Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) has jumped to an 11-point lead over Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) following Mourdock's controversial comments last week on rape and abortion, according to a new nonpartisan poll of their Senate race.
Donnelly leads Mourdock by 47 to 36 percent with Libertarian Andrew Horning at 4 percent, according to a poll for the respected Howey Politics Indiana. That marks a huge shift from public polling before Mourdock's comments, which showed a tied race.
Mourdock pushed back with his own poll Friday morning showing him with a 2-point lead. Donnelly and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee have both released polls in recent days showing him up by 7 points.
The bipartisan pollsters who conducted the poll are well-respected in the state and correctly predicted Mourdock's primary win over Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), though they understated the margin.
Mourdock created a national media firestorm with comments at a debate last week about pregnancy and rape.
"I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God," Mourdock said at the debate, after saying he supports abortion only when the mother's life is in danger. "And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."
Democrats have pounced on the remark, using it with other Mourdock comments opposing bipartisan compromise to paint him as outside the political mainstream. According to the poll, 87 percent of likely voters know about his recent controversial remarks, which had led local coverage for days, and only 70 percent of Republicans are backing him.
The poll of 800 likely voters was conducted from Oct. 28-30.