Monday, October 29, 2018

With Week to Go Before Election, Still No Independent Polling in Indiana U.S. House Races

As a political geek, for months I have been eagerly anticipating poll results in the Indiana congressional races.  While independent polling outfits have conducted surveys in scores of congressional races across the country, there, to date, has been no such polling in the Indiana U.S. house races.

The lack of polling reflects the fact that the experts do not believe any Indiana congressional districts are likely to switch hands a week from tomorrow.  But it is not clear that working assumption is correct.   While Republicans only have two impossible targets for pickups, the Indianapolis-based Seventh Congressional District, based in Indianapolis and the First District, based in Lake County, the
Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN)
same is not true of the Democrats do have a legitimate, albeit longshot, chance of picking up one maybe two seats in Indiana. 

In the Second District, Republican Jackie Walorski is facing off against South Bend businessman Mel Hall.  Walorski won the district by just 1% in 2012, but the last two elections has won by 20% plus.  While the district has a lot of Republican-leaning rural area, the urban area in the district is dominated by Democratic-leaning South Bend.  The district has the potential to be much closer this year than in 2014 or 2016.  This is especially true with Hall outraising Walorski $3,028,831 to $2,580,624.

The Ninth District might also prove to be competitive.  Located in the southeastern part of the state, the district is represented by Trey Hollingsworth.  His Democratic opponent, Liz Watson, has outraised Hollingsworth ($1,946,998 to $1,385,135) and has been consistently running ads on Indianapolis TV.  I haven't seen any Hollingsworth ads, but possibly may have missed them.  That district is also serviced by the Louisville and Cincinnati media markets.  While Watson has run a spirited race, the rural area that dominates the Ninth District is the heart of Trump Country.

Although unlikely to be competitive, I would like pollsters would look at the electorate in the Fifth Congressional district which is anchored by Hamilton County and the northern Indianapolis.  Incumbent Republican Susan Brooks won the district by 27 points in 2016 and enjoys a sizable financial advantage over her challenger Dee Thornton.  Brooks raised $1,294,790 for the race while Thornton has only received $175,216.  With a well-funded opponent, the Democrats might have had a legitimate, albeit a long-shot, at competing in the suburban dominated district.  Brooks, after all, has to carry the baggage of Donald Trump in northern Marion and Hamilton Counties where he is not terribly popular.  Of all Republicans appearing on the county-wide ballots in Marion and Hamiltonin 2016, Donald Trump performed the worst.  A well-funded Democrat could have tied Brooks more closely to Trump and, thus, encouraged Republicans to cross over in favor of Thornton.  This race is likely to be closer this time, but without Liz Watson type money Thornton does not have a realistic shot at winning.

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