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Sen. Dick Lugar trails GOP rival in poll. A surge of tea party power?

Ahead of Tuesday's GOP primary in Indiana, incumbent Sen. Dick Lugar lags challenger Richard Mourdock by 10 points, a new poll shows. A Lugar defeat would be a convincing demonstration of tea party power in 2012 election cycle.


After six terms in the US Senate, Richard Lugar (R) of Indiana is facing his first serious opponent in decades in state Treasurer Richard Mourdock.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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Here along the banks of the mighty Ohio River, the earth is sliding, taking roads and backyards with it. It's the kind of erosion that Richard Mourdock understands, as plain as the hill near his southwestern Indiana home that marks the Terminal Moraine, where the ancient glaciers began their retreat.

The tea party-backed primary challenger to Sen. Richard Lugar (R) of Indiana is, after all, not just the state's treasurer and an amateur historian, but also a geologist, who finds allegory in rocks and river bends. To fight the erosion caused by America's expanding debt, "we've got to have the courage of our convictions," Mr. Mourdock told potential donors in Batesville, Ind., recently. "Bipartisanship has taken us to the brink of bankruptcy."

The May 8 Senate primary here in Indiana may well have important, even earth-moving, implications. Foremost, it's a chance for the antitax tea party movement, after it exploded onto the national political scene in 2009 and reinvigorated a moribund Republican Party ahead of the 2010 midterms, to demonstrate that it still has influence.

On Friday, four days before the primary, came this inkling that it might: Mourdock leads Senator Lugar 48 percent to 38 percent in the latest Howey/DePauw University poll, conducted April 30 and May 1. 


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