A new survey of the Wisconsin Senate race from Public Policy Polling (D)
, where Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl is retiring, gives the potential Democratic candidates consistent leads over any Republican who isn't named Tommy Thompson -- and even Thompson, the former four-term governor and Bush-era Health and Human Services Secretary, would face a close race.
Several different potential Democratic candidates were tested out against several Republicans, in a swing state that has become the center of a polarizing political debate over labor unions in the wake of Republican Gov. Scott Walker's anti-public employee union legislation.
"Russ Feingold's going to start out as a solid favorite if he wants to go back to the Senate," writes PPP president Dean Debnam. "His loss last year had less to do with him than the national political climate and because of Scott Walker's unpopularity things have shifted back toward the Democrats more quickly in Wisconsin than most other places."
The poll of registered voters was conducted from May 19-22, and has a Â±2.4% margin of error.
Former Sen. Russ Feingold, who lost re-election after three terms in the 2010 Republican wave, leads state House Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald by 54%-39%, leads former Rep. Mark Neumann by 53%-41%, and leads state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen by 53%-38%. And he also leads Thompson by 52%-42%.
Rep. Tammy Baldwin leads Fitzgerald by 48%-37%, leads Neumann by 46%-41%, and leads Van Hollen by 46%-39%. Thompson takes an edge against Baldwin, but only a narrow 45%-44%, within the margin of error.
Rep. Ron Kind leads Fitzgerald by 45%-37%, leads Neumann by 44%-40%, and leads Van Hollen by 44%-38%. He is tied with Thompson at 44%-44%.
Former Rep. Steve Kagen, who was elected in a historically Republican district in the 2006 Democratic wave, and lost his seat in the 2010 GOP wave, leads Fitzgerald by 43%-38%, leads Neumann by 42%-41%, and leads Van Hollen by 43%-38%. However, he trails Thompson by 45%-42%.