INDIANAPOLIS – As much as I’d like to hear just one more Mike Braun or Joe Donnelly attack ad, a part of me is relieved that it is all over. The election results are in and Hoosiers soundly repudiated Donnelly and will send political newcomer, Mike Braun, to Washington, D.C. This serves to realign the political stars and return Indiana to its solid Red State status.

Prior to this U.S. Senate election, I felt very comfortable that Braun would win. My official prediction was a 3% plus win for Braun. My reason for this confidence was that after serving as Indiana senator for six years, Donnelly rarely showed up in excess of 43% in the pre-election polls. My general rule for incumbent politicians is that if you can’t get to 48% in the polls before the election, don’t count on the undecideds breaking your way.

Did you really believe that after months and months of expensive political ads that 9% of the voters were truly undecided? I didn’t. People lie to pollsters; it is a fact of life. My general rule is that 60% of undecideds tend to break for the challenger.

In addition, I never expected the Libertarian candidate to garner 7% of the vote when the curtains closed. While voters may flirt with a Libertarian candidate, they intuitively know that the Libertarian has no chance of winning. Generally speaking, people leaning Libertarian are more likely to vote Republican when the chips are down.

Put all this information into a blender, push the high speed button and watch Braun pour out the winner.

As a voter, I can truly say that I have no idea what legislation Mike Braun will pursue. Whereas Joe Donnelly was a relatively ineffective senator, we can only hope that Braun will support and introduce legislation to make a real difference for Hoosiers. While he can be trusted to reliably support President Trump’s agenda and his judicial nominees, the only thing I truly know about Braun is that he likes blue shirts and he isn’t Joe Donnelly.

This begs the question, “Where did the ‘blue wave’ go?” Personally, I don’t think there ever was a blue wave. There may have been a little blue swirl like Tidy Bowl water in a toilet in some existing blue states, but there was nothing approaching a blue wave. Let’s compare President Trump’s off-year election results in his first term to President Obama’s results: Obama lost 63 House seats in 2010! Not even the wildest Democrat analyst on MSNBC could project that kind of a pickup for Democrats in 2018.

I am under no illusions as to the approach that Democrat analysts, politicos and media personalities will take with what appears to be a mixed bag of results. They will focus on the loss of the House as a repudiation of Donald Trump. They will also come up with a zillion reasons why the significant Republican pickups in the U.S. Senate were due to a variety of circumstances unrelated to the president.

Make no mistake about it, the Democrats’ takeover of the House of Representatives is a pyrrhic victory. Democrats will be unable to accomplish any of their socialist agenda other than using the power of committee leadership to hound and dog President Trump. Ask Newt Gingrich how successful that strategy worked in the next election – it was a disaster. The American people don’t like that kind of continual witch hunt.

The real winner of the 2018 elections were the Republicans. The Senate is where most of the power resides. While the Senate may not be able to move legislation any more effectively than the House, the important difference is the power a Republican Senate has to approve judges at all levels and to approve treaties. President Trump will be able to continue his foreign policy, get his trade policies approved and get non-activist judges confirmed. That’s a pretty good night.

While I’m writing this at 11 p.m. on election night and many races have yet to be called, here is my initial summary of the winners and losers in the 2018 election.

Winners  

Mike Braun pulled off what the pundits thought would be an upset and beat a Democrat senator with a unique ability to support ultra-liberal legislation and the ultra-liberal party leadership.

Indiana Republican and Democrat incumbent congressional representatives all held their seats. Kudos to Jackie Walorski for finally nailing down the 2nd CD.

Republicans in the Indiana House and Senate. Although there was a loss here and there, Indiana Republicans firmly control the Indiana General Assembly.

Speaker Brian Bosma fought off a late challenge which only emerged as a result of suspect claims made by a former intern. His place is secure.

Sen. Jim Merritt got a big win which should put him in an excellent position to launch an Indianapolis mayoral bid in 2019.

Fiscal responsibility. An Indiana constitutional referendum mandating balanced budgets was passed making it increasingly more difficult for future legislatures to spill the red ink.

Democrat mad dogs who are licking their chops to use House committees to investigate and torture President Trump for the next two years. Be very careful what you wish.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s vote for Brett Kavanaugh saved his bacon. Most likely to jump to the GOP.

Florida Republicans.  Big victories in both the governor and U.S. Senate races bode well for 2020.

Losers

Indiana Democrats. The Hoosier State gets redder with each election.

State Senator Mike Delph. I’m not sure how sad Republican leadership will be to see him go.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. His grand strategy could not save several red state Democrat senators.

Democrat pundits. Predicted a blue wave that never materialized.

Democrat celebrities. Predicted a blue wave that never materialized.

Mainstream media. Predicted a blue wave that never materialized.

George Soros. Spent incredible amounts of his money with little to show for it.

Whoever counts Florida votes. The election results got to 95% counted by 9 p.m. and never progressed beyond that for two hours. It seems that the same lame-brain counties in Florida can’t get it right election after election. Let’s hope it improves by 2020.

In summary, welcome back to the world of gridlock. We elect Democrat congressmen and then give huge wins to Republicans in the Senate. In this bizarre country, we elected Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Chris Coons as extreme left-leaning senators and the same voters in those states elected Republican governors. Go figure.  I almost forgot the most important winner in the 2018 election: The American people were big winners. Perhaps President Trump will go down in history for finally being able to get Republicans and Democrats off their rears and to the polls. An active and engaged electorate is absolutely vital to our republic.

What am I going to do tomorrow? Get the popcorn popped and watch the circus which will develop in the U. S. House of Representatives and in what will surely be an interesting (and disturbing) kickoff to the 2020 race for the White House. Can’t wait to see what the Democrat presidential candidates want to give away for free and how much it will cost me. 

Dunn is the former 4th CD and Howard County Republican chairman.