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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

IN-02: Poll Shows Chocola in Trouble

Posted by James L.

From the South Bend Tribune (Research 2000, likely voters):

Joe Donnelly (D): 46
Chris Chocola (R-Inc.): 41
Undecided: 13
MoE: ±5%

Chocola was one of several incumbents who were facing challengers that skirted the edges of first-tier status before Moveon.org targeted them in a high-profile ad campaign. It looks like the campaign may have softened up Rep. Chocola enough so that Joe Donnelly is in an unusually good position at this point in the cycle.

Also of note is the generally sour mood in Indiana against Republicans in general, including several policies pushed forward by Gov. Mitch Daniels (R):

[Pollster Delair Ali] said he was also surprised at the number of people who brought up the Toll Road (7 percent) and time zone change (5 percent) as campaign issues.

“To me, it sounds like people are ticked off at Republicans in general,” Ali said.

It now looks like there are three ripe pick-up opportunities in Indiana, with Donnelly's race in IN-02 joining Brad Ellsworth's in IN-08 and Baron Hill's in IN-09.

Update: Democratic pollsters Cooper and Secrest had Donnelly up by ten points a few weeks ago. However, since that was commissioned by Democrats, my inclination is to view this Research 2000 poll as the more likely snapshot of the race. But make that the second consecutive poll showing Count Chocola in perilous territory--not good news for Indiana Republicans.

Posted at 11:03 AM in 2006 Elections - House, Indiana | Technorati

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The beauty part is that nobody considered this a top-tier race as recently as a month ago. It makes you wonder how many other GOP-hold seats that we have always consider longshots are imminently winnable.

Posted by: Mark [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 25, 2006 12:07 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Although the right-leaning Tribune predictably put this race within the margin of error, Chocola is hurting any way you cut it. Joe is keeping the pressure on and Chocola can either run on his record or attack Donnelly. Chocola's record shows his subserviance to Bush's agenda, so he has chosen to go negative. There was a weak attack in today's Tribune; it will get worse before it gets better, but a negative campaign can only hurt Chocola here. Many remember his exclusively negative campaign against Jill Long Thompson in 2002, run almost entirely on tv ads, and are loath to support such a campaign in 2006. Joe will play the rope a dope for a while and come out swinging when the time is right.



Posted by: Aguila Del Norte [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 25, 2006 03:16 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I'm not QUITE ready to buy this as a toss-up race yet, but I'm getting closer. Aguila is right that the 2002 race against Jill Long Thompson was really nasty -- but unfortunately it worked, and right now Chocola has over 1.5 million cash on hand, and Donnley has only 435K. That gap is going to have to be narrowed. It is impossible to overstate how pissed off a lot of typically-GOP leaning Hoosiers (especially in the northern part of the state) are at the state Republican Party and Governor Daniels, so my guess is that's what's largely driven these poll results. Now, Donnley needs to make the case for himself -- I would say the time to come out swinging is NOW!

Posted by: IndianaProgressive [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 25, 2006 07:49 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment