Businessman Eric Hovde, who entered the Senate race in Wisconsin as a virtual unknown in March, is in a dead heat for the Republican nomination with former Gov. Tommy Thompson , according to a poll conducted for the Hovde campaign.
Thompson leads Hovde 30 percent to 27 percent, with former Congressman and 2010 gubernatorial candidate Mark Neumann at 23 percent. State Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, who has struggled to raise money, is at 10 percent in the Hovde internal.
Hovde, who runs the financial firm Hovde Capital and is partially self-financing his campaign, has already spent more than $1.5 million running television ads statewide on broadcast and cable, according to a GOP source tracking ad buys. Thompson is the only other candidate who has gone up on the air, but his buy was limited.
The poll shows a similar problem for Thompson and Neumann: both candidates are well-known and well-liked by Wisconsin Republicans, but neither has been able to pull ahead of the field. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said they have a favorable view of Thompson, while just 18 percent view the former governor unfavorably. Similarly, 69 percent view Neumann favorably, while 17 percent view him unfavorably.
The poll was conducted Sunday through Tuesday by North Star Opinion Research, the GOP polling firm led by Whit Ayres. It surveyed 600 likely Republican primary voters and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.
The primary is August 14.