Former Gov. Tommy Thompson leads the field of GOP candidates for U.S. Senate, according to a survey released Wednesday by Marquette University Law School.
The poll of likely voters shows Thompson favored by 28 percent of the respondents, while businessman and political newcomer Eric Hovde comes in at 20 percent. Former Congressman Mark Neumann was backed by 18 percent, while Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald garnered 13 percent.
With less than a week before Tuesday's Republican primary, 21 percent of those polled say they are undecided.
, Thompson held a 12-point lead over Hovde — 35 percent to 23 percent. Neumann sat at 10 percent and Fitzgerald was 6 percent.
A full 25 percent of those surveyed at that time were undecided.
Conducted from Aug. 2 to Aug. 5 of 519 likely voters in the Republican primary, the poll has a margin of error or 4.4 percentage points.
The latest polling numbers were released Wednesday as part of the ongoing polling project at Marquette during a live edition of "On the Issues" with broadcaster Mike Gousha and Professor Charles Franklin.
When it comes to the November general election against Democrat Tammy Baldwin, Thompson holds the lead there as well, 48 to 43 percent. Neumann runs even with Baldwin at 44 percent, while Baldwin leads Hovde, 44 to 41 percent, and Fitzgerald, 45 to 40 percent, respectively.
"All this is within the margin of error," Franklin said.
Marquette surveyed 1,188 likely voters for questions on the November matchup and those questions have margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.
What was interesting to note, he added, was that among voters with unfavorable opinions about any of the candidates, a clear second choice is not apparent.
"I think this is worth paying attention to because of what it means in a multi-candidate race," Franklin noted. "There's just no way to break out with less than week to go before the primary. They all want the Affordable Care Act repealed, the federal deficit restrained, and taxes managed in a conversative way."
The candidates respond
After the Marquette poll results were released, the campaigns of Thompson, Hovde and Neumann sent out press releases about the numbers.
From Brian J. Nemoir, spokesperson for the Thompson campaign:
Not only does Tommy Thompson hold a strong and commanding lead in the primary despite a relentless barrage of negative attacks, the fact remains he is the best-positioned candidate to defeat Tammy Baldwin in November.
Republicans have shown an early and consistent understanding that this race is about making sure Tammy Baldwin does not represent Wisconsin for the next 36 years, and that Thompson is the candidate who can win and defeat Obamacare, balance the budget and create jobs.
Hovde's Campaign Manager Joe Fadness had this to say:
Like every other public poll that has been released over the last month, Tommy Thompson is sliding and Eric Hovde is rising. However, the Marquette Poll continues to be the outlier with every other recent survey showing Eric leading at this stage of the race.
The Thompson and Neumann campaigns know that Eric is in the lead, and that is why they continue to use negative and deceitful attacks against us at every turn. With just six days to go before Election Day, we are winning this race.
Neumann's campaign pointed out his double-digit surge in the polls, noting he is the only candidate to show this kind of improvement:
Marquette University released a poll today further demonstrating the Wisconsin GOP Senate contest is a three man race and Neumann has the momentum.
Marquette continues to show conservatives are uniting behind Mark Neumann. (He) is surging because he’s the proven conservative. His barnstorm this week with the Tea Party Express continues the momentum.
This is the last statewide poll from Marquette before the primary Tuesday.