Todd Young - BrabenderCox

Todd Young’s Victory. A Behind-the-Scenes Glimpse.

by Robert Aho


Taking down a Tea Party favorite in the primary? Small potatoes. Denying a Senate seat to Indiana’s most famous political name in a century? Nothing short of epic.

In the 2016 US Senate race in Indiana, Democrat Evan Bayh had every advantage. All Todd Young had was a great story, a solid work ethic, and a great team behind him. He won the race on sheer will.


First, Some Context

In the summer of 2016, Todd Young had just won a hard-fought Primary to become the Republican nominee for US Senate in Indiana. Our opponent, the Democrat nominee, was former Congressman Baron Hill.

Or so we thought.

On July 11, Hill was pushed out by Evan Bayh – a popular former sen­at­or and gov­ernor whose fath­er Birch also served in the Sen­ate.

The minute Bayh became our new opponent, he entered the race with $10 million in his campaign bank account, sky-high name recognition, and polling that showed him leading by more than 20 points. Team Young was still relatively poor after the Primary.

For what’s it’s worth, Young’s reaction to Evan Bayh announcing his comeback attempt… “Game on. Let’s go win this.” 


Winning with Humor and Speed

Within minutes of Bayh’s stunning entry, Team Young and BrabenderCox went to work. Our first order of business was to step all over Bayh’s announcement and never cede a news cycle to him. This ad was produced and airing within 24 hours:

To defeat Bayh, we knew we couldn’t simply use the stale attack strategies of yesterday. We needed to quickly progress through a series of hits that told the story of Bayh cashing in in Washington, and leaving Hoosiers entirely for the high life of a DC lobbyist and Wall Street insider.


The Closing Days

In the final days of the campaign, Team Young benefited from a decision made months in advance: embrace the newest digital and data analytics tools – the unsexy stuff that wins campaigns. 

This meant that we were able to run highly-targeted, very efficient messages to key audience groups. For example, we ran these ads to persuade military veterans and national security voters…

And to close out the campaign, we stayed true to the overall message with Todd’s closing ad…


Evan Bayh’s campaign spent $10.3 million on television advertising. Todd’s campaign spent $3.8 million.

Young won. Bayh lost.

The thing that sticks out to me about victory night… Todd is still, at his core, the same guy I first met in a drab little campaign office back in 2009. Hardworking. Focused. Trusting of his team. And as sharp as anyone you’ll meet in DC. Oh, and did you know he’s a Marine?


The author is a Veteran GOP Political Consultant who produced Young's Ads.