Coats sails to large lead over Ellsworth in IN

The more that Indiana voters see of Rep. Brad Ellsworth and the Democratic leadership in Congress, the more inclined they are to send former Senator Dan Coats to Washington.  In the first post-primary survey of likely voters in the state, Coats has an 15-point lead over Ellsworth for a seat Evan Bayh easily held through two terms:

Newly chosen Republican nominee Dan Coats earns 51% support while his Democratic rival Brad Ellsworth’s attracts 36% in the first Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of the Indiana Senate race following Tuesday’s GOP Primary. …

Coats, who previously served in the U.S. Senate from 1989 to 1999, captured 39% of the vote in a five-way race on Tuesday to win the state Republican Senate nomination. His four opponents have now endorsed his candidacy. Ellsworth, a U.S. congressman, is unchallenged for his party’s nomination.

In surveys since Democratic Senator Evan Bayh’s surprise announcement that he would not seek reelection, Coat’s support in match-ups with Ellsworth has grown from 46% in February to 54% last month. Ellsworth’s support in those same surveys has remained in the narrow range of 32% to 34%.

Gee, what could be holding Ellsworth to the mid-thirties?  Three guesses:

Ellsworth voted in favor of the recently-passed national health care plan, but 59% of Indiana voters favor repeal of that plan. The Indiana finding includes 48% who Strongly Favor repeal. Thirty-eight percent (38%) oppose repeal, with 26% who Strongly Oppose it. Those figures are similar to the national average.

Eighty-one percent (81%) of those who Strongly Favor repeal support Coats, while 80% of those in the smaller group who Strongly Oppose it support Ellsworth.

Interestingly, independents are almost evenly split between the two candidates, 38/35 for Coats.  More than twice as many Democrats will cross over to vote for Coats (18%) as Republicans will to vote for Ellsworth (7%).  Coats wins women, barely edging Ellsworth at the margin of error, 45/42.  He beats Ellsworth easily among men, 57/29, and among all age groups except the youngest voters.

Ellsworth has problems on his own, let alone against Coats.  His favorability rating is only 43%, against 35% unfavorable.  Only 9% of voters have a “very favorable” impression of Ellsworth, while 13% have a “very unfavorable” opinion of him.  The issues also play against Ellsworth and the Democrats.  Sixty-one percent would support an immigration-enforcement law in Indiana like the one in Arizona, while Hoosiers narrowly oppose climate-change legislation, 41/38.  More than two-thirds think the Republicans are the Party of No, and a narrow plurality thinks that’s OK, 33/31, with 36% not sure.

This race has just begun, but it looks like it may be over before it started.  Unless something drastic changes to make Democrats look good between now and November, it’s Coats’ race to win.  Given his long experience, he’s not likely to make a mistake that will give Ellsworth the kind of narrative changer that will make Indiana voters forget ObamaCare and Nancy Pelosi.