Rep. Todd Young (R) has won Indiana’s hotly contested Senate race against former senator Evan Bayh (D), putting a dent in Democratic hopes of recapturing the Senate majority.
This race has been tight in recent weeks, with polls indicating a near tie heading into Election Day. But it wasn’t always that way.
Republicans initially thought they’d be able to hang on to the Senate seat — held by the retiring Sen. Dan Coats (R) — and put relative newcomer Young on the ticket. Indiana is a traditionally conservative state, and Young’s populist message mirrored that of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.
But this summer, centrist Bayh, a former Democratic senator and two-term governor, announced he was entering the race after heavy persuasion from Democrats who hoped to retake the Senate majority. Bayh held an early 20-point lead over Young, a Marine who has served in the House for less than six years, and benefited immensely from a trove of fundraising dollars left over from his last campaign, Politico reported.
That edge gradually fell away, though, when Republicans questioned how Bayh has spent his time since leaving the Senate in 2010, including working for corporations and expanding his personal worth by multimillion-dollar sums.
They labeled him a Washington insider and said that, unlike Young, Bayh is out of touch with Hoosier values. Bayh didn’t help his cause when he incorrectly listed the address of his Indianapolis condominium, further feeding the Republican narrative that he spends little to no time in the state he was fighting to represent.
Young benefited from the state’s strong support for Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R).
Though the Republican candidate considered multiple times withdrawing support from Trump, he never did. He distanced himself on occasion from the GOP nominee but never severed ties.