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New poll in U.S. Senate race shows Donnelly slightly ahead

September 5, 2018

A new poll shows Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly slightly ahead in his re-election bid against Republican candidate Mike Braun.

The NBC News/Marist Poll released Wednesday shows 49 percent of likely voters supporting Donnelly and 43 percent backing Braun in a head-to-head race. The margin of error is five percentage points. The poll surveyed 955 adults from Aug. 26-29.Joe Donnelly and Mike Braun - with names

Among all registered voters, Donnelly is up 48 percent to Braun’s 42 percent. In a three-way race between Donnelly, Braun and Libertarian candidate Lucy Brenton, 44 percent chose Donnelly, 41 percent picked Braun and 8 percent picked Brenton.

The NBC News/Marist Poll also asked about the favorability of President Donald Trump and the senatorial candidates. The poll found that Trump’s approval rating in the state is at 48 percent, while 46 percent of likely voters disapprove of the president.

For Donnelly, 48 percent of likely voters gave him a favorable rating, while 31 percent gave him a negative rating. That’s higher among his own party—79 percent of all Democrats who are likely voters approved of him, while 50 percent of independents and 24 percent of Republicans approved of him.

“We don't need a poll to tell us that Joe's message of hard work, bipartisanship and Hoosier common sense is resonating with voters," Donnelly's campaign said in a statement. "For the next 60-plus days, we're continuing to keep our heads down, work hard, and talk to every voter to listen to their concerns and discuss how Joe will fight for Hoosiers in Washington next year."

Braun is also highly regarded among his party, with 71 percent of Republicans who are likely voters expressing approving, while 30 percent of independents and 8 percent of Democrats did the same.

“Mike Braun is surging in the polls because Hoosiers are sick of talk from career politicians like Joe Donnelly and are ready for the solutions a job creator like Mike Braun will bring to Washington,” said Mike Braun spokesman Josh Kelley in a statement. "Joe Donnelly will tell Hoosiers anything; Mike Braun will get things done: that's why Hoosier momentum is clearly building behind Braun."

But Braun is somewhat of an unknown factor. Among all likely voters surveyed, 39 percent said they have a favorable impression of him, 32 percent had an unfavorable impression and 29 percent were not familiar enough with him to decide.

Also, according to the poll, the top issues for Indiana voters are the economy and health care.

Little polling has been conducted in the race despite it being one of the most-watched U.S. Senate contests in the country as Donnelly tries to win in a state that voted for President Donald Trump by nearly 20 percentage points in 2016.

The first poll released by Gravis Marketing in May found that 45 percent of respondents said they would vote for Braun, while 44 percent said they would vote for Donnelly.

An online poll conducted by SurveyMonkey and media start-up Axios had Donnelly down two percentage points to Braun, but the deficit was well within the margin for error of 5 percentage points.

And a poll from the right-leaning Trafalgar Group had Donnelly ahead of Republican Braun by about 12 percentage points. 

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