Indiana primaries 2024: Spartz survives, big spenders prevail

538 tracked several establishment-versus-insurgent GOP primaries.

Tuesday saw the resolution of several major Republican primaries in Indiana: Voters selected the men who will likely become the state’s next U.S. senator and governor, and three open U.S. House seats were the canvas for fierce primary battles between the establishment and populist wings of the GOP. A maverick Republican incumbent also successfully defended her seat after waffling over her decision to seek reelection.

538 reporters and contributors broke down the election results as they came in with live updates, analysis and commentary. Read our full live blog below.

That’s a wrap!

OK, after an action-packed night of Republican primaries, we’re calling it a night on here! It was a good night for embattled incumbents, establishment-backed pragmatists and supporters of Israel. Here’s a rundown of who won all the major Indiana races:

- Sen. Mike Braun walked into the Republican primary for governor as the favorite, and he walked away with the victory, despite his opponents’ strong fundraising and attacks against him. The truth is, though, there weren’t huge differences between the candidates on most issues.

- The closest race of the night was the GOP primary for Indiana’s 3rd District. ABC News is not yet reporting a projection in that race, but other outlets (such as the AP) have called it for former Rep. Marlin Stutzman. The conservative hardliner beat out several other candidates, including more moderate former Judge Wendy Davis and businessman Tim Smith.

- The one incumbent under threat tonight was Republican Rep. Victoria Spartz in the 5th District, but Spartz held off state Rep. Chuck Goodrich in her primary. Spartz had waffled on whether she’d run for reelection, having originally said in February 2023 that she wouldn’t seek another term. But this past February, she decided just before the filing deadline to run again, and she overcame Goodrich’s sizable financial edge to win renomination.

- In Indiana’s 6th District, wealthy storage company owner Jefferson Shreve outpaced a crowded Republican field. Aided by millions in self-funding and residual name ID from his recent and expensive run for Mayor of Indianapolis, the moderate Shreve outpaced more conservative candidates Mike Speedy and Jamison Carrier. He’ll be a shoo-in in the fall to replace retiring GOP Rep. Greg Pence.

- State Sen. Mark Messmer won a comfortable victory over a crowded GOP field in Indiana’s 8th District. The race attracted some national attention because a pro-Israel super PAC pumped seven figures into defeating another GOP candidate, former Rep. John Hostettler, who often voted against aid to Israel when he represented the area in the 1990s and 2000s. Messmer ultimately outpaced Hostettler by 20 percentage points and will be heavily favored in the general election this fall.

—Monica Potts, Nathaniel Rakich and Geoffrey Skelley, 538, and Jacob Rubashkin, Inside Elections

CORRECTION (May 8, 2024, 11:12 a.m.): A previous version of this blog entry misidentified Indiana 6th District Republican primary candidate Jamison Carrier as Jamison Crowder.

Final thought: With Spartz surviving, still only one incumbent has lost renomination so far

Spartz came into tonight as clearly one of the most endangered incumbent House members in the country. But with her primary victory, still just one incumbent has met defeat so far this primary season: Republican Rep. Jerry Carl, who lost in an incumbent-versus-incumbent clash in Alabama on March 5 against Rep. Barry Moore due to redistricting pushing the two into the same dark red seat. However, there are many months to go before all primaries are completed, so definitely do not rule out another incumbent going down in a primary.

—Geoffrey Skelley, 538

Final thought: GOP women hold on, but make little gains

So far in 2024, the GOP seems to be running behind where it was last cycle when it comes to nominating women in competitive or safe seats. Tonight, female incumbents Houchin and Spartz held on and will very likely win reelection in the fall. But a couple qualified female candidates didn’t fare as well tonight. The sitting lieutenant governor, Crouch, lost the gubernatorial primary, and in the 3rd District, it looks like Davis also failed to win. Both of these women could’ve benefited from more unified support. Although Crouch had endorsements from lower level officials, the Club for Growth and Trump endorsed Braun. And in the 3rd, the Club for Growth actively campaigned against Davis. Women, especially Republican women, face many invisible hurdles in their effort to win elected office. Add hurdles like these, and the challenge is insurmountable.

—Meredith Conroy, 538 contributor

Final thought: Tonight’s primaries show where the party is headed in deep-red states

Braun was the front-runner in the Republican gubernatorial primary tonight, and he ended up winning. But the candidates weren’t that different on many of the issues. As other observers noted, the primary was fought more over big national issues like crime, China, immigration and abortion than over the day-to-day running of the state. The way the race unfolded tells us a lot about the direction of the Republican Party nationally, and the candidates we can expect deep-red states like Indiana to send to Washington. Among other things, that’s meant that the party continues to run conservative anti-abortion candidates despite the position being unpopular, and an often losing one, for Republicans in general.

—Monica Potts, 538

Indiana voters' concerns are similar to what we see nationwide

That's interesting, Mary, and in line with what we see nationwide. Voters are particularly down on the economy under President Biden. When PerryUndem, in partnership with 538, conducted a focus group with voters about the economy, most named cost-of-living issues as their specific economic concern. Some were also worried about the job market, layoffs and the price of housing. In general, Trump-leaners gave Biden worse marks on the economy, but Biden-leaners weren't thrilled about it either. They were less specific when it came to what they wanted a president to do about it, however.

And Democratic and independent voters are very concerned about the state of democracy and worry about a repeat of Jan. 6. Trump's trials and statements on the campaign trail haven't eased their concerns. Republicans worry about the state of democracy as well, but they seem to be influenced more by Trump's repeated falsehoods that the 2020 election was stolen and by conspiracy claims about noncitizens voting.

—Monica Potts, 538