With a little more than a month to go before the U.S. Senate primary in Indiana, one question to throw into the discussion is whether the Hoosiers who voted for Marlin Stutzman back in the 2010 primary will be the voters who decide whether Richard Lugar or Richard Mourdock faces Democrat Joe Donnelly in November?
You may be saying that Stutzman is now a Congressman representing the 3rd Congressional District, so why does he matter now? Go back and look at the 2010 primary results.
- Dan Coats – 39.5%
- Marlin Stutzman – 29.2%
- John Hostettler – 22.6 %
- Don Bates – 4.5 %
- Richard Behney – 4.2 %
Note, this analysis is based on a couple assumptions. First assume the votes for Coats are true establishment Republicans, while votes for Hostettler, Bates and Behney were “anti-establishment/Tea Party” votes. Translate those totals into today’s race. That means incumbent Richard Lugar starts with a baseline of about 40% and State Treasurer Richard Mourdock walks in with about 31%; a 9-point difference, which is not too far off from the polls Mourdock and the Democrats have cited showing a 6-point difference between the two candidates.
So with that assumption, one could argue the fight is for those 29% of primary voters who came out for Stutzman; who you could argue aren’t 100% tea party, but not so much establishment that they will go along 100% of the time. So where are they? According to the 2010 results they are in the 11 counties that Stutzman won…
- LaGrange – 73%, Kosciusko – 48%, Steuben – 47.4%
- DeKalb – 47.5%, Marion – 34.9%, Hendricks – 34.9 %
- Clay – 35.9%, Putnam – 35%, Johnson – 35.5 %
- Shelby – 34.5 %, Rush 36.9 %.
However, if there is a 50-50 split amongst Stutzman voters, working from these results as a baseline, Lugar wins 54-44, over Mourdock. For Mourdock to win, he would need to pull close to 70% of the Republicans who voted for Stutzman in 2010.
Of course there are several other factors at play as we enter the last month of the primary season; the Presidential primary and is it pretty much a done deal by the time primary comes along? How well do Lugar and Mourdock perform in the April 11 debate? What role will the Super PACs play in the home stretch? Will there be an implosion in either of the campaigns’ political operations? Will residency still matter? And then there is just the unpredictability that comes along with any political season.
However, for the purpose of this analysis, if the campaigns are smart, they have already identified who those “Stutzman” voters are and will work to get them to the polls on May 8, because at this point, no one can take any vote for granted nor leave any stone unturned.