Craig Dunn: Trump will have Indiana coattails
Friday, November 04, 2016 5:13 PM
– The big question being asked in both Republican and Democratic party
headquarters around Indiana is what will be the down-ballot impact of
Donald Trump. I’m sure that when John Gregg’s not dreaming about
government provided healthcare and when Evan Bayh isn’t having
nightmares about paying property taxes on all of his out-of-state homes,
they lie awake at night and ponder whether Donald J. Trump will be a
help or a hindrance to their race.
In my capacity as both a
district and county Republican chairman, I admit that I have spent quite
a bit of time studying and researching the impact of The Donald on not
only the elections for governor and U. S. senator, but also on races for
commissioners, councilmen, judges, treasurers and auditors.
back on the May Indiana Primary, you had to have been impressed with
the scale of Trump’s victory over Ted Cruz. Trump thumped Cruz about as
uniformly and as completely as you can do it. He scored the touchdown,
kicked the extra point, spiked the ball and then led the band in the
fight song. Pretty good showing for a candidate who many in our party,
including myself, had serious doubts about.
mostly about emotions and enthusiasm and those were in abundance during
the Indiana primary and ever since. It is almost impossible for a party
organization to create emotions and enthusiasm. We can only focus on the
emotions and enthusiasm of our voters and try to take advantage of
them, tap into them and hope they spill out into all of the right
As I have talked with my political peers around
the state, here is what I have learned. The Republican Party in Indiana
is unified behind the Trump campaign and is enthusiastically supporting
him. Many local chairpersons have found unique and creative ways to
harness the power of the Trump enthusiasm and help it pay dividends for
other local races. In return, I’ve seen a softening of the inherent
suspicion of the Republican Party on behalf of the strongly partisan
Trump faithful. It now appears that both the Trump forces and the party
organization people understand the old Ben Franklin line that, “We
either hang together or hang separately.”
I have every faith
that Donald Trump is going to win Indiana by around 12-14%. A
combination of polling results, anecdotal evidence, absentee ballot
requests and early voting results gives me that confidence. Let’s face
it, the latest Hillary legal quagmire is not going to boost her chances
of making it any closer in Indiana.
Therefore, the salient
question to be answered is what will the first-time voter or infrequent
voter who has turned out to vote for Donald Trump do after marking their
ballot in the presidential contest? Will they just vote for Trump and
then leave the voting booth? Will they vote to throw incumbents out of
office? Will they keep voting Republican on down the ballot? Will they
selectively split their ticket? Big questions that lead certain
Republican chairmen to produce Cortisol like a west Texas oil rig!
is what I think will happen in our down-ballot races in Indiana,
barring any catastrophic salacious revelations about Donald Trump that
might come out in the next week.
I believe that the
overwhelming majority of Trump voters will cast their ballot for Donald
Trump and then continue voting Republican down the ballot. This may be
less true in heavy manufacturing areas where a sympathetic union man may
vote for Trump and then return to traditional voting patterns. You
would need to suspend belief to think that the Trump voter who has been
sickened by the general malaise of our country caused by eight years of
President Barack Obama would cast their vote for Trump and then say,
“Hey, I think I’ll vote for a Democrat now.” It just doesn’t make sense.
they think of John Gregg they think of Democrats in a hot tub in
Illinois, avoiding their jobs. That may have been Pat Bauer’s doings,
but voters tend to tar and feather everyone with the same brush. I don’t
see the average Trump voter to be the least bit motivated to punish
anyone over RFRA. That issue is just about dead in the minds of all but a
small minority of voters. If John Gregg wins it will be because of name
recognition and a significant head start on Holcomb in launching his
campaign. Gregg’s inability to reach critical mass by this time leaves
him vulnerable to a big Trump vote.
It also would make no
sense to see voters supporting Trump by a big margin and then voting to
send Evan Bayh back home to Washington. You can’t hate gridlock and then
vote to continue it. Revolutions must have victims and Bayh seems to me
to be the most likely sacrifice. After all, at the same time voters are
getting the bad news about skyrocketing healthcare costs, they are
being reminded that Evan Bayh cast the deciding vote to inflict
Obamacare on us all. Even if he can confuse folks on his non-residency
and on his votes-for-hire scheme, he still has to face the music on his
career-long love affair with the Clintons. Hoosier voters, particularly
Trump voters, aren’t going to forgive that.
There was a time
when I did not believe that Donald Trump would have any coattails to
ride, either in Indiana or anywhere else for that matter. Only the
incredible enthusiasm of the Trump faithful and a wayward Hillary
Clinton’s ethical fragility could have reversed the situation over the
past 30 days.
When all of the books and stories are written on
this most unusual of political years in Indiana, I believe the most
illogical outcome will be the tremendous positive impact of Donald Trump
on the down-ballot elections. Somewhere in Indiana there will be a
coroner who will owe his election to the Trump wave.
Dunn is chairman of Howard County Republicans.