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Campaign Spotlight: Indiana Senate Race All Tied Up After Lugar Loss

Campaign Spotlight: Indiana Senate Race All Tied Up After Lugar Loss
6/23/2012 1:22 PM ET

Indiana state treasurer Richard Mourdock entered the general election season flush from a historic, game-changing Republican primary victory over Sen. Richard Lugar, a senator since 1977 and a former mayor of the state's capital city of Indianapolis. But there are warning signs that Mourdock may not survive a general election.

Political pundits have predicted that Mourdock, a Tea Party favorite, may be too conservative even for Indiana voters - among the most conservative voters in the Midwest -- meaning that the state's Senate race could follow the same pattern as the 2010 races in Nevada and Delaware, where Republican primary voters picked a candidate who was too far out of the mainstream to win in the general election.

Recent polls in Indiana show that may be the case. Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly is tied with Mourdock in a Howey/DePauw poll taken at the end of March, 35 percent to 35 percent. In May, a Global Strategy Group poll showed more voters had made up their minds - but the race was still tied, 40 percent to 40 percent.

Because of his costly primary victory over Lugar, Mourdock is starved for funds in the general election. Federal Election Commission records show he has only $255,000 in the bank, compared to $800,000 for Donnelly, who had no significant primary challenger.

Mourdock also does not have a long political resume. He lost two bids for a House seat in the 1990s, never receiving more than 45 percent of the vote, and he won his treasurer position with just 52 percent of the vote in 2006. He won a more comfortable re-election in 2010 by 62 percent.

Donnelly was elected to Congress in 2004 and re-elected three times since, the last time by a margin of 48 percent to 46 percent.

The Indiana election could play a role in deciding control of the Senate. Democrats have 23 seats up for election, while Republicans have only 10, meaning that the GOP could wrest control of the chamber if they win enough seats.

Polls showed Lugar was a lock for re-election in the general election. The same polling firm that found him threatened by Mourdock also found Lugar with a 21-point lead in a general election. Matched against Donnelly, Lugar was winning by a margin of 50 percent to 29 percent.

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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