Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin has maintained a large enough lead over Republican rival Tommy Thompson in the past month to become the “nominal favorite” in the hotly contested U.S. Senate race in Wisconsin, according to a new survey from Public Policy Polling.
Baldwin leads Thompson, a former four-term governor, by 49% to 46%, according to the liberal-leaning pollster on Monday. The three-point margin matches the three-to-four-point lead Baldwin has shown in two other PPP polls and reflects polling from Marquette University Law School and other sources that have found Baldwin with a lead in the past month.
The seven-term incumbent could become the first openly gay person elected to the U.S. Senate, and she would be the first woman to represent Wisconsin in the upper chamber. The contest is one of a handful that could determine control of the Senate, and it has drawn intense interest and money from super PACs and other outside groups.
The PPP memo attributed Baldwin’s lead to her 52% to 40% advantage with independents. She also enjoys a lead among women at 50% to 43%, while running almost even with Thompson among male voters at 47% to 48%, according to the pollster. She ties him with white voters at 47% and leads among nonwhite voters at 65% to 30%.
Thompson emerged from a competitive primary against a Tea Party favorite and others in August, but his widespread name recognition and moderate reputation appear not to have guaranteed favor with voters. PPP found that 43% of voters have a favorable opinion of him compared to 50% with a negative impression. Voters expressed a razor-thin margin of desire for a Democratic-controlled Senate at 46% to 45%, which suggests that Thompson “might be running a couple points worse than an average Republican candidate would be,” according to PPP.
The poll of 979 likely voters was conducted between last Thursday and Saturday, and it has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. See the full results here.