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More Tight IN Polls

Just a week before the primary that will decide who has the right to face Governor Mitch Daniels in November, a new poll conducted for several media outlets in Indiana shows both Democrats running neck and neck with the incumbent Republican. Most polls in the state have shown a similarly close race, though at least a few have shown Daniels with wide leads.

The survey, conducted by Research 2000 for WSBT-TV, WISH-TV, WANE-TV and the South Bend Tribune, quizzed 600 likely voters between 4/21-24, for a margin of error of +/- 4%. Daniels, ex-Rep. Jill Long Thompson and architect Jim Schellinger were surveyed. The sample was 42% Republican, 35% Democratic and 23% represented independents and minor parties.

General Election Matchup
(All / Dem / GOP / Ind / Men / Wom)
Daniels 45 / 7 / 79 / 40 / 50 / 40 (-1 from last, 9/07)
Thompson 45 / 86 / 7 / 52 / 42 / 48 (+7)

Daniels 45 / 7 / 79 / 40 / 50 / 40 (no trend)
Schellinger 44 / 84 / 7 / 51 / 42 / 46

Research 2000 also conducted a poll of the Democratic primary, between 4/23-24. 400 likely Democratic primary voters were asked their thoughts on the race between Long Thompson and Schellinger, for a margin of error of +/- 4.9%.

Primary Election Matchup
(All / Men / Wom / Wht / Blk)
Thompson 48 / 41 / 54 / 48 / 51
Schellinger 42 / 52 / 34 / 43 / 35

African Americans made up only 13% of the Democratic primary sample, about what is expected in a normal Democratic primary (the state is just 8.3% African American, according to the Census Bureau). But if African Americans heavily favor Long Thompson, Schellinger has a bigger problem on hand. With the presidential contest that same day, as well as a tight Congressional primary in the heavily-African American Seventh District, in Indianapolis, African American turnout could be huge, as it has been in other states.

In the Seventh District, Rep. Andre Carson was elected in March to fill in for his late grandmother, but he faces a difficult fight for his party's nomination to a full term in November. Carson will face a number of well-financed challengers, two of whom are also black, probably further increasing turnout. Long Thompson and Schellinger are both white.

Whichever Democrat takes on Daniels in the Fall is going to have an opportunity and a huge hurdle. To keep an incumbent under the 50% mark for so long is impressive, and it speaks to Daniels' unpopularity. The poll showed just 42% of Hoosiers said they had excellent or good opinions of Daniels' work as governor, while 49% said their thoughts about the incumbent were fair or poor.

Voters also said taxes and state spending were a big issue, with 36% naming it as the number one issue determining their vote. That's generally bad for incumbents, and especially in Indiana; Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, a Democrat, was stunned to lose to a Republican neophyte opponent in 2007 after property taxes became a campaign issue.

But Daniels has another advantage in the form of his bank account. Schellinger has raised much more money than Long Thompson -- about $2.3 million to about $907,000, according to financial disclosure reports through the end of March. Both are spending a lot of money on the primary; Schellinger had $715,000 left on hand, while Long Thompson had $484,000 in the bank. Whichever Democrat contends with Daniels in the Fall, they will have to find some way to stay competitive with the $8.3 million he has raised so far, and the $5.3 million he still has in the bank.