Is Wisconsin's GOP Senate Primary Now a Two-Man Race?

Two polls released this week show political newcomer Eric Hovde leading the Republican field of U.S. Senate candidates in one and coming in second to former Gov. Tommy Thompson in another.

The Aug. 14 Republican primary for U.S. Senate looks like a two-man race between Eric Hovde and former Gov. Tommy Thompson, according to two polls released this week.

The Marquette University Law School poll results released Wednesday still have Thompson in the lead among likely GOP primary voters with 35 percent to Hovde's 23 percent. In June, the same poll had Thompson at 34 percent and Hovde at 14 percent.

GOP candidate Mark Neumann comes in at 10 percent, down from 16 percent in June, while candidate Scott Fitzgerald dropped from 10 percent to 6 percent.

The Marquette poll was released one day after a Public Policy Polling survey showed Hovde leading Thompson, 31 percent to 29 percent. Against Baldwin in the November election, Hovde also leads, 45 percent to 44 percent.

The Marquette survey results were released during a monthly edition of "On the Issues" with broadcaster Mike Gousha and Professor Charles Franklin, director of the poll.

"New July numbers seem to suggest Hovde’s campaign has been more active and getting his name out more, which seems to have made a difference," Franklin said. "But I would caution against saying this is a two-person race with 25 percent of voters still undecided."

When it comes to the November general election, the Marquette poll shows that Thompson receives 45 percent to Baldwin’s 41 percent. In June, Thompson had 49 percent to Baldwin’s 41 percent.

When matched against Hovde, Baldwin comes out on top 44 percent to 38 percent. Baldwin receives 43 percent to Neumann’s 40 percent. Baldwin also receives 43 percent to Fitzgerald’s 37 percent.

Baldwin's campaign put out a statement shortly after the Marquette poll was released.

The Republican primary vote is clearly divided and their race will now become increasingly divisive and negative. Only one candidate has faced over $1.4 million of attacks. Tammy Baldwin has been tested and we remain ahead and competitive in the general election match ups against all the Republican candidates. Now we will see if the Republican candidates can stand the heat of their own attacks on each other.”

In mid-June, Baldwin and Neumann were tied at 44 percent each; Baldwin held a 45-36 advantage over Hovde and a 45-39 margin over Fitzgerald.

The Marquette poll was conducted from July 5 to 8. Questions about the were asked of 810 likely voters and have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The results for 432 likely voters in the Republican primary has a margin of error of 4.8 percentage points.

 The margin of error for the Public Policy Polling is 3 percentage points among 1,057 likely voters and 4.1 percentage points for 564 likely Republican primary voters.

Sean Lansing, press secretary for the Hovde campaign, said the two polls make it clear that Hovde is picking up steam on Thompson.

"The bottom line is that Eric is continuing to surge while Governor Thompson remains stuck in the low to mid-30s," Laning said in an email. "Two independent polls in two days have clearly shown that this is a two-man race and that Eric has all the momentum.

"The real question of the day is how a four-term governor with near universal name ID explains why he continues to either trail or lose ground in every new poll that’s released," Lansing added. "My guess is that it's because Wisconsin voters want a principled conservative who will make the tough decisions, not a career politician and corporate lobbyist who grew the size of government and raised taxes and fees by millions before profiting off his time in office."

In response to the Marquette poll, the Thompson campaign saying Thompson's double-digit lead is noteworthy since Hovde is outspending the former governor and polls from Hovde and PPP are less than accurate:

Tommy Thompson is holding a strong double-digit lead in the Republican primary despite misleading attacks by his opponents, suspect polls peddled by Eric Hovde and the Democrats, and being dramatically outspent by Hovde ... Thompson maintains a trust and credibility with Republican voters. His percentage of the Republican primary vote remained unchanged despite Hovde's 6-1 advantage in television ads.

We already see Hovde turning to negative and false attacks against one of the most effective conservative reformers in the nation. Just as Scott Walker did not let Mark Neumann mislead the voters in 2010, Hovde should be assured that he will not be allowed to distort either Thompson's record or Hovde's own record.

After the Public Policy Polling survey on Tuesday, Thompson's campaign responded with a statement blasting Baldwin and dismissing PPP as a Democratic firm that is unreliable:

It is no secret that Democrat Tammy Baldwin doesn't want to face Tommy Thompson in the race for U.S. Senate. For obvious reasons, she'd rather run against a hedge fund manager from Washington, DC or a candidate who gained notoriety for running one of the most negative GOP Primary campaigns in Wisconsin history against Gov. Scott Walker.

PPP is a known Democrat polling firm, and their results mirror Baldwin's leak of her own poll on the GOP primary within the last week. These numbers do not reflect our internal polling numbers or other credible public polls.

Thompson's campaign also made note that he is the only Republican candidate to lead Baldwin in the Marquette survey while Baldwin leads Hovde, Neumann and Fitzgerald, according to those results.

steve cleveland July 12, 2012 at 08:17 AM
wtf does hovde know about being from wisconsin, he just got residency a year ago after living in wash dc for 25 years? and voted for the first time here last spring! CARPET BAGGER sounds spot on, hoffa. at least wisconsin will get one year out of his personal tax returns, a windfall there for our state but not enough to pay for baldwins plans to tax and entitle us to bankruptcy after she gets her claws on rich eric if he wins...sob story and all! why does tammy have to evoke a dead mobster labor leader to do her bidding, hoffa(tammy? is that you?)
jbw July 12, 2012 at 09:32 AM
Yes, leave having children to people with no sense of responsibility and no means of support, to provide continued job security for our social welfare agencies. Oh, and let's not forget the people with the wisdom to quote Wikipedia as an authoritative source of information.
Walker July 12, 2012 at 12:07 PM
As when choosing their presidential candidate they will eat their own. Let the carnage begin!
Menoparent July 12, 2012 at 12:50 PM
I went to the 4th of July Parade and when Hovde walked past, many didn't even know who he was after we have seen ad after ad on TV. People around us in the parade wouldn't shake his hand, they said "Are you Republican or Democrat?" Hovde said "Republican" and then they said "Oh, we'll shake your hand." How could you not have noticed his condescending ads with teenage daughters proud of their father wanting to be an unpopular voice and not caring what people think of him?
Steve ® July 12, 2012 at 01:57 PM
WTF did Obama know about Illinois? WTF did Al Frankin know about northern Minnesota? WTF did Hillary Clinton know about New York?
Steve ® July 12, 2012 at 02:05 PM
You must have been at another parade. Hovde was running, not walking
James R Hoffa July 12, 2012 at 03:16 PM
And the Democrats don't? The Clinton v Obama primary was far nastier than the recent GOP primary contest.
James R Hoffa July 12, 2012 at 03:19 PM
So, I'm guessing that you support a candidate that cares more about being popular with other members of Congress than representing the will of their constituency with an unwavering conviction. Yeah, cause that kind of attitude has done so well for our nation over the last 30 years, hasn't it?
James R Hoffa July 12, 2012 at 03:25 PM
@steve - Sorry to disappoint you, but Hoffa doesn't do drag. And if Hoffa did do drag, I'd try to be a more attractive female than Baldwin! Given that Hovde closely mirrors Walker on platform and that Wisconsin just voted for Walker twice, I'd say that Hovde mirrors the state's overall current political sentiments pretty well! Not only that, but Hovde has the endorsement of the TPP - The Third Person Party. Hoffa's down with TPP!
Mike Knight July 12, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Tommy's running because he needs more retirement funds. Being a US Senator gives you a sweet income with amazing benefits, and retirement packages. He will also be at the heart of insider trading paradise where he can get sweet tips from lobbyists on what to invest in. Tommy will walk away a mega millionaire as does most of Congress. Washington is about representing the mega corporations in exchange for personal wealth. If we want them to represent us again then we need to make the income, and benefits something like military service. Or better yet make it totally a volunteer thing with no pay. Like the military they can't be fired from their real job which they'd return to after serving us. Also they can't invest in anything, and have to freeze their assets while serving us.
Greg July 12, 2012 at 03:53 PM
So are the others, including Baldwin, running for different reasons?
Mike Knight July 12, 2012 at 04:23 PM
I think it's safe to say that anyone making it to the finals in an election for Federal office isn't running out of the goodness of their heart to represent the people, and make life better in this country. You need to be funded by the big shots who will want favors once you're elected. Congress does the bidding of their big campaign contributers, and the corporate lobbyists who give them insider trading tips to pad their luxury income, and benefits package.
Greg July 12, 2012 at 04:30 PM
You may find some that are actually civic minded.
Keith Schmitz July 12, 2012 at 09:25 PM
One clueless millionaire "representing" Wisconsin in the Senate is enough.
Greg July 12, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Kohl is retiring, didn't you get the memo?
Bam Bam Ruble July 12, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Yo You shut yo' cake hole Keif Schmitz, dere is mo' millionaire Democrats than you can shake uh stick at what the hell sup now?
Keith Schmitz July 12, 2012 at 11:16 PM
Herb is far from clueless and was not there to enrich himself. Bam Bam. Fruity Pebbles is looking for you. Have some cake.
Todd Marohl July 12, 2012 at 11:34 PM
Good one Greg! The only reason Herby won in the first place is because he bought the Bucks and built the Kohl Center. That is what is called buying an election. As for what he did in the Senate, nothing would be a good description.
Greg July 13, 2012 at 04:06 PM
That's one opinion, Keif.
Dirk Gutzmiller July 13, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24. Similar verses are in Mark 10:25 and Luke 18:25). Why would we want to elect such a person to govern and represent us?
jerry July 14, 2012 at 02:54 AM
$$andSense July 14, 2012 at 03:03 AM
"I love James Riddle Hoffa - he was a very conservative man that despised the Kennedy's, some would even have called him an extremist in his day! A true American hero and an avid supporter of Nixon, one of our greatest President's ever!" So, felons in charge of private unions (Hoffa) and at the helm of the US gov't.(Nixon) are your heros. Really? Still haven't answered why you are so anti-union yet support one of the greatest union crooks of all. You weren't even alive for either!
The Anti-Alinsky July 14, 2012 at 12:46 PM
@$$andNonsense, Stop trying to guess everyone's background. You suck at it and just look like a fool. It wouldn't matter if Hoffa is a 88 year old retiree or an 18 year old High School Senior. His comments are well thought out, articulate and, unlike your comments, backed up with citations, references and links to validate his point!
The Anti-Alinsky July 15, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Dick, we aren't electing someone to lead the congregation. We are electing a secular leader. I think you have taken the extreme view on Matthew 19:24. Note it says it is EASIER, but not impossible. Too often the rich do get too self-absorbed and greedy. Timothy 6:10 says "For the LOVE of money is a root of all kinds of evil" (emphasis added). People can be rich and still have a strong moral Christian ethic. By all account Joseph of Arimathea was a very rich and influential man, yet still an early follower of Christ. Christ knew that money easily corrupts, and it takes a strong moral will not to fall into the wealth trap.
Lyle Ruble July 15, 2012 at 04:20 PM
@The Anti-Alinsky...Name some rich contemporary Christians who are both rich and determined strongly moral and what do you mean by moral?
The Anti-Alinsky July 16, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Lyle, let's start with the definition of moral. Simply put, knowing the difference between right and wrong and acting in the right way. Such as not taking advantage of people you do business with. As far as modern rich and moral Christians: Bono Billy Graham The late great Reggie White How about Manute Bol Rich Snyder of In and Out Burger that's a good start
Bren July 16, 2012 at 08:21 PM
I think the message is that people come before profits. When profits come before people...well that's what we are dealing with right now in our country. We need to restore the understanding that profits come when people can afford to buy things. I support candidates who agree with my way of thinking.
celador2 August 28, 2012 at 06:38 AM
WHat are Hovde plans for the future in politics? he made a splash in the waters and migh thave a future.
celador2 August 28, 2012 at 07:28 AM
Reagan was 69 when elected president 1980 and turned 70 the following February. Tommy is but 70.
celador2 August 28, 2012 at 07:30 AM
Paul Ryan and Scott Walker have long careers in government and they care about us. Hove did so well in Senate race he may have a future in politics.


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