Monday, August 6, 2012

The Rasmussen Poll on the Mourdock-Donnelly Race: Much Ado About Nothing

A few days ago, Rasmussen released a poll showing Republican Richard Mourdock with only a two point lead (42-40) over Democrat Joe Donnelly.  Yesterday on Civil Discourse Now, co-host Mark Small brought up the poll and suggested it reflects that Hoosier voters are rejecting Richard Mourdock's "extreme" views.  Never mind that Mark and others who state this view do not ever seem to be able to identify specifically which of Mourdock's views are "extreme," or how those views are somehow different than those held by most Hoosiers or Senator Lugar who Mourdock defeated in the primary.  The view that Mourdock is an "extremist" is a view without any substantive underpinnings.
Congressman Joseph Donnelly

Back to the poll.  Some Democrats are overjoyed and claim the poll, showing a dead heat, means Mourdock's message is not catching on while Donnelly's is.  The Mourdock campaign attempted to spin it the other way, that despite a significant expenditure of money Donnelly's numbers haven't moved.

Neither view is correct.  There is an old adage that voters don't really start paying attention to politics until Labor Day which is still a month away.  Unlike political pundits, the average person gets tired of 24/7/365 politics and tune outs until it is time to consider the options.  The window during which people pay attention to the political races, with the somewhat exception of the presidential race, is about two months before the general election.  While big race candidates have to run advertising before then to avoid being defined by an opponent, the advertising is generally not very effective in moving the numbers.

The narrow 42-40 Mourdock lead is simply is indicative of the fact that Mourdock took on a highly popular sitting Republican Senator in the primary...and soundly defeated him.  Republicans voters remain divided because of the primary, but it is more a division of loyalty to a popular sitting U.S. Senator, not a division over the issues.  There is no reason to believe as the Labor Day political aproaches, that Republicans and conservative-leaning independents won't return to supporting a conservative Republican candidate rather than a Democrat who voted for Obamacare.  The Rasmussen poll's number suggests Obamacare is very unpopular in Indiana and that Donnelly's position on the issue leaves him vulnerable to attack.

Indiana Treasurer
Richard Mourdock
Finally, I want to address the "I told you so" attitude of those who say the poll supports the notion that Mourdock is more beatable than Lugar would have been in a general election.  The number one issue that hurt Lugar was the perception he had been in Washington too long and was out of touch with Hoosiers.  The fact Lugar did not have an Indiana residence and stayed in luxury hotel rooms (charged to the taxpayers) on the rare occasions he came back to the Hoosier state highlighted that issue.  While Mourdock exploited the issue against Lugar in the primary, it is an issue that would have had even stronger legs with independent voters in a general election.  The notion that Lugar would have simply walked over Donnelly simply ignores the issues that made him a 20 point loser to Mourdock in the primary.  Mourdock beat Lugar with general election issues.

On Labor Day the U.S. Senate race starts.  That's when we should start taking these polls seriously.


jvansanten said...

Certainly one side.

On the other side you have issues of: women's health, balancing the budget with a balanced approach to revenue and expenses, access to the polls, social security, medicare, medicaid.

Then you have the whole question of competence in public office -- no question with Lugar, but under Mourdock's watch as State Treasurer, the State "misplaced" $500 million dollars total in 3 or 4 separate instances. Guess he was busy campaigning.

Then you have the question whether Mourdock represents the people of Indiana or the national Tea Party.

So, I think there are definite issues that distinguish the Republican Senatorial candidate from both Honorable Senator Lugar as well as the current Democratic candidate for Senate.

Drew said...

First of all, State Treasurer Mourdock believes Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional. Seriously? How is that not an extreme view? He does not believe in earmarks, which Senator Lugar used to keep NSWC - Crane afloat with new defense contracts, not to mention that Senator Lugar was consistently ranked in the middle on pork barrel spending.

Second of all, State Treasurer Mourdock sued the federal government over T.A.R.P. and the Detroit bailout and is still vehemently against them, but he "had no good answer" as to why he never publicly admonished the state legislature for bailing out the CIB, which funds the Pacers, in 2009 and 2010. Google "T.E.A. Party meets in Greene County" to see the quote.

Finally, this seat would, without a doubt, be a landslide if the Republicans renominated Senator Lugar. Since the T.E.A. Party has assassinated moderate Republican voters, this election is going to be very close and like you stated, the last two months will make all the difference.

varangianguard said...

Believe it or not, I disagree with Mark here.

I rather believe that candidate Mourdock is closer to "barely competent" rather than "extremist". Critical thinking is apparently not on the "job skills" list of this guy's résumé.

Of course, that no longer seems to be a requirement for U.S. Senator.

Indy Student said...

Jvansanten, the State Treauserer's office does not handle the collecting of taxes or distributing them to the appropriate agencies. That is completely within the Department of Revenue, which is under the Governor's purview.

artfuggins said...

There are plenty of issues to cause problems for Mourdock but his biggest problem is that he always looks dazed or constipated or something. It is just a look that does not bring trust.