With just hours left before the election, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Joe Donnelly projected an air of confidence Monday as he greeted volunteers in a final visit to Fort Wayne.
Donnelly – who surged to an 11-percentage-point lead over Republican Richard Mourdock in a poll released Friday – stopped at the Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 166 hall, 2930 Ludwig Road, to rally volunteers who were making last-minute calls to voters.
While Donnelly had a full campaign schedule lined up until the polls were set to close at 6 p.m. Tuesday, he acknowledged that his electoral fate was largely out of his hands and up to his legions of supporters.
“This is where the rubber meets the road,” Donnelly told supporters. “This is where elections are won or lost.”
Donnelly and Mourdock both crisscrossed the state Monday – including stops in Fort Wayne – to reach out to supporters and, more importantly, undecided voters.
In a lunchtime stop at the Mocha Lounge coffee house, 6312 Covington Road, Mourdock insisted that he would win the race despite Donnelly's late surge in the Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground poll, which showed the Democrat ahead 47 percent to 36 percent.
Mourdock pointed to his campaign's internal polling, which had him ahead by 3 percentage points Friday. Reflecting on the long road that brought him within reach of a Senate seat, Mourdock recalled his improbable defeat of six-term Sen. Richard Mourdock in the primary.
“I like what we're seeing,” he said. “When we started this 630 days ago, I think one of the newspapers referred to this as 'mission impossible.'”
As always, Mourdock urged voters to reject Donnelly as an ally of President Obama and liberal Democrats in Congress.
But Donnelly brought a high-profile guest – former Sen. Evan Bayh – to fire up the troops and blast Mourdock's unyielding conservative stance.
“Hoosiers want a practical problem-solver, not a brain-dead ideologue,” Bayh told volunteers, drawing cheers. “My way or the highway is a dead-end street.”
From Fort Wayne, Mourdock was scheduled to visit Lafayette, Terre Haute and Evansville before voting Tuesday morning in his hometown of Darmstadt. On election night, he would join gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence and other statewide Republicans for a big rally at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis.
Donnelly also had two more campaign stops Monday evening before heading to Granger to vote Tuesday. He would join statewide Democrats in Indianapolis to watch election results.