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Bayh carries 20-point lead over Coats, poll finds

– More than half of all Hoosiers would vote for Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., if Republican Dan Coats were on the ballot against him, a poll released Thursday says.

The poll, taken as Coats was exploring a Senate campaign but before he had announced his candidacy, was conducted by Daily Kos/Research 2000 this week.

According to the survey of 600 likely voters, Bayh would get 55 percent of the vote if Republicans nominate Coats. Coats would get 35 percent of the vote. Ten percent said they were undecided. The margin of error is 4 percentage points.

Coats, a former senator who retired in 1998, the year Bayh ran for the seat, announced Wednesday he will return to Indiana to campaign for the GOP nomination.

The poll also asked how people would vote if the candidates were former congressman John Hostettler, also running for the GOP nomination, and Bayh. Fifty-three percent said they would vote for Bayh, 37 percent for Hostettler.

Those results are in sharp contrast to a survey taken late last month that showed Bayh and Hostettler in a near tie. Coats, whose name had not been floated when the Rasmussen poll was conducted, was not included in that survey.

The poll did not ask voters about any of the other candidates in the GOP Senate primary.

Six in 10 Hoosiers told the Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll they have a favorable opinion of Bayh; 33 percent said they don’t think highly of him, and 6 percent said they have no opinion. Coats, who has not been on an Indiana ballot since 1992, was rated favorably by 38 percent and unfavorably by 34 percent; 28 percent said they were undecided.

Three-fourths of Democrats and independents said they have a favorable opinion of Bayh; 41 percent of Republicans rated him favorably. Two-thirds of Republicans said they have a favorable opinion of Coats. Nine percent of Democrats and 35 percent of independents gave Coats a favorable rating. In each category, at least a quarter said they had no opinion of Coats.