Is Sen. Russ Feingold on the ropes? A new survey of Wisconsin voters from left-leaning Public Policy Polling has the three-term liberal firebrand trailing Republican challenger Ron Johnson, 52 percent to 41 precent. This comes on the heels of last week's Rasmussen poll in which Feingold trailed Johnson by seven points. What's to blame for Feingold's surprising swoon, and how would a loss change the composition of the Senate?

  • No Spinning This One Politico's David Catanese doesn't mince words: Tuesday's polling data is "dire news" for Democrats hoping to retain control of the Senate. The eleven point deficit represents "a jarring deficit for the state’s junior senator in the traditionally deep blue state." Moreover, it's a number that will be tough to overcome considering the independently wealthy Johnson's "ability to pour his own money into the race appears to be having a considerable impact," which thus far has helped the Republican "bolster his name identification and counter Democratic attacks."

  • Bleak Outlook  Taken together with the Rasmussen numbers, it might be time to start writing Feingold off, writes The Washington Examiner's David Freddoso. A double-digit deficit in the second half of September is "a very, very bad sign for any candidate, but especially for an incumbent."

  • All About Spending  National Review's Cesar Conda contends Feingold's "deficit hawk" credentials aren't standing up to voter scrutiny this election cycle. Feingold "may be trying to save millions, but he has voted to waste trillions of taxpayer dollars" in the years since President Obama took office. Once a prairie populist, Conda writes Feingold has morphed into "a deficit chicken-hawk."

  • Liberals' Worst Nightmare  At Mother Jones, Kevin Drum argues a loss by Feingold would devastate progressive politics in America. While Drum admits frustration with Feingold's "quixotic decision to support the Republican filibuster of financial reform," he also believes Feingold possesses a "uniquely honest and valuable voice." Drum rhetorically asks his liberal readers if they really want to lose the only person who voted against the PATRIOT Act back in the dark days of 2001?"