Senate poll gives Donnelly edge over Braun

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) — Big Republican and Democrat backers from this area weigh in on new poll results from Indiana’s closely watched U.S. Senate race. 

We analyze the numbers from one of the first meaningful polls in the big senate contest, and it’s good news for the incumbent.

For months, we’ve heard how Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly has his hands full trying to fend off the challenge of Republican Mike Braun to keep his seat on Capitol Hill.

A new NBC News/Marist poll of likely Hoosier voters shows a tight race, but gives Donnelly a six-point 49 to 43 advantage.

"Polls can go from morning to afternoon, and who knows what’s going to happen," said Charlie Belch, who ran for mayor of Fort Wayne as a Democrat way back in 1991.

He’s known Joe Donnelly longer than that, and insists he’s the right man for the job.

"He has been getting himself known very well for the last six years, and I think the people of Indiana are favorably impressed," Belch said.

The Donnelly campaign commented on the poll, saying, "“We don’t need a poll to tell us that Joe’s message of hard work, bipartisanship and Hoosier common sense is resonating with voters. For the next 60 plus days, we’re continuing to keep our heads down, work hard, and talk to every voter to listen to their concerns and discuss how Joe will fight for Hoosiers in Washington next year."

Senator Donnelly’s six-point lead shrinks a little bit when you factor in that there’s a third candidate in the race that could make some difference.

When the poll added in the name of Libertarian Lucy Brenton, Donnelly was the choice of 44 percent of those surveyed, Braun secured 41 percent and Brenton got eight percent.

Business executive Bill Bean, who hosted a fund-raiser for Braun in town, believes attack ads from PACs supporting Donnelly have helped him to a lead, but he thinks Braun can turn the tables on him.

"Next week, my understanding, is when the outside PAC money will be coming in on his behalf, and that’s going to equal the playing field," Bean said.

The Braun campaign released a response to the poll results, saying, "Mike Braun is surging in the polls because Hoosiers are sick of talk from career politicians like Joe Donnelly and are ready for the solutions a job creator like Mike Braun will bring to Washington." 

The statement continued, "Joe Donnelly will tell Hoosiers anything, Mike Braun will get things done: that’s why Hoosier momentum is clearly building behind Braun."

Election Day is November 6th. 

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