IN-Sen: New GOP poll shows incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly should not be counted out yet

IN-Sen: New GOP poll shows incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly should not be counted out yet
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A new Republican poll revealed that incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly might not be in as much trouble as some have predicted in Indiana’s upcoming Senate race. Donnelly is still in danger of losing his re-election bid, but things might not be as dire as originally predicted.

In January, CNN noted that the Indiana Senate seat was one of 10 “most likely to flip in 2018,” and in May, the New York Times reported that Donnelly is “believed to be one of this election year’s most vulnerable Democrats.”

What are the details?

The poll revealed that former state Rep. Mike Braun (R) currently leads Donnelly 50 percent to 42 percent in the 3rd Congressional District, Roll Call reported. The survey was conducted May 29-31 by WPAi for U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, who represents the 3rd District and was also seeking the GOP Senate nomination.

While the poll might be disconcerting to Donnelly voters and welcome news for Braun supporters, Roll Call reported that Donnelly doesn’t have to win the 3rd  District in order to win the state.

Roll Call writer and elections analyst Nathan L. Gonzales wrote, “Donnelly doesn’t need to win the Northeast Indiana district; he just needs to hold down his losses.”

Gonzales explained that Donnelly’s current marks are not so dissimilar from his 2012 polling numbers, a race in which he lost the 3rd District to state treasurer Richard Mourdock at 53 percent to 40 percent while still going on to win statewide, 50 percent to 44 percent.

The district is solidly Republican: President Donald Trump’s personal rating there is 58 percent favorable and 40 percent unfavorable. Vice President Mike Pence, who was once governor of Indiana, has a personal rating in the Northeast Indiana district was 61 percent favorable and 36 percent unfavorable. So Donnelly doesn’t stand much of a chance there anyway.

Inside Elections rates the 3rd District as “solid Republican,” while it rates the Senate race as a toss-up.

You can read more about Donnelly’s background here.

What about Rep. Mike Braun?

Businessman and former state Rep. Mike Braun will face off against Donnelly on Nov. 6.

The primary election was held May 8. Donnelly ran uncontested, and Braun won the Republican nomination with 41.2 percent of the vote.

Braun has received endorsements from Indiana state Republican Reps. Chris May, Ron Bacon, Bob Morris, John Young, and Christopher Judy, as well as Indiana GOP state Sen. Liz Brown (R).

President Donald Trump won the state in 2016 with 56.5 percent of the vote and amassed more than 500,000 more votes than Hillary Clinton.

Speaking to Fox News, Braun likened himself to Trump.

“President Trump, he was a disrupter, outsider and businessman, and look what’s occurred,” Brain said. “I’ve lived it. I’ve signed thousands of paychecks just like the president did [as a businessman]. He was an inspiration for me to run for senator, and I hope for others as well. There needs to be more of us to step outside the comfort zone.”

He also said that his life experience has given him an advantage if he is elected senator.

“I won’t need to be briefed on important issues when I get [to Washington]. I’ve had to live through them,” Braun told Fox News. “I think if we had eight or 12 of us in the Senate who came from my business background, you’d see a lot of different things in government. The Senate is where the issues are, and most people there are career politicians.”

According to a report by the Indianapolis Star, Braun voted Democrat up until 2012.

What have other polls said?

At the time of this writing, the Cook Political Report calls the race a toss-up.