A Tale of Two Polls: Mourdock and Donnelly Fight to Define Race

Two polls show two very different races between Indiana senate candidates.

Indiana GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock recently became the center of a major media firestorm.

Indiana GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock recently became the center of a major media firestorm.

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Hoosiers can have it both ways in the Indiana senate race.

One poll out Oct. 26 shows Republican U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock's debate misstep last week may cost him the election. Another one makes it look as though Mourdock's stumble has already been forgotten.

Mourdock became the center of a major media firestorm after he told an Indiana debate audience last Tuesday night that "even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."

[READ: Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin Are Not the Same]

Republicans in competitive races quickly distanced themselves.And with just a week left for Mourdock to recover, a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee poll shows that Democratic candidate Joe Donnelly has pulled ahead of Mourdock by 7 points.

The poll of nearly 500 likely voters showed 47 percent of folks in Indiana would vote for Donnelly opposed to 40 percent who would cast ballots for Mourdock.

According to the poll, which was conducted by Anzalone Liszt Research, more than 75 percent of voters in Indiana saw or heard about Mourdock's rape gaffe. And since the debate, more than 30 percent say their opinion of Mourdock has plummeted.

[READ: Walsh | Obama Condemns Mourdock's Abortion Comments]

Before the debate, most polls showed Mourdock with a slight lead over Donnelly.

But a Mourdock campaign internal poll also out Friday depicts a much closer race.

Mourdock's poll shows Donnelly and Mourdock neck and neck, each with 44 percent.

If the race is indeed tied, Mourdock may be able to ride Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's coattails to victory. Romney, who appears in a recent campaign ad with Mourdock, is expected to win the state.

Lauren Fox is a political reporter for U.S. News and World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her at lfox@usnews.com.