The latest Marquette Law School poll on the U.S. Senate race shows former Governor Tommy Thompson leading the field seeking the Republican nomination. The results put Thompson at 28 percent of the vote, businessman Eric Hovde at 20 percent, former Congressman Mark Neumann at 18 percent, and Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald at 13 percent.
Poll director Charles Franklin says the race has tightened significantly in recent months, coming down from a 12 point margin in July and 20 points in June.
The poll also shows 21 percent of voters remained undecided when the poll was conducted August 2nd through 5th, which was just two weeks before the August 14th primary. Franklin says that large amount of undecided voters could have a big impact on the outcome of the race, since it shows many people have likely not been paying attention to the campaigns or are unaware that the election is coming up so fast.
Wisconsin’s fall primary has been held in September for decades, but was moved up to August this year to comply with federal voting requirements. If those voters have not made up their mind before next Tuesday, Franklin says many of them could just end up staying home.
The results drew fire from the Hovde campaign, which pointed to other recent polls that give the businessman a slight lead over Thompson. Franklin says one reason for the discrepancy could be the way those polls are conducted. While the “Public Policy Polling” and “We Ask America” used automated calls, the Marquette Law School poll relied on live interviews. The Marquette poll also contacts cell phones, which are excluded in the others. Franklin points out that nearly 29 percent of the households in the state are now cell phone only.
Regardless of the different methods used, Franklin says all of the polls do agree that the race has tightened significantly.
The poll conducted earlier this month survey 1,400 registered voters. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percent.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:07)