- Associated Press - Monday, November 7, 2016

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 and even looked ahead to the priorities of the first 100 days of a Hillary Clinton presidency under a Democratic-controlled Senate.

“There is no way that works unless we do it right here in Wisconsin,” Feingold said in the packed campaign office near the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

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.

“We need a massive turnout,” Johnson said in an interview with WTMJ-AM on Monday. “This is entirely winnable. I should win this thing. If truth can prevail over lies, distortion and class warfare, I will win this race.”

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.

Johnson was completing a Republican bus tour on Monday, which included a stop at Pacur, the plastics manufacturing company he helped build in the 1970s and led until he defeated Feingold in the 2010 Senate race.

Johnson was to finish campaigning in conservative Waukesha, holding a rally with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Gov. Scott Walker. Johnson, Ryan and Walker also held a rally on Saturday in southeast Wisconsin with Donald Trump’s running mate Mike Pence.

Feingold was taking a more low-keyed approach to the final day of the race, thanking and encouraging volunteers at campaign offices in mostly Democratic strongholds like Madison and Racine. He downplayed Johnson’s approach.

“Hearing one more speech from Paul Ryan or Scott Walker is not going to win you the election,” he 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.

Even though he’s the incumbent, even the day before the election Johnson was casting himself as a political outsider.

“People want change,” Johnson said on WTMJ. “There’s no way they can rely on Hillary Clinton or Russ Feingold for change.”

Feingold said the only chance the middle class has for a higher minimum wage, lower college costs and more affordable prescription drugs is to elect Clinton and give her a Democratic controlled Senate.

“It has to actually be an election where we reject the politics of people like Donald Trump and Ron Johnson who side with big corporations,” Feingold said. “Let’s get it done and let’s do it on behalf of the middle income and working families who work so hard in this state.”

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