Mourdock, Lugar share common ground at Indiana Senate debate amid fiery primary

A Howey/DePauw poll of likely voters conducted in late March found Lugar leading Mourdock by a slim 7 percent margin: 42 percent to 35 percent. Typically, an incumbent who polls below 50 percent is believed to be in serious jeopardy of losing his or her seat.

The senator touted his record Wednesday night in response to a question about what it means to be a conservative, claiming a "35-year conservative voting record," his volunteer service in the Navy, life as a farmer and ratings from various business and conservative groups "are conservative elements of my life and they're expressed in my votes."

While Mourdock spent much of Wednesday's televised debate touting smaller government and fewer regulations, Lugar touted his longtime experience. Responding to a question on Israel, Lugar mentioned meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu three weeks prior. Lugar also noted the the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) nonproliferation program following the Cold War.

Early absentee voting in Indiana began April 9.

Democratic hopes of capturing the seat hinge on the result of the May 8 primary. Democratic odds of overtaking Lugar's seat are significantly lower if Lugar, a longtime member who boasts historical support from Democrats and independents, is in the race.

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