MADISON, Wis. (AP) — President Barack Obama will visit Wisconsin three times during the five days before the election to lock up votes in a battleground state where polls now show him leading Republican Mitt Romney.
His trips also could help another Democrat locked in tight race: U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin. She plans to appear with Obama at every event, including a Monday rally in her hometown of Madison with rocker Bruce Springsteen that's certain to attract the biggest crowd of the campaign season.
Their rivals, Romney and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, haven't conceded the state and appeared together Friday at State Fair Park outside Milwaukee.
Baldwin and Thompson are vying to replace longtime Sen. Herb Kohl in a seat held by Democrats since 1957. The winner could help determine which party has majority control of the chamber, and money has poured into the campaign, making it the most expensive Senate race in Wisconsin history.
History is on Baldwin's side. Wisconsin has not voted for a Republican for president since Ronald Reagan in 1984. And no Democratic Senate candidate on the ballot in a presidential election year has lost since 1980, when Gaylord Nelson was unseated by a Republican wave led by Reagan.
The last time a Wisconsin Senate race coincided with a presidential election was 2004. That year, Democratic incumbent Sen. Russ Feingold got 143,000 more votes than Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, even though both won the state.
Baldwin is unlikely to outperform Obama like Feingold did Kerry.
A Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday showed Obama with an 8-point lead and Baldwin with a 4-point advantage. The poll had a 2.8 percentage point margin of error.
Obama and Baldwin did even better among early voters. Ten percent of the survey respondents said they had already voted, and of those, 56 percent cast ballots for Obama. Thirty-six percent said they voted for Romney. Baldwin was ahead of Thompson 52 percent to 36 percent.
Baldwin's campaign spokesman John Kraus said in a statement that both Democrats have strong grassroots support. While that may be, only Obama could draw 30,000 people in Madison, as he did in early October. The crowd is expected to be even bigger when he appears with Springsteen.
Romney's campaign says the president keeps coming back to Wisconsin because he's afraid of losing the state, and Thompson reiterated that idea at Friday's rally and at a subsequent campaign stop in Madison. But Obama's supporters said he's simply trying to lock it down.
"If you're moving toward the finish line, you keep your foot on the gas," said Scot Ross, the head of liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now.
Obama's decision to campaign in the two most Democratic parts of the state in the three days leading up to the election — Milwaukee on Saturday and Madison on Monday — can only help Baldwin, Ross added. With those events, she will have appeared with Obama five times before the election.
On Friday, she campaigned in Beloit with Vice President Joe Biden.
Romney's campaign stop on Friday was his first trip to Wisconsin since he introduced Janesville native Paul Ryan as his running mate in August. In late September, when polls showed Obama leading Romney by as much as 14 points and Thompson trailing Baldwin by as much as 9 points, Thompson openly complained that the Republican nominee was dragging him down. But he quickly reversed course days later and said he hoped to bring Romney up.
He didn't try to distance himself from Romney on Friday.
"We're running as a team, top to bottom," Thompson said. "We're going to win this race top to bottom.
Associated Press writer Dinesh Ramde contributed to this report from West Allis.