Poll: Come Back, Russ Feingold!

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 24 2011 12:39 PM

Poll: Come Back, Russ Feingold!

Russ Feingold's office has been conspicuously mum since Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Who?) announced his retirement, opening up a Senate seat in Wisconsin. But here's a new Public Policy Polling survey with two main findings.

1) GOP dream candidate Tommy Thompson, who's already taking fire from conservatives over his Bush-era and post-Bush record, is either trailing or in dead heats with Democrats.

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2) Russ Feingold is the favorite to win the seat, only seven months after his career was terminated by Ron Johnson.

In hypothetical contests Feingold leads Tommy Thompson 52-42, Mark Neumann 53-41, JB Van Hollen 53-38, and Jeff Fitzgerald 54-39. He wins independents by at least 9 points in all of the match ups and takes more than 90% of the Democratic vote while keeping the Republican candidates in the 80s within their own parties.

The problem with the Republican field is that no one can make the argument Johnson won with: "I'm a businessman who doesn't know from Washington." Neumann served four years in the House, then lost to Feingold. Fitzgerald and Van Hollen are instant targets for unions and Democratic groups. And Thompson, uh, talks about embedding people with RFID chips. Meanwhile, Feingold has used his retirement period to rip into fellow Democrats.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.