I think it's highly unlikely Tommy Thompson is going to be the Republican Senate candidate in Wisconsin next year.
Sure our newest poll of the state finds Thompson leading Mark Neumann 47-39 in a head to head primary match up. But that's based much more than anything else on Thompson's far superior name recognition. 91% of GOP voters are familiar enough with him to have formed an opinion, while that's only the case for 57% of voters when it comes to Neumann. With that 57% of voters who have formed an opinion of Neumann, whether it's a positive or a negative one, he leads Thompson by a 55-39 margin. That bodes pretty well for Neumann's prospects as he gets into the swing of the campaign.
Here's the real sign of how weak Thompson is though. We read respondents a two sentence, 28 word summary of the attacks he's likely to face from Neumann during the primary campaign and then asked voters again who they would support if the primary was today. And all the sudden Thompson trailed Neumann by a whooping 33 points, 59-26! Two sentences led to a 40 point swing in the horse race. We don't see that happen very often. (Here's the likely future Neumann line of attack on Thompson that we read: "While Tommy Thompson was Governor, he more than doubled state spending and increased government bureaucracy. Then he endorsed Obamacare, President Obama’s $1- trillion-dollar government takeover of health care.")
Thompson is already vulnerable with the far right. On the original ballot question he trailed 54-38 with 'very conservative' voters, but made up for that with a 57-21 advantage among moderates and a 48-33 one with 'somewhat conservative' voters. After the rigor of a primary campaign his situation will be far worse. He's made a successful career out of being a moderate Republican, but there may not be a place for that anymore in today''s Tea Party dominated GOP. I will be very surprised if he snags the nomination.
On the Democratic side in Wisconsin we didn't even bother testing Russ Feingold this month because if he runs, he'll be the Democratic nominee, end of story. If Feingold sits it out Tammy Baldwin is looking like the early favorite. In a three way race with Ron Kind and Steve Kagen she leads with 37% to 21% for Kind and 15% for Kagen. And in just a two way race with Kagen she leads 48-19.
Certainly Baldwin is at her strongest in the three way race with voters describing themselves as 'very liberal,' with whom she leads Kagen by 42 points and Kind by 47. But she's also up 19 on Kind and 31 on Kagen with voters identifying just as 'somewhat liberal' and even with moderates she basically runs even with Kind, getting 23% to his 24% with Kagen back at 16%. In the head to head with Kagen, Baldwin is up double digits with every ideology group. If she runs and Feingold doesn't, she's going to be pretty difficult to beat in a primary.
Full results here