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Ron Johnson, Russ Feingold (copy)

Former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold, right, will challenge Republican Sen. Ron Johnson for the seat he lost in 2010.

A cluster of progressive groups released polls and publicity campaigns this week indicating the minimum wage, Social Security and the environment could be key issues among the Wisconsin electorate in the 2016 Senate race.

It should be noted that the groups releasing the polls engage in advocacy on those issues.

The polls also come two weeks after a liberal super PAC released select results from its own poll indicating Social Security preservation, water quality and pay equity could motivate progressive voters to support a candidate. 

Minimum wage

A survey of about 1,000 likely voters in Wisconsin conducted by Public Policy Polling found that 70 percent of respondents either support or strongly support raising the federal minimum wage. 

Sixty-three percent of those surveyed said they would support or strongly support first raising the minimum wage from $7.25 and hour to $10 an hour, then increasing it to $15 an hour over a period of several years.

"This poll demonstrates that voters are looking to elect leaders who will raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, after decades of stagnant wage growth and dramatic growth of economic inequality," said Wisconsin Working Families co-chairman Peter Rickman. "Sen. Johnson does not even believe in a minimum wage, while former Sen. Feingold is a strong advocate for $15 — so we are engaging working people to find out more about the candidates and their positions on the $15 minimum wage at the ballot box."

The poll was commissioned by the NELP Action Fund, a project geared toward driving support for raising the minimum wage. 

Public Policy Polling received a B+ grade in FiveThirtyEight's "State of the Polls" 2016 rankings. 

Environmental issues

Two surveys of 800 Wisconsin voters each, conducted by Global Strategy Group, showed Democratic former Sen. Russ Feingold leading Republican Sen. Ron Johnson by 18 points. A memo from Global Strategy Group noted Feingold's lead increased "on the heels of the advertising campaigns by EDF Action and LCV Victory Fund that linked Johnson to the Koch brothers and big oil polluters."

The poll was commissioned by the League of Conservation Voters Victory Fund and the Environmental Defense Action Fund. Select results were released this week. 

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Following its release, LCV Victory Fund teamed up with the liberal opposition research group American Bridge to release a digital ad linking Johnson to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. The ad argues the two candidates would be dangerous for the environment. 

Global Strategy Group received a "C" grade in FiveThirtyEight's poll rankings.

Social Security

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee cited a January 2015 national poll conducted by GBA Strategies of 1,500 likely voters in its announcement hailing commitments from nine Democratic Senate candidates to "expand Social Security benefits, not cut them."

"We’re proud to stand united with Russ Feingold on expanding Social Security. Unlike in 2014, the 2016 Democratic ticket is united around big, bold, progressive ideas like expanding Social Security benefits that will motivate voters this November,” said PCCC co-founder Stephanie Taylor in a statement.

The GBA poll, commissioned by the Progressive Change Institute, found that 70 percent of voters surveyed supported expanding Social Security benefits. 

GBA Strategies received a "B" grade in FiveThirtyEight's poll rankings.

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Jessie Opoien covers state government and politics for the Capital Times. She joined the Cap Times in 2013 and has also covered Madison life, race relations, culture and music. She has also covered education and politics for the Oshkosh Northwestern.