Tommy Thompson continues to lead in the Wisconsin Republican Senate primary- but it's an advantage that looks increasingly tenuous.
Thompson's at 35% to 29% for Mark Neumann, 21% for Jeff Fitzgerald, and 4% for Frank Lasee. That's not a particularly impressive lead given that Thompson's name recognition is 86% compared to 61% for Neumann, 50% for Fitzgerald, and 24% for Lasee. Dig deeper and you see just how risky Thompson's position is- with voters that aren't familiar with either Neumann or Fitzgerald, Thompson leads with 50% t0 19% for Neumann and 9% for Fitzgerald. But with voters who do know even just one out of Thompson's primary rivals Neumann leads with 33% to 29% for Thompson and 27% for Fitzgerald.
Wisconsin Republicans will likely be familiar with all of their choices by the time the vote comes around, and these numbers suggest Thompson might find himself in trouble then. We also looked at how he would do in head to heads with his foes. Against Neumann he leads 43-39. But among voters familiar with Neumann, positive opinion or negative, Thompson trails 50-39. It's a similar story with Fitzgerald- among all voters Thompson leads a head to head 47-35. But with voters who actually know Fitzgerald, that turns into a 56-34 deficit for Thompson. None of these numbers bode well for Thompson once his name recognition advantage starts getting erased.
What's causing Thompson's trouble? It's doubts about him from the right. 51% of primary voters would prefer someone 'more conservative' to only 35% who are committed to Thompson. Those numbers are particularly bad for him with Tea Party voters- only 29% of them are committed to him compared to 63% who would prefer someone further to the right. Among voters describing themselves as 'very conservative' Thompson already finds himself in third place at 26% behind Neumann's 33% and Fitzgerald's 27%.
The three way nature of the race means that Thompson could win- but it would probably require Fitzgerald and Neumann splitting their votes pretty evenly. It looks like a tough road ahead for Tommy Thompson.
Full results here