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Blog Home Page --> Governor -- Indiana

IN: Daniels +19

Setting up a classic battle of the pollsters, a GOP-leaning polling firm has Governor Mitch Daniels ahead by a huge margin. The Bellweather Research & Consulting poll conducted for the Indiana Manufacturers Association surveyed 500 registered voters between 10/2-6 for a margin of error of +/- 4.2%. Daniels, ex-Rep. Jill Long Thompson and Libertarian Andy Horning were tested.

General Election Matchup
Daniels........49
Thompson.......30
Horning.........3

The poll is dramatically different from a Selzer & Co. poll conducted for the Indianapolis Star and WTHR-TV that showed Daniels ahead by just four points. Who's right? Wait for Election Day to find out.

The Indiana Manufacturers Association has endorsed Daniels.

IN: Daniels (R) +4

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels once looked like a missed opportunity for Democrats. The first-term Republican whose proposals on privatizing toll roads sent his approval rating plummeting nonetheless was riding high in polls over his Democratic challenger, ex-Rep. Jill Long Thompson. But a new poll suggests it could be Barack Obama who spells trouble for the Hoosier State GOP.

The poll, conducted by Selzer & Co. for the Indianapolis Star and WTHR-TV, tested 600 likely voters between 9/14-16 for a margin of error of +/- 4%. Daniels and Long Thompson were tested.

General Election Matchup
Daniels...........46
Thompson......42

Obama.........47
McCain........44

Pollster Ann Selzer told the Star that the tight governor's race can be directly attributed to the fact that Barack Obama is staying competitive in what is ordinarily a deep red state.

"I would expect there to be some coattails, and the closeness of the race for governor we're showing probably represents some of that," Selzer told the Star.

The Selzer poll shows Daniels with a strong 56% job approval rating, in line with most other surveys that demonstrate the Republican is much better known than his Democratic opponent. Polls earlier this year have mostly showed Daniels with a big lead. The last public poll, conducted in late June, showed Daniels leading by fourteen points.

Big Daniels Lead

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, once one of Democrats' top targets, is looking more secure in his bid for re-election, as polls continue to show ex-Rep. Jill Long Thompson trailing by a wide margin. A new survey shows not much has changed since Long Thompson won the primary, while Daniels' political position in the state has improved.

The poll, conducted 6/22-29 by Bellweather Research & Consulting, surveyed 1,000 likely voters for a margin of error of +/- 3%. Daniels and Long Thompson were tested.

General Election Matchup
Daniels..............50 (+4 from last, 12/07)
Thompson.........36 (+3)

Daniels did not have the easiest first term, beset by controversies over privatizing the state's toll roads and the eternal conflicts between parts of the state residing in different time zones. But the survey shows Daniels' approval rating at a healthy 57%, while just 34% disapprove of the job he's doing as governor. His personal favorable rating is 55%, compared with just 33% who view him unfavorably.

Long Thompson retains the double problem of a lack of money and a lack of name recognition. Just 31% have a favorable impression of the Democrat, who lost her seat in Congress fourteen years ago, while 17% view her unfavorably. That means more than half the electorate has no opinion of Long Thompson, an issue she will have to overcome by advertising.

Democrats face a tremendously steep uphill climb in the Hoosier State, especially given the millions Daniels has already raised. Through the end of March, Daniels had already stockpiled $5.2 million for his campaign, while Long Thompson likely spent most of her money in the primary and had to start over. New finance reports will come out next week.

Jill Poll: Not That Bad

Determined to show she's not completely down for the count, ex-Rep. Jill Long Thompson released a poll yesterday showing her campaign trailing Governor Mitch Daniels by a smaller margin than a public poll released earlier this week. Still, the Democratic nominee remains an underdog in the fight for one of the few competitive governor's races this year.

The survey, taken for Long Thompson's campaign by Benenson Strategy Group, polled 765 likely voters for a margin of error of +/- 4%, between 5/20-22. Long Thompson and Daniels were tested.

General Election Matchup
(All / Ind / Sou / Nor)
Daniels..........46 / 54 / 48 / 36
Thompson.....39 / 32 / 41 / 48

(Note: "Ind" means the Indianapolis region. "Sou" and "Nor" are the southern and northern parts of the state.)

The poll shows just 43% of Hoosiers set to vote to re-elect Daniels, while 36% say they won't vote for the governor. Also good news for Long Thompson, Daniels' favorable ratings are upside down. Just 46% say his job performance is excellent or good, while 52% say he's doing only fairly or poorly.

But Long Thompson, an underfunded challenger facing an incumbent in a state highly likely to vote heavily for John McCain, remains well behind Daniels. Though the incumbent has been hammered a few times for mismanaging the state's two key issues -- time zones and toll roads -- Republicans are confident the race will not be competitive by November.

Daniels Up Post-Primary

After winning the Democratic primary last month, former Rep. Jill Long Thompson finds herself trailing her November opponent, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels by a wide margin, a new poll shows. Daniels, who in early polls had run even with both Long Thompson and her ousted rival, architect Jim Schellinger, has outraised the former member of Congress by a wide margin so far this year.

The poll, conducted by Indiana Legislative Insight, surveyed 601 registered voters between 5/27-6/1, for a margin of error of +/- 4%. Long Thompson and Daniels were tested.

General Election Matchup
Daniels........51
Thompson...35

Daniels has a big head start in the name recognition race. 60% of voters view him favorably, compared with 33% who see him in an unfavorable light. Long Thompson is viewed favorably by 30% of respondents, while 17% view her unfavorably.

Democrats had seen Indiana as one of their best opportunities to pick up a governor's mansion this year. But if more polls come out showing Long Thompson at such a disadvantage, national money could begin to dry up, leaving the Democrat at an even wider disparity.

Long Thompson Eeks Out Win

Ex-Rep. Jill Long Thompson appears to have won an incredibly narrow victory over architect Jim Schellinger for the Democratic nomination to take on Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels in November. With fifteen precincts left to count, Long Thompson has a 50.2%-49.8% lead over Schellinger, a margin of about 5,000 votes.

Schellinger left his campaign's after-party around midnight, the Indianapolis Star reports, and he will wait until this morning to review results. He had trailed throughout the evening before overtaking Long Thompson late last night, but, as in the presidential contest, late returns from Lake County provided the winning margin, going for Long Thompson with 54% of the vote. Long Thompson spent her final hours on the primary campaign trail in Lake County, the Star reported.

With her victory comes another steep climb before November. The one-time member of Congress, who lost her seat in the 1994 Republican Revolution, will face Daniels; polls have shown either a close race or a Daniels blowout. But Long Thompson spent much of her money winning the primary, while Daniels was able to stockpile his own. Finance reports through the end of March showed Daniels had just under $5.3 million in the bank, while Long Thompson had just $484,000 in reserve a full month before her primary.

Though he remains ahead in most polls, Daniels is not the most popular incumbent. And some outside groups have shown a willingness to get involved on Long Thompson's behalf; she was endorsed by EMILY's List, the prominent Democratic fundraising organization, and received a $100,000 contribution from the Service Employees International Union just two days before the primary. Still, she will likely need all the help she can get to overcome Daniels.

Down-Ballot Drama

While Hoosier voters are probably praying the descended media storm leaves them alone after today's voting, they will have to pick a gubernatorial nominee as well as vote for a presidential candidate. And a final survey taken before the polls opened shows the race between two front-running Democrats is wide open.

The poll, conducted by Suffolk University, surveyed 600 likely Democratic primary voters, for a margin of error of +/- 4%, between 5/3-4. Architect Jim Schellinger and former Rep. Jill Long Thompson were surveyed.

Primary Election Matchup
(All / Men / Wom)
Thompson 35 / 34 / 36
Schellinger 27 / 26 / 28

Turnout is likely to be a huge factor in deciding the gubernatorial race. The two Democratic candidates are essentially tied among supporters of Barack Obama -- 34% of Obama backers said they would vote for Long-Thompson while 33% said they would choose Schellinger. But among backers of Hillary Clinton, Long Thompson runs away with it, leading by a big 39%-23% gap. If Clinton wins big in Indiana today, she might just bring Long-Thompson with her.

Still, the large number of undecided voters is a problem for both candidates. Pols have consistently shown Long-Thompson ahead, but with so many who haven't made up their mind -- as well as a big turnout of new voters expected today -- the race will remain in flux right up to the time the polls close.

As results come in tonight, take advantage of our handy clip-and-save of recent polls, updated with the Suffolk numbers. The results, from oldest to newest (Selzer & Co.: 4/20-23; Research 2000: 4/21-24; Howey-Gauge: 4/23-24; Suffolk: 5/3-4):

Sel R2K H-G Suf
Thompson 26 48 45 35
Schellinger 28 42 27 27
Margin -2 +6 +18 +8

IN: Thompson Up Big

Consider this a preview of what September and October are going to look like: As Hoosier voters prepare to head to the polls on Tuesday, the third survey in three days is out with yet another very different picture of the state's gubernatorial primary. Just wait until Senate and House races get into the act with their own cascade of numbers down the road.

The survey, taken 4/23-24 for Howey Politics Indiana by Gauge Market Research, quizzed 600 likely Democratic primary voters and 600 likely general election voters on the governor's race, for a margin of error of +/- 4% each. Democrats Jill Long Thompson and Jim Schellinger and Republican incumbent Mitch Daniels were surveyed.

Primary Election Matchup
Thompson 45
Schellinger 27

General Election Matchups
Daniels 55 (-1 from last, 2/08)
Thompson 36 (+3)

Daniels 56 (+2)
Schellinger 33 (+2)

The Howey-Gauge poll has, in two consecutive surveys, shown Daniels running much better against either Democrat than other polls taken in Indiana. But the wide gap in the primary, analyst Brian Howey writes, is attributable to Schellinger's failure to boost his statewide name recognition. Just 50% of voters in the Democratic primary knew of Schellinger, and just 23% knew enough to have an opinion of him. Long Thompson, on the other hand, is known by 59% of voters, which is not much better.

Compare that to the 99% of voters who knew of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in the same survey and it becomes evident why Daniels, the well-funded though embattled incumbent, has a big lead in general election matchups.

While it may be a little like comparing apples and oranges, the plethora of recent surveys does give us an early opportunity to judge pollsters side by side. Keep in mind these polls out recently, from Research 2000, Selzer & Co. and Howey-Gauge, as Long Thompson and Schellinger battle toward Tuesday. We've included the polls in the chronological order of their survey dates, from earliest to latest (Selzer & Co.: 4/20-23; Research 2000: 4/21-24; Howey-Gauge: 4/23-24):

Sel R2K H-G
Thompson 26 48 45
Schellinger 28 42 27

Something to keep an eye on as the votes come in on Tuesday.

Undecided Romps In IN

Perhaps Indiana voters are just too concerned with their votes in the presidential contest to make up their minds about a puny governor's race. A new poll conducted for the Indianapolis Star shows a huge plurality of Democratic primary voters remain undecided just a week before two Democrats fight for the right to take on incumbent Governor Mitch Daniels.

The survey, conducted by Des Moines-based Selzer & Company between 4/20-23, surveyed 500 likely Democratic primary voters for a margin of error of +/- 4.2% and 384 likely general election voters for a margin of error of +/- 5%. Daniels and Democrats Jim Schellinger, an architect and businessman, and Jill Long Thompson, a former member of Congress, were surveyed.

Primary Election Matchup
(All / Ind)
Schellinger 28 / 28
Thompson 26 / 34

General Election Matchups
Thompson 44 (nc from last, 11/07)
Daniels 43 (nc)

Daniels 45 (+5)
Schellinger 41 (-3)

That Long Thompson leads among independents is an important boost for her campaign in a primary that is likely to see unprecedented involvement from those non-aligned voters. But with 46% of the state's voters remaining undecided, the race could hinge on name recognition and late breaks. Schellinger has been on television more than Long Thompson, but Long Thompson is a known political name, perhaps giving her the leg up on attracting those undecided voters.

Either Democrat would be in strong position to challenge Daniels in an overwhelmingly red state; despite his healthy fundraising clip and his political talent, Daniels' weak general election poll numbers have been a recurring theme this year.

The incumbent is seeing some improvement, though. 47% of voters now approve of Daniels' job performance, up seven points since November, while his disapproval rating has dropped from 50% then to 40% now. While lower than a 50% approval rating is dangerous, it's still nowhere nearly as bad as the upside down rating Daniels owned in November.

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.

WH Race Messes With Primaries

As Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton continue to battle over delegates, candidates running for down-ballot offices are facing the prospects of competing for voter attention with two mega-stars. In what are expected to be close primaries in Indiana and Oregon, candidates looking to advertise on television are going up against what could be million-dollar budgets for limited, and crucial, points.

In Indiana, former Rep. Jill Long Thompson and architect Jim Schellinger will share the ballot with Clinton and Obama in their race for the gubernatorial nomination on May 6. A recent poll have shown a close race between the two Democrats, but while both candidates are on television now, they could find themselves drowned out in a state where the two presidential candidates are each focusing major resources.

In Oregon, attorney and activist Steve Novick has been on television with humorous, quirky ads for several months (including one in which he opens a beer bottle with a hook), while House Speaker Jeff Merkley, the favorite of establishment Democrats, is just starting to go on television, as Swing State Project reports. Merkley and Novick will face off for the right to challenge incumbent Republican Senator Gordon Smith in Oregon's all-mail election, along with the presidential candidates, that ends May 20.

Not only do the presidential primaries increase the costs for down-ballot candidates running in other primaries, a contest with so much excitement introduces an additional element of uncertainty. Turnout around the country has been huge, and the four candidates, whose campaign teams are likely experienced in targeting normally small primary electorates, now have much bigger universes to target.

Of course, added turnout is great for state Democratic parties, which can use the new registrants and newly active voters to raise money, recruit volunteers and build organizations that will eventually benefit the winners of those primaries. "I actually think the primary coming to Indiana is helpful to my campaign for a lot of reasons because people are paying attention now more to the presidential and therefore to gubernatorial," Long Thompson told the NWI Times.

For Merkley and Long Thompson, who started advertising after their respective competitors, the added universe that is paying the most attention to the presidential contest could be hard to reach. But that's the case for Novick and Schellinger as well, neither of whom is particularly well-known in their states.

IN All Tied Up

With only a few governor's races that are hotly contested this year, Democrats in Indiana are battling over which candidate would be the best nominee to put Hoosier State Governor Mitch Daniels at risk in his bid for a second term. A new poll out late last week shows both major candidates virtually tied, just a month before the state's May 6 primary.

The poll, conducted by Maryland-based Research 2000 on behalf of the South Bend Tribune and television stations WSBT, WISH and WANE, surveyed 400 likely Democratic primary voters for a margin of error of +/- 4.9%, between 3/31 and 4/2. Architect and businessman Jim Schellinger and former Rep. Jill Long Thompson were tested.

Primary Election Matchup
(All / Men / Wom)
Thompson 42 / 35 / 48
Schellinger 41 / 51 / 33

The two candidates have fought recently over dual charges of spotty ethics records. Schellinger's camp hit Thompson for her involvement in the House banking scandal in the early 1990's, when, as a member of Congress, Thompson bounced more than a dozen checks. The Thompson team fired back by pointing out that she was cleared of wrongdoing and accused Schellinger of issuing misleading information that relied on old and discredited news accounts.

Both candidates are up with positive television ads across the state, with Thompson's debut coming in a biographical spot out just last week. Schellinger, though, appears to be the favorite of the Indiana Democratic institution, earning backing from the mayor of South Bend, the most recent Democratic Governor, Joe Kernan, and other top party leaders.

Several surveys have shown Thompson and Schellinger running well against incumbent Republican Daniels, though the most recent poll out of the state had Daniels leading both potential rivals by 23 points each. Along with Missouri, national Democrats remain most excited about Indiana as a potential target for takeover, while both parties agree that Washington State is likely the only Democratic-held seat in danger.

Daniels Scores Big Lead

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has not been a fan of polls this year, given that several have shown him trailing or only barely squeaking by opponents Jill Long Thompson, a former congresswoman, and architect Jim Schellinger. But a new survey may have Daniels rethinking his love -- or lack thereof -- of polls.

The poll, conducted 2/16-17 by Gauge Market Research for Howey Politics Indiana, surveyed 500 likely voters for a margin of error of +/- 4.5%. Daniels, Thompson and Schellinger were all surveyed. The sample was 52% Republican, 40% Democratic and 8% independent.

General Election Matchups with leaners
(All / Dem / GOP / Ind / Men / Wom)
Daniels 56 / 26 / 80 / 47 / 56 / 55
Thompson 33 / 62 / 10 / 28 / 33 / 32

Daniels 54 / 26 / 80 / 44 / 55 / 53
Schellinger 31 / 59 / 11 / 24 / 33 / 28

There is some good news for Democrats in the survey, though. Just 41% of respondents said they would want to see Daniels re-elected, while 43% said they preferred someone new. 40% of Hoosiers said the state is heading off on the wrong track, while only 37% say it's going in the right direction. Daniels' favorable rating is quite high, though, at 52%, versus just 23% who see him unfavorably.

For Democrats, the problem is one of name recognition. While Daniels is known by 96% of the state, just 21% say they know Schellinger, and a tiny 8% say they have an opinion about him. Long Thompson is known by only 42% of the state's residents, and only 22% know her well enough to form an opinion.

Daniels' turnaround may be attributable to his property tax plan, which 61% of respondents favor and only 25% oppose. Property taxes were a key reason former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson lost his bid for re-election last year in one of the most shocking upsets of 2007.

If Schellinger or Long Thompson can spend the money to define themselves early, Democrats could make life uncomfortable for Daniels. But at the moment, after several polls made the race too close to call, Daniels looks like he's clearly in the driver's seat. On the other hand, if he gets stuck in a long trial -- Daniels is spending today reporting for jury duty in Marion County, the AP reports -- maybe Democrats have a shot.

Daniels Has The Dough

In what we still look forward to as one of the marquee governor's races of the 2008 cycle, an unpopular incumbent is going to have a huge financial advantage over his Democratic opponents. New fundraising numbers show Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels far outstripping both of his potential rivals in the race to claim cash.

Daniels, the AP reports, finished 2007 with a massive $6.7 million cash on hand. He raised $5.8 million last year. In his 2004 race, Daniels beat acting Governor Joe Kernan using a warchest of $18 million.

Architect Jim Schellinger, who national Democrats privately hope will represent their party in November, reported raising $2.4 million since he entered the race last March. He retained $1.8 million in the bank. Former Rep. Jill Long Thompson, who has the backing of EMILY's List and much higher name recognition than Schellinger, raised $635,000 since getting into the race in July and maintained cash reserves of $435,000.

Recent polls have shown divergent results in the race. A poll conducted in December for the Republican Governor's Association showed Daniels with healthy 13- and 15-point leads over Long Thompson and Schellinger, respectively. But a survey conducted for the Indianapolis Star by the venerable Ann Selzer, in November, showed Schellinger leading by four and Long Thompson up one on the Republican incumbent.

Regardless of who's ahead in horse race polls eleven months out, it is trouble for an incumbent to see his poll numbers fall below 50%. Selzer's poll showed that a majority of voters, by a 50%-40% margin, disapproved of Daniels' job performance, and 57% said the state was off on the wrong track.

The RGA is keeping a close eye on the race, along with another embattled incumbent in the middle of the country. "Our top focuses this year is making sure our incumbents are re-elected, and that makes Missouri and Indiana our top priorities," RGA communications director Chris Schrimpf told Politics Nation. Missouri Governor Matt Blunt faces a tough battle with Attorney General Jay Nixon in November. If Blunt comes in with fundraising numbers even approaching Daniels', the RGA will be very pleased indeed.

GOP Poll Has Daniels Up

While previous polls have shown Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels struggling against little-known Democratic opponents, a new survey sponsored by the Republican Governors Association suggests the embattled incumbent may get beyond his troubles with toll roads and time zones in time for election day.

The survey, conducted 12/10-15 by Bellwether Research & Consulting for the RGA, polled 1009 registered Indiana voters for a margin of error of +/- 3%. Daniels, ex-Rep. Jill Long Thompson and architect Jim Schellinger, both Democrats, were surveyed. The poll's sample was made up of 36% Republicans, 24% Democrats and 40% independents or voters affiliated with other parties.

General Election Matchup
(With leaners)
Daniels 46
Thompson 33

Daniels 46
Schellinger 31

Daniels enjoys a 51% job approval rating, while just 41% disapprove. The results look pretty good for the incumbent, for while he is under the magic 50% mark, he remains well ahead of his Democratic opponents.

The poll, though, is a marked contrast from an early November survey conducted by independent firm Selzer & Co., based in Iowa, which showed Schellinger and Thompson each leading Daniels with 44% of the vote as he hovered in the low 40s.

The big difference: Bellwether's sample had a twelve-point Republican edge, while the Selzer poll showed a 2-point Democratic edge. President Bush won the state with 60% and 57% in 2004 and 2000, though in 2006 Republicans won just 50.6% of the House votes cast in the state to Democrats' 49.4%. Daniels won with 53% of the vote in 2004, compared with 45% for acting Governor Joe Kernan.

More Races To Watch

Backers of a proposed same-sex marriage ban collected more than 600,000 signatures to win a spot on the Florida ballot in 2008, the Orlando Sentinel reported. The proposed amendment would be on the same ballot as the race for president, and though some have suggested that the bans did not affect the outcome of the 2004 presidential race -- arguing that President Bush would have won anyway -- there is a compelling reason Republicans can be happy that evangelical turnout could be boosted in the critical swing state.

In Indiana, former First Lady Judy O'Bannon endorsed architect and businessman Jim Schellinger for governor yesterday, the latest in a string of establishment backing for the candidate who trails in the Democratic primary, the Indianapolis Star reports.

Schellinger has a way to go to overcome a name recognition edge enjoyed by ex-Rep. Jill Long Thompson -- Long Thompson had a 4-1 edge in a September poll -- but Democrats think Schellinger gives them the best chance to knock off incumbent Republican Mitch Daniels.

The state has had a large Republican tilt in recent presidential elections, but Daniels has faced a rocky first term, while Democrats picked up three Congressional seats in 2006 and Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh remains one of the most popular politicians in Indiana.

O'Bannon is the widow of former Gov. Frank O'Bannon, who died in office in 2003. She had endorsed Senate Minority Leader Richard Young early in the race, before he ended his bid.

Finally, Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal recently told the Associated Press that he was "working hard" to find a reason to go to the Democratic National Convention in Denver next year. Freudenthal voiced disappointment that no presidential candidate has addressed Western issues. Even though he has a vote as a super delegate, Freudenthal skipped the 2004 convention in Boston, and the AP reported yesterday that he hasn't been since 1984, in San Francisco.

The convention will be held just 100 miles from Freudenthal's Cheyenne, Wyoming governor's mansion. And it seems that a larger force has compelled the governor to change his mind: "I heard from a couple of my daughters, as well as my wife, that I was planning to go to the convention," Freudenthal said. "I just wasn't aware of that at the time."

Meanwhile, precinct caucuses have begun in Freudenthal's home state, which we suppose are the first actual preference statements by voters in the 2008 presidential race. Republican precinct caucuses will be held between now and December 20, in advance of the state's January 5 county conventions. The county conventions will allocate about a quarter of the state's national convention delegates, the AP reports.

Not many Republican candidates have stumped in the state, though Mitt Romney has made a few appearances.

Big Trouble For Daniels

He's not facing the best candidate Indiana Democrats could have put up, but incumbent Hoosier Governor Mitch Daniels is in some serious trouble, according to a new poll conducted for the Indianapolis Star. Daniels, who served as President Bush's head of the Office of Management and Budget before winning election in 2004, finds himself trailing two possible Democratic candidates.

The poll, conducted 11/13-16 by Iowa-based Selzer & Co., surveyed 600 registered voters and 449 likely voters. The margin of error, among likely voters, is +/- 4.6%, and 4% among registered voters. Tested alongside Daniels were architect Jim Schellinger and former Rep. Jill Long Thompson.

General Election Matchups (LVs only)
Schellinger 44
Daniels 40

Thompson 44
Daniels 43

Daniels has seen a dramatic reversal in his approval rating during his tenure. Just 40% approve of his job performance while 50% disapprove. That's a big change from March 2005, when 55% approved of Daniels compared with just 30% who disapproved. Only 35% think Indiana is headed in the right direction, while 57% say it's off on the wrong track.

Indiana's political climate has long been dominated by intensely local issues. State politicians get in trouble for trying to change the state's multiple timezones, and Daniels has taken flak for leasing Indiana's toll roads to a foreign country. 48% of respondents said the lease has been mostly a bad deal for the state, while just 31% call it a good deal.

Daniels has raised plenty of money, and his bid will certainly be aided by the Democratic primary still to come. But as if finding himself under 50% wasn't bad enough, actually trailing both Democrats has to be a sobering wake-up call for the first term governor.

Daniels In Trouble?

A new poll out from Research 2000, conducted for WISH-TV, shows Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) in some trouble as he prepares for his re-election campaign. However, Daniels is in a better position than he might otherwise be, and Democrats aren't exactly getting the news they want.

The poll was conducted 9/10-14 and surveyed 800 likely voters, for a 3.5% margin of error. Daniels was surveyed alongside ex-Rep. Jill Long Thompson (D).

General Election (All/Dem/GOP/Ind)
Daniels 46%/ 9%/ 77%/ 42%
Long Thompson 38 / 74 / 7 / 40

Keeping an incumbent governor under 50% is hugely important. Long Thompson also faces a competitive primary, so she has room to grow among Democrats, while 18% of independents remain undecided.

The problem for Democrats: Long Thompson isn't seen as the party's strongest candidate. The former Congresswoman faces Jim Schellinger, a wealthy business owner, and State Senate Minority Leader Richard Young. Democrats in Washington have sent strong signals that Schellinger is their candidate of choice, and he already has at least eight staffers, including former Democratic Governors Association staffers and a former top aide to now-Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO).

At the end of the second quarter, Schellinger held a wide fundraising lead, with more than $1.1 million cash on hand, compared with just $70,000 for Young. Long Thompson did not have to file because she hadn't announced in time. Still, because of her name recognition, Long Thompson holds a big lead in early polling:

Primary Election (All/Men/Wom)
Long Thompson 41%/ 38%/ 44%
Young 16 / 19 / 13
Schellinger 10 / 12 / 8
Undecided 33 / 31 / 35

n=400, MoE= +/- 5%