With less than a week to go before their first public debate, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett is enjoying a comfortable lead over his main challenger, Republican Jim Merritt.
A survey of 400 likely Indianapolis voters conducted for Indy Politics by Mason Strategies has Hogsett leading Merritt 55 percent to 27 percent. Libertarian Doug McNaughton has four percent of the vote, and another 15 percent say they are still undecided.
Hogsett benefits from a general feeling that things in the city are going well. A 53 percent majority say the city is on the right track, and Hogsett himself enjoys a robust 73 percent approval rating. However, the contentedness of Indianapolis voters is somewhat soft: only 25 percent “strongly” approve of the job Hogsett is doing, and only 41 percent are “definitely” planning on voting for Hogsett.
Hogsett also benefits from a general election opponent who is still introducing himself to the voters. Republican Jim Merritt has a positive name ID (27 percent favorable to 16 percent unfavorable), but most voters (54 percent) say they don’t know enough to form an opinion of him or haven’t even heard of him before.
Most voters feel the city is heading in the right direction, and 69 percent of those voters are voting for Hogsett. In contrast, only 41 percent of voters who think the city is headed on the wrong track are supporting Merritt.
GET THE LATEST NEWS IN INDIANA GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS. SIGN UP FOR THE FREE DAILY STATEWIDE SUMMARY.
“Joe Hogsett is in an enviable position a little over two months from the election, but he’s not invulnerable,” said pollster Stephen Spiker, president and owner of Mason Strategies. “Shaking up the race would require major investment to create a demand for change that currently doesn’t exist.”
Ballot support for Hogsett is strongest among women (59 percent), voters under the age of 40 (67 percent), black voters (75 percent), and college-educated voters (65 percent). Partisan breaks showcase Merritt’s name ID challenges, as Hogsett has the support of 90 percent of Democrats, while Merritt only has the support of 78 percent of Republicans. Independents break towards Hogsett 46 percent to 19 percent, with 11 percent supporting the Libertarian and 25 percent remaining undecided.
Voters say the top issues facing Indianapolis are crime and gun violence, at 36 percent, followed by roads and potholes at 27 percent. These are the top issues across Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, and among both those who are positive and negative about the city’s direction. Black voters prioritize public safety and gun violence, along with education and health care, ahead of potholes.
The poll was conducted by Aug 11-14 by Mason Strategies and has a margin of error of +/-4.9 percent. The survey sample was composed of 42 percent Democrats, 27 percent Republicans and 26 percent identified themselves as Independents.