Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

PPP Poll shows Thompson may be next Tea Party victim


Former Governor Tommy Thompson’s Senate campaign just received another jolt of bad news tonight with the release of the latest Public Policy Polling senate poll.

David Dewhurst tonight became just the latest in a line of establishment Republicans to lose in Senate primaries this year, and it looks Tommy Thompson could be next on the list. 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.

Neumann supporters should be pleased with the poll results:

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 50/3o 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.
There’s a pretty strong argument for why any of these three guys could emerge victorious. Hovde has the lead. Neumann has the momentum. And Thompson could still survive where David Dewhurst and Richard Lugar did not because of the split in the conservative ranks.

In recent weeks Hovde has not had the television all to himself and his opponents have been able to partially define him to the voters. Neumann’s attacks have been effective, while Thompson’s vulnerabilities are really becoming evident. We haven’t even gotten to the lobbying income for Thompson yet and there’s still two weeks to go in the race.

It will be interesting to see if there’s a natural ceiling for Neumann’s support.

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