SOUTH BEND – Congresswoman Jackie Walorski predicts that national TV will focus first on Indiana’s 2nd District on election night.

“We’re a bellwether for the country,” Walorski told supporters at the grand opening of her campaign headquarters in Mishawaka last week.
     
The Republican incumbent, seeking a fourth term, said that results in her race with Democratic challenger Mel Hall “will dictate what happens the rest of the night. And they’ll dictate that Republicans have swept. There was no Democratic wave.”
     
Her enthusiastic supporters cheered those predictions.

One of the predictions wouldn’t be disputed by Hall. He also sees the district as a bellwether.

With Indiana results in early – we are often the first state declared by the networks in presidential elections – it’s likely that the 2nd District will be in national focus soon after the polls close.
     
Democrats, however, are predicting and counting on a wave to color the network maps with a lot of blue and to designate enough Democratic victories to capture control of the House.
     
If one of the first projections is that Walorski has won handily, as she did in her two prior reelection races, it could indeed signal that the blue wave was just a trickle.
     
If the projection is that Walorski has lost in a Republican-flavored district where President Trump won big, it could signal instead that the wave was a tsunami. Also possible, perhaps likely, is that the race will be too close to call quickly. Because of that possibility, Walorski and Hall both are concentrating on trying to get out the vote, or at least their votes.
     
Walorski urged her supporters at the headquarters, many of whom have been involved in making phone calls or knocking on doors, to work even harder because of the stakes in the election.
     
“We’re talking about monumental, mountainous issues,” she said. “We’re talking about Hoosier values, right? We’re talking about patriotism. We’re talking about moving our country forward economically.”
     
During her speech, Walorski mentioned neither Hall, her opponent, nor President Trump by name.
     
But she hailed the Trump agenda, particularly on the Republican tax bill, saying, “You got a president who led the way and signed it.”
     
She checked off a “we did it” list: “Roll back regulations. Check. Tax reform. Check. Take care of veterans. Check.”
     
Also, Walorski said, “We have a commander-in-chief who is serious about our nation leading globally again and to minimize the threats. To stand up and not be ashamed that we are the United States of America.”
     
Citing key campaign themes, Walorski stressed her legislative support of measures for veterans and her joining in bipartisan introduction of legislation, now approved in the House, to help seniors to continue to live at home.
     
While not mentioning Hall, she warned of what Democratic gains in Congress could mean, saying there is a “progressive Left in this country that is operating and growing expeditiously, taking a message of pure, 100 percent socialism in this country.”
     
That message should be hammered home, she told her supporters, when they encounter anyone thinking, “How can this possibly matter?”
     
She praised campaign volunteers, saying they have made “a record number of phone calls already, and [they] just got through Labor Day.”
     
And it’s a GOP team effort, Walorski said, “making sure that Mike Braun is our next senator,” defeating Sen. Joe Donnelly, the Democratic incumbent. On the other side, too, it’s a team effort, with the Donnelly and Hall campaigns working together.
     
Election night? “It’s going to start here and roll through the rest of the country,” Walorski predicted.
   
Maybe it will. And the TV networks will focus early on the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana as they seek to project which way it’s rolling. 

Colwell has covered Indiana politics over five decades for the South Bend Tribune.