An American Viewpoint poll taken on behalf of Sen. Richard Lugar shows him with a 14-point lead over Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock. The poll results, as reported by a pro-Lugar blog, Capital & Washington, show Lugar leading Mourdock among likely 2012 Republican primary voters 45% to 31% with 23% undecided. The poll contrasts with a poll taken by Basswood Research on behalf of Club for Growth days earlier that showed Mourdock leading Lugar 34% to 32%, with 34% undecided.
Lugar supporters contend the Basswood poll numbers turned out as well as they did for Mourdock because the pollster used push poll questioning. The American Viewpoint numbers are not all good news for Lugar because he comes in below 50% as a six-term incumbent among members of his own party. That is a big shift in the poll numbers cited by Lugar's campaign only months ago when Mourdock first launched his campaign to unseat him. The American Viewpoint poll results indicate that 55% of GOP voters have a favorable impression of him and 53% approve of his performance, with 34% of GOP voters disapproving of him.
Basswood's poll was taken after Club for Growth began running a negative attack ad criticizing Lugar's votes in favor of government bailouts during his long tenure in the Senate. The Lugar campaign quickly responded to the ads with their own TV spot and blanketed Republican voters with at least two direct mail pieces that included negative attacks against Mourdock. Given that the American Viewpoint poll was taken after Lugar's TV and direct mail response, it would appear the negative view of Lugar is winning out.
Interestingly, Lugar's campaign is spinning the American Viewpoint numbers as an indication his message is resonating with voters even though his poll numbers have dropped markedly over those cited by his campaign just months ago. Before Mourdock launched his campaign, Lugar's campaign released poll numbers indicating that Lugar was more popular than virtually any Indiana politician, including Gov. Mitch Daniels, with 66% of all voters viewing him favorably and only 19% viewing him unfavorably.