MILWAUKEE — Fall is in the air and NBC's Chuck Todd is on the ground in Wisconsin.
"I'm actually here because we are doing a story about polarization in our politics. The thesis is patient zero seems to be the state of Wisconsin," said Todd.
It's not just the fallout from the last two presidential races in Wisconsin when Donald Trump narrowly won in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020.
Todd is looking back at the 2010 epic battle between newly elected Republican Governor Scott Walker and Democrats that brought tens of thousands of protesters to the state Capitol.
"We had (Gov.) Walker and the Senate Democrats walking out and the recall, and you know, here was this incredibly closely divided state that feels like it's gone from polarized to calcified," said Todd.
In 2022, Republicans and Democrats are once again locked into a close election for governor and a U.S. Senate seat. Todd is keeping an eye on a group of voters identified as persuadable.
Who are they? And what role are they going to play?
"So, we identified persuadable as anybody that has voted for at least one person from each party in the last four years," said Todd.
An NBC poll found they live in outer suburbs, not in rural or communities surrounding urban areas, and they have similar concerns that just don't play to one party or issue.
"They don't like the spending, they don't like the state of the economy, they don't like the state of the border," Todd said. "At the same time, they don't like Donald Trump. They think these investigations should continue and they don't like the decision on Roe v. Wade."
As voters decide what direction to go in November, Todd's deeper search for where we are on the polarization spectrum may take longer to find.
"The question I'm hoping to find the answer for is, if Wisconsin was first to the polarization, will they be first to heal? Can they lead the way? Or does the nation have to heal before Wisconsin heals? I don't know the answer to the question I'm looking for Charles, maybe you have the answer?"
As of now, TMJ4 is the only TV station hosting a live U.S. Senate debate that Mandela Barnes and Ron Johnson have agreed to do. It's set for Thursday, Oct.13. TMJ4's Shannon Sims and Charles Benson will moderate.