Donnelly Leads Mourdock by 11 Points in Indiana

Donnelly Leads Mourdock by 11 Points in Indiana

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - November 2, 2012

In Indiana, Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly has opened up a double-digit lead over Richard Mourdock a week after the Republican Senate hopeful made controversial remarks about rape and abortion, according to a new poll.

Donnelly attracts 47 percent of the support from likely Hoosier voters while Mourdock garners 36 percent, the Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground poll, released Friday, shows. The survey also includes Libertarian candidate Andrew Horning, who received 6 percent of the support. Notably, 11 percent of voters remain undecided. The results, though, reflect a significant surge for Donnelly, as he led by just two points last month.

The poll began on Oct. 28, five days after the final Indiana Senate debate in which Mourdock explained why he does not support abortion exceptions in cases of rape, saying pregnancies that result are part of God’s intentions. When the comment dominated national and local headlines, Mourdock held a press conference the following day to clarify his remarks and apologize for the way they were perceived.

Most respondents -- 87 percent -- said they were aware of Mourdock’s comment while 13 percent said they were not. But a majority -- 54 percent -- of likely voters surveyed said the comment made no difference in their decision to support the candidate, 40 percent said it made them less likely to vote for Mourdock and 6 percent said it made them more likely. Among independents, a key constituency in this Senate race, 44 percent said they were less likely to vote for Mourdock because of the remarks, while just 3 percent said it made them more likely to support him.

Mourdock defeated longtime Republican Sen. Dick Lugar in May, attracting national attention and financial support from outside groups, and appeared in position to win the general election, given the state’s red tilt. Republicans need to gain four seats to claim control of the U.S. Senate next year, a goal now clouded by the Indiana race.

Mourdock pulls just 70 percent from Republicans, a sign that he has not attracted enough voters who supported Lugar in the primary, the pollsters say.  Donnelly leads among independents, 51 percent to 17 percent.

Republican pollster Christine Matthews of Bellwether Research and Democratic pollster Fred Yang of Garin-Hart-Yang Research surveyed 800 likely Indiana voters from Oct. 28-30. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. 

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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