Poll: Richard Mourdock May Actually Blow the Indiana Senate Race

My latest story is a look back at the “rape gaffes” of 2012, which – it can no longer be argued – did real damage to Republicans up and down the ballot. I’ve got a certain amount of sympathy for the gaffe-rs, especially Richard Mourdock, who thought he could convince his audience of a coherent moral stance, and they would prefer it to a “pro-life” Democrat’s waffling.

And this is what drives Republicans mad about the race. Mourdock’s opponent, Donnelly, refers to himself as “pro-life.” At the pivotal debate, he gave a clipped, quick answer to the abortion question that made less sense than Mourdock’s. “I believe in pro-life,” he said, which sounded weird on its own. “I believe that life begins at conception. The only exceptions I believe in are for rape, and incest, and the life of the mother. In regards to contraception, I believe women have the right to quality health care.”

Undergirding all of this: A new poll in Indiana puts Mourdock 11 points behind the Democrat, Joe Donnelly. Nobody thinks a Democratic win would be that strong, but Libertarians tend to do well in Indiana, and some voters who might have given Mourdock the benefit of the doubt will go Libertarian, allowing Donnelly to run maybe only six points ahead of Obama in order to win.