ABC News has called Indiana’s Senate race for the challenging Republican, Mike Braun, over incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly, in the first Republican Senate seat conversion of the 2018 midterms.
And there you have it. @SenateGOP is keeping its majority and looking good to great for rest of night.
— Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) November 7, 2018
I'm calling IN Senate for Braun. He has over a 140,000 votes lead and Donnelly is not winning the areas still out by a large enough margin to overcome that – and Braun still has GOP counties that have not even reported. First GOP Senate pickup of the night!
— Henry Olsen (@henryolsenEPPC) November 7, 2018
Braun is a relative unknown in the state and does not have a particularly compelling public speaking style nor a strong public record. Indiana was also an early and huge Donald Trump state in 2016. So it’s fair to wager voters here turned out more for Trump and against Democrats than for Braun specifically. Trump returned the love, visiting the state repeatedly, including just yesterday for a rally of an estimated 20,000 people in the largest stadium in Fort Wayne, Indiana’s second-largest city.
People who had arrived several hours before Trump was due managed to get seats, but a line some 300 yards long still snaked into the parking lot when the stadium reached capacity and outsiders were turned away. Similarly, polling places across the city and state were packed to levels precinct workers said they’d never seen in years of working election days, surpassing even the 2016 record-setting surge.
“Sure is a lot of people to turn out for the most hated man in the world,” remarked a man standing in line at the Monday rally.
Former president Barack Obama went toe to toe against Trump, campaigning in-state for Donnelly in Chicago exurb Gary. Donnelly was one of the few moderate red-state Democrats in Congress after the aftereffects of Obamacare’s passage wiped nearly all of them out within the past several years. He also claimed to be pro-life, despite having an 68 percent rating from Planned Parenthood Action.
Atop Braun’s incumbent upset, Libertarian Senate candidate Lucy Brenton has been pulling a majority-swinging percentage of votes — currently around 4 percent of the race, with results still coming in.
Here’s Braun’s victory speech, delivered a few minutes ago.