If current polling holds, Democrats could control 52 seats–enough to codify abortion rights, if Mandela Barnes defeats incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson this November.

According to the latest FiveThirtyEight Senate race forecasts, all Democratic incumbents in competitive races (Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Nevada, & New Hampshire) are favored to win. The polling analysis website also shows Democrat John Fetterman is favored in his race against Republican Mehmet Oz to fill the seat of Pat Toomey. 

If all of the above holds true, Democrats would control 51 seats in the US Senate. They need 52, however, to get rid of the filibuster and codify abortion rights into law, a move supported by two-thirds of the country

That’s why all eyes should be on Wisconsin, according to FiveThirtyEight: a toss-up race where incumbent Republican senator Ron Johnson leads Democrat Mandela Barnes by 1.5 points. Recently, the polling situation has improved for Johnson. He trailed in every poll in August but has a slight lead in three of four polls conducted in September.

What Wisconsin Voters Care About

In addition to forecasting which candidates are most likely to win this November, the latest survey shows what issues are most likely to drive voters to the polls.

According to September’s Marquette Law School Poll, the top three issues for Wisconsin voters are inflation, crime, and a tie between election integrity and public schools.  

Here is what Sen. Johnson and Lt. Gov. Barnes have said and done about each of those issues, so you are aware how your life could change if either is elected or re-elected next month.

Inflation

Sen. Ron Johnson

What He’s Said: “I don’t think there’s one organization thing that’s actually going to reduce inflation. Every Democrat policy created inflation.”

What He’s Done:

  • Voted against August’s Inflation Reduction Act, which included lowering health care costs, lowering energy costs, and cutting the national deficit
  • Voted against additional stimulus payments for families during the pandemic
  • Forced a 10-hour reading of the American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus plan to help the country emerge from the pandemic in 2021, to obstruct and delay its passage
  • Cut taxes for the biggest corporations from 35% to 21% and approved a tax cut that benefited his donors

What He’d Do:

  • Push for higher taxes for one-third of Wisconsinites, specifically on the state’s lowest income earners
  • Continue to cut taxes for the top 1%, like himself (Johnson’s net worth is an estimated $40 million)
  • Put Medicare and Social Security benefits for more than 1 million residents at risk; Johnson believes both programs should be put up for a yearly vote and subject to budget negotiations

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes 

What He’s Said: “We need an economy that works for working people, so let’s tackle inflation head-on by giving Americans a raise.”

What He’s Done:

  • Alongside Evers, sent COVID relief funds to Wisconsin small businesses
  • Supported the governor’s push for more relief checks for lower and middle class families

What He’d Do: 

  • Cut middle class taxes by raising taxes on the top 1%
  • Expand the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit
  • Reduce child care costs by implementing universal pre-kindergarten and ensuring that no family spends more than 7% of their income on child care
  • Allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices to cut prescription costs
  • Incentivize companies to manufacture their products in America and crack down on Big Ag

Crime

Sen. Ron Johnson

What He’s Said: “You have criminals and you have shooters. OK? I don’t know why the left always wants to blame guns.”

What He’s Done:

  • Cosponsored a bill that would prohibit the Department of Justice from tracking and cataloging people who purchase multiple guns
  • Voted against a bill that would’ve required background checks on all gun sales
  • Received $1.2 million in campaign donations from gun-related special interest groups

What He’d Do:

  • Block any legislation that includes gun safety and reform, including Pres. Biden’s proposed “ghost gun” legislation
  • Continue accepting money from gun lobby groups 

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes 

What He’s Said: “When our communities don’t have opportunity, gun violence and crime is what fills the void.”

What He’s Done:

  • Implemented common-sense police reform like banning chokeholds and de-escalation training
  • Gave law enforcement the resources they need, like access to proper training and the ability to hire social workers to answer crisis calls

What He’d Do: 

  • Invest in good-paying jobs, education, and child care to prevent crime before it starts
  • Put violent criminals in jail
  • Get illegal guns off the streets through gun safety legislation

Election Integrity

Sen. Ron Johnson

What He’s Said: “There has always been some voter fraud that the mainstream media and unfortunately, many officials just simply ignore. I’m not alleging anything because I have no proof. All I’m saying is there are enough irregularities to raise concerns [about the results of the 2020 election.]”

What He’s Done:

  • Agreed with Trump’s false claims of widespread election fraud after the 2020 election
  • Made baseless claims that Democrats had “gamed the system” in Wisconsin
  • Refused to acknowledge Biden’s victory until December 16th, 2020, when he conceded the election was legitimate and he would not object to the counting of electoral votes
  • Push conspiracy theories about the January 6th attack on the US Capitol, at one point blaming Nancy Pelosi
  • Downplayed the storming of the Capitol and voted to acquit Trump for his role in the insurrection

What He’d Do:

  • Support Trump’s projected 2024 campaign

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes 

What He’s Said: “It’s time to deliver a clear message that America won’t allow those who would undermine our democracy to keep leading it. We must hold our leaders accountable.”

What He’s Done:

  • Advocated for fair maps and pushed back against lobbyists who made Wisconsin one of the most gerrymandered states in the country
  • Encouraged every Wisconsinite to vote

What He’d Do: 

  • End partisan gerrymandering
  • Pass a new voting rights act
  • Enhance election security to stop foreign interference
  • End the Senate’s filibuster
  • Strengthen ethics rules for elected officials

Public Schools

Sen. Ron Johnson

What He’s Said: “We stopped teaching values in so many of our schools. Now we’re teaching wokeness, we’re indoctrinating our children with things like CRT, telling some children they’re not equal to others, they’re the cause of other people’s problems.”

What He’s Done:

  • Supported less federal funding for public schools
  • Advocated for charter schools and parental school choice
  • Opposed Biden’s student loan forgiveness program for college students

What He’d Do:

  • Prioritize private school funding over public school funding

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes 

What He’s Said: “[Technical college students] are getting a good education and putting themselves on a pathway to get good-paying jobs that are absolutely essential to our communities.”

What He’s Done:

  • Advocated for more resources and support for technical colleges
  • Alongside Evers, increased state funding to Wisconsin public schools to ensure students of every income and ethnicity have access to the same educational opportunities

What He’d Do: 

  • Lower the cost of college at both four-year colleges and two-year technical schools
  • Help families by introducing universal Pre-K
  • Invest in better school nutrition programs
  • Champion free technical education

The Bottom Line

Your vote matters–especially in Wisconsin. With multiple neck-and-neck races and important issues on next month’s ballot, make your plan to vote today, and encourage your friends and family to do the same.

Click here to check your registration status.

Visit our Voter Hub for more information on who and what is on your ballot.