Give Evan Bayh a break — a Washington lobbyist career takes up a lot of time. When Indiana election officials tried verifying his status as a resident of Indianapolis repeatedly over the last couple of years, CNN reports that they came up empty. In fact, the Democratic nominee for the open Senate seat held by the retiring Dan Coats ended up one step away from getting expunged from voter rolls:
Election officials in Indiana have concluded that former Sen. Evan Bayh is an “inactive” voter in their state after they failed to confirm he lives in Indianapolis, creating a new problem for the Democrat as he mounts a late effort to win back his old Senate seat.
According to records obtained by CNN, Bayh has been listed as an inactive voter twice since leaving office — once in July 2014 and the second time last week.
In both instances, election officials had sent multiple postcards to Bayh’s Indianapolis address to determine that he lives there. Both times the post office could not reach Bayh at the condo he owns in Indianapolis despite multiple attempts, prompting the Indiana Election Division to list him as inactive, according to copies of the mailers and state voting records.
Had Bayh stuck to his retirement pledge in 2010 to return to teaching, he might have been easier to reach. Instead, he went back to the Beltway to cash in as a lobbyist, only returning recently to run for another term in the Senate, replacing Baron Hill as the nominee. In the intervening time, Bayh has had absentee ballots sent to his residence and business in DC rather than show up to vote in his purported precinct of residence.
Roll Call’s Eric Garcia reports that it didn’t take Republican nominee Todd Young long to use the news precisely how Democrats fear:
This comes on the heels of another report showing that Bayh listed his Washington homes as his main residence as opposed to his residence in Indianapolis.
“The only time he ever shows up in Indiana is when he wants something from us,” Trevor Foughty, campaign manager for Bayh’s opponent Rep. Todd Young, told CNN. “And he’s so unbelievably arrogant, he actually thinks Hoosiers don’t notice.”
At least so far, they haven’t. The only poll in the state since Bayh entered the race came out just this week, and Bayh has a comfortable seven-point lead over Young in the Monmouth survey. What makes this unusual is that Donald Trump and Mike Pence have a big lead in the state, but that isn’t helping the down-ticket race:
Donald Trump holds an 11 point lead over Hillary Clinton in Indiana, the home state of GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence. Enough voters, though, may be planning to split their ticket to send Evan Bayh back to the Senate after a six year absence. The Monmouth University Poll also finds the race to succeed Pence in the State House is neck and neck.
Among Indiana voters likely to cast ballots in November’s presidential election, 47% currently support Trump and 36% back Clinton. Another 10% intend to vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson, with 5% who are undecided. About the same number of Republicans back Trump (84%) as Democrats who back Clinton (87%). Independents are divided at 38% for Trump and 34% for Clinton, with 18% supporting Johnson. …
Turning to the race to succeed retiring Republican U.S. Senator Dan Coats, former senator Bayh holds a 48% to 41% lead over Congressman Todd Young. Libertarian Lucy Brenton garners 4% of the vote and 7% are undecided. While 76% of Trump supporters are backing Young, 16% say they will split their ticket and vote for Bayh. Among Clinton supporters, 89% will vote for Bayh and just 3% will split their ticket for Young.
That’s, um … unusual. The other demos in the poll tell an interesting story, too. Trump leads among voters over 50 years of age 50/38, but Bayh wins the same demo 50/41. Trump has a 20-point lead among white non-Hispanic voters (51/31), but Young splits them with Bayh 45-all. Trump wins a narrow plurality of independents 38/34 while Johnson gets 18%, but Young only scores a 29/58. Trump edges Hillary 44/43 among women (!), while the same sample only gives Young a 34/53 split.
So far, Bayh’s name identification seems to be carrying him. Young either needs to aggressively paint Bayh as an out-of-touch establishment lobbyist more interested in the Beltway than Indiana, or he’ll need to capture some of the Trump/Pence magic. He may need a little of both … or a lot of both.