When it comes to the Republican primary for Wisconsin’s open U.S. Senate seat, the state’s Democratic political insiders see the race as a two-man contest between former Gov. Tommy Thompson and businessman Eric Hovde.
But when asked whom Democrat Tammy Baldwin would have the best chance of defeating in the general election, these influential Democrats made it clear that Thompson would be her toughest opponent.
In Patch’s first “Blue Wisconsin” Survey of Democratic influencers throughout the state, 47 percent of the respondents said they thought Hovde would win Tuesday’s primary election, while 45 percent said Thompson had the best shot.
However, when surveyed on which Republican would give Baldwin the best chance to win in November, only 12 percent of those surveyed picked Thompson — a clear sign that Democratic insiders see him as the strongest GOP candidate.
Thirty-five percent of those surveyed said having Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald win the GOP nomination would give Baldwin the best shot at winning, and 27 percent said it would be former Congressman Mark Neumann.
Patch sent questionnaires to 62 key party activists, elected officials, bloggers, and others who agreed to anonymously give their opinions in a series of surveys between now and the November election. Patch received completed surveys from 49 people — or 78 percent of those surveyed.
Unlike a scientific poll of voters, which typically surveys hundreds of people, the “Blue Wisconsin” Survey takes the pulse of some of Wisconsin’s most influential Democrats. Patch has already conducted two “Red Wisconsin” Surveys of Republican influencers.
Among the Democrats who agreed to be surveyed are: newly elected state Sen. John Lehman; Mike Tate, chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin; the chairs of the Milwaukee, Ozaukee and Jefferson County Democrats; Thad Nation, a former aide to Gov. Jim Doyle; Larry Nelson, former Waukesha mayor; and nine candidates for state legislative and congressional seats. (See full list below)
The fact that Democratic insiders see Neumann and Fitzgerald as the weakest candidates against Baldwin isn’t surprising because the two Republicans have been near the bottom of the polls — at least until recently.
Neumann had just 10 percentage points to
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