The flip-flop in polling in Indiana‘s U.S. Senate race mostly coincides with a huge amount of money spent by outside groups targeting Democratic candidate Joe Donnelly.
The web site OpenSecrets.org says in the last week alone, more than $1.6 million in advertising has been purchased by groups unaffiliated with political campaigns. All but $181 of that was spent on ads or mailers either favoring Republican Richard Mourdock or that were critical of Donnelly.
Ball State University political science professor Ray Scheele says Republicans know they cannot win control of the U.S. Senate unless they hold the seat that belongs to Dick Lugar, who was defeated in the primary by Mourdock.
Scheele notes that Democrats believe they can also win the seat, and though they are being outspent at the moment, Donnelly is not short of money.
“Because in the last few weeks, particularly the last few days, the candidates have to show themselves to the undecided voters and firm up their own support,” Scheele says. “That‘s what they‘re running out of faster than they are running out of money.”
The money began flowing in earnest after a Howey Politics/DePauw University poll released September 27 showed Donnelly with a two-point lead over Mourdock, 40 percent to 38 percent, though that was within the poll‘s margin of error.
A poll released by Rasmussen on Monday, taken during the recent outside ad blitz, gave Mourdock a five-point lead, 47 percent to 42 percent.
The Rasmussen survey did not include Libertarian candidate Andrew Horning, who drew the support of 7 percent of respondents in the Howey poll.