“Democrats understand Joe Donnelly will beat Richard Mourdock. This is serious," Lugar wrote in an e-mail blast to supporters on Sunday. "Losing our Indiana Senate seat to the Democrats is not a risk that Republicans can take.”
A sizable number of Republicans, however, seem poised to take their chances. Mr. Mourdock has picked up endorsements from Sarah Palin and others on the conservative side of the party, and his campaign has benefited from millions spent on ads by national conservative groups such as the Club for Growth, the National Rifle Association, and FreedomWorks. Those ads have attacked Lugar as too moderate and too willing to compromise with President Obama. Also at issue is Lugar’s acknowledgement that he no longer permanently resides in Indiana, but spends most of his time in Washington.
Pummeling Lugar with negative ads on those themes is working, recent polls show. Lugar trailed Mourdock by 10 percentage points, according to a Howey/DePauw poll released May 1.
Lugar complains of being outspent by the "super political-action committees" that back Mourdock’s campaign and only recently launched his own negative ads criticizing his opponent’s record.
Donnelly, sensing GOP vulnerability, has turned his attention to Mourdock in recent days. In a speech last week in Indianapolis, Donnelly reserved most of his remarks for an unsuccessful lawsuit in 2009 to stop the federal government’s bailout package for automaker Chrysler.