The 2016 Indiana Republican Senatorial primary election saw conservative hard-liner Rep. Marlin Stutzman and GOP-establishment pick Rep. Todd Young face off for their party’s nomination to replace retiring incumbent Republican Dan Coats. Although Trump, the anti-establishment Republican presidential candidate won this crucial state with 53 percent of the vote, Stutzman did not fare likewise, losing to Young by about a 2:1 margin. This race also did not reflect the Indiana Republican Senatorial primary of 2012, in which the far-right Richard Murdock beat incumbent Richard Lugar – only to lose the general election. This year Young will face Baron Hill, who did not face a primary challenger and who lost his House seat to Young in 2010. The general election candidates’ history caused Republican donors to favor Young in the primary, and the unfortunate 2012 results caused them to invest significantly in the election.
Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and Citizens United all endorsed Stutzman. However, these groups spent very little in the election. The paucity of financial backing from these important tea-party groups may explain why Trump was able to win the state against the wishes of the Republican establishment, while a similar outcome was not realized for Stutzman. Because of Young’s heavy spending advantage and strong independent support, his team ultimately spent $3.60 per vote received, compared to only 70 cents per vote for Stutzman.
On Election Day Young managed to gather more votes than Stutzman in every media market within the state, except for South Bend-Elkhart and Ft. Wayne in the Northeast corner of the state. These markets are within IN-03, giving Stutzman a home field advantage. The two markets in which Young beat Stutzman by the greatest margin were Indianapolis and Louisville. These markets both cover parts of Young’s IN-09. Young performed particularly well in the Indianapolis market, beating Stutzman by over a 3:1 margin. This strong result was important since 45% of the statewide vote came from within this market.