MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Democrats have no chance of winning back control of the U.S. Senate without a victory in Wisconsin, Russ Feingold told volunteers on Monday as he made a final push across the state in his race against Republican Sen. Ron Johnson.
Buoyed by record-breaking early voting turnout in the state, which was particularly strong in Democratic areas, Feingold voiced confidence in the direction of the hotly contested race. But House Speaker Paul Ryan, who was campaigning with Johnson, said the close contest "will come down to turnout."
With Election Day just hours away, both sides were putting nearly all their energy into get-out-the-vote efforts. Johnson's team is confident that a ground game that propelled Gov. Scott Walker to victory three times over four years will help Johnson become the first Wisconsin Republican elected to the Senate in a presidential year since 1980.
Polls have shown Johnson outperforming presidential nominee Donald Trump in Wisconsin. That means Johnson will have to hope Republicans who may not be voting for Trump will still cast their ballots for him.
Besides Ryan, Johnson was joined by Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner on the final leg of a 5-day bus tour ending Monday evening in Waukesha.
Speaking about 200 supporters in a storage garage at a Republican field office, Johnson urged those who haven't voted to get to the polls Tuesday.
"Folks, this election is for all the marbles," Johnson told the crowd.
"We need a record turnout in order to save this country," he said. "We need to understand this is going to be razor thin."
Feingold's campaign said the Wisconsin Elections Commission projection that 3.1 million voters were going to turn out on Tuesday — similar to the past two presidential elections — was good news for them because Democratic turnout is higher in Wisconsin in presidential years. Wisconsin hasn't voted for a Republican for president since Ronald Reagan in 1984.
Ryan told WTMJ-AM in an interview Monday that he believes the incumbent has the momentum.
"Now it's about executing and turning out and getting everyone to the polls and voting," Ryan said.
Recent polls, including the last two done by the Marquette University Law School, show the race to be about even with majority control of the Senate potentially hanging in the balance. Millions of dollars in television advertising spending flooded into the state in the final days as the race tightened.
Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sbauerAP and find more of his work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/scott-bauer
Gretchen Ehlke contributed from Waukesha.