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Thursday, April 27, 2017
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    NASHVILLE, Ind. – With Colorado, Delaware and Nevada nagging reminders of how a Tea Party candidate can botch a Senate race - and a potential majority - Indiana Republicans remain in danger of losing a Senate seat, as nominee Richard Mourdock trails Democrat Joe Donnelly 40 to 38% in the latest Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground Poll. Libertarian nominee Andrew Horning is pulling 7%, perhaps bleeding away crucial support for the candidate who upset U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar in the May primary.
    More troubling for Mourdock are his bad favorable/unfavorables, which stand at 26/32%, compared to 24/21% for Donnelly, and 39/18% for Republican gubernatorial nominee Mike Pence. Sen. Lugar’s stood at 49/27% in a pool that includes the entire electorate. In the first general election survey Howey/DePauw conducted in March, Mourdock’s fav/unfavs stood at 15/18%. He is also losing support in the Republican-rich doughnut counties around Indianapolis. His fav/unfavs in the doughnut counties are a troubling 18/43%. He leads Donnelly in the doughnut by only 36-32%.
    In the other key races, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney leads President Barack Obama 52-40%, with Indiana poised to rejoin the red state Electoral College column after Obama carried the 11 votes in his historic 2008 win.
  • WASHINGTON - Republicans Mitt Romney and Mike Pence lead their opponents by 12 and 13 points in our September Howey-DePauw statewide poll. However, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock trails his Democratic opponent by two points, which is within the 3.5% margin of error. What pundits and prognosticators say is: How could Richard Mourdock possibly lose when Indiana will be so strongly Republican in 2012?
    It is possible and here’s why:
    Actually, ticket-splitting is more the norm than the exception for Hoosiers. While it is unusual for Indiana to vote for a Democrat for president (2008 was the first time since 1964), it is not all that unusual in other state contests.  In 2004, for example, George W. Bush defeated John Kerry by more than 20 points, Democrat Evan Bayh won by a similar margin, and Mitch Daniels was elected governor.  In 2000, George Bush beat Al Gore by double digits, Richard Lugar swamped his opponent, and Democrat Frank O’Bannon was elected governor by the same margin Bush beat Gore.
  • WASHINGTON - The findings of our recent Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground Poll yield two fundamental conclusions about the U.S. Senate election, clearly the marquee contest in Indiana this year.
    First, with GOPers Romney and Pence holding solid double digit leads yet Democrat Donnelly ahead narrowly, Hoosiers are once again showing the ability to “split” their tickets along the lines of 2008 (narrowly voting for Barack Obama, giving Mitch Daniels a landslide victory, and maintaining a Democratic majority in the Statehouse).  
    Second, without discounting Joe Donnelly’s appeal as a statewide candidate, some credit also must go to the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party for Richard Mourdock’s possible defeat: We may be seeing a repeat of 2010, when Democrats were able to win U.S. Senate seats in Colorado, Nevada, and Delaware (despite the worst political environment for congressional Democrats since 1938) because Republicans nominated Tea Party candidates in those states.

    INDIANAPOLIS - 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% 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%.

    Based on this survey data, Howey Politics Indiana is moving the Senate race into a "Likely Mourdock" category. It had been "Leans Lugar" until the March 26-28 Howey/DePauw survey had Lugar leading Mourdock 42-35%, 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%. The sample was made up of 76% Republicans, 14% independent, 8% independent/lean Republican, 1% lean Democrat and 1% independent/lean Democrat. Survey top lines will be posted under the "Howey/DePauw Poll" tab at

    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% 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 reelection campaign in 2010.

    Click on headline to read entire post.
    WASHINGTON -  While primary elections are notoriously difficult to predict (and to poll!), our survey points to one conclusion: Richard Lugar is likely to be defeated next Tuesday.  While this outcome rightly will be characterized as an upset, I’d argue that, even before the third-party ads, the “outside” polls, and even the Lugar/Mourdock campaigns themselves, the outcome was settled by two simple actions that happened months ago. First, Richard Lugar decided to seek reelection, and second, Richard Mourdock emerged as his ONLY challenger.
    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% reelect to another term score, and fully 56% 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 Senator Lugar was vulnerable to a single challenger in a Republican primary.  And that’s exactly what has seemed to transpire.
    Click the headline to read the entire post.
    WASHINGTON - Republican primary voters in Indiana say they want a U.S. 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,” (60%) versus a U.S. Senator “to focus first on standing up for conservative principles, even if that means not working with elected officials across the aisle to solve problems” (30%).
    Yet, on the cusp of the May 8th election, they appear poised to elect someone who believes “We don’t need bipartisanship as much as we need the application of principle.” (Richard Mourdock, Evansville Courier & Press, April, 2012).   Challenger Richard Mourdock leads incumbent Senator Richard Lugar by a 43%-35% margin which expands to 48% to 38% when initial undecideds leaning toward a candidate are included.
    So, what to make of this apparent contradiction?  
    click on the headline to read the entire post.
    INDIANAPOLIS - U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar is in the most precarious position of his political career since autumn 1974 when he unsuccessfully challenged Democratic incumbent Birch Bayh. A Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground Poll released today reveals Lugar with a 42-35% lead over Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock, with the two evenly splitting the vote among the 72% of primary voters identifying with the GOP. It has prompted HPI to move this race into “tossup” from “Leans Lugar.”
    The poll by Republican pollster Christine Matthews of Bellwether Research and Democrat pollster Fred Yang of Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, was conducted March 26-28 of 503 likely Republican primary voters and March 26 -27 of 503 likely Indiana general election voters. It has a +/-4.5% margin of error.
    The polling came after Lugar had experienced a terrible week. He took broadside headlines related to the residency issue in the week before the polling, with the Democratic Marion County Election Board denying the voting address he had used since joining the Senate in the late 70’s. The three days of polling coincided with the beginning of a statewide Club for Growth TV assault ad branding Lugar as a big tax and spender who loves earmarks.
    Lugar, then Indianapolis mayor, lost the 1974 race to Bayh as he was buffeted by the fallout from the Watergate scandal, President Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon, and Ford’s troubled “Whip Inflation Now” program. Lugar’s polling showed him to be in a rollercoaster race.
    Bellwether Research
    WASHINGTON – Our March 26-28 poll shows what everyone knows:  Richard Lugar is in a tough battle to win the May 8 Republican primary.  He leads Tea Party challenger Richard Mourdock by 7 points, but at 42%, his ballot support is far enough below the 50% mark to be of significant concern.  The make-or-break proposition for Senator Lugar is going to be the composition of the primary electorate.  
    The fact that Indiana has an open primary makes this narrative different from Delaware, where in 2010 U.S. Sen. Mike Castle lost to Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell in a closed Republican primary, or in Utah, where U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett’s fate was decided by fewer than 4,000 GOP convention delegates.
    The Republican Senate candidates are tied among self-identified Republicans and among primary faithful – those who voted in both the May 2008 and 2010 Republican primaries.  However, among the 28% of the sample who identified as independent or as leaning Republican, Richard Lugar has a 26 point advantage (52%-26%).
    Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group
    WASHINGTON - While the historic nature (and excitement) of the 2008 elections here in Indiana seems difficult to duplicate, there are several elections in 2012 whose outcomes could be consequential for Hoosiers.  In particular, 2012 could witness the end of Richard Lugar’s long political career, which started in 1967.  I am a fish out of water when it comes to analyzing Republican primaries (I greatly defer to my colleague Chris Matthews in the practice of this, shall we say, challenging art!).  But my quick read of the GOP primary poll suggests that Richard Lugar likely will lose the May 8 primary election.
    The casual observer will ask (quite logically) how I could draw that conclusion when Senator Lugar is leading Dick Mourdock in the initial trial heat and has superior name recognition (nearly four-fifths of GOP primary voters have an opinion of Lugar, compared with only 42% who have impressions of Mourdock).  Again, I will be interested in Chris’ analysis of the GOP primary dynamics, but here are some numbers “beneath” the surface that suggest Lugar is poised to lose.
    ν  First, Lugar’s 42% (37% without leaners) is below the 50% threshold that incumbents need to surpass. So the argument goes, if after nearly 45 years in office nearly three-fifths of GOP primary voters won’t commit to Lugar now, what are the chances he wins them over in the next five weeks?
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  • Sens. Donnelly, Young comment on North Korea threat briefing
    “Addressing the threat North Korea’s weapons and ballistic missiles pose to the United States and our allies need to be a top national security priority of the president and Congress.” - U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly after a Wednesday White House briefing for all 100 U.S. senators on the threat of North Korea’s nuclear program . U.S. Sen. Todd Young observed, “Today’s briefing at the White House underscored that North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs represent an urgent and unacceptable threat to the United States and our allies. The administration must keep all options on the table. Furthermore, I support the Trump administration’s strategy of coordinating closely with our allies, strengthening our military capabilities in the region, and making clear to Beijing that it is in China’s interests to utilize all of their available diplomatic and economic leverage to change North Korea’s behavior.” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Sec. Jim Mattis took part in the briefing that was attended briefly by President Trump.
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  • President Trump a polling bottom feeder
    President Trump is flagging in the polls, with the latest NBC/WSJ Poll putting his job approval at 40% with 56% disapproving. NBC notes that Trump is “still holding on to Republicans and his most committed supporters. In the poll, 82% of Republican respondents, 90% of self-described Trump voters, and 56% of white working-class Americans” but he stands at only 30% with independents and 34% of college educated whites. And here’s how Trump stacks up with modern presidents at this stage of their presidencies: Eisenhower: 73% (April 1953); Kennedy: 78% (April 1961); Nixon: 61% (April 1969); Carter: 63% (April 1977); Reagan: 67% (April 1981); Bush 41: 58% (April 1989); Clinton: 52% (April 1993); Bush 43: 57% (April 2001); Obama: 61% (April 2009); Trump: 40% (April 2017). Why the low standing? Just 27% give him high marks for being knowledgeable and experienced and only 21% give him high marks for having the right temperament. And then there’s that problem with the truth: Just 25% give him high marks for being honest and trustworthy, down from 34%. On top of all this, he faces a yuuuuge week with the debt ceiling showdown, a new tax plan his Treasury Department doesn’t seem to know about, a second stab at TrumpCare, and that arbitrary "first 100-days" measuring post. - Brian A. Howey, Publisher
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