Richard Lugar (R-inc): 42
Richard Mourdock (R): 35
Joe Donnelly (D): 29If there was any doubt that six-term GOP incumbent Sen. Richard Lugar is in for his bumpiest reelection in, well, ever, those doubts should now be erased. We've previously gotten a few leaked internal polls giving us a vague sense that a) Lugar doesn't have his primary locked down and b) Democrat Joe Donnelly has a path to victory if Lugar loses his primary to Richard Mourdock, against whom the race is a tossup. And now we have a public poll (for local political tipsheet Howey Politics, performed by a Republican and a Democratic internal pollster) that confirms both of these points.
Richard Lugar (R-inc): 50
Joe Donnelly (D): 35
Richard Mourdock (R): 35
The more immediate problem for Lugar is that he's up only by single digits (by 7) against Mourdock, the state treasurer who's challenging Lugar from the tea-flavored right. (Lugar, of course, is still certainly conservative, but he's occasionally worked with Democrats on foreign policy issues, deferred to their judicial picks, and otherwise behaved like a old-fashioned legislator acting in good faith, instead of a bomb-thrower.)
If Lugar survives the primary, he's in good shape for November, as the courtly Lugar has a large amount of crossover appeal (to the extent that the Democrats didn't even bother nominating anyone to go against him in 2006). If Mourdock makes up the last bit of ground and overtakes Lugar, then it's a whole new ballgame, with Mourdock in a dead heat with Rep. Joe Donnelly, who seemed to get lured into this race based exactly on that possibility (although the hand Donnelly got dealt in redistricting probably helped his decision to give up his House seat in IN-02 too). And while this is the first public poll of the race, it closely mirrors numbers that Donnelly's camp released last month: They found Lugar leading Mourdock 45-39, Donnelly losing to Lugar 42-29, and Donnelly beating Mourdock 34-28.
There's one small caveat, that the pollsters do discuss: The poll was taken in the midst of a huge advertising blitz by the Club for Growth against Lugar on behalf of Mourdock (who put $1.8 million into the buy!). In other words, anti-Lugar sentiment might not be as top-of-mind for Indiana voters any other week. However, a steady drip-drip of anti-Lugar advertising may keep the sentiment at at least a rolling boil. Can the Republican circular firing squad still help us with an unexpected pickup opportunity? Let's hope they continue to do their part.
John Gregg (D): 31As a bonus, we've also got the first-ever poll, private or public, of Indiana's gubernatorial race. As you'd probably expect, Republican Rep. Mike Pence leads Democratic former state House speaker John Gregg, but the margin isn't the blowout that some have expected. Pence has been running for a year, while Gregg got a later start and simply isn't known as well as Pence, a frequent talking head on the news networks and one of the most prominent social conservatives in the GOP caucus. (Gregg is unknown to 72 percent of respondents, and has only 10/4 favorables, compared with Pence's 32/20.) Pence still has to be considered the favorite, especially with the size of his war chest, but Brian Howey does dig deep into his archives to find this encouraging tidbit: At a comparable point in 1996, Democrat Frank O'Bannon was even further back than Gregg is now and still managed to win the gubernatorial race.
Mike Pence (R): 44
Rupert Boneham (L): 5