Indiana’s Election 2012: The Middle Finger of the South Gets Hit With A Hammer

Indiana has been called the middle finger of the South thrust up into the Midwest. The 2012 Presidential electoral map bears this out. And, after the state elections, that finger just got even redder. But, there were unexpected spots of blue. It’s as if election 2012 was an electoral hammer that smashed down on Indiana.

2012 Electoral Map

The election that I think will have the most impact on Hoosiers is that of Mike Pence to governor. He is a Congressman who seems to have done nothing but unsuccessfully pursue conservative social legislation while in the House of Representatives. He hid his socially conservative light under a bushel for most of the campaign against John Gregg, but – though I am no Nate Silver – I predict that within the next 60 days, you will see this side of him emerge with a vengeance as the General Assembly — now even redder with some legislators of an almost Dominionist bent — will regard themselves as unleashed.

I don’t think David Long or even, particularly, Brian Bosma have real fire in their bellies for religiously motivated legislation. But, the Democrats lack any real power for them to use in maintaining discipline in their caucuses. So, they’ll have to let such things go and likely embrace a lot of the nonsense. Certainly the Constitutional marriage inequality amendment will come through and go to the ballot. (Unfortunately for my gay friends, I think this means it will show up in 2014 which isn’t as electorally advantageous to them as would be having the question on the ballot in a Presidential election year.)

The spots of blue would appear to be a cautionary tale against going off the rails to the right. Richard Mourdock, about whom I’ve been no fan because of his Chrysler antics, lost in no small part because of his rape and abortion comments. Joe Donnelly would have stood no chance had the more centrist Sen. Lugar remained in the race. Consequently, the Democrats retained control of the U.S. Senate. The other spot of blue was something I didn’t see coming at all until maybe the final week or so. Glenda Ritz beat Tony Bennett for the race to be Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Bennett has been aggressive in his efforts to restructure Indiana’s school system in a way that I believe allows more profit opportunities for some private entities. Certainly a lot of out of state money flowed into Bennett’s campaign war chest – which leads you to believe they were looking for a return on their investment. However, Bennett had gone too far. He outraged teachers in a way that made them talk convincingly to those around them. I know a number of reliably, usually unwavering, Republican votes that were cast against Bennett because teachers they knew convinced them that Bennett was bad for schools. If Bennett had not overreached, he too likely would have been safely re-elected. The Republicans haven’t lost a statewide executive branch office since the mid 90s when <strike>Hogsett</strike> <b><a href=””>Modisett</a></b> became Attorney General.

But, these cautionary tales will not be heeded. (Notwithstanding the Journal & Courier’s wistful, almost cute, hope of Gov. Pence avoiding social legislation in its endorsement.) So, for the next several years, I predict the State should increase its budget line item for paying ACLU-Indiana’s court mandated attorney fees. And, as this blog enters its 9th year in a couple of days, I expect I will once again have plenty to write about.


  1. Joe says

    The next two years in Indiana will be interesting to see if the House Republicans over-reach to such a level that they lose their super-majority in 2014. They’ve got carte blanche to do as they wish for the next two years.

  2. Bill Wilson says

    My fear is that there will be enough Hoosiers who agree with the right-wing Christian legislative agenda to keep the supermajority alive for a few election cycles. A lot of people vote Republican at the state level in Indiana, maybe for no better reason than they’ve always done it that way.

    • Carlito Brigante says

      Bill, I have read in numerous places that some national Republicans (the darkly realistic ones), know that the demographic tide will soon swamp them and they must move left or wither. They believed that this was their last, best chance to enshrine extremely conservative policies at a national level. That chance has passed. (

      But with Republicans holding many stathouses, including our fair state of Missiana, they can enact some of their agenda at the state level.

  3. says

    Of course they’re going to overreach. It’s the Daniels Toll Road model (“Do your dirtiest work in your first session, claim it was what you were elected to do, then hope voters forget in four years”), combined with what Mark Twain called “the calm confidence of the Christian holding four aces.”

    In case anyone’s forgotten, and I’m sure they have, Daniels’ approval ratings were in G.W. Bush territory in 2007, and it was only his enormous slush fund (and Evan Bayh simultaneously misplacing the key to his war chest), plus Jill Long suddenly being struck mute that got him reelected.

  4. Stephen F Smith says

    I’m not sure how much support the new Bishop will have as he assumes his chair in the Cathedral of Indiana Government, but let’s not forget that he spent his years in Congress trying to shut down government that he now leads. Amen.

  5. says

    The middle finger you may need to get used to is in hearing Indiana Republicans gleefully co-opt Obama’s unapologetic, “Elections have consequences”.

    Btw Doghouse- the Daniels Toll Road Model has been used by Obama (health care), and the first time I recall seeing it was by Bill Clinton (gays in the military). I was with Clinton, but it wasn’t what he was elected on. He thought it was important, so he went with it, and blew his political capital.

    • says

      D’oh! Thanks for the correction. I’ve modified it in the body of the post. That’s what I get for writing on the fly on my first cup of coffee in the middle of the pre-work, pre-school commotion in the kitchen.

  6. Doghouse Riley says

    Mike, FDR had the First Hundred Days, too. But I’m guessing the Pence model for running Indiana is Daniels.

    (So long as I’m here: Clinton campaigned on gays in the military, and health care, as Obama did. I don’t recall Mitch saying a word about the Toll Road deal until he’d already made it. But, frankly, I’ve spent the last eight years trying to ignore anything the man said, so I could be confused.)

  7. Joe says

    The Indiana Democratic Party has two years to get ready for an electorate tired of social conservative bills being passed and little in the way of economic progress. Least that’s what I suspect will happen in the first two years with Mike Pence.

    IIRC they were able to take advantage of the Toll Road and DST to take the majority in 2006 and 2008. Better memories than mine can remind me of what exactly they accomplished during those 4 years where they at least controlled one chamber of the Legislature.

    I don’t have high hopes that the Democrats will do more than pick up 5-6 seats in 2014. I would like to be wrong because we are all better with two viable parties, but without a big breath of fresh air, I don’t see it happening.

  8. says

    I was all set to make a joke about welcoming our new, liberal overlords. But not in this State.

    Do you think that the election results are a consequence of the walkout in 2011? I do believe that is why Win Moses lost his seat in Allen County. But I don’t know if that reverberated throughout the State, this long after it happened.

    • Joe says

      The Democrats got steamrolled in 2010, which meant that Republicans were in complete control of redistricting which went into effect this year and led to further Democratic losses.

      If the Democratic Senate numbers get much smaller, they’ll be able to go out to eat as a group without getting the gratuity added automatically. When your caucus fits in a 15 passenger van, it is not a good sign.

      But going forward, I do wonder how many seats they will be able to earn back. They have their work cut out for them and they really haven’t shown a vision for how they’re going to be an opposition that attracts Indiana voters. That the map is drawn against them will not help matters, but I think that’s secondary to what they’re selling voters right now.

    • John M says

      I think that two or three months ago, if you had told Democrats that they would win Lugar’s senate seat and would knock off Tony Bennett, most would have taken it sight unseen. And the map pretty much dictated the Republican supermajority in the General Assembly. The governor’s race, with Gregg falling only 3 points short and with Pence failing to break 50 percent, seems like a real missed opportunity.

  9. HoosierDragon says

    Win Moses (my state rep) was gerrymandered out of his seat when his district was redrawn to emphasize more Republican voters. I doubt many people here even remembered about the walkout or voted against him because of it.

  10. Carlito Brigante says

    Howey weighs in on the collateral damage done by Mourdock and his mouth to the state and national republican ticket.

    Also, thinking about Pence and his conservative Christian agenda, I wonder if he will take a shot at eliminating same-sex domestic partner benefits at Purdue (and perhaps other state college.) My wife teaches at Purdue and we wenth through open benefits enrollment. Purdue provide same-sex partner benefits. It would be low hanging fruit for the fundies.

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