Hardball with Chris Matthews, 11/7/12, 7:00 PM ET

Senator-elect Donnelly: ‘I bet on the people of Indiana’

Chris Matthews talks to Senator-elect Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., about his victory over Tea Party candidate Richard Mourdock.

Donnelly: Mourdock’s ‘extreme positions’ sunk him

Updated

Richard Mourdock’s remarks on rape sunk him in the Indiana Senate race because voters in his state “have a common sense attitude,” victor Joe Donnelly said Wednesday.

The Democratic senator-elect, who beat Mourdock by 50%-44% Tuesday, told Hardball’s Chris Matthews that he “bet on the people of Indiana.”

“We have common sense and we’re conservative, but we believe in getting things done and we are not extreme,” Donnelly said. “What happened was, this campaign came down to someone with very extreme positions and what I tried to do was just focus on the middle.”

Sen. Richard Lugar, a relative moderate, was toppled in the GOP primaries by the Tea Party-backed Mourdock. But Mourdock, the state’s treasurer, threw his campaign into turmoil after suggesting last month that pregnancies caused by rape  are “something that God intended to happen.” His remarks echoed those on “legitimate rape” by another GOP Senate candidate, Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri. Akin also lost Tuesday.

Before the controversial statements, polls showed Mourdock, a strict social conservative tied with Donnelly. Afterwards, they mostly showed Donnelly with a clear lead.

Donnelly told Matthews that he aimed to follow Lugar’s path of  “trying to move our country forward.”

“We were very fortunate last night,” he added.

Donnelly: Mourdock's 'extreme positions' sunk him

Updated