CHICAGO (AP) – President Trump figured large in Indiana’s midterm election, as voters gave the president another ally in Congress by electing political upstart and multimillionaire businessman Republican Mike Braun to the Senate. Even so, voters were divided over the state of the nation, according to a wide-ranging survey of the American electorate.
AP VoteCast found that Indiana voters were split on whether the country is on the right track, with about half saying the country is headed in the wrong direction.
Here’s a snapshot of who voted and why in Indiana, based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, an innovative nationwide survey of about 138,000 voters and nonvoters – including 3,937 voters and 765 nonvoters in the state of Indiana – conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.
RACE FOR SENATE
Republican Mike Braun enjoyed the support of voters ages 45 and older as he unseated incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in a hard-fought race that saw Trump visit the Hoosier state several times in an attempt to flip the seat for the GOP.
Indianapolis truck river Mark Allan, 50, was one of Braun’s supporters.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Donnelly, but he’s been on both sides of the fence,” said Allan. “We need to keep the Senate Republican to support the agenda of Donald Trump.”
Donnelly – who rarely mentioned that he’s a Democrat – had adopted some of the president’s fiery rhetoric, ridiculing socialists and the “radical left” and calling on Congress to fund a border wall with Mexico. He said he agreed with Trump on some issues but promised he wouldn’t be a rubber stamp.
Donnelly had a sizable advantage among voters under 45.
TOP ISSUE: HEALTH CARE
Health care was at the forefront of Indiana voters’ minds, with almost 3 in 10 naming it as the most important issue facing the nation in this year’s midterm elections – including 30-year-old Cordell Chaney, who works at a Fort Wayne wire and cable products manufacturer. The father of four, with a fifth on the way, worries that Republicans will get rid of the Affordable Care Act if they remain in control of Congress.
“It really upsets me,” said Chaney, a member of the steelworkers’ union who said affordable health care that covers pre-existing conditions is critical. “Decent health insurance should be a right.”
Almost a quarter of voters considered immigration to be the top issue, while another one-fifth said it was the economy.
STATE OF THE ECONOMY
Indiana voters have a positive view of the nation’s economic outlook – seven in 10 said the nation’s economy is good while about 3 in 10 said it isn’t.
Forty-three-year-old steelworker Randy Graham said he has mixed feelings: He supports President Donald Trump’s move to impose tariffs on some foreign steel and aluminum, but not some of the president’s other steps, which he considers anti-labor.
“The tariffs have been great, they’ve helped stabilize the steel market, but he’s done other things that have undermined organized labor as well,” Graham said.
Janet Pfadt, a 68-year-old retiree from Indianapolis, said she is unhappy with how the president is handling his job, which is one reason she voted for Donnelly, even though he was not her ideal candidate.
“I am very, very, very concerned about the Republican Party and the direction it has taken,” said Pfradt, who said she used to be a Republican but now identifies as an independent.”
For one-third of Indiana voters, President Trump was not a factor they considered while casting their votes. But the majority said he was a factor – with about one-third of them saying their vote was to support Trump and another one-third saying they voted to express opposition to the president.
Voters also had mixed views of Trump: About half said they approve of how he is handling his job as president, while just under half said they disapprove of Trump.
CONTROL OF CONGRESS
Tuesday’s elections will determine control of Congress in the final two years of Trump’s term, and about 7 in 10 Indiana voters said which party will hold control was very important as they considered their vote. Another one-fifth said it was somewhat important.
Allan, the Indianapolis truck driver, said he likes how Trump is leading the country, particularly when it comes to immigration and foreign policy.
“We need to keep the Senate Republican to support the agenda of Donald Trump,” he said.
STAYING AT HOME
In Indiana, 7 in 10 registered voters who chose not to vote in the midterm election were younger than 45. A wide share of those who did not vote – more than 8 in 10 – did not have a college degree. About one quarter of nonvoters were Democrats and almost 4 in 10 were Republicans.
AP VoteCast is a survey of the American electorate in all 50 states conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for The Associated Press and Fox News. The survey of 3,914 voters and 754 nonvoters in Indiana was conducted Oct. 29 to Nov. 6, concluding as polls close on Election Day. It combines interviews in English or Spanish with a random sample of registered voters drawn from state voter files and self-identified registered voters selected from opt-in online panels. Participants in the probability-based portion of the survey were contacted by phone and mail, and had the opportunity to take the survey by phone or online. The margin of sampling error for voters is estimated to be plus or minus 2.1 percentage points. All surveys are subject to multiple sources of error, including from sampling, question wording and order, and nonresponse. Find more details about AP VoteCast’s methodology at http://www.ap.org/votecast.
For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics
Associated Press National Writer Sharon Cohen contributed from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and reporter Brian Slodysko contributed from Indianapolis.