Lead No. 1: For the first time in memory, Democrats won every countywide
race in Porter County.
Lead No. 2: The local electorate is splintering increasingly—and
divisively—along party lines.
Begin with the Democrat sweep in Porter County. No Republican in a contested
countywide race won on Tuesday and only one Republican in a race in which
Dunelanders voted prevailed: incumbent State Rep. Ed Soliday fought off the
challenge of Democrat Greg Simms.
Porter County voters decisively went for Democrat candidates, in some cases
going against the statewide grain:
•In the presidential race, Obama took 50.77 percent of the vote here (52.73
percent in 2008) to Romney’s 46.99 percent. But statewide Romney won 52
percent of the vote.
•In the senatorial race, Democrat Joe Donnelly took 58.29 percent here to
Republican Richard Mourdock’s 38.12 percent. Statewide Donnelly took 50
percent of the vote, with Libertarian Andrew Horning another 6 percent.
•In the gubernatorial race, Democrat John Gregg took 55.84 percent here to
Republican Mike Pence’s 41.04 percent. But statewide Pence took 50 percent
of the vote, with Libertarian Rupert Boneham another 4 percent.
•In the race for state attorney general, Democrat Kay Fleming took 50.97
percent here to Republican Greg Zoeller’s 49.03 percent. But statewide
Zoeller took 58 percent of the vote.
•In the race for superintendent of public instruction, Democrat Glenda Ritz
took 58.83 percent here to Republican Tony Bennett’s 41.17 percent.
Statewide Ritz took 53 percent of the vote.
In the County
In the countywide races the Democrat sweep was total:
•Democrat Laura Blaney romped her way to the South District seat on the
Porter County Commissioners (58.94 percent of the vote).
•Democrats Sylvia Graham and Dan L. Whitten were re-elected to their seats
on the Porter County Council and Democrat Bob Poparad won an at-large seat.
•Democrat incumbent Kevin Breitzke won his fifth term as Porter County
Surveyor (55.49 percent of the vote).
•And Democrat incumbent Bill Alexa won his third term on the bench in Porter
Superior Court II (60.52 percent of the vote).
Yet the very thoroughness of the Democrat victory on Tuesday threatens to
conceal another trend: a deepening partisan fracture in Porter County and in
Duneland as well.
Nearly half of all Porter County voters on Tuesday cast straight-party
ballots: 42.66 percent of them in fact (18.27 percent Republican, 24.39
percent Democrat). In 2008, only 37.22 percent cast straight party-ballots
(16.12 percent Republican, 21.10 percent Democrat).
In Duneland’s precincts, on the other hand, the number of voters who cast
straight-party ballots this year is almost double that of the number
who did so in 2008. On Tuesday, fully 42.15 percent of Dunelanders cast
straight-party ballots (18.16 percent Republican, 23.99 percent Democrat).
In 2008, only 24.17 percent did so 10.26 percent Republican, 13.91 percent
And had Republican Richard Mourdock not proved in Duneland such a deeply
unpopular candidate for U.S. Senate, there may well have been less
ticket-splitting and more straight-party voting. Because—despite the spike
in the number of Republicans who voted straight-ticket on Tuesday—only
one of Duneland’s 30 precincts went for all three Republicans in the
presidential, senatorial, and gubernatorial races.
And only that single precinct—Westchester 14—went for Mourdock.
Even in the 11 other Duneland precincts which went for Romney, Mourdock
So there was a fair bit of ticket-splitting in the top three races: in the
12 precincts which went for Romney, voters in eight of them preferred the
Democrat John Gregg for governor, not the Republican Mike Pence.
Still, 17 of Duneland’s 30 precincts rode the wave and went Democrat in
those top races: Obama, Donnelly, and Gregg.
For all the talk
about heavy turnout—about how it approached turnout in 2008—actually a
smaller percentage of Porter County registered voters showed up at the polls
on Tuesday than in the three previous presidential elections.
countywide was 63.97 percent, compared to 66.12 percent in 2008; 73.98
percent in 2004; and 70.21 percent in 2000.
Duneland’s 30 precincts averaged 64.06 percent on Tuesday, compared to 67.87
percent in 2008.
The precinct with the best turnout on Tuesday was Westchester 18, where
77.59 percent of registered voters went to the polls. Westchester 18 also
had the heaviest turnout in 2008, when fully 80.77 percent went to the
The precinct with the lowest turnout on Tuesday was Liberty 2, where 47.80
percent cast ballots. The now subsumed Westchester 2 had the lowest turnout
in 2008, with 44.34 percent.