camp, Public Opinion Strategies' poll gives Ryan the nod, 58 to 33 percent. The poll was conducted after the Democratic National Convention, on Sept. 9 and 10, of 400 likely voters in the 1st District and has a 4.9 percent margin of error. Almost 70 percent of respondents, though, had never heard of Zerban.
"The poll shows voters in the 1st Congressional District support Congressman Ryan and his efforts to get our nation's debt under control and our economy growing," said Kevin Seifert, a Ryan campaign spokesperson, in an e-mail to Patch.
Zerban's camp sees it a little differently.
"If 68 percent of people haven't heard of Rob, which isn't all that surprising since he isn't the vice presidential nominee, the fact that he gets 33 percent of the vote without putting money into ads really says something," said Karthik Ganapathy, communications director for the Zerban campaign. "We expect that when ads do start airing, that the percentage of people who recognize him will go up and the number of people voting for him will increase as well."
FM3 Research conducted a poll for Zerban and showed the challenger only eight points behind Ryan, 39 to 47 percent, after voters were read a profile statement about him. This poll was conducted before the Repubican National Convention, from August 21-29, of 404 likely voters in the First District and has a 4.9 margin of error.
"Democrat Rob Zerban remains a credible challenger. Following Romney’s choice of Ryan as his running mate and several weeks of extensive local and national media coverage, Ryan is unable to crack the 50 percent threshold," the poll statement reads.
Ryan's campaign pointed out that the incumbent congressman still takes the lead.
"Even when the Zerban campaign used a profile statement to influence respondents' answers, Congressman Ryan still had a commanding lead among 1st district voters," Seifert wrote.
The Capital Times on Tuesday featured an editorial using some polling results as reason enough for Ryan to agree to a debate with Zerban. In part, the newspaper says Zerban is a viable candidate and if Ryan can campaign here for his more high-profile race, then he can find the time for a debate.
"If Ryan has the time to campaign in DePere, he should have the time to debate in Racine or Kenosha or Lake Geneva or Janesville," the editorial reads. "If Ryan cannot find the time to debate Zerban, 1st District voters will have every right to ask whether he has forgotten them in his headlong rush for the national spotlight."
Patch issued on Oct. 25, and so far, only Zerban has said he will attend. An email from Ryan's campaign said we should expect to hear from them soon about the congressman's availability on that date.