Indiana Senate race: Battle between Evan Bayh and Todd Young

Indiana's Senate race
Indiana's Senate race 02:08

INDIANA -- CBS News is following a very close battle for control of the Republican led Senate.

Toomey fights to keep seat 02:06

The Democrats need to add five seats -- or just four, if Hillary Clinton wins and Tim Kaine becomes vice president, the 50-50 tie-breaker.

One GOP seat in jeopardy is in Indiana.

Evan Bayh is a former two-term Democratic senator who retired six years ago, and now wants back in.

“I’m running for the Senate to help try and help Hoosier families solve challenges,” said Bayh. 

His Republican opponent, three-term congressman Todd Young, prefers to remember Bayh’s Senate record this way:

“Evan Bayh cast the deciding vote for Obamacare after ignoring the plea of tens of thousands of Hoosiers,” said Young. 

Republican Todd Young participates in debate for Indiana’s open U.S. Senate seat in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Michael Conroy, AP

Laura Albright, a political scientist at the University of Indianapolis, said the state of this Senate race right now is very competitive. 

“Todd Young basically attacks him (Bayh) on that and says, ‘Look, a lot of Hoosier voters are very dissatisfied with the Affordable Care Act. Evan Bayh gave you this,’” Albright said. 

The unpopularity of Obamacare is helping Young try to hold the seat for the GOP. Having Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on the ticket helps too, but only so much.

What is the Trump factor in Indiana?

“It’s difficult for Todd Young, certainly as the Republican,” said Albright. “He’s been careful not to distance himself too much from Donald Trump.”

Democrat Evan Bayh participates in debate for Indiana’s open U.S. Senate seat in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016.  Michael Conroy, AP

Even though Trump is comfortably ahead of Clinton in the state, Young seldom mentions him.

“Well I want change like most Hoosiers,” he said. “This is indeed a change election.”

But does he support the Republican ticket?

“I’m a Republican. I’m a Republican,” Young said. “There’s only one person who will not continue the failed policies of Barack Obama on the ticket.”

And that’s who?

“Yeah, so that’s Mr. Trump,” said Young. 

But unpopularity at the top of the ticket is not a solely Republican problem here. Some of the ads opposing Bayh sign off with a photo of Hillary Clinton.

CBS News also asked to interview former Sen. Bayh, but he was out of the state, raising money -- even at this late date -- for his campaign. 

  • Dean Reynolds
    Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.