News

Elections

Mike Braun Unseats Democrat Joe Donnelly in Indiana Senate Race

Republican senate candidate Mike Braun at his election-night party in Indianapolis, Ind., November 6, 2018. (Chris Bergin/Reuters)

Republican businessman Mike Braun has pulled off a victory in Indiana, unseating Democratic senator Joe Donnelly. In what has been a criminally under-covered race, Braun held a twelve-point lead over Donnelly when the race was called by ABC News, with 49 percent of precincts reporting.

Braun owes his victory to several factors, not least of which was his opponent’s lackluster tenure in the Senate and halfhearted reelection campaign.

As the long-time owner of a successful manufacturing-supply company, the Republican self-funded his primary run, beating out Luke Messer and Todd Rokita, GOP congressmen with significant backing from the party establishment. But with two such candidates in the race, they split the establishment vote, leaving outsider Braun to surge ahead and clinch the nomination.

Some conservatives feared that Braun was the weakest of the three candidates and that facing him rather than a more seasoned politician would give Donnelly an edge. Braun dispelled those fears tonight, although he ran a laidback campaign that rightly made some GOP observers nervous. In the end, the fact that President Trump remains popular in Indiana — where he won the 2016 presidential primary and won again by nearly 20 points in the general election — gave the Republican a huge boost.

Donnelly, meanwhile, seems to have failed to get enough turnout among African-American voters in metropolitan areas such as Gary and South Bend in the northwest corner of the state, as well as Democratic support in the Indianapolis suburbs. The one-term senator rode to victory in 2012 on the coattails of Barack Obama, aided by his GOP opponent, Richard Mourdock, who made a last-minute gaffe when talking about abortion in cases of rape.

For his trouble over the last six years, Donnelly was rated the least effective Democratic senator, and it showed tonight. Though he voted in favor of the 20-week abortion ban in January and backed Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, he opposed the Republican tax cuts at the end of last year and, after waffling, decided to vote against Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Crucially, he opposed all efforts to repeal or reform the Affordable Care Act, which has remained largely unpopular in Indiana.

According to exit-poll data, 53 percent of Indiana voters said Donnelly’s vote against Kavanaugh was important in deciding how they voted today. Those who said his vote against Kavanaugh was “highly important” said they were supporting Braun by a 13-point margin. Trump achieved a 52–48 percent approval rating among respondents, 30 percent of whom said they cast their vote to show support for him and 34 percent of whom said they voted to oppose him.

The fact that this election was a tossup at all is a testament to the importance of name recognition and ground game — neither of which Braun had in abundance. But it turns out that in Indiana tonight, the “R” next to his name and his pro-Trump rhetoric on the trail were enough to overcome an energized national Democratic party.

Send a tip to the news team at NR.

Most Popular

U.S.

Baby Please Come Back, Says Andrew Cuomo

Then-mayor Mike Bloomberg famously described New York City in 2003 as a “luxury product,” and therefore priced accordingly. The price hasn’t changed, except to go up slightly — taxes, rents, everything. But few would argue that the product New York offers remains first-rate. The theaters are closed. The ... Read More
U.S.

Baby Please Come Back, Says Andrew Cuomo

Then-mayor Mike Bloomberg famously described New York City in 2003 as a “luxury product,” and therefore priced accordingly. The price hasn’t changed, except to go up slightly — taxes, rents, everything. But few would argue that the product New York offers remains first-rate. The theaters are closed. The ... Read More
U.S.

New York City’s Downward Spiral

New York City must be one of the few places on earth where chaos nostalgia is widespread. Many were the laments, in the Giuliani-Bloomberg era, that the city was “too sanitized,” “too gentrified,” “too boring,” “anodyne,” “suburban.” Often you’d hear people saying, or declaiming, that their ... Read More
U.S.

New York City’s Downward Spiral

New York City must be one of the few places on earth where chaos nostalgia is widespread. Many were the laments, in the Giuliani-Bloomberg era, that the city was “too sanitized,” “too gentrified,” “too boring,” “anodyne,” “suburban.” Often you’d hear people saying, or declaiming, that their ... Read More
Politics & Policy

America, You’re Doing Okay: A Pep Talk

On the menu today: Some really intriguing new research on why so many people are asymptomatic with the coronavirus, and a theory that masks are effective in part because they aren’t 100 percent effective; a pep talk for everyone in America who’s trying to get a handle on their anxiety, stress, and gloom right ... Read More
Politics & Policy

America, You’re Doing Okay: A Pep Talk

On the menu today: Some really intriguing new research on why so many people are asymptomatic with the coronavirus, and a theory that masks are effective in part because they aren’t 100 percent effective; a pep talk for everyone in America who’s trying to get a handle on their anxiety, stress, and gloom right ... Read More
The Economy

What’s an ‘American’ Car?

I’m not too sure about Dmitri’s ode to American cars, because I am not too sure what is an American car. In what sense should a Jeep Compass manufactured in Mexico be thought of as American while a Mercedes GLE made in Alabama isn’t? The answer cannot be corporate ownership: Both companies have ... Read More
The Economy

What’s an ‘American’ Car?

I’m not too sure about Dmitri’s ode to American cars, because I am not too sure what is an American car. In what sense should a Jeep Compass manufactured in Mexico be thought of as American while a Mercedes GLE made in Alabama isn’t? The answer cannot be corporate ownership: Both companies have ... Read More