MILWAUKEE – The Democratic mayor of Denver said Sunday that President Obama could lose the battleground state of Wisconsin if the incumbent’s supporters fail to increase early voter turnout in the Badger State.
“If the election was held today, President Barack Obama would lose the state of Wisconsin because where his base is, we have not turned out the vote early," Mayor Michael Hancock told a Democratic rally. "The suburbs and rural parts of Wisconsin – the Republican base – are voting. President Obama’s base has yet to go vote.
"We've got to get our people to go vote," Hancock said.
Early voting, which began in Wisconsin on Oct. 22, is a central component of Obama’s strategy to win the state. The president won Wisconsin four years ago by 14 percentage points, but recent polls show the race with Republican Mitt Romney tightening, and that is fueling Republican enthusiasm about their chances of seizing the state.
In a later interview with The Washington Examiner, Hancock said he was confident Obama would emerge from Wisconsin victorious.
“There’s a great deal of enthusiasm,” Hancock said. “We expect clearly that President Obama will win the state of Wisconsin.”
But he also said that it’s vital for Obama’s base to make it to the polls in Wisconsin.
“This is a very close race, and the point we’re trying to make is make sure the base shows up, turns out and begins to vote early,” Hancock said. “I saw where the votes were rolling in, and I said we’ve got to make sure that where the president’s base is, they get out and vote.”
Hancock was in Wisconsin to stump for Obama, but the Obama campaign said their surrogates portrayal of where the race stands doesn't match the early voting statistics they've seen.
“We are very grateful that Mayor Hancock came and did what we need to do, which is keep people enthused. He is absolutely right that we have to get our base out,” Joe Zepecki, a spokesman for Obama’s campaign in Wisconsin, said. “But the numbers we are seeing do not back up his assessment that our base is not turning out.”
Zepecki said the campaign remains optimistic nine days from Election Day.
“We are seeing a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of turnout in the places where we need to see it,” Zepecki said. “We’re very confident.”