The biggest news from Tuesday’s midterm election?
The voter turnout.
Big national headlines are open to interpretation:
The Republicans held the Senate, helped by Mike Braun’s victory over Indiana incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly. That shows the long, strong coattails of President Trump, who wasn’t even running.
The Democrats took the House. That shows some displeasure with the direction of Washington following the Trump election in 2016 — typical of midterm elections.
State and local headlines were somewhat predictable:
Indiana strongly backed Republicans, including Rep. Trey Hollingsworth over Bloomington Democrat Liz Watson in the 9th District.
Monroe County stayed strongly Democratic.
But those voting totals were borderline historic. Fifty-seven percent of registered voters in Monroe County went to the polls to cast 52,336 votes. That’s nearly twice the 27,107 voters from the 2014 midterm election, and more than the roughly 51,000 who voted in the 2016 presidential election. “Unprecedented,” county clerk Nicole Browne called it.
Young voters also were newsworthy. Long lines of Indiana University students waited to vote at the Indiana Memorial Union. Browne reported that there were more voters in the 18-to-24 age group than any other age bracket of voters except those 55-64 years old.
Some other observations from Tuesday: Let’s go inside the numbers.
There were very few crossover voters in Monroe County. In countywide contested races for judge, clerk, recorder and commissioner, the Democrats received between 33,159 (clerk Browne) and 32,457 votes (commissioner-elect Lee Jones), or 65.8 percent to 64.4 percent of the vote. Commissioner candidate Larry Barker received 17,913 votes, the highest in races for GOP candidates, while clerk candidate Jacob Franklin received 17,225 at the low end. Party lines were rarely crossed.
Early and absentee voters were much more likely to be Democrats than Republicans. This is evident in many places, including those who marked the straight-party box. Of those who voted a straight-party ticket early, 69 percent were Republicans and 31 percent were Democrats. Of those who pulled a straight party ticket on Election Day, 55.8 percent were Democrats and 43.1 percent were Republicans. The reverse could be seen in the race for County Council District 3, which was virtually even among early voters — 2,836 for Republican Marty Hawk to 2,818 for Democrat Ashley Pirani. But 5,267 votes were case for Republican Hawk on ElectiDay, compared to 3,037 for Pirani, and Hawk won re-election easily in one of the few GOP areas of the county.
Sen. Joe Donnelly’s alignment with President Donald Trump hurt him with Monroe County residents. He still won big with 34,193 votes in the county. That was more than 1,300 fewer votes than Democrat Liz Watson received in her race against Rep. Todd Hollingsworth in the 9th District.
It’s time for these office holders to be supported in their jobs as voters enjoy a very short respite; 2020 campaigning will begin soon.
Were those screams we just heard?