Abdul-Hakim Shabazz: Undecided voters may well decide governor’s race

Abdul-Hakim Shabazz

The undecided Republican primary voter will very likely decide which candidate for governor will win the upcoming election. I base this assumption on some recent polling done by my media company, Indy Politics.

We reached out to our polling friends at ARW Strategies and with some help from Crossroads Public Affairs, we surveyed 500 likely Republican voters March 24-25. And the poll had a margin of error of 4.8 percent. And here’s what we found with the governor’s race:

  • Mike Braun: 33%
  • Suzanne Crouch: 10.7%
  • Eric Doden: 10.6%
  • Brad Chambers: 9.8%
  • Curtis Hill: 4.5%
  • Jamie Reitenour: 1.4%
  • Undecided: 30%

We jokingly say that if “undecided” was a candidate, they would be statistically tied for first place with Braun. But that’s just part of the story.

An earlier poll from Fox59/CBS 4 had these results:

  • Braun: 33.6%
  • Crouch: 7.2%
  • Doden: 6.6%
  • Chambers: 5.2%
  • Hill: 2.4%
  • Reitenour: 1.6%
  • Undecided: 43.3%

As you can see, in the more recent poll, there are fewer undecided voters, but none of them are moving toward Braun. The undecided voters are splitting their votes among the challengers. The big question is, can any of the challengers garner enough votes to beat the frontrunner?

There is a much clearer path to victory for Crouch, Doden and Chambers, who in our poll are statistically tied, than there is for Hill and Reitenour. If we were advising the campaigns, we’d spend a lot of our time and energy reaching out to those undecided voters and making the case for my candidacy.

Braun’s numbers have actually been slipping since late last year. His internal poll numbers had him in the mid-40s back in November of 2023. That number dropped to 40% in December. Braun is now at 33% using our Indy Politics and Fox 58/CBS 4 poll. And most of those decreases took place before the negative campaigning started. I would basically start every ad by saying, “If you’re an undecided voter in the upcoming Republican primary and not sure who to vote for governor, let me help you make a decision,” and then go into your song and dance about why you would be the best candidate.

And for the record, can we quit using the phrase “outsider” because hardly any candidates are outsiders? Braun is a U.S. senator and former state representative. Crouch is a former county commissioner, county auditor, state representative, state auditor, and lieutenant governor. Hill is a former county prosecutor and attorney general. Both Doden and Chambers are former heads of the Indiana Economic Development Commission, not exactly an outsider position. And Reitenour is well, Reitenour, and we’ll just leave it at that. Braun can also reach those undecided voters; he would just have to modify that strategy somewhat as he is the front-runner.

Oh, and before we forget, we’re not sure running against incumbent Gov. Eric Holcomb is the best idea either. We polled Holcomb’s approval rating numbers among Republican likely voters. You know what we found? Holcomb’s approval ratings were at 65%, while his disapproval numbers were only at 27%. And here’s another fun nugget: nearly 60% of undecided voters approve of the job Holcomb is doing.

So, with those approval numbers, we’re not sure saying the incumbent has done a horrible job is the best strategy.

And while we’re at it, 47% of those surveyed said the state was moving in the right direction, while only 26% thought things were going in the wrong direction. The remaining 24 percent were not sure.

Just some food for thought. Good luck!

Abdul-Hakim Shabazz is the editor and publisher of Indy Politics. He is also a licensed attorney in Indiana and Illinois. This commentary previously appeared at statehousefile.com. Send comments to [email protected].