Continuing our coverage of where the candidates are--and why--Barack Obama is in Kaukauna, Wisconsin today. See coverage via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel here. Kaukauna is about 30 miles north of my hometown so I know a bit about the area.
Kaukauna is in Outagamie County, which has historically been reliably Republican. Bush had a 10 point victory in '04. Outagamie gave Clinton a 2% win in '96 but hadn't voted Democratic since LBJ in '64, and before that FDR in '36. In the '06 governor's race, Democratic incumbent Jim Doyle narrowly won the county, somewhat surprising because the county was part of his challenger's (Mark Green) congressional district. To give you a sense of the historical flavor of this area's Republicanism, the neighboring city of Appleton is the headquarters of the John Birch Society and the birthplace of notorious Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy is next door in Grand Chute.
The city of Kaukauna, though, has more of a Democratic lean to it, recently giving majorities to both Kerry and Gore. It gave Governor Doyle a big margin-61%-in '06. Demographically, it is almost totally white with minority populations--African American & Hispanic--each less than 1%. There is a manufacturing presence which contributes to the slight leftward leaning of the electorate--papermaking is the main industry. The string of cities that runs through Kaukauna, Appleton, Neenah, and Menasha is home to a number of paper mills and companies such as Kimberly-Clark.
In the first Wisconsin poll (directed by my former stats professor & Pollster.com co-editor Charles Franklin) released since the nomination fight became settled, Obama has a 13 point lead. See details here.
**Update June 16--Here is the complete UW Polisci Department poll, with answers to all questions. A quick read shows good news for Obama beyond the 13 point lead, especially questions dealing with Iraq war.