It appears to be all over for Senator Dick Lugar.
The six term incumbent trails his challenger, State Treasurer Richard Mourdock by 10 points in one of the last polls released before the primary on Tuesday.
Indiana had better get used to the thought of life without Sen. Dick Lugar -- a prospect sad to his admirers, overdue to his critics and foreign to almost any Hoosier who's cast a ballot in the last four decades.
A new poll released Friday brought grim tidings for the 80-year-old Lugar just four days from his Republican primary showdown with state Treasurer Richard Mourdock. The Indiana Battleground Poll, commissioned by Howey Politics Indiana and DePauw University, found the tea party-backed Mourdock ahead of Lugar by 10 percentage points.
Recent polling by pro-Mourdock groups showed him closing in on the six-term incumbent, although the new poll was the first independent data to be released since another Howey-DePauw survey a month ago.
The news appeared to send Lugar into desperation mode, as he asked in a Friday news conference for independents and Democrats to cross party lines and save him. His backers held onto hope but lamented the distinct chance his tenure, defined largely by his reputation of bipartisanship, was running out.
"It would be a real loss for the state," former Fort Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke said. "A loss for the state, a loss for the country and a loss for northeast Indiana.
"He does what he thinks is the right thing to do, even if it's not popular at the moment with the party and with the pundits."
Over the past week, Helmke has urged moderate friends to show up at the polls Tuesday, he said. Some did not see Mourdock as a real threat, but the new data showing him with 48 percent to Lugar's 38 percent should be a "wake-up call," Helmke said.
Mourdock is not a flamethrower, nor is he an extremist. He is probably nominally more conservative than Lugar who might be a pragmatist in seeking accomodation with Democrats, but the differences on issues between them are not large.
The primary attraction of Mourdock appears to be the fact that he is not Dick Lugar. After six terms, this may be understandable - as is the sad fact that there is no room any longer for pragmatism in either party.