SOUTH BEND – This is Trumpiana. The state, with new name or old, resisted the blue wave that swept across much of the nation on Tuesday.

The wave, near a tsunami in some states, brought Democratic control of the U.S. House and flipped seven governor offices from red to blue. Rolling across neighboring Michigan, it propelled Democrats to significant victories there, almost pulling under long-popular Republican Congressman Fred Upton in Michigan’s 6th District.

But the wave stopped at the state line in Michiana. No blue water seeped across. Indiana was the Red Sea. Trumpiana.

With the decisive defeat of Sen. Joe Donnelly and easy reelection of all seven of the state’s Republican House members, Trumpiana’s congressional delegation stands at nine Republicans, only two Democrats. Those two surviving Democrats couldn’t lose, running in House districts stacked with as many Democratic voters as possible in gerrymandering. Republicans control all offices elected statewide and retain overwhelming majorities in both houses of the state legislature, leaving minority Democrats with about as much power in the legislative chambers as they would have if they stayed home.

Even some states in the Solid Red South turned purple, not blue, but a competitive purple. Ted Cruz was in a very competitive race in Texas. Texas! There also were competitive races in Georgia and Mississippi. Georgia! Mississippi!!!

Why was Trumpiana less competitive than Mississippi in a big race?

Give credit where political credit is due – to President Trump, for whom the state now is named. Trump held back the waters. The blue wave that Democrats thought they saw coming to keep Donnelly in the Senate and upset some Republican member of Congress. They fanaticized that the wave could leave Congresswoman Jackie Walorski vulnerable in the 2nd District.

Republicans on the national scene, such as House Speaker Paul Ryan, wanted Trump to tone it down. Stop spreading fear at rallies about a caravan of bad people, really bad, marching to the border to spread crime, disease and terror. Talk instead about a robust economy. They knew his divisive taunts, criticized as racist, could drive away Republican support in key suburban areas and in significant demographic groups in much of the nation, making it impossible to retain control of the House.

Trump, understanding that chances of retaining the House were slim anyway, chose to concentrate on destroying the vulnerable Senate Democrats up for reelection in states where he won big for president. Retaining control of the Senate was a better prospect.

Thus did Air Force One take off so often, almost as regularly as a scheduled commercial flight, for states like Trumpiana. He sought to fire up his base. Get it to view those Democratic senators as radical accomplices in the march of the evil caravan. Get it sweeping to the polls. A wave of its own.

Trump proclaimed “a big victory” for himself in results of key races he targeted. Indeed, the Senate will have a bigger Trump-supporting majority.

Sen.-elect Mike Braun on election night proclaimed again that Trump provided the inspiration for him to challenge Donnelly. He said Trump’s campaigning for him had “a huge impact.” Huge.

Some Republican strategists thought Trump should stop crowing about Senate confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court because many women believed allegations against him. Trump knew better. In campaign-close rallies, the president hammered away at Donnelly for voting against Kavanaugh. Donnelly knew that vote was hurting him, especially with the way Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats overplayed their hand. He was hopeful voters would forget that and turn to other issues as they went to the polls.

Trump wouldn’t let them forget Kavanaugh, portrayed as the real victim. The Kavanaugh controversy and the caravan energized the Trump base and beyond to change the state’s name.

This is Trumpiana. 

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