Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

Wiggy Senatorial Preference Poll Results


Of the possible candidates in the race for US Senate, who are you supporting right now?

  • Ted Kanavas (43%, 33 Votes)
  • Russ Feingold (14%, 11 Votes)
  • JB Van Hollen (12%, 9 Votes)
  • Mark Neumann (9%, 7 Votes)
  • Tammy Baldwin (9%, 7 Votes)
  • Ron Kind (8%, 6 Votes)
  • Tommy Thompson (5%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 77

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I’m actually surprised at how few of my readers picked former Governor Tommy Thompson. Of course, it was a holiday weekend and this is hardly scientific.

Interestingly, Public Policy Polling puts Thompson as the front-runner for the Republican nomination but even they question Thompson’s ability to win the nomination.

Thompson’s issues are coming with the right flank of his party. Moderates (by a 48/43 margin) and ‘somewhat conservative’ voters (by a 47/46 margin) hope that he’ll be their Senate candidate. But 46% of ‘very conservative’ Republican partisans want it to be someone else compared to 42% who support Thompson.

My sense is that these numbers are probably somewhat of a high water mark for Thompson. Almost all voters in the state know him already and his support has nowhere to go but down. Thompson’s not starting out in a position as strong as other establishment Republicans like Lisa Murkowski and Mike Castle did last year and they ended up losing anyway. If he gets in a one on one primary contest with a serious candidate who can run to his right, he will probably lose.

I suspect that as former State Senator Ted Kanavas’ name id increases that Thompson might have a harder time of it. As I’ve explained before, elections are largely about building coalitions. In primaries, Venn diagrams and geography are better analytic tools than the bell curve.

Republican primary voters are more conservative than the electorate as a whole, and even more conservative than self-identified Republicans in polling. For a Republican candidate to win a primary it’s a lot easier when the candidate can claim pro-life credentials, good standing with the rest of the social conservatives, and good standing as an economic conservative. Thompson weakened his position with both social and economic conservatives during his time in Washington D.C. Thompson’s strength was always going to be among the GOP regulars, and we saw at the last state convention he might not have their support either.

As for Mark Neumann, PPP puts him at second place at 22%.  (By the way, I really wonder about a poll that does not include a real potential candidate like Kanavas but for some reason includes Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch who won’t be running.) But he runs into the same problem as Thompson and the same problem he ran into during the last election cycle. What coalition of voters puts him at 50% + 1 in the primary?  Unless it becomes a one-on-one race with Thompson, Neumann’s last campaign will likely cause primary voters to look at other conservative candidates. Certainly the party regulars have no love for him. Economic conservatives will question him on environmental policy. Tea Party members already voted against him in the last cycle. However, Neumann has name identification and a willingness to fight dirty.

That leaves (at this point) Kanavas. If he can raise the money to increase his visibility he should be able to reach out to all segments of the Republican primary electorate.

The only other real question is if Thompson really does have the stomach for a bruising primary fight. If the Thompson partisans thought he would waltz into a coronation, perhaps they should talk to former Governor Charlie Crist in Florida.



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