Howey Politics Indiana
U.S. Sen. Richard G. Lugar’s iconic career of elected public service appears to be in great jeopardy. A Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground Poll conducted Monday and Tuesday shows that Lugar is trailing Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock 48-38 percent in Indiana’s Republican Senate primary. That head-to-head figure includes so-called “leaners,” who could conceivably change their minds in the final 72 hours of the campaign. Without the leans, Mourdock still leads 43-35 percent.
Based on this survey data, Howey Politics Indiana is moving the Senate race into a “Leans Mourdock” category. It had been “Leans Lugar” until the March 26-28 Howey/DePauw survey had Lugar leading Mourdock 42-35 percent, at which time HPI moved the Senate race into “Tossup.”
The survey, conducted by Republican pollster Christine Matthews of Bellwether Research and Democratic pollster Fred Yang of Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, is based on 700 likely voters with a +/- margin of error at 3.7 percent. The sample was made up of 76 percent Republicans, 14 percent independent, 8 percent independent/lean Republican, 1 percent lean Democrat and 1 percent independent/lean Democrat. Survey top lines will be posted under the “Howey/DePauw Poll” tab at www.howeypolitics.com.
And it appears to be a confirmation of a Tea Party mantra that a single challenger to Lugar would consolidate their support, with the incumbent getting about 39 percent of the “establishment” Republican vote — the percentage that U.S. Sen. Dan Coats won in the 2010 Republican primary against four other candidates. Hoosiers for a Conservative Senate, spearheaded by Tea Party activist Monica Boyer of Warsaw and Greg Fettig of Noblesville, engineered a Tea Party endorsement of Mourdock on Sept. 24, 2011, in Greenfield, and helped keep the field constricted to the treasurer, who was coming off a million vote re-election campaign in 2010.
Yang observed, “Back in January 2011, I conducted a statewide survey on behalf of Chairman Dan Parker for the Indiana Democratic Party, and I found a surprising result in one of our questions: Richard Lugar had a 28 percent re-elect to another term score, and fully 56 percent wanted to make a change and elect someone else, and this result was among Republican voters. Thus, the findings of that poll made clear that Sen. Lugar was vulnerable to a single challenger in a Republican primary. And that’s exactly what has seemed to transpire.”
Among Republicans, Mourdock has a 51-36 percent lead, and among the 44 percent of the Republican sample who called themselves “very conservative,” Mourdock leads 63-26 percent.
Should this trend continue through Tuesday’s Republican primary, Mourdock will have pulled off one of the greatest upsets in modern Indiana history. Yang suggested that the final results may not be close.