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Dim U.S. Senate hopes bring more top Dems to campaign for Burke in close race

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Madison, WI (WKOW) - - Michelle Obama has already campaigned twice in Wisconsin for Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Mary Burke (D), while President Bill Clinton will appear in Milwaukee with Burke on Friday and President Obama will campaign in the state sometime next week.

Burke says she doesn't feel any added pressure now that Democratic celebrities are campaigning for her on a weekly basis, but she does feel more optimistic.

"People wouldn't be here unless they thought I had a clear chance of winning," said Burke, who talked to reporters after early voting in Madison on Tuesday.

While that is true, those big-wigs also wouldn't be here unless Democrats had all but given up on their top national goal for the mid-term elections.

"Every indication is that the Democrats are not going to be able to hang onto the Senate unless something dramatic changes between now and election day," said Ken Mayer, a political expert at UW-Madison.

Knowing the loss of the U.S. Senate is inevitable, Democrats have shifted their strategy to help out gubernatorial candidates locked in tight races in a handful of purple states like Wisconsin.  They are sending out their best and brightest to turn out more of the party's base on election day.

"It's more effective to find your supporters and get them to the polls than it is to identify people who's minds you can change," said Mayer.

Burke knows she'll need turnout to be higher than it normally is in a mid-term election in order to win, but she expects it to be.

"Certainly bigger than 2010, I would be surprised if it hit 2012, but there's a lot at stake," said Burke. 

Governor Walker won't have similar big names campaigning for him, but Mayer says he can use Burke's high-profile guests to fire up his base as well.

"These are polarizing figures for Republicans," said Mayer.

The Walker campaign is already using each high-profile Democratic appearance as an appeal to its supporters to get them energized and to the polls.

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