Poll: Donnelly Headed to Victory in Indiana Senate Race
Richard Mourdock's support has collapsed following his comments about rape at a debate last week, and the GOP nominee in the Indiana Senate race now trails by a significant margin, according to a new independent poll released on Friday.
The Howey Politics Indiana/DePauw University Battleground Poll shows Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly leading Mourdock, the state treasurer, 47 percent to 36 percent. Libertarian candidate Andrew Horning is at 6 percent, and 11 percent of likely voters remain undecided. The poll was conducted Oct. 28-30 by Democratic pollster Fred Yang and Republican pollster Christine Matthews, who surveyed 800 likely voters, for a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.5 percentage points.
In September, the two candidates ran neck-and-neck, with Donnelly ahead by just two points, 40 percent to 38 percent. But now, a significant gender gap has opened up, according to the poll. Men favor Donnelly by two points, 43 percent to 41 percent, a 6-point reversal from September, when Mourdock led by 4. But women now choose Donnelly by an 18-point margin, 50 percent to 32 percent. In September, Donnelly led by 6 points among female voters.
Donnelly has also consolidated Democrats, winning 88 percent of the vote among his own partisans, the poll shows. In comparison, Mourdock wins just 70 percent of Republicans, and Donnelly also leads among self-identified independents, 51 percent to 17 percent.
Overall, just 30 percent of likely voters have a favorable opinion of Mourdock, compared to 49 percent who view him unfavorably. In September, 26 percent had a favorable opinion of him, versus 32 percent who had an unfavorable opinion. Donnelly's image rating is healthier: 36 percent favorable, and 31 percent unfavorable.
In an October 23 debate with Donnelly and Horning, Mourdock suggested that pregnancies resulting from acts of rape were "something that God intended to happen." Since then, he has been rebuked by Democrats and some prominent Republicans, including presidential nominee Mitt Romney and the party's nominee for governor this year, Rep. Mike Pence. (Both Romney and Pence have leads in the high-single-digits in the state, the Howey/DePauw poll shows.)
Some Washington Republicans -- including the National Republican Senatorial Committee, fighting to regain control of that chamber -- have stood by Mourdock, in stark contrast to their public abandonment of Rep. Todd Akin, the party's nominee in the Missouri Senate race. Mourdock's campaign has released three internal surveys in the last seven days from their pollster, John McLaughlin, showing Mourdock running even or marginally ahead of Donnelly.
But the bipartisan team that conducted the new Howey/DePauw poll agreed that Donnelly is poised to win next Tuesday.
"Joe Donnelly will be the next U.S. Senator," said Yang, of the Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group in Washington.
"Candidates do matter; campaigns do matter," he added.
Matthews, whose Alexandria, Virginia-based firm Bellwether Research has polled for Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, put things even more bluntly.
"[I]t's all over but the crying," she wrote in a column for the Howey Politics Indiana newsletter.