Six-term U.S. Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana is trailing his opponent in a May 8 Republican primary, 48 percent to 38 percent, according to a poll released today.
The poll by Howey Politics Indiana and DePauw University said Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock is leading with conservative voters, 63 percent to 26 percent, and with all Republican voters, 51 percent to 36 percent. Lugar leads with only one group: moderates. The poll of 700 likely voters said the senator carries them, 60 percent to 26 percent.
Mourdock is backed by FreedomWorks, which aids the Tea Party movement, and the small-government group Club for Growth.
Lugar, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has had a series of setbacks as the primary nears. Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist this week said he will back Mourdock, as did Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a Tea Party favorite who in January ended her bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
The incumbent senator also has been hampered by a challenge to his state residency amid criticism that he hasn’t spent enough time in Indiana. A Democratic-controlled county elections board ruled in March that Lugar was ineligible to vote in his home precinct because he and his wife registered using the Indianapolis address of a home he sold in 1977. A settlement was reached allowing Lugar to change his voter registration address to a family farm in Indiana.
The poll released today was conducted April 30 and May 1. It had a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.
‘Take This Primary Back’
Lugar’s campaign will be working over the weekend “to take this primary back” by seeking to persuade a handful of Mourdock voters in each of Indiana’s 5,000 precincts to support the incumbent, the senator’s spokesman Andy Fisher said in an e- mail. The campaign will seek to turn out voters that have supported Lugar in general elections and haven’t participated in primaries, Fisher said, adding, “that is also very doable.”
Lugar has raised $5.9 million for his campaign compared with $2.3 million raised by Mourdock.
The incumbent senator is opposed by conservative groups for supporting the 2008 bank bailout, a pathway to citizenship for children of some illegal immigrants, and a strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia he helped steer through the Senate in 2010.
A super-political action committee operated by Club for Growth has spent $945,000 against Lugar and $514,000 for Mourdock, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. FreedomWorks has spent about $323,000 to defeat Lugar and $188,000 to help elect Mourdock, data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics show.
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