Mr. Self-Destruct

Posted: November 2, 2012 in 2012 Elections, Politics, Senate
Tags: , , , , , ,

Support for Richard Mourdock, the Republican candidate in the Indiana Senate race whose comments about rape created an uproar, has imploded according to a new poll:

Richard Mourdock’s support has collapsed following his comments about rape at a debate last week, and the GOP nominee in the Indiana Senate race now trails by a significant margin, according to a new independent poll released on Friday.

The Howey Politics Indiana/DePauw University Battleground Poll shows Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly leading Mourdock, the state treasurer, 47 percent to 36 percent. Libertarian candidate Andrew Horning is at 6 percent, and 11 percent of likely voters remain undecided. The poll was conducted Oct. 28-30 by Democratic pollster Fred Yang and Republican pollster Christine Matthews, who surveyed 800 likely voters, for a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.5 percentage points.

In September, the two candidates ran neck-and-neck, with Donnelly ahead by just two points, 40 percent to 38 percent. But now, a significant gender gap has opened up, according to the poll. Men favor Donnelly by two points, 43 percent to 41 percent, a 6-point reversal from September, when Mourdock led by 4. But women now choose Donnelly by an 18-point margin, 50 percent to 32 percent. In September, Donnelly led by 6 points among female voters.

Donnelly has also consolidated Democrats, winning 88 percent of the vote among his own partisans, the poll shows. In comparison, Mourdock wins just 70 percent of Republicans, and Donnelly also leads among self-identified independents, 51 percent to 17 percent.

Overall, just 30 percent of likely voters have a favorable opinion of Mourdock, compared to 49 percent who view him unfavorably. In September, 26 percent had a favorable opinion of him, versus 32 percent who had an unfavorable opinion. Donnelly’s image rating is healthier: 36 percent favorable, and 31 percent unfavorable.

This, along with Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments, were – second only to Mitt Romney’s 47 percent comments – the biggest Republican gaffes in this election cycle. Again as was the case in 2010 (the Nevada, Delaware and Colorado Senate races), the Republicans are blowing what should have been a winnable race by nominating inexperienced or more extreme candidates who have made disastrous unforced errors.

The Indiana Senate race should have been a no-brainer for the GOP, especially in their effort to win control of the U.S. Senate. Longtime moderate incumbent Richard Lugar would have been a shoo-in for the general election, had he not lost the primary to the Tea Party-backed Mourdock. Moral of the story: the Tea Party might be good to win primaries, but aren’t always good for the general, even in a red state like Indiana.

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