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Independent Voters Could Determine Indiana Senate Race

by Bianca Ciotti, published

In America's Heartland, independent voters are again a topic of scrutiny. The Indiana Senate race has become a monetary sinkhole as Republicans and Democrats pour advertising funds into the race in an attempt to pick up undecided, opposition, and independent voters. Americans for Prosperity, a Republican PAC, announced they would be spending $700,000 in a statewide ad campaign, while the The Majority PAC (Democrat) announced it would be investing $500,000 in ads in Indiana.

Indiana suddenly became a much heated debate after the meltdown of Todd Akin in Missouri, a race which the Republicans had predicted as solidly theirs. Since Akin's off-color rape comments, the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee cancelled millions of dollars of TV ad buys in Missouri. After the predicted loss in the state, the deadlocked senatorial race in Indiana became a higher priority for the Republican party as they attempt to gain the national Senate majority.

Democratic candidate Rep. Joe Donnelly has released a number of TV ads since the influx of support from The Majority PAC. His most recent ad, uploaded on Tuesday, attacks his opponent for not standing with middle class families. He explains that he intends to extend the Bush-era tax cuts, while creating jobs and voting against excessive spending. His opponent, Richard Mourdock, also released a new ad earlier this week. Mourdock's ad defames Donnelly as being out of touch with Indiana's needs, while constantly voting for big government spending, like bailouts and healthcare.

With 16% of Indiana's voters defining themselves as independent, both parties are eager to appeal to this demographic. According to a recent Market Research poll of independent voters in Indiana:

"Independent voters favored Mourdock 21 percent, Donnelly 25 percent, Horning 14 percent, while 41 percent were undecided. It’s those voters who will decide this race."

On the whole, independent voters are still undecided in the Indiana senatorial race. Last year, the LA Times reported that many independent voters in Indiana were disenchanted with Obama and the Democratic Party, and unlikely to vote that way in the 2012 presidential race. NPR also reported that independent voters favored Romney's policies over Obama's. Could the right-leaning sentiments leak over to the senatorial race?

Donnelly maintains a marginal lead in the polls, but as ads start rolling out from both candidates, independent voters could determine the Indiana Senate race.

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