As we’ve documented on the program recently, the political tide is trending towards Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock in his primary challenge to once invincible establishment Republican incumbent Richard Lugar (of Virginia). Early this week I cited a poll released by the Mourdock campaign that showed him leading Lugar 42 to 41 percent among likely voters.
Our program poll expert, Joel Harris responded that report this way:
The poll was conducted by McLaughlin and Associates at the request of the Mourdock campaign. Typically when a campaign charters a poll, it tends to be skewed in their favor. That having been said, when I adjusted and made estimations for what I think the poll would accurately state and factoring for undecided voters, come May the result would be the following: Mourdock 52 Lugar 48
With the previous poll that I mentioned in the Libtree post, the result was: Mourdock 51 Lugar 49
I think it's fair to say that we have some consistency if my assessments are holding to form. In other words, Mourdock holds a very thin lead currently and if the election were today, we would probably have a new Republican nominee. There are a few weeks left, but momentum is working in Mourdock's favor. Mourdock had a strong showing at the debate and as long as he continues to demonstrate that he would be a capable individual, things will probably continue to either hold steady or shift in his direction. At this point it's very, very hard (impossible) for Lugar to reinvent himself, so about all he has left is to tout the highlights of his record and trash Mourdock. I wouldn't be surprised if we see polls soon showing Mourdock ahead beyond the margin of error. Lugar fans should be very nervous.
And to add more concern for Lugar folks, the National Right to Life Committee has taken issue with the Senator’s constant reference to his “100% Pro-Life Voting Record from NRLC.” As it turns out, his rating is not nearly that high when you look over the course of his career.
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Indiana Right to Life issued this condemning statement on the issue:
The Indiana Right to Life Political Action Committee is calling on Senator Richard Lugar's campaign to stop misleading Hoosier voters by stating that he has a "100% record" with National Right to Life, a claim that has appeared consistently in Lugar campaign communications.
"The Lugar campaign's claim is clearly designed to give the impression that he has never voted against National Right to Life, but his lifetime voting record tells another story," states Indiana Right to Life PAC chairman Mike Fichter. "The truth is that Senator Lugar has voted against National Right to Life on numerous occasions by voting for federal funding for embryo-killing research, voting for restrictions on the free speech rights of organizations like Right to Life, and voting against restrictions on the use of tissue from aborted babies."
Although National Right to Life does not score judicial confirmation votes, Fichter notes that this is another area in which Lugar has gone against National Right to Life, such as in the case of voting to confirm Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court.
"It is true that Senator Lugar can point to individual sessions in which he voted in alignment with National Right to Life, but when most people hear a candidate refer to a rating, the general impression is that the reference is to a lifetime rating," says Fichter. "We believe Senator Lugar should be up front with voters in acknowledging that he has voted against Right to Life on some very high profile issues."
I invited the Executive Director of Indiana Right to Life, Mike Fichter, onto the show to talk about this issue. Hear our full conversation here (or by clicking “listen” above).