A fiscally conservative group critical of Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., said Tuesday that results of a poll indicate Lugar trails Richard Mourdock in the race for the 2012 Republican nomination.
The Washington, D.C.-based Club for Growth also said 69 percent of survey respondents agreed with the statement, Richard Lugar has done some good things for Indiana, but after 35 years in Washington, its time for a change.
The telephone survey of 500 likely Republican voters in Indiana was conducted by GOP polling firm Basswood Research on Saturday and Sunday – after Club for Growth had run a TV ad casting doubt on Lugars conservative credentials and the Lugar campaign had responded with an ad aligning him with former President Ronald Reagan.
Respondents were asked whom they would vote for between Lugar and Mourdock. Club for Growth said 34 percent favored Mourdock, 32 percent chose Lugar and 34 percent were undecided. The poll has a 4.4 percent margin of error.
An incumbent who sits at 32 percent in his own partys primary, and trails a much less known challenger, is in a world of trouble, Club for Growth President Chris Chocola, a former GOP congressman in Indianas 2nd District, said in a statement.
Lugars re-election campaign questioned the accuracy of the survey.
The data released by the Club for Growth does not resemble anything we are seeing. Before commenting on a purely publicity-driven poll commissioned by an outside group that has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars against us, we need to know much more about the methodology, David Willkie, political director for Lugars campaign, said in an email.
Club for Growth has ranked Lugar among its worst-scoring Republican senators since 2005 on what it considers economic growth policies, including taxes, federal spending and deregulation.
Mourdocks campaign welcomed the poll results.
The poll confirms the grumblings we have heard on the campaign trail that people are ready for a change, Christopher Conner, campaign communications director, said in an email. It gives some insight to why Lugar is running TV adds so early in an election and the negative comments in the mailer about us.
Politico.com blogger David Catanese wrote Monday that the Lugar campaign had mailed fliers to Hoosier voters describing Mourdock as a perennial candidate for more than 20 years who had supported a property tax increase and signed off on giving lavish benefits to a public employee union.
Mourdock is in his second term as state treasurer and is a former Vanderburgh County commissioner.
He twice ran for Congress in the 1990s, losing each time to Democratic incumbent Frank McCloskey in a southern Indiana district.
He also sought the Republican nomination for Indiana secretary of state in 1988.
Mourdock has portrayed Lugar as President Obamas favorite Republican. His campaign website recently posted a video of them praising each other titled Dick & Barry: The Unforgettable Bromance.