Brian Howey Column
May 22, 2008
Hoosiers can really change the world … with their honor
INDIANAPOLIS – I have been in a reflective mood since the epic Clinton-Obama race passed through Indiana. I keep hearing Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s “Chicago” in the back of my mind … “We can change the world; re-arrange the world….”
And that is just what Hoosiers did. In the Indiana primary, 39 percent of registered voters went to the polls, up from 21 percent in 2004. There were 173,525 absentee ballots cast, compared to 61,345 in 2006. There were 7.4 percent newly registered voters and in the top nine counties, Barack Obama carried eight of them. A group of Obama volunteers are meeting in Indianapolis with the goal of registering 100,000 new voters before the November election.
In 90 of 92 counties, there were more Democratic ballots cast than Republicans (Benton and Montgomery were the anomalies). Sixty-four counties went Democratic that voted Republican in 2004. There were 410,517 Republican primary voters, and 1,273,107 Democratic voters or 75.6 percent. In 2004, only 40.2 percent voted in the Democratic primary.
Don’t think your vote can change the world? Both Hillary Clinton and Jill Long Thompson won by a mere 1.14 percent. Clinton won by only 14,487 votes and Thompson’s plurality was 13,068 votes. But these two Democrats did it in very different ways. Clinton carried 83 of 92 counties; Thompson carried 36 counties and only six of those were south of I-70. North of the Indianapolis media market, Thompson carried every county except Jim Schellinger’s home of St. Joseph County. Thompson carried the entire 3rd Congressional District (which she used to represent when it was the 4th CD) and all but three counties in the 2nd CD where she unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Rep. Chris Chocola in 2002.
The Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Indiana Businesses for Responsive Government group, notes there are silver linings for both political parties. “For the Democratic Party, (there are) a large number of new and possible swing voters to target; for the Republican Party, a well-defined set of loyal Republicans to target money, yard signs and phone banks.”
How do all these statistics factor into the coming fall campaign? The Obama context could actually help Gov. Mitch Daniels in a theoretical sense. Despite their party differences, both Daniels and Obama are change agents. During the presidential primary, Obama repeatedly said at his rallies that America should invest in jobs and rebuilding the infrastructure, which could be applied to the Major Moves lease of the Indiana Toll Road (following Obama’s patron, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley who leased the Chicago Skyway).
Earlier this week, Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell attained a 75-year lease on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
But Obama could also generate huge turnout in Democratic strongholds in Indianapolis and Lake County which could help Thompson eat into his Central Indiana strongholds.
Gov. Daniels was asked about the synergy with Obama. “America ought to be about change, and we ought to debate what kind of change, but it was very interesting to hear the word so often when we are living in an era of lots of new approaches and action in this state," Daniels said.
Should Indiana move its presidential primary to earlier in the process? Last winter, Daniels suggested that Hoosiers should vote on the same day as New Hampshire. A tax on all campaign related spending could be used to finance the extra election (gubernatorial, congressional, legislative and local offices could still be elected on the first Tuesday in May).
Daniels responded, "I hope there'd be more now that we've actually seen how much fun it is. I hadn't imagined - and no one did - that we'd actually have such a competitive, meaningful contest here. Now we've seen what it's like. Hoosiers enjoyed it. I wish it were an every-time affair, so I think it's an idea we should still talk about."
U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh also likes moving Indiana up. “He's exactly right, we ought to find a way to work together to make sure our voices are heard more often than every four decades,” Bayh said. “These national folks fly over our state and they occassionally stop to pick up some money. They might look out the window and say, 'I wonder who those people are down there?' Now they know.”
The six weeks leading up to the Indiana primary was an inspiring time. It was thrilling to watch Hoosiers line up for blocks outside of the Wigwam in Anderson and, the final night of the campaign, seeing 21,000 people turn out for an Obama rally on the American Legion Mall in downtown Indianapolis. A light rain fell, but few left.
When I think about our rendezvous with Clinton and Obama, I vividly recall crouching on my knees with my camera at the Indianapolis Kennedy-King Peace Monument on April 4 of this year, the 40th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. There stood Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, Ethel, peering up at the outstretched hands of the two American martyrs. Her son, Max, asked her to read a poem.
“Two heroic hearts,
Who for a short time,
Traveled toward the sun.
And singed the vivid air …
With their honor.”
On May 6, some 1.6 million Hoosiers joined them.
Howey is publisher of Howey Politics Indiana at www.howeypolitics.com
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Brian Howey Column
Posted by M Theory at Thursday, May 22, 2008