Poll: Pence has narrow lead over Gregg in race for governor

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is leading Democratic challenger John Gregg by four percentage points in the governor’s election race in a new poll conducted for Bill Oesterle’s Free Enterprise PAC—a slight lead that’s within the margin of error.

The poll, released Thursday, shows the Republican governor ahead 40 percent to 36 percent.

The telephone poll of 600 registered Indiana voters conducted last week also found 42 percent of respondents disapprove of Pence’s job as governor, while 40 percent approve.

One-third of the respondents said they strongly disapprove of the governor’s job performance.

The poll’s respondents leaned more heavily Republican, with 12 percent more of the respondents identifying themselves as GOP voters rather than from other parties.
“That could be even more concerning for Gov. Pence because, if anything, the sample is robustly Republican,” said Republican pollster Christine Matthews of Bellwether Research & Consulting, which conducted the poll.

One point in the governor’s favor: the 22 percent who say they strongly approve of the governor is a higher number than the 13 percent who strongly approved of him in a similar poll last summer.

The Bellwether poll also found that 36 percent of respondents said Pence should be re-elected.

The poll found independents support Gregg by a 37 percent to 31 percent margin, with 22 percent undecided. Six in 10 independents say they are looking for a new person, according to the poll.

The gubernatorial reelection matchup is proving to be even more competitive than it was back in 2012, when Pence and Gregg first faced off for the job. Pence won that election by slightly more than 3 percentage points.

Right after the May 2 primary, both candidates released new ads—Pence touted new jobs in the state and its low unemployment rate, while Gregg said he would work to improve wages in the state and stressed his bipartisanship.

Gregg has made some gains on Pence in fundraising. Pence raised almost $12 million in the cycle through the first quarter of 2016, while Gregg had raised $5.6 million. During the first three months of 2016, Gregg raised $1.86 million compared with Pence’s $1.53 million.

Election observers have noted a “lukewarmness” on the part of business-minded Republicans to Pence’s reelection campaign.

IBJ reported that the top 25 donors to Pence’s 2012 campaign had given him $1.5 million as of April in the election cycle. But that same group has given him about $600,000 this time around during the same time frame.

Oesterle, who commissioned the poll, has been a strong detractor of Pence since last March, especially regarding his conservative stances on social issues.  

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