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Ballot Box

Welcome to Ballot Box 2016, your source for coverage of state and local elections—with a bit of presidential politics thrown in as well. Your hosts are Hayleigh Colombo (hcolombo@ibj.com) and Lindsey Erdody (lerdody@ibj.com).
Elections / Politics / Government & Economic Development / Government

Poll: Trump, Bayh lead in Indiana; governor's race tight

August 17, 2016

Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Evan Bayh have leads in Indiana in their respective races, but the battle to replace outgoing Gov. Mike Pence is extremely tight, according to a new poll from the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Republican Eric Holcomb and Democrat John Gregg are “virtually tied,” said pollsters, who talked to 403 Indiana residents by phone from Aug. 13-16.

"Gregg was involved in one of the closest governor's races in Indiana history when he faced off against Pence four years ago,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent polling institute, in a statement about the results. “This one could be even closer.”

Holcomb became the Republican nominee last month after Trump picked Pence to be his running mate. He was appointed to serve as lieutenant governor earlier this year after Sue Ellspermann quit the post to seek the presidency of Ivy Tech Community College.

The Monmouth poll found Holcomb with 42 percent of the vote and Gregg with 41 percent. Libertarian Rex Bell had 4 percent support and 13 percent of voters said they were undecided.

The poll is the first independent survey to be released since Holcomb joined the race, Pence joined Trump’s ticket, and Bayh jumped into the Senate race. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

Bayh replaced Baron Hill, who resigned from the ballot after determining he could not win.

The poll found Bayh has a 48 percent to 41 percent lead over U.S. Rep. Todd Young, the Republican nominee. Young had been expected to win the seat easily until Bayh—the former two-term governor who then held the Senate seat—stepped in.

Pollsters noted that Hoosier voters face an unusual situation with Holcomb and Bayh chosen by party leaders after primary winners withdrew from the ballot. Nearly six in 10 of the respondents said they’re bothered by that development. That included 31 percent who are bothered a lot and 26 who are bothered a little.

The poll found 40 percent didn’t care.

In the presidential race, Trump had an 11-point lead in Indiana over Democrat Hillary Clinton. About 47 percent of voters said they would support Trump, even though only about one-third of voters have a favorable view of the GOP nominee. Meanwhile, 36 percent plan to vote for Clinton, whose favorable rating was just 28 percent.

"Pence is likely boosting the GOP ticket's prospects here, as Indiana voters really don't like either of the two presidential nominees,” Murray said. “In fact, their favorability ratings are among the lowest the Monmouth University Poll has found anywhere we've polled.”

The poll found some Hoosiers plan to split their tickets. For example, about 76 percent of Trump supporters are backing Young. But 16 percent say they will split their ticket and vote for Bayh. Among Clinton supporters, 89 percent plan to vote for Bayh.

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