Voters go to the polls in four states today. The headline contest is in Indiana’s Republican Senate primary, where Richard Mourdock appears to be on the verge of knocking off six-term incumbent Dick Lugar.
There is no primary in the governor’s race, where Republicans will nominate Mike Pence and Democrats will nominate former state Representative John R. Gregg.
Democrats have convinced themselves that if Mourdock wins the primary, their nominee, Rep. Joe Donnelly, will have a healthy shot at winning the Senate seat in November. (Only one poll has pitted the pair in a hypothetical match-up recently, and it showed a tie.) But Donnelly hung on to his House seat in 2010 by emphasizing border security and explicitly running against “the Washington crowd,” depicting President Obama and Speaker Pelosi. (His ads carefully avoided using the term, ‘Democrat.’) He won by less than two percentage points that year.
Donnelly is likely to follow the “emphasize how moderate you are” approach that Rep. Brad Ellsworth tried in 2010’s Senate race in Indiana; with that approach, Ellsworth garnered an entire 40 percent against Sen. Dan Coats.
Gallup’s latest surveys in Indiana show President Obama’s job approval at 40.1 percent and disapproval at 52.2 percent; 44 percent of the state identifying as Republican (up from 39.6 percent in 2009), 39 percent of the state identifying as Democrat (down from 46 in 2009). Oh, and Donnelly shouldn’t count on too much help from the party in Washington; the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will be worrying about Nebraska, Montana, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, Wisconsin, Florida, and so on…