One Senate Race, Two Conflicting Poll Results
Independent poll sees Donnelly runaway; Mourdock claims narrow edge
Joe Donnelly (D), Andrew Horning (L), Richard Mourdock (R)
Dueling polls in Indiana's Senate campaign paint radically different pictures of the race.
Republican Richard Mourdock says his latest internal poll gives him a two-point lead. But the independent Howey-DePauw poll sees an 11-point blowout for Democrat Joe Donnelly.
The poll commissioned by the Howey Politics Indiana newsletter uses two pollsters, Republican Christine Matthews and Democrat Fred Yang. Mourdock's pollster John McLaughlin contends that's not really an independent poll, since Yang's clients include the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which has a direct stake in the race. He argues even Matthews' involvement doesn't neutralize that conflict, especially if Yang's call center was in charge of making the calls to voters or interpreting the results.
HPI publisher Brian Howey says Matthews' call center handled the calls. He says both Matthews' and Yang's integrity is beyond dispute, and dismisses what he calls "propaganda polls" released by both sides over the last week.
Howey says Mourdock is losing independents three-to-one, and holding just 70% of Republicans while Donnelly holds 88% of Democrats.
Both polls show Mitt Romney with a comfortable lead in Indiana, but McLaughlin's poll shows Mourdock losing 11 points of Romney's margin. Howey shows a 21-point swing. Similarly, Howey's poll shows Democrat John Gregg closing the gap to seven points in the race for governor with Republican Mike Pence, making an 18-point swing away from Pence to Donnelly. The Mourdock poll has Pence with a safer 12-point margin, 10 points of which melt away when voters reach the Senate race.
Libertarian Andrew Horning drew 6% in the Howey poll and 3% in the Mourdock poll. Howey shows Donnelly leading 47-36% with 11% undecided, while Mourdock's poll gives him a 46-44% lead with 7% undecided.
Howey shows Mourdock with a 49% unfavorable rating. McLaughlin agrees the state treasurer's unfavorables jumped after his debate comment that all pregnancies, even in cases of rape, are "something that God intended to happen." But he says he's seen undecideds and Romney voters returning to Mourdock over the last week. He says he expects that trend to continue.
The margin of error is 4% in the McLaughlin poll and 3.5% in the Howey poll. Both polls surveyed likely voters, and had the same partisan split.