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Polls see close Senate contest

Polls commissioned by his opponents suggest Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., might be in a tight race for his party’s nomination.

Citizens United Political Victory Fund said Monday that 45.4 percent of likely Republican voters favor the six-term incumbent in the May 8 primary election, compared with 39.2 percent who favor Richard Mourdock, the state treasurer.

The Citizens United political action committee endorsed Mourdock last summer.

A survey done for Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-2nd, the lone Democratic candidate for Senate, presents the same picture: Lugar is picked by 45 percent of respondents, compared with 39 percent for Mourdock, according to results released Sunday.

Both questionnaires found that many voters might change their minds -- 50 percent in the Citizens United survey and 45 percent in the Donnelly poll.

Global Strategy Group of New York conducted Donnelly’s poll. The survey was taken March 12 to 15, involved 500 likely Republican voters and had an error margin of plus-or-minus 4.4 percentage points.

Wenzel Strategies of Columbus, Ohio, conducted the Citizens United poll. It was taken March 14 to 16, involved 678 respondents and had an error margin of plus-or-minus 3.74 percent.

Naturally, all the sides in the race took a different tack to the numbers.

“Richard Lugar’s time has passed, and this poll confirms that Hoosiers are ready for a change,” David Bossie, president of Citizens United, said in a statement.

“Hoosiers aren’t buying what Lugar has been trying to sell with $2 million worth of TV and radio ads, mostly attacking Richard Mourdock,” Chris Conner, spokesman for Mourdock’s campaign, said in a statement.

“We’ve known for months that Senator Lugar was in the fight of his life,” Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker said in a statement about the Donnelly survey. “This poll shows that he’s losing that fight.”

Democrats have made no secret of the fact they’d rather Donnelly face Mourdock than Lugar in the November general election.

Andy Fisher, campaign spokesman for Lugar, said in a statement: “Even after more than a year of negative attacks by Richard Mourdock and his special interest friends – Senator Lugar continues to lead. Richard Mourdock is stuck in the 30s.…”

An early February poll taken by Lugar’s campaign showed him with a much larger cushion. National Research Inc. of Holmdel, N.J., said Lugar was supported by 55 percent of GOP primary voters, compared with 30 percent for Mourdock.

Lugar’s survey was conducted Feb. 8 and 9, involved 600 people and had an error margin of plus-or-minus 4 percentage points.

The Citizens United poll showed Rick Santorum in the lead among Republican presidential hopefuls. Santorum was picked by 33.9 percent of those surveyed, Mitt Romney by 28.3 percent, Newt Gingrich by 11.1 percent and Ron Paul by 5.9 percent.

bfrancisco@jg.net

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