Gov. Scott Walker owed much of his victory in the 2012 recall fight to the big margins he piled up in the small cities, towns and countryside of northern and western Wisconsin.
But replicating that striking performance two years later is proving difficult.
One big reason this race for governor is closer than the last one is that Walker has lost ground in the Green Bay, Wausau and La Crosse media markets, according to an analysis of 2014 polling data.
For example, the governor won the Green Bay media market by 23 points in the 2012 recall election. But this year he is leading the region by 14 points in the combined polling that Marquette University Law School has done from May through September of this year.
In 2012, Walker won the Wausau/Rhinelander market by 18 points. But he is leading by only 1 point in the 2014 polling.
And two years ago, Walker won the La Crosse/Eau Claire markets by 9 points. But he is trailing Democrat Mary Burke by 3 points in the 2014 polling.
Why the drop-off?