INDIANAPOLIS -- A majority of Hoosier registered voters want a new governor, according to a poll released this morning by a reputable Republican pollster.
Just under one-third of those polled would re-elect Gov. Mike Pence -- 32 percent -- while 54 percent favor a new person and the rest are unsure.
"We have not seen any evidence of recovery for Governor Pence since the poll we conducted in mid-April for Howey Politics," said Christine Matthews, of Bellwether Research and Consulting. "In fact, the numbers for him are worse, suggesting that even though (the religious freedom fight) is no longer making headlines, it has not been forgotten.
"This may be one of those situations where a sleeping giant has been kicked and is now wide awake."
The poll showed a decline in Pence's personal image and ballot strength -- resulting in ties with both Glenda Ritz and John Gregg. Both are Democrats running for governor.
The poll results come a day before Pence is set to make his re-election bid official at a private, friendly gathering of Republicans.
Bellwether interviewed 1,000 registered voters between May 29 and June 3 statewide. It was paid for by well-known Republican Bill Oesterle, who opposed Pence's stance on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act -- aka RFRA.
Oesterle previously managed Gov. Mitch Daniels' election campaign, and recently left as CEO of Angie's List to become more involved politically again.
"When I announced my career change to pursue civic activities, my first step was to begin to understand the landscape in Indiana post RFRA and post education session," Oesterle said.
"As part of that process, I asked Chris Matthews and Bellwether Research to conduct a very comprehensive poll and I wanted to share the results. My goal is to inform the discussion as we prepare for the 2015-2016 legislative session. It should come as no surprise that I care about a few of these issues."
The poll found that a majority support amending Indiana’s civil rights law to add sexual orientation and gender identity protections, while 32 percent oppose and 14 percent are undecided.
"Civil rights protection will be the next engagement," Matthews said. "The Democrats and Freedom Indiana will work to make this a hallmark issue for the 2016 gubernatorial election. It has the power to especially activate younger voters who may typically be less interested in a gubernatorial election than a presidential one."