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Unorthodox Campaigner May Be in Trouble

EVANSVILLE, Ind. -- A growing body of polling data explains why GOP officials in Washington consider Rep. John Hostettler (R) one of the most likely-to-lose incumbents in the country. Two public polls show Hostettler trailing by single digits to Democratic candidate, Sheriff Brad Ellsworth.

Karen Hammonds -- the congressman's sister, office manager and spokesman -- said a recent WISH-TV poll showing Hostettler down four points seemed reasonable and fair. That poll was conducted by Research 2000 earlier this month and found Ellsworth leading 44-40. It is always bad news when an incumbent who has been in office 12 years is that far below 50 percent this late in an election cycle.

Ohio River Ramble

Jim VandeHei

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Jim VandeHei
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But a new poll conducted for Ellsworth suggests a blowout could be in the offing, though no one familiar with the politics of the district believes Hostettler could lose this race by a large margin. The poll -- conducted by the Garin Hart Yang Research Group -- shows Ellsworth leading 51-34, based on the views of 401 likely voters. The poll was conducted Sept. 18 and 19. That same polling firm found Ellsworth up by four points in June.

What polls can't measure, however, is Hostettler's grassroots turnout operation. The GOP incumbent infuriates party officials by refusing to conduct polls, consult outside advisers or raise money, but his campaign knows how to turn out church-going voters. Both camps expect the race to tighten in the weeks ahead. But Hostettler's biggest problem might be the unpopularity of the GOP in Indiana, where Gov. Mitch Daniels has ticked off a good chunk of the state by privatizing toll roads and other unpopular moves.

-- Jim VandeHei

By Editors  |  September 21, 2006; 2:29 PM ET
Categories:  House , Ohio River Ramble  
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I live in this district and have not made up my mind.I do not care for Hostettler but I and many others from Southwest Indiana agree with him on no amnesty for illegals Ellsworth has the same position as Hostettler on this as does Baron Hill another democrat in another district who could very well win.

The Governor Mitch Daniels in his secod year is VERY unpopular for the toll road lease and especially his pushing through daylight savings time which caused the AGE (over thirty year battle over time zones) my county in Southwest Indiana was recently moved to Central time which I and many others are happy about but the 5 counties moved to Central in Southwest Indiana have petitioned to move back so there is a battle going on DOT docket OST-2005-22114 The problem is commuter schedules (living in one time zone and working in another) less than 60 miles from Martin county is the third largest city in Indiana Evansville along with 5 counties that have always observed Central Daylight time.This is the proble many of us want to stay with this group.We either want what we had Eastern Standard time or stay Central.With Eastern Daylight time in June it would not be dark here until 10:00pm no thank you!Governor Daniels when he ran for office two years ago promised if DST was passed he would recomend to the DOT to move all of Indiana to Central time.

This is before the special interests(central Indiana businesses and the Chamber of Commerce got to him) saying Eastern Daylight time or nothing!With two enclaves of counties near Evansville and in the Northwest part of the state near Chicago already on Central time it would have been easy to recomend to the DOt.He lied so therefore we have a fight still going on.We call the Governo Bait and Switch Mitch!!

Posted by: Phillip | September 22, 2006 4:44 PM | Report abuse

GOPRise: spend some time looking at the polling data instead of reading Cizilla's stuff. Chris is trying to generate heat and light where there may not be any. Standard journalistic trick. Sometimes you get lucky and it works.

That's not to say that the 'machines' aren't hard at work on both sides of the aisle but it's too early to tell whether they are having an effect or not.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | September 22, 2006 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Actually, it appears Chris didn't write it. -- Jim Vandehei

Posted by: Sharytn | September 21, 2006 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Is it just me, but seems like all the news this week fits into a script that goes something like this:

For the past six months, the polls and pundits all pointed to a GOP that was in trouble in virtually every part of the country, and on a consistent basis. Then all of a sudden six weeks before the election, the news turns to a Bush rebound, a possible Steele victory in MD, a Chaffee in RI winning and poor ole Joe Lieberman winning back the Dems.

Is this me, but this sounds less like reality and more like a Rove and O Reilly spin zone.

Add that to the push polls that are being conducted all across this country on immigation, abortion, gay marriage, and you see the extremist conservative agenda with the GOP propaganda machine at work.

Are Americans really that culpable?

Posted by: GOPRise | September 21, 2006 9:08 PM | Report abuse

but if a similar poll showed Hostettler ahead, suddenly that poll would be worth gold to the same knee-jerk right-wing Republicans who dismiss it

Posted by: inconoclast74 | September 21, 2006 6:53 PM | Report abuse

"Gov. Mitch Daniels has ticked off a good chunk of the state by privatizing toll roads and other unpopular moves."

Doesn't Blackwell want to privatize toll roads in OH? Smooth move: promise to do something that everyone already knows they will hate.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | September 21, 2006 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Not only is the Republican candidate going to walk on water, cure cancer, and fly. But after that demonstration of superhuman abilities, Condi Rice is going to tele-transport herself into town to accept the 2008 Republican nomination for President.

There, now kingofzouk etc don't have to worry about posting to this thread. I've done it for them.

Posted by: Gaithersburg, MD | September 21, 2006 4:16 PM | Report abuse

"Chris Cillizza, a top pundit.."

Well, now THAT sure makes it official...

Posted by: JEP | September 21, 2006 4:06 PM | Report abuse

This is how no-talents like O'Reilly and Coulter [sounds like Hitler] get to be on sales lists. They give their books away...

'Bill O'Reilly's latest blockbuster "Culture Warrior" will be released in days.

NewsMax has a great offer -- you can get this book with our FREE offer'

Posted by: joan | September 21, 2006 3:58 PM | Report abuse

My apologies Stan, I don't understand why they wouldn't release it either. Anyway, seems to jibe with above poster's poll.

Posted by: drindl | September 21, 2006 3:32 PM | Report abuse


I didn't accuse Chris Cillizza at all. You'll notice I was pointing out Ellsworth's very *selective* release of this "poll"-- to a top pundit. Give his campaign office a call and they will say they can't release it.

Posted by: Stan | September 21, 2006 3:31 PM | Report abuse

You want a poll for IN-08 with full crosstabs? See . This poll -- conducted Sept. 8-10 -- shows Ellsworth up 55-39 among likely voters. (For all voters, the spread is 49-42.)

Posted by: mark | September 21, 2006 3:27 PM | Report abuse

The loaded gun on a plane thing really got to me. Lunatic.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 21, 2006 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Gee Stan, that's kind of a conspiracy theory leap, isn't it? Poor Chris, accused on all sides.

Posted by: drindl | September 21, 2006 3:21 PM | Report abuse

If a state like Indiana can go blue than America just might become green someday.

I have a grudging respect for Hostettler even as I intensely disagree with his politics. He's not a cookie cutter inside the beltway politician who operates like a puppet for Washington consultants and sticking his finger to the wind. He's authentic. Authentically off the wall but authentic.

Posted by: Intrepid Liberal Journal | September 21, 2006 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Ah, the "phantom poll" we've been hearing about in IN-08. Isn't it convenient that Chris Cillizza, a top pundit, is the ONLY person Ellsworth feels comfortable releasing the poll to? That reminds me of the time Larry Aiken (the Democrat Chairman in Vanderburgh County) claimed to have sole access to a poll showing Ellsworth up by some 30 points.

This is not a viable poll. Since G-H-Y didn't release any relevant information, let's fill in the important details:

"The poll -- conducted by the Garin Hart Yang Research Group -- shows Ellsworth leading 51-34 [in a county of his choosing], based on the views of 401 likely [registered Democrat] voters."

Give me a break!

Posted by: Stan | September 21, 2006 2:49 PM | Report abuse

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