The Washington Times - September 27, 2012, 12:23PM

In a Senate race many thought would be a relatively easy win for the GOP, a new poll released Thursday follows others showing Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly essentially tied with Republican state Treasurer Richard Mourdock in the race to replace Sen. Richard G. Lugar, the longtime Republican incumbent.

The Howey-DePauw Indiana Battleground Poll shows Mr. Donnelly with a 2-point lead over Mr. Mourdock, 40 percent to 38 percent. The lead is within the poll’s margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

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The poll shows that Mr. Mourdock has yet to latch onto the coattails of GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who leads President Obama 52 percent to 40 percent in the state. In the state’s gubernatorial race, Republican Mike Pence holds a 13-point lead over Democrat John Gregg, 47 percent to 34 percent.

The poll comes as the cavalry starts to charge in for both Mr. Donnelly and Mr. Mourdock. Both the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and National Senatorial Republican Committee (NRSC) have recently made six-figure ad reservations or buys in the state.

Crossroads GPS, the sister group of the Karl Rove-founded Super PAC American Crossroads, also dropped nearly $1 million on an ad buy this week opposing Mr. Donnelly.

The poll of 800 likely voters was conducted Sept. 19, 20 and 23. The party breakdown for the respondents — including leaners — was 43 percent Republican, 38 percent Democrat, and 19 percent independent.