One of the nation’s major political analysts has changed Indiana’s 5th Congressional District race to a “toss-up.”
Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics on Thursday announced it had moved the open race between Democrat Christina Hale and Republican Victoria Spartz from “leans Republican” to “toss-up,” along with 10 other U.S. House race rating changes.
The winner in the 5th District will replace retiring Republican Congresswoman Susan Brooks, who has held the seat since 2013. The district includes the northern portion of Marion County, eastern portion of Boone County and all of Hamilton County, along with all of Tipton, Madison and Grant counties and part of Howard and Blackford counties.
Democrats see an opportunity to flip the seat this year, contending that the political leanings in the suburban areas of the district have shifted in their favor. Democrats point to former U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly’s victory in the district in 2018 as evidence, even though Donnelly lost statewide to Republican Mike Braun.
The seat is one of five Republican-held U.S. House races that Sabato’s Crystal Ball considers a toss-up.
“We’re encouraged by our campaign’s growing momentum, and this rating change reflects the enthusiasm we’re seeing on the ground,” Hale campaign manager Joann Saridakis said in a statement. “Hoosiers in the 5th District are ready for a representative who will focus on solving the problems they face every day.”
Kyle Kondik, managing editor for Sabato’s Crystal Ball, referenced a recent internal poll conducted by Hale’s campaign that showed her up 51% to 45% as part of the reason for the rating change.
Spartz’s campaign has criticized the internal poll, describing it as “totally fabricated” because it also claims that Republican President Donald Trump is losing to former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden by 10 points, even though Trump won the district in 2016 by 12 points.
Hale’s campaign has not released the questions that were asked in the poll, the partisan breakdown of those polled or crosstabs.
“For all we know this poll could be all Democrats,” the Spartz campaign said.
In an article announcing the rating changes, Kondik acknowledged that Hale’s poll is likely flawed, but said it still justified the change.
“Even if those are overly rosy numbers for Democrats—and they probably are—we do think it’s hard to give the GOP a clear edge in an open-seat race in a district like this anymore,” Kondik wrote.
Two other race rating organizations—Inside Elections and Cook Political Report—still consider the seat likely Republican and lean Republican, respectively. And both of those ratings appear to have been posted after results were known in Indiana’s June 2 primary election.