Somehow I get the strange feeling that “Lugar Republicans” are in pretty high demand these days. Democrat Joe Donnelly mentioned how he worked with Richard Lugar to save Indiana’s automotive industry. Richard Mourdock does in a roundabout way when he talks about working with Governor Daniels to keep Indiana on track. And Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg mentions in about every stump speech he can.
So why are these “Lugar Republicans” so valuable? Just look at the last two polls that have come out in the race for the United States Senate.
Rasmussen has Donnelly and Mourdock basically tied at 42-40, with 11% undecided and Donnelly’s own recently released internal poll had the race at 41-40. Four percent went to Libertarian Andy Horning and the remaining 15% was either undecided or none of the above.
Where the “Lugar Republicans” come in are in both the Rasmussen and Donnelly poll, both oversampled Republican voters; 45-32 in the Rasmussen poll and Republicans had an 8-point party identification lead in the Donnelly poll. Also take into account Mitt Romney is easily winning Indiana, according to Rasmussen, 51-35 over President Barack Obama. And everything we hear in the race for Governor is that you would much rather be Mike Pence than John Gregg right now.
For Romney and Pence to be doing well and Mourdock in a dead heat, that tells me that those “Lugar Republicans” aren’t sold on Mourdock. And although Lugar and Mourdock have reportedly buried the hatchet, I will believe it when I see the two of them campaigning together in Indiana and Lugar does some commercials.
Some of my Republican friends are trying to figure out why someone who votes for Romney and Pence would split their ticket and vote for Donnelly. The answer is pretty simple, they’re mad. What you can’t explain by logic and reasoning can very easily be explained by emotion. They are still ticked off at the primary, the Indiana Tea Party (whose RINO hunting rhetoric doesn’t help build bridges by the way) and Mourdock really needs to do some reaching out to those folks and getting them on board. And don’t forget, Hoosiers are notorious for splitting their tickets at the top: Bush-O’Bannon – 2000; Bayh-Daniels – 2004; Obama-Daniels 2008.
Now granted this is still a very red state and the fundamentals still lean toward a Mourdock victory, however, the fact that Romney and Pence are running away with their races and Mourdock isn’t tells me that the Lugar Republicans could be the deciding factor in this race.