WI Senate: Three-way tie for the GOP nomination
On the heels of Ted Cruz’s big win in Texas, we could be on the path to watching another Republican establishment candidate lose up in Wisconsin. For months, former Gov. Tommy Thompson had been consider the favorite to win, but thanks to his past support of ObamaCare, he now finds himself in a very tough race.
Recent polls had showed Eric Hovde, who is backed by FreedomWorks, surging against Thompson. Mark Neumann, who is endorsed by the Club for Growth and Sen. Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund, failing to gain any steam in the race. That has apparently changed. According to the last survey from Public Policy Polling, we now have what is essentially a three-way tie for the GOP Senate nomination in Wisconsin:
PPP’s newest Wisconsin poll finds Eric Hovde leading with 28% to 25% for Thompson and Mark Neumann, and 13% for Jeff Fitzgerald.
Thompson’s seen a precipitous decline in his standing with GOP voters over the last 5 months. In February he was at 39%. By early July he had dropped to 29% in our polling and he’s continued to decline now to his 25% standing. His personal image has taken a big hit as well. Where his favorability with primary voters earlier in the year was a +47 spread at 66/19, it’s now declined 41 points to only +6 at 47/41.
It’s concern about whether Thompson is sufficiently conservative that is driving a lot of his problems. 58% of primary voters now say they want someone more conservative than him to be the nominee, compared to only 29% who are content with him. And he’s posting extremely weak numbers with voters identifying as ‘very conservative,’ getting 21% to 28% each for Hovde and Neumann.
The momentum in this contest is on Neumann’s side. He’s gained 10 points over the last month to go from 15% to 25%. His strength is coming from the most conservative wing of the GOP electorate. In early July he trailed Hovde by 20 points, 32-12, with those voters describing themselves as ‘very conservative.’ Now he’s pulled into a tie with him at 28%.
Hovde remains the unexpected leader in this contest but his momentum has stalled a good bit over the last month. His share of the vote has dropped from 31% to 28%, and his favorability has gone from a 50/9 spread to a 50/30 spread. At one time it seemed like everybody was forming a positive opinion as they became familiar with him but that trend has reversed itself to some extent in the last month.
This is where conservatives have to very careful. With two candidates strongly backed by prominent groups, they run the risk of dividing the vote to allow Thompson to sneak through. There is an argument to be made that Thompson has already peaked, though with two weeks to go until Wisconsin Republicans head to the polls, anything could happen.
But what Wisconsin voters should ask themselves, as noted in a previous post on the race, if repealing ObamaCare is important; do you really trust Thompson to be a vote on your side? All you need to do is look at what he’s said in the past to see that you can’t trust the guy.