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Poll: Governor's race could be tight or no contest. It depends

Thursday, June 19, 2008 - 4:31 pm

Poll results on the election for governor released Thursday by the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at IPFW show a tight race or an easy re-election for Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, depending on how the question is phrased.

In the first version of the question, 452 respondents were asked, “If the election for governor were today and you were standing in the voting booth right now, who would you vote for, Republican Mitch Daniels or Democrat Jill Long Thompson?” Here, the race appears very tight, with each candidate receiving the support of 49 percent of the respondents.

In the second version of the question, 438 people were asked, “Now I’m going to read the names of the candidates for Indiana Governor. On a scale of 1 to 10 ... where 10 means you would vote for CANDIDATE NAME for governor no matter who else was on the ballot ... and 1 means you would vote against CANDIDATE NAME for Governor no matter who else was on the ballot ... and 5 means you are completely neutral on this race, how likely are you to vote for CANDIDATE NAME?” The respondents were asked this question for Daniels and Long Thompson.

When the question was asked this way, the race looks a little more decided. Daniels averaged 5.5 and Long Thompson averaged 4.9. Twenty-six percent of the respondents rated their likelihood of voting for Daniels a 10. Almost one-third (31 percent) of the respondents rated their likelihood of voting for Daniels a 1. While Long Thompson had an identical percentage (31 percent) of respondents rating their likelihood of supporting her a 1, she was behind Daniels in terms of voters giving a rating of 10 (26 percent to 19 percent.)

The third version of the question asked 434 likely voters, “If the election for Indiana Governor were today, and you were standing in the voting booth right now, how likely would you be to vote for CANDIDATE, very likely, somewhat likely, not very likely, or not at all likely?” Once again, the question was asked for both candidates.

When respondents were asked about their support for Daniels, 42 percent said they were very likely to vote for him. When those who said they were somewhat likely to vote for Daniels were added to those who were very likely to vote for him, his support jumped to 57 percent. Thirty percent said they were not at all likely to vote for him.

When respondents were asked about their support for Thompson, 27 percent said they were very likely to vote for her. When those who said they were somewhat likely to vote for Thompson were added to those who were very likely to vote for her, her support jumped to 43 percent. Forty percent said they were not at all likely to vote for her.

The final version of the horserace question, posed to 448 people, was, “If there was an election for Indiana governor today, which statement would best describe you? One: I would vote for CANDIDATE NAME no matter who else is on the ballot. Two: I would vote against CANDIDATE NAME no matter who else is on the ballot. Three: I might or might not vote for CANDIDATE NAME, depending on who else is on the ballot.” This question was asked for both candidates.

Thirty-one percent of the respondents said they would vote for Daniels no matter who else was on the ballot. A nearly identical percentage (29 percent) said they would vote against him no matter who else was on the ballot. This left 40 percent saying they might or might not vote for Daniels depending on who else was on the ballot.

Eighteen percent of the respondents said they would vote for Thompson no matter who else was on the ballot. Thirty-one percent said they would vote against her no matter who else was on the ballot. This left 52 percent saying they might or might not vote for Thompson depending on who else was on the ballot.

The Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics, in partnership with SurveyUSA, conducted this statewide survey June 10, 11 and 12. These scientifically conducted polls had margins of error of 4.7 percent or 4.8 percent, according to the Downs Center.