The top candidates to be the next Governor of Wisconsin are relatively unknown, and that makes the race to replace Jim Doyle a tossup.
Tom Barrett and Scott Walker are tied at 40, while Barrett leads Mark Neumann 41-39 and Tommy Thompson 46-41.
A plurality of voters have no opinion one way or the other about Barrett, Walker, or Neumann. Walker is the best known with 30% of voters holding a favorable opinion of him, 25% seeing him unfavorably, and 44% having no opinion. Next is Barrett, whom 31% have a positive view of to 21% negative and 48% without an opinion. Neumann has the poorest numbers with 27% of voters seeing him unfavorably to 16% positive and 57% with no opinion.
Although we didn't ask a direct horse race question on the primary the fact that 60% of Republicans have a favorable opinion of Walker and only 28% do of Neumann gives you a pretty good idea of where that race stands for the time being.
The Gubernatorial numbers on this poll are further indication that Tommy Thompson's best next political move may be running for Mayor of Elroy. He does the worst of this Republican trio against Barrett, probably owing to the fact that 45% of the state has a negative opinion of him with only 38% seeing him positively. Clearly he has lost much of the appeal that got him elected to four terms as Governor.
These numbers provide further confirmation that Jim Doyle's retirement is a very good thing for Democratic hopes of keeping the Governor's office. On our June poll of Wisconsin he trailed Walker 48-40 and Neumann 42-41.
Given how much better Wisconsin voters will know these candidates in a year than they do now it's impossible at this point to say how the race will play out but it's clear that Republicans do have an opportunity to win this one back, and that it's likely to be a close contest.
Full results here