Indiana’s 9th District is safe Republican territory at the presidential level, but a new Democratic poll suggests that it could be competitive for Democrats at the congressional level.
Democrat Shelli Yoder trailed Republican Trey Hollingsworth 42 to 44 percent in a Global Strategy Group poll released Tuesday and conducted for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In August, Yoder trailed Hollingsworth by 7 points.
Yoder is overperforming the top of the ticket in the district. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump led his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton 50 to 43 percent, which the polling memo says is “virtually unchanged” from August.
Yoder still has lower name recognition than Hollingsworth, who started airing TV ads during the GOP primary in the spring. Incumbent 9th District Rep. Todd Young, a Republican, is running for Senate.
This most recent poll surveyed 400 likely voters from Sept. 29 to Oct. 2 via live telephone survey and had a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.
An internal poll from Yoder’s campaign showed the race tied at 41 percent each, with 18 percent undecided, at the end of May.
Despite this district’s Republican lean (Mitt Romney carried it by 16 points in 2012), Democrats are optimistic that Hollingsworth’s vulnerabilities will help give them an opening.
They have been quick to brand him a “carpetbagger” since he moved from Tennessee to Indiana last September, just a month before entering the GOP primary.
Despite similar attacks from his Republican opponents, Hollingsworth won the five-way primary in May with 34 percent of the vote. He poured his own money into that contest and benefited from a super PAC primarily funded by his father. Indiana Jobs Now, the super PAC backing him, has continued to spend in the race.
Yoder lags Hollingsworth in name recognition. Only 41 percent of voters knew her, compared to 50 percent who knew Hollingsworth, the new poll found. Yoder is a common name in the state, and her name recognition is up 8 points since August. She’s been on the air with her first TV ad for two weeks.
By the end of June, Hollingsworth had loaned his campaign $2.5 million, ending the three-month Federal Election Commission reporting period with $612,000 in the bank. Yoder ended the same three-month period with $504,000.