MU Law School Poll shows Thompson leading Hovde in GOP primary

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MILWAUKEE -- The latest Marquette University Law School Poll was released on Wednesday, July 11th and shows the Republican Senate primary race has tightened, with Tommy Thompson holding a lead. The poll also shows a slight decrease in support since the last poll, released in late June.

The Marquette University Law School poll shows Thompson leading the Republican pack with 35% of the likely voters supporting him, followed by Eric Hovde at 24%, Mark Neumann at 10% and Jeff Fitzgerald at 6%.

Marquette University Law School Poll Director Charles Franklin says there wasn't much change in the GOP primary results if you take out voters who identify themselves as Democrats.

Among Tea Party supporters, Thompson and Hovde are nearly tied. Thompson holds a strong lead over Hovde with Republican voters who do not support the Tea Party.

The poll also shows that Thompson has more likely voters behind him than Democratic contender Tammy Baldwin. This month, 45% of likely voters say they'd vote for Thompson while 41% say they'd vote for Baldwin. In the June poll, 49% of likely voters say they will vote for Thompson, while Baldwin's numbers remain unchanged.

Franklin says all four match-ups are within the margin of error, so the race is a toss up no matter who wins the Republican primary.

"The headline is that Hovde is closing the race, narrowing the gap with Thompson. That's where we see the biggest movement from June to July.  Thompson still holds a significant lead, but Hovde's movement is the most striking thing over the last month," Franklin said.

The Marquette poll comes just one day after a Public Policy Poll showed Hovde with a slight lead over Thompson.

"I think the advantage of Hovde's heavy advertising campaign not only in June, but throughout the year, has paid off in higher name recognition for him," Franklin said.

According to the Marquette University Law School poll, Baldwin would beat any Republican challenger besides Thompson. The poll shows her leading Hovde 45%-36%, Neumann 43% -40% and Fitzgerald 43%-37%.

Franklin says the poll showed 25% of likely voters remain undecided in the Senate race.

"There's certainly the potential for movement with 25 percent of voters undecided. There's no question that movement can and probably will take place," Franklin said.

The Senate GOP primary is August 14th, and on the heels of a politically exhausting year, Franklin says we could see low voter turnout, and the candidate who can get people to the polls on a Tuesday in mid-August will likely win the election.

In the presidential race, the Marquette University Law School Poll shows President Obama leading challenger Mitt Romney 51%-43%. The same numbers were recorded in the May poll.

According to a tweet from the Marquette University Law School Poll, support for President Obama is up with voters who see no change in the economy. The Marquette Law School also tweeted that the President polls better with voters making less than $40K a year, and Romney polls better with people making over $75K a year.

Running throughout the year, the Marquette University Law School poll provides a comprehensive, independent survey of voter attitudes in Wisconsin. It is the largest independent polling project in state history.

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