Republicans roar, Democrats whimper


There was considerable drama across the country surrounding the 2020 election and the ballot count on the night of Nov. 3. Indiana wasn’t part of that.

With exception of a few notable races that teetered on the counting of absentee ballots, Hoosiers remained as predictable as ever. They chose Republican candidates by an overwhelming margin. In doing so, they let the Democratic Party know that their presence in the state’s electoral process, at least this year, is irrelevant.

The least surprising result of the Indiana election for statewide offices was in the governor’s race. Polls had been closed in most counties for only an hour when The Associated Press called the race for incumbent Republican Eric Holcomb. Unofficial counts indicate he will get close to 57% of the vote.

Democrat Woody Myers was running a distant second with around 30% of the vote, and Libertarian Donald Rainwater scored around 12%.

The gubernatorial results tell us a couple of things. Holcomb, an affable and approachable person, remains popular even though a pandemic is raging through the state with no sign of it being brought under control. With an election landslide of this size, he has little motivation to rethink his strategy.

Perhaps the more important — and troubling — message in the results is the lack of a viable Democratic Party at the state level. Indiana had long been a place where good candidates of either party could win statewide elections and bring representative balance to the formation of laws and government policy. In recent elections, that has changed.

Republicans have amassed supermajorities in the legislature, rendering the few Democratic officeholders powerless. Republican gerrymandering of legislative districts has also contributed to Democrats’ plight. But the Democratic Party did itself no favors this year in its selection of a gubernatorial candidate.

While Myers is a smart, decent man who is accomplished in the field of public health, he was ill prepared to mount a credible challenge to a popular incumbent. His party further showed weakness by its inability to offer help.

If Indiana Democrats were hoping to carve into the GOP’s legislative dominance, they missed their mark. Republicans were on the cusp of picking up at least three seats in the House of Representatives and raising their number of members to at least 69 out of 100 seats.

Democrats did pick up a seat in the state Senate, but Republicans also hold a huge advantage in that chamber, so the pickup will make no difference in the balance of power.

President Donald Trump’s emphatic 17-point win in Indiana undoubtedly helped Republicans fend off challenges in down-ballot races, but the number of Hoosiers who see value in having political balance in their state’s government are becoming fewer with each passing election. The Democratic Party shows no signs of being able to generate the energy needed to reverse that trend.

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