NASHVILLE, Ind. – Todd Young’s seismic money advantage with his campaign and super PAC allies appears to be pushing the Republican U.S. Senate race out of reach of Marlin Stutzman. In the WTHR/Howey Politics Indiana Poll, Young has forged a 43-31% lead over Stutzman.
If there is a silver lining for Rep. Stutzman, it is that 26% are undecided. In a Howey Politics Indiana interview on Friday, Stutzman said he believes he can pull out a victory by attracting those voters. However, the GOP Senate primary has taken a backseat to the presidential race. The Indianapolis Business Journal reported over the weekend that pro-Cruz super PACs have dumped more than $3 million into Indiana. Trump is also advertising extensively in the state. Those campaigns have begun eclipsing the Senate race advertising.
The potential general election matchups may reveal why Young has an advantage in the primary. Rep. Young leads Democrat Baron Hill 48-30%, compared to Stutzman’s 39-36% lead over the former congressman from Seymour.
A staple of Young’s primary campaign pitch is that he has already defeated Hill, 52-42% in the 2010 9th CD race. Young has also emphasized his military career with the Marine Corps and Navy, as well as his pro-life and pro-gun cred. Stutzman had positioned himself as a congressman who had voted against the election of Speaker John Boehner, while challenging other House leaders.
Pollster Gene Ulm of Public Opinion Strategies cited Young’s wide lead among base Republicans (20%), a tie with Stutzman among “soft” Republicans, and his lead among independents at 7%. “We have a situation where Stutzman can bring it close if turnout increases,” Ulm said.
Stutzman had hoped to take advantage of the Donald Trump induced “first time voters,” since both the Manhattan billionaire and the farmer from Howe have framed their primary battles against a “broken” system in Washington. However, among first time voters, Young leads Stutzman 30-17%. Among “occasional” voters, Young leads 37-30%. And among core Republican primary voters, Young has a 46-32% lead.
Stutzman’s hopes of capitalizing on the Trump populist appeal appears to be following the trend of other states like Alabama, where Trump easily won the primary but had no coattails down ballot.
Among “very conservative” voters that include the evangelicals which are a key demographic in Stutzman’s 3rd CD, Young has a 43-37% lead over Stutzman. This group makes up 45% of the Republican likely voters. Among “somewhat conservatives” (28% of GOP voters) Young’s lead increases to 44-24% and among moderates (23%) Young leads 43-27%.
Young has a 52-21% lead in the Indianapolis TV market (53% of the state), where he has advertised extensively in his three 9th CD campaigns in three cycles, giving him a built-in advantage. Young also leads 53-22% in the doughnut counties around Indianapolis. Among men, Young leads 45-33% and 40-28% among female voters.
Stutzman has significant leads in the Fort Wayne market where his 3rd CD is located, 72-22%, and in the South Bend market which covers the northwestern part of the 3rd CD, 60-17%, but those two combined markets account for only 23% of the state’s voters. Young has a 37-15% lead in western Indiana, though in the Northwest Indiana region, Stutzman leads 42-26%. Lake County is the third largest GOP voting bloc in the state.
In Southem Indiana, home to the 9th CD, Young has a 51-10% lead. In his three 9th CD races, Young has also advertised extensively in the Louisville media market.
In the general election matchups, Young leads Hill in every region of the state, including 50-32% in the Indianapolis media market, 63-18% in the doughnut counties, 60-28% in the Fort Wayne market, 52-24% in the South Bend market, and among men 56-29% and 42-36% with women.
In general election matches with Stutzman and Hill, the two are tied at 37% in the Indianapolis market, though Stutzman has an advantage in the doughnut 43-24%, and while female voters back Hill 43-32%.
Going into the primary, Stutzman had been endorsed by Club For Growth, but the super PAC did not seek bundled money for the congressman in its December 2015 pitch, nor has it run TV ads for him in April. Young has more than a two-to-one campaign finance report edge on Stutzman and he has benefited from large super PAC buys from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Senate Leadership Fund, an ally of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.