JIM LEHRER: And to Katherine Skiba of the "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" for more on tomorrow's Wisconsin primary. Katherine Skiba, welcome.
KATHERINE SKIBA: Good evening.
JIM LEHRER: Good evening. First, give us a quick profile of a Wisconsin Democrat.
KATHERINE SKIBA: Well, Madison is sometimes called the state capital is sometimes called the last liberal boutique left in America, but I think outside of Madison you would find a Wisconsin Democrat looks much like a Democrat elsewhere. Perhaps instructive is looking at our two Democratic U.S. Senators. Herb Kohl is a centrist, Russ Feingold of course is a much more liberal senator. Those are the two gentlemen that Wisconsin sent in to represent them in the Senate. What's interesting....
JIM LEHRER: Excuse me. In the primary tomorrow, it's an open primary, is it not? A Republican or an independent can vote as well, right?
KATHERINE SKIBA: It's an extremely open primary. One not need declare whether there's a Democrat, independent or Republican. And we also he same-day registration to encourage turnout so you can show up tomorrow morning with a driver's license or the last four digits of your Social Security number and you can vote. If you're a Republican, you can vote Democratic and vice versa. Turnout is....
JIM LEHRER: I was going to ask you what the interest has been and what you expect the turnout to be.
KATHERINE SKIBA: Turnout is expected to be 1.6 million. That's about 45 percent of the eligible voters. I should note the Republicans are having a primary too. George Bush is the only candidate on that side.
JIM LEHRER: A Republican can come into the polling place and vote on the Democratic side. That's what you're saying, right?
KATHERINE SKIBA: Absolutely.
JIM LEHRER: When you say 45 percent, you're talking about 45 percent of the total eligible electorate not just 45 percent of the Democrats.
KATHERINE SKIBA: That's right. Total. What's driving these figures are it's also a primary day for very key races in the state. The mayor of Milwaukee, the largest city in the state -- Milwaukee County executive. There's a primary in that race. There's a hot referenda for example a gambling issue in Madison. Those issues and races will be bringing people to the polls.
JIM LEHRER: In the Democratic presidential race what have been the driving issues in Wisconsin?
KATHERINE SKIBA: Voters here tell us they're very concerned about the economy. Wisconsin's job base is disproportionately high in terms of manufacturing jobs, maybe about up to 19 percent of the state work force. People are very concerned about post war Iraq. Even though we don't have a heavy presence of military bases, the figure I saw was that we have approximately 1,000 guardsmen and reservists in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course, the post war Iraq situation is troubling to all Americans or many Americans, I should say. And people are....
JIM LEHRER: Just one second. Has there been any polling on the war itself and the way President Bush and the administration has handled the war and the post war as far as polling in Wisconsin?
KATHERINE SKIBA: One survey I saw was at the end of December-- however, it was done just before Saddam Hussein's capture-- showed that for the first time in many, many months Bush's approval rating had dropped below 50 percent to 48 percent. So there is concern about the president's handling of the economy and Iraq and other issues.
JIM LEHRER: Which of the Democrats have spent the most energy, time and resources in Wisconsin?
KATHERINE SKIBA: Well, if you look at TV ad spending it's the person who is no longer in the race, General Clark who spent the most in terms of air time -- $370,000. Edwards has spent $316,000. Next is Kerry at $263,000. And Dean, despite this huge last-ditch Internet appeal that he needed so much money to make a stand and try to get a win in Wisconsin has spent about $227,000.
The ground war in the last week since voters in Tennessee and Virginia spoke has been very active. They've been campaigning up and down and all across the state, the four corners of the state. We've had the debate certainly drew interest and a number of candidates appeared Saturday at a Democratic Party, Jefferson Jackson Day, about a thousand showed up. It was an event I would note that Howard Dean skipped to attend his son's last hockey game as a senior.
JIM LEHRER: Is there a Howard Dean movement in Wisconsin and was there ever one?
KATHERINE SKIBA: I think Howard Dean was hoping against hope, sad to say. Certainly it's true Wisconsin has sent mavericks to Washington. Bill Proxmire comes to mind. One of the pioneers Bob Lafolatte at the turn of the last century comes to mind. They're the exception not the rule. I guess if you'd like to work in the White House you have to be confident or display confidence but let's face it, he's been winless in 16 primaries and caucuses. Winning begets winning. You need only go to Lambeau Field in the fall to show that Wisconsin likes winners too.
JIM LEHRER: That's where the Green Bay Packers play.
KATHERINE SKIBA: The home of our beloved Green Bay Packers.
JIM LEHRER: Kerry's big lead, any reason to question that in the polls?
KATHERINE SKIBA: Well, what the political observers have been saying absent a major gaffe or scandal he's the winner tomorrow. I see no reason that won't happen. The numbers are very strong. He has brought about 40 full-time staffers to the state, campaigning vigorously. He didn't write Wisconsin off. He says he's fighting state by state and then made himself available for Wisconsin voters to take a look at.
JIM LEHRER: Why Kerry? Why has Kerry done so well? Once they saw him, what was it they liked about him?
KATHERINE SKIBA: Again I don't know that Wisconsin is any different than the rest of the country. I will say that as in other places, the ABB Movement is alive here: Anybody but Bush. In a polite way our governor Jim Doyle, a Democrat, said that to me before the debate. He is not endorsing. He said I have known many of these men for quite a while. I would like our party to be united and unseat the president. I think....
JIM LEHRER: So they just think that Kerry has the best chance of beating Bush in November?
KATHERINE SKIBA: That's what the voters in the polls have shown.
JIM LEHRER: All right. Katherine Skiba, thank you very much.
KATHERINE SKIBA: Thank you.