This is a prediction based, in part, because of a poll that I have dreaded making and it’s simply because the wrong guy is going to win for the wrong reasons. A new poll shows Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock building a commanding lead over Incumbent United States Senator Richard Lugar.The Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground Poll, conducted by two prominent Republican and Democratic pollsters, shows Mourdock with a 48 percent to 38 percent lead over Lugar.
Voters will decide the fate of Lugar, a six-term incumbent, in Tuesday’s primary election. The poll was conducted April 30 to May 1 of 700 likely voters by Republican Christine Matthews of Bellwether Research and Democrat Fred Yang of Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group. It has margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points. The poll shows a dramatic slide for Lugar, who in his last election in 2006 won with more than 80 percent of the vote after Democrats considered him so unbeatable that they didn’t field a candidate against him. Only about a month ago, a Howey/DePauw Battleground poll showed Lugar leading Mourdock 42 percent to 35 percent.
When voters who were not solid in their support for a candidate yet and were merely leaning in one direction or the other are removed, Mourdock is still leading 43 percent to 35 percent over Lugar. Yang said that in January, he conducted a poll for the Indiana Democratic Party which showed 56 percent of Hoosier Republicans were ready to make a change in the Senate and elect someone else. This poll, he said, shows that may happen as Republicans appear poised to reject Lugar. Yang said a Mourdock win would be one of the greatest upsets in modern Indiana history.
Lugar has spent 6 terms in the United States Senate, reaching across the boundaries of party and politics when it was necessary to make the best decisions. By electing the Tea Party backed Mourdock, those days will likely be over. Indiana voters have been subjected to nasty, negative and divisive campaign ads that have maligned Lugar as a Washington insider who is cozy to President Obama. They have painted him as out of touch while touting Mourdock as a true conservative.
There are some contradictions in the poll. Sixty percent of the Republican primary voters in he poll want a senator “to focus first on trying to solve many of our country’s problems, even if that means working with elected officials across the aisle to do it.” Only 30 percent said they wanted a senator to focus first on standing up for conservative principles. Yet those same voters are poised to reject Lugar, who has come under withering criticism for working with Democrats, and instead choose Mourdock, who has said he will focus on building a Republican majority so big that no one has to seek compromise with the other party.
I have suggested that normally “red” Indiana which went “blue” for President Obama in 2008 would swing back to the right with the only question being how far. This election cycle looks to be big for the Tea Party in Indiana and I am now ready to predict Mourdock will likely be the Republican nominee although I don’t think the margin will be anywhere near 10 points.