Just think of the what-ifs that might have led to a different result: If Milwaukee talk radio hosts had bought into the conservative critique and either attacked Thompson or gotten fully behind one of his rivals; if Hovde hadn’t entered the race; if the Club for Growth had confined its fire to Thompson and left Hovde alone.
Even the fourth-place finisher, Jeff Fitzgerald, played a key role. He didn’t run a strong enough race to threaten Thompson, but ran well enough to take votes away from Hovde and Neumann.
Thanks to all these circumstances, 34% was enough for Thompson to win, despite his losing some of the most conservative voting areas of the state. Thompson trailed Hovde by double digits in the Green Bay media market, and finished behind Neumann as well in parts of northeastern Wisconsin.