A new poll shows U.S. Sen. Richard G. Lugar may be in real danger of losing his longtime Senate seat.
Results released Friday morning by Howey Politics Indiana and DePauw University have Lugar trailing Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock by double digits, 48 percent to 38 percent, in the Indiana Republican Senate primary race.
The results are in stark contrast to the previous Howey/DePauw poll in late March that found 42 percent of likely Republican voters backing Lugar, compared with Mourdock’s 35 percent.
The latest survey was conducted by Republican pollster Christine Matthews of Bellwether Research and Democratic pollster Fred Yang of Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, and included 700 mostly Republican voters. It has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.
Yang said a poll he conducted in January for the Indiana Democratic Party showed the first signs of trouble for Lugar, when 56 percent of those surveyed said they wouldn’t vote for Lugar in the primary.
“The findings of that poll made clear that Sen. Lugar was vulnerable to a single challenger in a Republican primary,” he said. “And that is exactly what has seemed to transpire.”
The race between Lugar and Mourdock, however, could come down to the wire, depending upon the accuracy of the various polls attempting to gauge the contest.
Lugar’s campaign on Thursday pointed to a poll by Lunch Pail Republicans, which showed him leading Mourdock 44 percent to 42 percent—virtually a dead heat given the poll’s 4.9-percentage-point margin of error.
Lugar is seeking his seventh term. But Mourdock's backers are casting the 80-year-old as too moderate for conservative-leaning Indiana and out of touch after 36 years in Washington, D.C.
Lugar won his last election in 2006 with 80 percent of the vote and no Democratic challenger.
The winner of Tuesday’s primary will face Democrat U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly and Libertarian Andy Horning in the November general election.