Another National Publication Shifts Indiana Governor’s Race Toward Democrats

Citing RFRA, Sabato’s Crystal Ball Moves Race from “Likely Republican” to “Leans Republican”

INDIANAPOLIS – Mike Pence’s RFRA hangover has spiraled into a chronic migraine as his out-of-touch ideology has not only embarrassed the state, but has also put his re-election chances in jeopardy. With today’s latest analysis by University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball analysis has the Indiana governor’s race moving from “Likely Republican” to “Leans Republican” – making Crystal Ball the third organization to show this race moving toward Democrats.

“Mike Pence’s out-of-touch political agenda — which has embarrassed Hoosiers and damaged the state’s economy – seems to finally be catching up to him,” said Drew Anderson, communications director. “By throwing the state into an economic panic by signing RFRA and allowing Indiana’s infrastructure to crumble for too long, Hoosiers are fed up with their governor who has shown he’d rather prioritize photo-ops than do the hard work that’s needed to improve the well-being of Indiana. Hoosiers see through this D.C. politics and know that in order to build a better future, they don’t want Mike Pence as their governor.”

Citing Pence’s RFRA – which sent the state into an economic panic – and volatile presidential candidates like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz at the top of the ticket, Sabato’s Crystal Ball viewed the Indiana governor’s race as an opening for John Gregg, who will make Hoosier Commonsense a priority and do away with rigid ideologies.

Table 3:  Crystal Ball gubernatorial rating changes

“Indiana: One of the surprising margins on Election Night 2012 was now-Gov. Mike Pence’s (R) closer-than-expected win over former state House Speaker John Gregg (D). Pence won by just three percentage points and ran about 4.5 points behind Mitt Romney, who easily carried the state in the presidential race after Barack Obama very narrowly won it in 2008. Gregg is running again. Since winning, Pence has had some shaky moments, most notably a controversy over a 2015 bill that some believed would legitimize discrimination against gays and lesbians. More recently, Pence signed a bill that made Indiana just the second state (along with North Dakota) to outlaw abortions that parents seek because the fetus has been diagnosed with a disability. Gregg, who opposes abortion rights, argues that the bill goes too far. While Indiana is the most conservative state in the Midwest, it’s fair to wonder whether social issues could hurt Pence in his reelection bid. But the bigger problem for Pence is one he shares in common with the other incumbents discussed here: The GOP’s problems at the top of the ticket could potentially trim the Republican presidential nominee’s margins in Indiana, or even allow the Democratic nominee to carry the state, as Obama did once. Obama’s 2008 victory didn’t prevent Pence’s predecessor, Mitch Daniels (R), from easily winning reelection with 58% of the vote, but Pence isn’t Daniels, and he has not yet displayed the kind of crossover appeal that his predecessor enjoyed. Pence remains a favorite in his rematch with Gregg, but we’re moving the race from Likely Republican to Leans Republican.” – Information above provided by Sabato’s Crystal Ball.

Today’s analysis is further proof that Mike Pence’s ideology is having long-term damage to his credibility as governor. This January, GOVERNING Magazine called the race a “TOSSUP” – citing Pence’s RFRA as having lasting damage to his campaign. This rating followed a poll released by WISH-TV/Ball State Hoosier Survey last November that showed a 15 point drop in Mike Pence’s approval rating. And finally, a similar analysis by RollCall’s Rothenberg & Gonzales moved their opinion of Indiana’s governor’s race from “FAVORED to “LEAN”.

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