In an election where unaffiliated voters will likely decide the outcome, Romney’s endorsement of Mourdock could drive independents away. Despite Mourdock's recent gaffe divulging his belief that pregnancies resulting from rape are "something that God intended to happen," Romney has stood by the Indiana candidate.
A Romney campaign spokesperson released a statement last week regarding Richard Mourdock's comment, stating, "We disagree on the policy regarding exceptions for rape and incest but still support him." Romney has decided not to pull a television ad expressing his endorsement of Mourdock, but Mourdock’s ratings are falling in the polls even with the candidate's support.
Mourdock’s statement has hurt his campaign in Indiana, where he had enjoyed a consistent lead in the polls. In an October poll, the Global Strategy Group reported a two point lead for his opponent, Democrat Joe Donnelly. The results are even more polarized among political independents, the majority of whom strongly favor Donnelly over Mourdock in light of Mourdock's recent comments.
When asked if Richard Mourdock’s stance on abortion would affect decisions at the polls, Indiana resident and Libertarian Smiley Courtney responded:
“To claim that the rape of a woman is 'God's will' is inane, insulting, and just plain wrong, like saying the world economy has faltered due to 'God's will.' I had planned to vote for Mourdock. I have campaigned for Mourdock, primarily because I was against the liberalism of Donnelly's congressional record. But running a country is about solving tough problems. Doing that from a fundamentalist's agenda results in such historical examples as the Taliban.”
Although improving the economy continues to be the primary concern among US voters, abortion remains a hot button issue, especially in key states. An October Gallup poll found that 17 percent of individuals surveyed will only vote for a candidate if they share their views on abortion. An additional 45 percent of those surveyed indicated abortion as one of several important factors in deciding on a candidate. Gallup also found that the majority of women in swing states view abortion as the most important issue in the 2012 election.
It is still too early to tell if Romney's endorsement of Mourock will have any affect on current voter trends, and with elections just a week away, it is likely that the potential repercussions of his choice will not be evident until the votes are in on November 6. It is possible that Mitt Romney's continued support for Mourdock may appeal to religious voters, who are statistically more likely to vote than unaffiliated individuals. However, a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll reported that just 39 percent of respondents trust Mitt Romney to do a better job when it comes to women's issues. Romney's refusal to disavow Mourdock could very well disrupt his recent gain with female voters.
A comprehensive look at the latest polls reveal the presidential race is neck-and-neck, and many analysts predict a tie. With fifteen percent of voters still undecided, any action - or failure to act - could be the deciding factor in who will win this race.