April Indiana Statewide Findings for Howey Politics IN


On April 5th Senator Joe Donnelly announced his support for gay marriage and since then I’ve been interested to see how this would poll for him. Of course, since he is not up for re-election until 2018, polling on this now is pretty much an academic exercise.  And with the rapid pace of change on this issue, it could be that his 2018 GOP opponent will have the same position.

In a not terribly surprising finding, a majority of Hoosier voters (55%) oppose Joe Donnelly’s decision to support gay marriage, while 36% support it.  And when they say oppose, they mean it:  47% strongly oppose, while 27% strongly favor.  Of course the results break along party lines:  59% of Democrats are supportive, as are 38% of independents, and 20% of Republicans.  But age, as we know, is an important factor too:  three fourths of Democrats under the age of 45 support his decision, while 20% oppose it.  Democrats over the age of 45 are more divided: 50% favor and 40% oppose.  Nearly half (48%) of independents under 45 support Donnelly’s position and 43% oppose it, but among independents over age 45, 29% favor and 60% oppose.  Republicans are very negative, although younger Republicans are ten points more supportive than their older counterparts.

Interestingly, college graduates are evenly divided:  46% support Donnelly’s decision, while 47% oppose it.  College educated women are supportive (50%-42%), while non college women run two to one against (30% favor – 60% oppose).  Among college educated men, a very strong GOP cohort, 41% favor Donnelly’s position and 51% are opposed, while just 31% of non college men are in favor and 63% are against.

Senator Donnelly’s favorability rating (36%) is where it was in our late October poll right before his election, and his unfavorable rating is down to 26% from 31%.  But his colleague, GOP Senator Dan Coats, betters this with a 44% favorable – 18% unfavorable rating, but after two years in office, 28% still have no opinion of the senior senator.
Donnelly’s 2012 Republican Senate opponent Richard Mourdock doesn’t fare so well.  He has recovered some from his abysmal 30% favorable – 49% unfavorable rating from October, but he is the only one of 16 names tested with a net negative image at 27% favorable – 35% unfavorable.  I went straight to gender in the cross-tabs, but it wasn’t that interesting.  Men and women weren’t terribly different.  The interesting difference is by education:  college graduates, both women and men, are really unfavorable to Mourdock  (26% favorable – 47% unfavorable) compared to those with less than a college degree  (29% favorable – 27% unfavorable).

Hoosier voters are divided, as they were in October, on whether or not the state should amend its constitution to define marriage as being between one man and one woman: 50% say they support or lean toward voting to amend the Constitution, while 46% say they would vote no or would lean against it.  Party splits mirror our October findings:  59% of Republicans support/lean toward this amendment as do 50% of independents and 36% of Democrats.   Support for the amendment is driven by seniors and to some extent Boomers.  18-29 year olds oppose the amendment and 30-44 year olds are divided.

We also tested options for expanding health care coverage to more poor and low income people, as the Affordable Care Act calls on states to do.  Because Indiana is waiting to hear if it might be allowed to do this through its own program, the Healthy Indiana plan, we tested this option in addition to Medicaid. We also provided the option to do neither. The results align with the private polling on this issue I did last month.  Hoosier voters want to extend health care coverage, and most support doing it through the Healthy Indiana plan (48%), rather than the Medicaid program (23%).  Only 19% said the state should not extend coverage under either option and 10% were undecided.  While Republicans don’t support Medicaid expansion, they do support extending coverage through the state plan which encourages participation in the cost.

On the education front, Indiana signed up in 2010 to participate in The Common Core national education standards, but a few legislators say Indiana should pause its implementation or pull out of the program. However, the majority (54%) of voters want to stay with The Common Core.  Only the most conservative voters are divided on this (40% for and 40% against).  Somewhat conservative voters overwhelmingly support staying with The Common Core (60%), as do moderates and liberals (57%).

Nearly half of Hoosiers say there is a gun in their household and 13% are members of the National Rifle Assocation (22% of gun owners).  When asked how much the NRA reflects their own views, 46% of gun owners said the NRA reflects their opinions always or most of the time, a number slightly lower than the 50% Gallup found nationally among gun owners.  The majority of Hoosier gun owners (54%) say the NRA reflects their views only some of the time or never, as do 72% of non gun owners.

More than eight in ten gun owners as well as 88% of voters without guns support background checks to buy a gun in any circumstance (a more expansive question than the policy that was being considered).  It’s enormously popular, but down a tad from a February, 2011 statewide poll I conducted in which we found 90% in favor of background checks under all circumstances.

Also asked in February 2011 was whether gun laws should be more strict, less strict or kept as they are.  In 2011, 50% of Hoosier voters said gun laws should be more strict compared with 45% on this poll but those who said they should be less strict was the same (8%).  On this poll, 47% thought the laws should be kept as they are.  

A plurality (49%) of women say laws should be more strict, compared to 40% of men.  Democratic men and women are in agreement (82%) that gun laws should be more strict.  It is independent and Republican women who are more likely to favor stricter gun laws than their male counterparts.

Bellwether Research conducted a telephone survey among 600 registered voters in Indiana April 18-21, 2013 for Howey Politics Indiana.  Voters were reached via cell phone (31%) and landline (69%) telephone.  The margin of error is + 4%  Full results on www.howeypolitics.com



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