Sunday, April 29, 2012

It's starting to feel like Lugar is going down in Indiana

By Richard K. Barry

Here's an interesting footnote to the recent story about Sarah Palin endorsing Republican, and Tea Party-backed challenger, Richard Mourdock in his bid to unseat long-time Senator Dick Lugar in the Indiana GOP primary on May 8th.

The American Action Network (AAN), a "top Republican spending group," according to Politico, has decided that it will drop efforts to assist Dick Lugar's embattled candidacy through a series of ads attacking Mourdock, particularly in the Indianapolis media market.

As Alexander Burns at Politico writes:

Republicans have told me the ads appear to have helped move the needle in Indianapolis, but the sense across the party is that the race has broken in Mourdock's direction throughout Indiana.

For a group like AAN, that would raise the question of whether it makes sense to keep going after a man who looks likely to be the Republican candidate against Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly. Lugar may have been the GOP's strongest general election candidate, but if he is beyond recovery -- or close -- then the next-best thing is a relatively undamaged Mourdock.
Rep. Joe Donnelly

Lugar's unpopularity among some Tea Party voters relates to his positions regarding immigration, voting to confirm then-U.S Supreme Court nominees Sonia Sotomayor and Elana Kagan, the DREAM ACT, the START Treaty, some gun control bills, and congressional earmarks.

The only polling I could find on various scenarios for the general election are based on a March 26-28, 2012 Howey Politics/DePauw University poll, which found that Dick Lugar ran ahead of the Democratic challenger, Joe Donnelly, by a margin of 50% to 29% (14% undecided), but Richard Mourdouck and Donnelly were in a dead heat at 35% apiece (23% undecided).

These are small samples sizes at 503 for each scenario, but it does give you a sense that, with Mourdock as the GOP nominee, this gets interesting.

Sounds like the smart money in the GOP might be abandoning Lugar. Of course, if they were that smart, they would do no such thing.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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