Wisconsin: Eric Hovde Poll Shows Narrowing Senate Primary Field

A new poll for businessman Eric Hovde showed the Wisconsin Senate GOP primary to basically be a two-way race. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson and businessman Eric Hovde are locked in a close two-way race for the GOP Senate nomination in Wisconsin, according to an internal poll conducted for the Hovde campaign by polling firm On Message Inc.

The poll showed Thompson and Hovde at the top of the primary field, receiving support from 34 percent and 29 percent of likely Republican voters, respectively. Former Rep. Mark Neumann received support from 16 percent of respondents while Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald did not crack the 10 percent mark.

The poll indicates a rapid rise for Hovde, who entered the race with low name recognition. His campaign, which is largely self-funded, has invested heavily in television and radio advertising to introduce Hovde to Wisconsin voters. Thompson served as the state's governor for more than a decade and benefits from near 100 percent name recognition.

The poll, which surveyed 600 likely Republican primary voters and had a margin of error of 4 points, is a departure from the most recent independent poll conducted by Marquette University. The June poll showed Hovde in third place receiving support from 14 percent of likely GOP primary voters.

The winner of the GOP primary will face presumptive Democratic nominee Rep. Tammy Baldwin in the November race to succeed retiring Sen. Herb Kohl (D).

Roll Call rates the general election race as a Tossup.