Looking at the Senate races, Republican numbers are falling all across the board, but few have been as shocking as the sudden plummet in Tommy Thompson's numbers. After surviving the contention GOP primary (in large part because his conservative opponents - free-spending whackadoodle businessman Eric Hovde, state legislative thug Jeff Fitzgerald and Wisconsin's answer to Harold Stassen, Mark Neumann - split the right-wing vote), Thompson was riding high with a comfortable lead over Rep. Tammy Baldwin. But now, seemingly overnight, Thompson's numbers have cratered. Indeed, looking at the Poll Tracker chart, Thompson has gone from having a 5 point advantage over Baldwin a month ago to losing to her by 5 points today. A rather shocking and embarassing turnaround from a man still viewed as a political giant in his state (even if he hasn't held elected office there in over a decade).
So what is responsible for the sudden plummet in Thompson's numbers? As reported by TPM (under the appropriate headline "Good For Morale!"), Thompson explains that it's all Mitt Romney's fault:
"The presidential thing is bound to have an impact on every election," Thompson told Madison television station WKOW in Wednesday. "You know, whether you're a Democrat or Republican. If your standard-bearer for the presidency is not doing well, it's going to reflect on the down ballot."Loosly translated as: "Our presidential candidate sucks and the asshole is dragging me down with him.
I do happen to agree somewhat with Thompson here (his plummeting poll numbers seem to coincide with Romney's own poll crash in WI, including that eye-popping Marquette Law School poll that had Obama up on Romney by a whopping 14 points - and that was before Mitt Romney's Home Videos: Poor People Suck Edition came out), but he's being too generous giving Mitt all the blame. Thompson has had his share of miscues, like aping Romney and refusing to release his tax returns and then acting like a major dick when asked about it. And let's not forget the homophobic attacks his campaign launched at the openly gay Baldwin, for which he finally apologized for after five days of backlash. And such gaffes should not be surprising from a man whose 2008 Presidential campaign was killed in it's cradle by his "making money is a Jewish tradition" comment.
This Washington Post article offers a pretty good overview of the race (along with a really bad photo of Thompson...seriously, he looks half-dead in it) and offers a good summary of reasons for why Thompson is falling:
Bruised by an expensive primary campaign, Thompson's coffers were badly depleted by the end. As he put it, his campaign was "broke." So he attempted to regroup, putting a renewed focus on fundraising, something which has been a weak point for him this cycle. He was off the airwaves for weeks, leaving a vacuum that Baldwin smartly filled with a message that dinged the Republican's image.One thing's for sure; as volatile as this race has been it's far from over and the Post article makes clear how critical this race is for the GOP's Senate hopes:
With just days left for Rep. Todd Akin (R) to remove himself from the ballot in Missouri (something that is looking like an unlikely proposition), Republican prospects there are looking dimmer. If Akin remains of the ballot, it will greatly reduce the GOP odds of picking up a seat that once looked very promising. That would make a Wisconsin pickup all the more crucial for the GOP.Does Thompson have it in him? We'll soon find out.
Sununu, the former governor of New Hampshire and Romney campaign surrogate, said Thompson "sounds like Barack Obama trying to blame it on somebody else."
When the drunk, angry uncle of the Romney campaign is yelling at you, maybe you're doing something right after all.