A new poll indicates tight races for Indiana secretary of state and U.S. Senate, with the Republican candidates losing by four percentage points and winning by just two, respectively.
The 600-person poll from Sept. 25 and 26 was administered by ARW Strategies and Indy Politics. (The Statehouse File publishes opinion articles from Indy Politics’ editor and publisher, Abdul-Hakim Shabazz.)
In the secretary of state race, the poll is currently predicting an possible upset of Republican candidate Diego Morales (above, center) by Democrat Destiny Wells (above, left), who has 36% of the vote. Her lead is just within the poll’s margin of error of 4 percentage points.
“It’s always good to see polling that reflects what we’ve been hearing every day on this race—Hoosiers want a candidate of integrity when it comes to Indiana’s chief election officer and they know Destiny is the right answer for Indiana’s next secretary of state,” said Lindsay Haake, communications director for the Wells campaign, in a statement to The Statehouse File.
The Morales campaign also issued a statement to The Statehouse File, saying, “Diego is focused on crisscrossing all 92 counties and speaking with voters. The only poll that matters to Diego is the one on Election Day.”
As Indy Politics noted, the poll was conducted prior to the website releasing transcripts of two women anonymously claiming they were sexually harassed by Morales.
Morales released a statement on Sept. 30, the day the allegations were published, denying them and questioning why the women—one of whom is a volunteer for Wells’ campaign and the other a supporter—waited over a decade to come forward.
“Being 39 days out from the election, the timing is clearly politically motivated,” the statement said.
The poll found 65% of Republicans in favor of Morales, as compared to 82% of Democrats supporting Wells.
In the Senate race, current Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., is at 39% of the vote versus Tom McDermott’s 37%. Seventeen percent remain undecided, including 28% of Independents.
ARW Strategies’ founder, Andrew Weissert, told Indy Politics it’s likely Young “end[s] up winning closer to 90% of his own party’s voters”—the poll has him at 76% currently—and that would result in “giving McDermott a much more difficult path.”
On the other side, 85% of Democrats are in favor of McDermott, Shabazz told The Statehouse File.
Overall, “Republican candidates should not be particularly excited about this information,” said Andrew Downs, director emeritus of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Purdue University Fort Wayne.
Downs also said there’s the issue of different Republican wings not getting behind the two candidates, and it’s more likely to hurt Morales.
“Young’s character has not been questioned. Young’s ideological commitment has been questioned. And Young will be able to demonstrate through votes he’s taken, legislation he sponsored—those sorts of things—a commitment to Republican ideals,” Downs said.
Shabazz had the same takeaway, saying Young is failing to attract the “MAGA crowd, while Diego is having trouble with more of the establishment, traditional Republican crowd.”
When it comes to a Democrat prevailing in either race, Downs says the better chance is with Wells, pointing to her not facing an incumbent nor needing to raise as much money as McDermott.
“[I]f Wells can muster appropriate resources, then she is probably in a better position than McDermott,” Downs said.
The poll respondent pool was 43% Republican, 33% Democrat and 24% Independent or third party.
Jack Sells is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.