Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: email@example.com
Tonight, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels will square off against his Democratic challenger, former Congresswoman Jill Long Thompson, in their first debate. Somehow, I doubt it's going to change the dynamic of this race, which is clearly looking like a Daniels win.
Daniels has been ahead in polling all year but lately has opened up a lead in the comfortable double-digits. He's about 15 points ahead and is above 50 percent, which is where an incumbent wants to be. Daniels has plenty of money and has had good looking ads on the air for months now.
Long Thompson, by contrast, is running out of steam. After narrowly winning the primary, she was slow coming out of the gate. Lately, she's been pulling down ads and laying off staff.
There was a point when Daniels looked potentially vulnerable. He has pursued some controversial positions and a weakening economy is never good news for incumbents. But for the most part he has governed as he promised he would -- and, I would argue, effectively, getting the state's bond rating up repeatedly and finally earning a AAA this year.
Most of his unpopular decisions are now well in the past. His poll numbers have been ticking up almost in perfect concert with the timing of people feeling the positive effects of a property tax limitation measure he saw through the legislature.
Daniels was always the favorite, but it wasn't hard at the start of the year to imagine scenarios in which Democrats could beat him. It's almost impossible to imagine such a scenario right now.
GOVERNING Politics is the place for news and analysis on campaigns and elections. If there's a ballot measure in California, a legislative election in Alabama, a mayoral election in Anchorage or a governor's race in Rhode Island, GOVERNING Politics probably is writing about it. We love everything about state and local politics, from polls and campaign ads to policy debates and demographic trends.