Mourdock poll shows him tied in wake of his controversial rape comment

Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock (R) is out with a new poll showing him tied with Rep. Joe DonnellyJoe DonnellySenators to Obama: Make 'timely' call on Afghan troops levels This week: GOP lawmakers reckon with Trump Democrats block energy spending bill over Iran amendment MORE (D-Ind.) following his recent controversial comments over rape and pregnancy.

Mourdock and Donnelly are deadlocked at 44 percent apiece, according to a poll sent by Mourdock's chief of staff to supporters. The poll was conducted after Mourdock said Tuesday that pregnancy caused by rape is something "God intended to happen," a comment that set off a national media firestorm and led some Republicans to publicly distance themselves from his sentiment.

"I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God," Mourdock said at the debate, after saying he believes in abortion only when the mother’s life is in danger. "And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."

He has since clarified that he meant that "God creates life."

"Rape is a horrible thing, and for anyone to twist my words otherwise is absurd and sick," he said.

Mourdock later predicted that the controversy would help, not hurt, his campaign.

Partisan polls tend to skew towards their candidates, so it's possible Donnelly could hold a slight lead at this point. The two had been tied in most polls prior to the comment in the Republican-leaning state.

Controversies also take a bit of time to sink in with voters — polls released soon after Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) made his own rape-related gaffe earlier this year showed a tight race, and it wasn't until later that Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillParty chairs see reversal of fortune Why Wasserman Schultz must go Sanders aide: Easier for Dems to unify if Wasserman Schultz steps down MORE (D-Mo.) pulled ahead.

While Akin's comment was more damaging than Mourdock's is likely to be — his stated unsubstantiated pseudoscience, while Mourdock's appeared to be just clumsy phrasing — only time will tell how it will affect the Indiana Republican's chances.

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