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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 5:40 pm

Study finds 62% of Donnelly's votes support Trump's positions

The re-election campaign for Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., is promoting the fact that his vote supported the position of Republican President Donald Trump 62 percent of the time last year, the third-highest rate among Senate Democrats.

Donnelly's campaign issued a news release Tuesday linking to a study published that day by Congressional Quarterly, a Capitol Hill news organization. Among Democrats, only Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, at 71 percent, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, at 67 percent, voted more often with Trump's stated agenda than did Donnelly.

"Joe understands that Hoosier common sense means putting aside partisan differences and working with anyone who has a good idea for Indiana, and today’s CQ study is another reminder of that," Peter Hanscom, Donnelly's campaign manager, said in the release.

The three candidates for the Republican nomination to challenge Donnelly in this year's general election – Mike Braun and U.S. Reps. Luke Messer and Todd Rokita – have tried to align themselves with Trump, who carried Indiana by 19 percentage points in the 2016 presidential election.

On Wednesday, Messer's campaign called Donnelly's 62 percent support of Trump positions "a nearly failing grade" and noted that FiveThirtyEight, a data analysis website, reports that Donnelly has voted with Trump positions 54 percent of the time through Feb. 9. Messer's vote has aligned with Trump's position 92.4 percent of the time, according to the website.

Siding with Trump might be a risky tactic for Hoosier candidates from either party. According to Morning Consult polling results released this week, 48 percent of registered voters in Indiana approved of Trump in January, while 47 percent disapproved. The survey had a margin of error of 1 percent. Trump's net approval rating in Indiana – the difference between his approval and disapproval percentages – has been 2 points or fewer in five of the past six months in Morning Consult polls. 

The CQ study also rated senators according to their party unity. Donnelly voted 74 percent of the time with Democrats last year, the third-lowest party unity rate in the Senate. Manchin's 64 percent was lowest, followed by Heitkamp's 70 percent.

Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., who doesn't stand for re-election until 2022, voted 99 percent of the time with Trump and 99 percent of the time with Republicans in the CQ study.