In the State of Indiana, a race for Senate is underway. Indiana is a majority white state. 85.4% of Hoosiers are white. African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, and Native Americans breakdown 9.7%, 2.4%, 7%, and 0.4% respectively.
The Midwest is notoriously red, and Indiana is no exception. During the past 15 presidential elections, Indiana has only selected a Democrat two times. The first was Lyndon B Johnson in 1964, whose tragic loss of the commander and chief John F Kennedy gave gained him popularity across the aisle. The second time was in 2008, the era of Obama. Indiana voted for George Bush 60%-39% just years before, and yet the state turned out for the nation’s first black president 50%-49%.
It was a few years after this radical blue flip that Joe Donnelly was elected to the United States Senate for the state of Indiana. While Indiana has a very deep conservative voting history, the climate was just so that a Democrat was able to win. In the 2016 presidential election, 53% of women and 62% of men in Indiana voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.
Currently, the president’s approval rating across the country is at a staggering 36%, which bodes well for Democrats who are hoping to create a turnout of blue voters during midterms. For the Democrats, Joe Donnelly, the incumbent, is hoping to hold onto his seat in the Senate. He is a centrist Democrat, which could help in a more conservative state like Indiana. Elected in 2013, he now faces what some would say is an uphill battle. His arguably vulnerable position is due to the current President’s clear victory in the state, and his opponent, who seems to be using Donald Trump’s popularity to his advantage. His bipartisanship, while in some ways a benefit, also is what makes him vulnerable. Neither party likes his cooperation with the other side, but his cooperation with certain policies of the current administration, including the support of Trump’s first Supreme Court pick and funding or the border wall, could do him well among conservatives. There is the danger of alienating left-leaning Democrats who despise trump, along with much of the country. On the Republican side, Mike Braun prides himself on being an outsider. Running against Todd Rokita and Luke Messer, he came out of a primary full of personal attacks, each of the candidates eagerly voicing their support for Donald Trump. Braun is a former businessman, who served in the house for district 63 from 2004-2017. Both campaigns have ample resources with which to operate, with Donnelly raising over $11,495,629 on his campaign, and Braun spending $8,258,437. Donnelly has voted with Trump in the past, but Braun is using this bipartisan pride and his party ID to turn off conservative voters who would consider Donnelly for reelection.
Now it’s a wait to see if his bipartisanship is enough to overcome the party label with which he has chosen to identify. This race is a significant one because both candidates lack notoriety. Donnelly doesn’t have a very visible political brand, and Braun is the newcomer/political outsider. The results of this race will be a useful gage for how the rest of the races will turn out across the country.