WASHINGTON — Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., is up for a fight this election year. Polling shows her challenger, Republican businessman Eric Hovde, is right on her heels.

What You Need To Know

  • We are just over six months away from the November election, and the Senate race in Wisconsin is close

  • A new Marquette University Law School poll showed incumbent Democrat Tammy Baldwin and Republican businessman Eric Hovde are neck and neck, even though Baldwin has held the seat for more than a decade

  • Hovde’s campaign praised the numbers, saying Wisconsinites want change

  • The Democratic Party of Wisconsin said Hovde spending millions of his own money on his campaign "will make this a close race"

A new survey by Marquette University Law School found in the race for Senate in Wisconsin, Baldwin leads Hovde by five percentage points, 52 to 47, among registered voters. When looking at likely voters, the candidates are tied, each getting 50% of the vote.  

“Those are all certainly closer races than the 11 points that Baldwin won by in 2018,” said Charles Franklin, the director of the MU Law School poll. 

Pollsters interviewed 814 Wisconsin voters between April 3-10. The margin of error is +/- 4.8 percentage points. Hovde’s campaign praised the numbers.

“Sen. Baldwin is a 40-year career politician and a rubber stamp for the Biden agenda, voting with him 95.5% of the time,” wrote Ben Voelkel, a spokesman for Hovde’s campaign, in a statement. “Biden and Baldwin’s reckless agenda has driven the inflation that is crushing family budgets, and fueled the border crisis that is making our country less safe and bringing deadly drugs like fentanyl into our schools and neighborhoods. Wisconsinites are ready for a change. This race is a dead heat and we are just getting going.”

Baldwin’s campaign also went on the attack.

“Eric Hovde spending millions of his own money that he made running a bank in California will make this a close race,” said Arik Wolk, the rapid response director for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, in a statement to Spectrum News. “But Wisconsinites want a Senator who respects and understands them, not a California bank owner whose bank is facing a lawsuit for elder abuse and wrongful death.”

The poll showed some voters are still persuadable. When not forced to pick between the two candidates, the survey found that 18% of Wisconsin registered voters still don’t know who they’ll support.

“We have a lot of undecided voters and a long ways to go before voters are equally familiar with both Baldwin and Hovde,” Franklin said. “But it certainly points to a potentially close race.” 

Only 11% of registered voters said they haven’t heard enough about Baldwin to have an opinion of her. That percentage skyrockets to 56% for Hovde. But that’s down from three months ago, when more than 80% of Wisconsin voters didn’t know who he was.

“He’s making the progress in introducing himself to voters that candidates want to make in the spring,” Franklin said. “But he’s still got a ways to go before people are even remotely as familiar with him as they are with Tammy Baldwin.” 

Franklin said partisanship is a “strong drug” that can lift up lesser known candidates. In other words, some voters just need to know what party a candidate belongs to, in order to make their choice. 

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