The final Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground poll shows Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly ahead by 11 points over his opponent, GOP state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, in the state’s open Senate seat — a strong indication that Republicans could squander a chance to hold onto a seat once expected to be safely in their column.
The race between Mr. Donnelly and Mr. Mourdock has been close since the tea party-backed Mr. Mourdock defeated longtime incumbent Republican Sen. Richard Lugar in the primary. But controversial remarks by Mr. Mourdock during a candidates’ debate last month on rape and abortion appear to have had a significant impact on the race in the closing days.
Forty-seven percent of voters prefer Mr. Donnelly, 36 percent back Mr. Mourdock, 7 percent support Libertarian Andrew Horning and 11 percent are undecided. The party breakdown for the survey is 45 percent Republican, 34 percent Democrat and 21 percent independent. Nearly 9 in 10 likely voters said they were aware of Mr. Mourdock’s comments during the debate. While 54 percent said it made no difference on who they would vote for, 40 percent said it made them less likely to vote for Mr. Mourdock, and just 6 percent said more likely.
The poll of 800 likely Indiana voters was conducted Oct. 28-30 and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.
Mr. Mourdock’s campaign countered Friday morning by releasing its own internal numbers from pollster John McLaughlin showing him ahead by 2 points, 46 percent to 44 percent.
“The Democrats have nothing else to point to but smears and distortions, because they certainly can’t tout their own record,” said Mourdock campaign spokesman Christopher Conner.
That poll of 600 likely voters, conducted from Oct. 31-Nov. 1, has a margin of error of 4 percentage points. The party breakdown is 41 percent Republican, 34 percent Democrat and 21 percent independent.