Indiana Senate–Bye? Bayh?

Incumbent profile:

Dan Coats (R)

First elected in 2010, 1 term, retiring


Challenger profile:

Evan Bayh (D)

Former U.S. Senator, 2 terms; Former Governor, 2 terms


Todd Young (R)

U.S. Representative, 3 terms


Pundits have been very, very careful on Bayh’s chances of returning to the Senate. Most pundits rate this race at most Tilts Democratic. The race started with the release of three internal polls showing Bayh up nearly 20 points. I was initially puzzled–Bayh won his first four statewide races by 60-40 margins, his poll numbers are good, and his name recognition is almost universal in the state. Soon, I found the reason that pundits were so careful regarding Bayh. Todd Young is much stronger than Bayh’s previous statewide opponents–he is a U.S. Representative with a net positive approval rating, not lightweight opponents who Bayh faced during his two previous Senate campaigns. If Bayh is running for governor, he would win the race easily by distancing himself with national Democratic figures, but he is running for a federal office, and he hasn’t lived in Indiana for quite a long time. Since his entrance to the race, Bayh has found himself in numerous controversies–residence, job during six years, why back at this time, etc. Todd Young’s campaign also aired different attack ads on Bayh surrounding these controversies, enough for him to almost close a 20 point gap. For now, Bayh is still favored to win (the poll showing him +1 is strongly Republican-skewed), but Young is well within reach for his new job.

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