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As Trump Seals the Deal, Democrats Ponder Opportunities for Congressional Gains

Purdue analyst skeptical of undertow big enough to tilt Indiana races

Democrats hope the polarized reactions to Donald Trump are enough to swing some seats in Congress their way. But a Purdue political scientist is skeptical those shifts will happen in Indiana.

James McCann says Democrats would have needed to spot Trump's triumph coming and recruit strong challengers months ago. Democrats did do that in two districts, nominating former South Bend police captain Lynn Coleman against Congresswoman Jackie Walorski and Monroe County Councilwoman Shelli Yoder against Trey Hollingsworth, the winner of a crowded and bitter Republican primary for Todd Young's southern Indiana House seat.

But two other Democratic challengers lost their primaries to underfunded opponents. Huntington video-game shop owner Todd Nightenhelser lost to perennial candidate Tommy Schrader, despite the endorsement of the Third District Democratic Party. And former Indianapolis State Representative David Orentlicher raised $100,000 for a challenge to Eighth District Congressman Larry Bucshon, but appears to have lost the nomination in the southwest Indiana district to ex-Sullivan Representative Ron Drake. Both candidates are awaiating final certification of the results in the razor-thin race.

But McCann says Trump's high unfavorable ratings, and those of Hillary Clinton, could scramble the chessboard for candidates down the ballot, with candidates deciding whether to hitch their candidacies to the top of the ticket or try to distance themselves from their party's nominee.

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