SOUTH BEND – Mel Hall is a data guy. When he was chief executive officer of Press Ganey, the South Bend firm grew to collect data for more than half of the hospitals in the nation on consumer evaluations. Hall had this sign in his office: “In God we trust. All others bring data.”
So, it’s no surprise that Hall commissioned a poll for data on political prospects in Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District before announcing his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in that district, now represented by Republican Congresswoman Jackie Walorski. Hall says the poll shows that the 10-county district is indeed Republican flavored, as intended when it was drawn in Republican-controlled redistricting. The GOP advantage in percentages, he says, could be “plus 9, plus 10, plus 11.” Of his chances of defeating Walorski, Hall concedes that strictly on the basis of the political data, “It’s not a slam dunk; it’s not likely.”
If Hall wins the nomination – and no other potential Democratic nominee has organized as he has and filed with the Federal Election Commission – he will enter a race with Walorski as an underdog. Still, Hall says both the poll data and his personal contacts as he contemplated running show he can win because voters want a member of Congress “who will show up and stand up.”
Well, sure, if he can convince a majority of voters that he will stand up for what they want and that Walorski has not. Not simple to do.