Mourdock’s fall is less spectacular than that of Rep. Todd Akin (R) of Missouri, a fellow GOP Senate candidate, whose comments about “legitimate rape” in mid-August put the torch to his single-digit lead in the polls. Representative Akin is now a deep underdog against incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D).
Friday’s poll in Indiana also indicates that something has gone very wrong for Mourdock among independent voters. Whether by his rape comments or a flood of outside spending, or some combination of both, Mourdock’s favorability (and support) cratered among independent voters since September, the polling shows.
Outside groups have spent millions on this contest, on both sides. Only three other US Senate races have seen more money flowing in from such groups, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.
While Mourdock’s favorability rankings have tanked, Mr. Donnelly’s have held steady. That’s especially true among independent voters, who make up about one-quarter of the Indiana electorate. Independent women have a 12 percent favorable versus 48 percent unfavorable view of Mourdock, and among independent men, 23 percent view him favorably and 51 percent view him unfavorably.
Independent voters are now breaking 3 to 1 for Donnelly. In September, Donnelly had an insignificant edge of 32 percent to 30 percent over Mourdock among that subset of voters.
Mourdock's deputy campaign manager, Brose McVey, challenged the poll's findings and charged that the pollsters did not release all of the data. The Mourdock campaign released its own internal data, showing Mourdock with a statistically insignificant two-point lead, 46 percent to 44 percent. The campaign's poll queried 600 voters and had a margin of error of 4 percent.