|State Treasurer |
People might wonder why I'd say that when Lugar held a 41-34 lead in a recent independent poll. The fact though is that undecideds almost always break sharply for the challenger. When an incumbent, especially a six year incumbent is under 50% he or she is considered to be in deep trouble. Lugar barely broke 40%.
Another consideration is that Mourdock outraised Lugar during the last reporting period. Big contributors like to give to a winner. The fact that the money is now going to Mourdock suggests those contributors think he is going to win.
How can Lugar win? His only option left is to go sharply negative on Mourdock, to trash him so badly that even though Lugar is no longer liked many in the Republican base, they would fear Mourdock's nomination more. That won't be easy for the six term Senator who has always tried to portray himself as above politics.
How will Mourdock respond? In addition to answering the charges and calling Lugar "desperate" (the favorite word of the campaign season), Mourdock is likely to soon go warm and fuzzy, to try to reassure Republican primary voters that they have nothing to fear from him should he capture the nomination. These strategies would strongly suggest that the Lugar camp knows he is behind and the Mourdock campaign is trying to put the former champion away by lasting out the final few rounds and winning on points.
What else to look for? Expect that Governor Daniels and Attorney General Zoeller to make formal endorsements of Richard Lugar in a week or so, a fact Lugar will promote extensively To the GOP establishment crowd who often struggle to think outside the political box, those endorsements are powerful. The problem though is that to the voters with whom Lugar is having the most trouble, those endorsements are not at all persuasive and can, in fact, be counterproductive. They suggest Lugar is an insider and Mourdock, who can't get those type of big name endorsements, is an outsider.
Some final random thoughts on Lugar. I met with a former Republican political operative yesterday, someone who had run state legislative campaigns. He told me the story of how then Governor Evan Bayh had teamed up with state legislative campaigns to assist them, something Governor Daniels also did in 2010. He said that GOP leaders to get Lugar to help out Republican candidates in the state, including the candidate for whom he was working, and Lugar refused. That is similar to a story I heard from a state Republican leader who years ago expressed frustration that Lugar would not come back to Indiana for Lincoln Day dinners, either as a speaker or even as a guest.
One final story. A Republican party activist in Hancock County had his picture taken with Lugar a few years ago. A week or so later the person got a letter from the Lugar people saying that the picture was only for private use and that the activist was expressly prohibited from using it in a political campaign. Even if it were somehow illegal to use the picture contrary to the wishes of Lugar (doubtful), such a proclamation could never be enforced. So why send the letter? All it did was have the effect of forever turning off someone who might otherwise support Lugar today.