By Greg Margason
The Statehouse File
INDIANAPOLIS – Two new polls show that U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, while still apparently in the lead, is losing ground to state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, his opponent in the May 8 Republican primary.
The polls, conducted last week and released Monday, show Lugar with a 6 percentage point lead over Mourdock, drawing 45 percent support from likely Republican primary voters compared to Mourdock’s 39 percent. But that spread is within the polls’ margins of error.
One poll came from Global Strategy Group on behalf of the Democratic Senate candidate, U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly. The other was conducted by Wenzel Strategies for Citizens United, a conservative group seeking to topple Lugar in the primary.
Lugar’s opponents hailed the numbers as evidence of his vulnerability.
“We’ve known for months that Sen. Lugar was in the fight of his life,” said Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker. “This poll shows that he’s losing that fight. After spending nearly $2 million more than his tea party primary challenger, he’s got nothing to show for it but falling poll numbers.”
David Bossie, the president of Citizens United, said the poll shows that Hoosiers prefer a senator more conservative than Lugar.
“We are pleased with our increasing numbers, but there is still a lot of work to be done to take the lead,” said Mourdock spokesman Chris Conner.
On Monday, Lugar released his most recent campaign advertisement, claiming to “set the record – and Mourdock – straight on Lugar’s opposition to ‘Obamacare.’” The ad claims that Lugar strongly opposes the new health care law, and always has opposed it, and blasts Mourdock for not saying so.
“Our campaign will continue to work and fight to keep Sen. Lugar in office,” said Lugar’s political director, David Willkie.
The poll for Donnelly surveyed 500 likely Republican primary voters in Indiana. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
The Citizens United poll surveyed 678 respondents and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.74 percentage points.