With talk of the impending "blue wave" of voters going to the polls in November, Democratic candidates raised over a million dollars as they battled it out to appear on the ballot against a Republican incumbent in a solidly red Indiana district.
Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, the incumbent Republican, says it was the blue wave talk that enabled Democrats to raise so much money, but he's seen no sign that it will actually be coming to Indiana. All Hollingsworth says he heard as the primary approached last month was that turnout was going to be unbelievably high for Democrats, but the turnout bump never came.
"They talked nonstop about how Democrat turnout was going to be high and how Democrats were going to rebuke Trump, and then nobody showed up for the Democrats," Hollingsworth said of his district’s May primary, during which there were nearly twice as many Republican ballots cast than Democrat ballots. "They had an extremely competitive primary that should pull people out, but it didn’t."
Hollingsworth believes the lack of a turnout bump is because the anti-Trump enthusiasm the blue wave was built upon is starting to lose steam.
"It's beginning to fade because they're seeing results," Hollingsworth said.
"Before Trump was in office, they could credibly say we don't know what's going to happen," he said. "But now we have a year and a half under our belt and the sky hasn't fallen."
The biggest surprise for Hollingsworth was that Democrats didn't see a surge of voters in Bloomington, the home of Indiana University and one of the few places in the state carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016.
"Even in Bloomington, even when spending a million dollars, turnout didn’t bump at all," he said. "Even the most hardcore resisters aren't showing up."
Hollingsworth credited the waning blue wave to what he called "outrage fatigue."
"The far-left made everything into the largest deal humanly possible, and now there's outrage fatigue," Hollingsworth said. "You can't muster up two years of outrage about everything."
"Liberals promised nothing but disaster if Trump got elected, and when you say that over and over again and it doesn’t happen, they look like the ones with egg on their face," he said. "We were told the world would end if Trump got elected, and now the world seems much better than it was before."
Trump carried Indiana's Ninth Congressional District by more than 26 percentage points in 2016, according to Daily Kos, and Hollingsworth thinks Republicans are delivering on what Trump promised.
"People's paychecks are bigger, people's employees are seeing more profits, the stock market is up, safety in our neighborhoods is better, and foreign threat levels have gone down," he said. "We're checking things off the list."
The winner of the Democratic primary was Liz Watson, a former Washington, D.C., lobbyist who most recently worked as the top labor lawyer for House Democrats. Hollingsworth characterized Watson as a "D.C. insider" still unaware that people in Indiana have different priorities.
"I think she's going to struggle to get votes outside of Bloomington," Hollingsworth said. "Her values are so inconsistent with the district."
"The district wants the 2nd Amendment, she supports gun control; the district supports tax cuts, she wants to raise taxes," he said. "It's hard to imagine where she goes to pick up any votes."
"There is no blue wave, and especially not in Indiana's Ninth."
Goldman Sachs said on Monday that its internal analysis found the likelihood of a blue wave in November to be shrinking.