Importantville: Midterm Election Week

This week’s rundown of Indiana politics.

Illustration by Kris Davidson

Note: This is a truncated, edited version of Adam Wren’s bi-weekly political newsletter, Importantville.

Welcome to Importantville. All the punditry and reporting comes down to the only thing that actually matters: Election Day. No one really knows anything.

#INSEN STATE OF PLAY: The last three public polls of Indiana’s Senate race have Sen. Joe Donnelly up over businessman Mike Braun, but within the margin of error. The Real Clear Politics average is +0.8 Donnelly. FiveThirtyEight gives Donnelly a seven in 10 chance of winning, with the vote breaking down this way: 50.4 percent (Donnelly), 47.1 percent (Braun), and 2.5 percent (Lucy Brenton).

A new Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics poll of 1,048 registered voters finds that Trump’s approval rating in Indiana is under water, at 44 percent approve and 46 percent disapprove.

According to Andrew Downs, associate professor of political science at Purdue University Fort Wayne, “All indications are that this race will come down to Brenton supporters who decide to cast a vote for Donnelly or Braun and undecided voters.”

Fairly large percentages of Brenton supporters and undecided respondents approve of the job President Donald Trump is doing and have positive opinions of him personally. Larger percentages of undecided respondents disapprove of the job the President is doing and larger percentages of Brenton supporters and undecided respondents have negative opinions of him personally.

President Donald Trump has made a number of trips to Indiana this election season. No doubt, the events have helped to rally the Republican and Democratic bases as well as Braun and Donnelly supporters. It is possible that the Brenton supporters and undecided voters who have a neutral view of the President or are not sure what their opinion is, could be convinced by the trips to support Braun. Given the responses from Brenton supporters and undecided voters, the trips may be more likely to have a negative effect by motivating respondents who do not support the President.

All of which explains why Donnelly’s campaign is trying to boost Brenton’s votes. They see her as a huge factor in the race.

THE BIG NUMBER: 2.1 million—number of RNC in Indiana voter contacts this cycle.

HAPPENING TONIGHT: Donnelly appears at an Election Eve rally in South Bend with 2nd Congressional District Democrat candidate Mel Hall and South Bend Mayor and 2020 Democratic hopeful Pete Buttigieg at the Aloft Hotel.

WHERE’S VEEP? He’s headed to Kalispell, Mont. for a Montana GOP Get Out the Vote rally. Then he’ll head to Rapid City for a Get Out The Vote Rally for Kristi Noem for Governor.

WHERE’S POTUS? He’s in Cleveland for a Make America Great Again rally, and then heads to Ft. Wayne, where he will land around 5:15 p.m. From there, he’ll head to Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, where he’ll do another rally. His remarks are scheduled to begin at 6:05 p.m., and he’s expected to depart by 7:20 p.m. for Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Obama aims to run up the score for Donnelly in Lake County

The former president drew a crowd of more than 7,000 to the Genesis Convention Center in Gary on Sunday.

Per James Briggs:

Sen. Joe Donnelly got right to the point. “I have a question for all of you,” Donnelly shouted at the beginning of his brief remarks. “Are you going to vote in this election?” … Obama filled up the 7,000-seat Genesis Convention Center in downtown Gary and delivered a 41-minute explanation for why the correct answer to Donnelly’s question should be “Yes.”

Read more.

Trump drew far more than 8,000 to his Southport rally Friday.

EXTRA, EXTRA: Per Donnelly’s campaign manager, this is what Indiana’s midterm electorate looks like so far:

Election night “watch” and victory “celebration” parties

The media advisories for the two major party Election night events are telling. Can you spot the difference?

The “Indiana Democratic Party Election Night Watch Party” will be in the Regency Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis.

Meanwhile, Indiana Republicans will host a “victory celebration” in the White River Ballroom of the JW Marriott.


Adam Wren, Politico Magazine: How Indiana Basketball Explains American Politics

In an episode reported here for the first time, Republican Sen. Todd Young rebuffed efforts by national GOP operatives who repeatedly encouraged him to seek Knight’s endorsement in the 2016 campaign, according to a Republican with knowledge of the matter who requested anonymity. This came even as Young faced a tough race against Democrat Evan Bayh. That Young declined to embrace Knight is evidence that the coach might not always be a slam dunk—again, my apologies—for a candidate, even in the Hoosier state. (Young did receive and tout the endorsement of three-time Indy 500 winner Johnny Rutherford, a fellow Marine.)

Gabriel Pogrund, Washington Post: Indiana’s ‘accidental senator’ is a Democrat, but he’s not really talking about that

LAWRENCE, Ind. — He has campaigned on his support for a border wall, railed against the “radical left,” and quoted both Donald Trump and Ronald Reagan in his campaign ads.

Joe Donnelly, trying to keep his Senate seat here in Indiana, may be a Democrat — but that’s not a word that comes up a lot as he campaigns.

“You have to run on a party, because you have to be on the ballot, in effect. But the night the election’s over, that’s over,” he said in an interview outside an early voting center last week, before deploying a line he likes to repeat. “I don’t serve as a Democrat senator or a Republican senator. I serve everybody in our state.”

Language like this has become a defining trait of Donnelly’s in this reelection campaign as he runs against Mike Braun, a businessman who has aligned himself with the president. Donnelly is one of five Senate Democrats running in a state that Trump won by double digits in 2016 — a 19-point victory here. Donnelly is trying to re-create the coalition of blue-collar workers and moderate Republicans in the “doughnut” counties surrounding Indianapolis that fueled his victory in 2012 and Trump’s four years later.

About Indianapolis landing Amazon’s HQ2

Shot: Amazon in advanced talks about putting HQ2 in Northern Virginia, those close to process say

Chaser: Indy Can Become A Tech Hub Without The New Amazon Headquarters


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