|Poll||Date||Sample||Bucshon (R)||Haaften (D)||Spread|
|Final Results||--||--||57.5||37.4||Bucshon +20.1|
|2008: Ellsworth (D) 65%, Goode (R) 35%||2008: McCain (R) 51%, Obama (D) 47%|
|2006: Ellsworth (D) 61%, Hostettler (R) 39%||2004: Bush (R) 62%, Kerry (D) 38%|
|2004: Hostettler (R) 53%, Jennings (D) 47%||2000: Bush (R) 57%, Gore (D) 42%|
Indiana’s 8th Congressional District has historically been based in Evansville, at the far southeastern tip of the district. In 2002 Democrats added Terre Haute to the district and removed Bloomington, home of Indiana University. This is historically Democratic territory, although it voted heavily for George W. Bush in 2004, and narrowly for John McCain in 2008.
In 2006 it was the home of one of the rougher thrashings of any incumbent in recent history. Six-term Republican John Hostettler had always been a problem for Republicans, staking out iconoclastic positions, refusing to fundraise, and yet always managing to win by the skin of his teeth. His good luck ran out in 2006 when Vanderburgh County (Evansville) Sheriff Brad Ellsworth obliterated Hostettler with 61 percent of the vote. Ellsworth was thought to have an outstanding shot at re-election, but instead was selected to run statewide for the seat opened by retiring Senator Evan Bayh.
The result is an open seat that Democrats have to defend in some uncomfortable territory, in an unwelcoming environment. Democrats got the candidate they wanted to replace Ellsworth in former prosecutor Trent Van Haaften, while Republican cardiologist Larry Bucshon only narrowly survived his primary against Tea Party activist Kristi Risk. Bucshon and Van Haaften are about evenly matched on paper (their fundraising totals are within $20,000 of each other), so this probably makes a good bellwether race for the fall.