Hoosiers share why they showed up for Election Day 2020 in Central Indiana on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.
Update: AP has declared Donald Trump the winner in Indiana.
Hoosiers voted in record numbers in what many considered the most contentious and important election of a lifetime, but Tuesday’s preliminary results indicate President Donald Trump’s support across the state remained steadily at or above the 2016 level when he carried Indiana with 57% of the vote.
The Associated Press declared Trump and his running mate Mike Pence, the former governor of Indiana, the winner in Indiana at 8:52 p.m., nearly three hours after polls close in the central part of the state.
While votes in many key races were still being counted late Tuesday, one other thing was clear: The long lines, disputes over masks, fears about violence that prompted many Downtown businesses to board up windows and the virtual watch parties illustrated how the 2020 election was like no other in modern history.
Even before the polls opened at 6 a.m. Tuesday, more than 1.8 million voters had cast ballots across the state. That was nearly double the number of absentee and early votes in 2016, when 2.8 million votes total were cast in Indiana. The sheer volume of votes this election could prolong the wait for a final tally.
Hoosiers walk in to vote in the 2020 election at the City-County Building in downtown Indianapolis on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. (Photo: Colin Boyle/IndyStar)
Voters — some who waited in line for hours — were drawn to the polls by the wildly polarizing presidential race between Trump and Joe Biden. The two candidates spent the campaign attacking each other over personal and policy issues, while pitching their distinctly divergent views for the future of America on hot-button topics ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic to the economy to health care to racial justice.
Early results revealed a core constituency of about 60% of Indiana voters backing Trump, as well as the two statewide candidates on the GOP ticket, Gov Eric Holcomb and Attorney General candidate Todd Rokita. Holcomb declared the winner just minutes after all the polls closed.
Hoosiers also voted in one of the country’s most closely wacthed and hotly contested congressional races, where Republican Victoria Spartz and Democrat Christina Hale were vying for the seat being vacated by Republican Susan Brooks. That race hovered near a 50-50 split for most of the early evening and was too close to call at press time.
For many Hoosier voters, Trump’s handling of the economy before the pandemic and his staunch support for the Second Amendment were key to winning their votes.
Tani Hull, a 72-year-old retiree, voted at Greenbriar Mobile Home Park on Pendleton Pike for the first time since 1970. Hull felt strongly about casting a vote for President Trump, even though she hasn’t liked his maskless rallies or his tweets. Still, she said she was swayed by the way he helped with the pre-pandemic economy and brought jobs back from Mexico and China.
Jorge Dominguez, 31, tried to vote multiple times before Election Day but was unsuccessful. So he waited in line Tuesday to cast a ballot for Joe Biden. Dominguez said he is a first-time voter who came to the U.S. as a small child and gained citizenship through his father. He takes issue with Trump’s immigration policies, citing “kids in cages and stuff.”
“I just want to make my voice heard,” he said. “We’ve had a rough four years, and I don’t want to go through that again.”
Brittany Rissler is an office designer, a job hard hit as many work from home during the pandemic. She wore a mask of late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to vote in Noblesville and said racial justice, stemming from issues of police brutality and inequality, is the most important to her this year.
“It’s been so eye-opening,” Rissler said. “Something needs to happen.”
Hyde Heckman, a Republican, said she voted a split ticket. Heckman said she feels the party has moved away from her core moral values since Trump was elected, and the 2018 school shooting in Noblesville motivated her to get more involved.
For some, like Linda Ford and her daughter, Amarr Boss, going to the polls together is a rite of passage. Ford, 52, and Boss, 18, went to the polls together Tuesday. It was Boss’ first time voting.
“My mom took me to the polls when I turned 18, and I’m 52 now. We’ve come a long way just to be able to have this privilege,” Ford said, adding that to be both Black and a woman makes voting even more of a privilege.
Ford said she wants her daughter “to understand the importance of” voting.
“If you don’t get out and vote, you can’t control what’s going on,” Ford said. “You can’t really complain about what’s going on because you didn’t take part in trying to make a change.”
Jeff Pea, a 43-year-old electrician, stood outside at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds holding campaign signs. For Pea, important issues include gun rights and keeping privatized medicine so he can choose his own doctor. That’s why he voted for Trump.
“The reason I support Trump is I look at him like how I would be if I’m president,” Pea said. “I’m going to speak my mind, I might not make everybody happy all the time, but I’m going to have the best intentions for the country at heart.”
Trump carried Indiana easily in 2016, when he defeated Hillary Clinton with 57% of the vote to Clinton’s 38%. Whether the incumbent can win in Indiana by that margin, particularly with the high turnout, remains to be seen. But with 28% of the voted counted at 8 p.m., Trump was seeing a slightly larger level of support as in 2016.
Indiana has only gone blue once since 2000. That was in 2008, when Hoosiers picked Barack Obama over John McCain. But even then, Obama carried the state with slightly less than half the votes cast — 48.9% to 47.9%.
That race also attracted the largest voter turnout, as a percentage of registered voters — 62% — since before 2000. Turnout in 2016 was 58%, and based on early voting the 2020 election could set a new record for turnout.
With 60% of the voted counted at 9:15 p.m. Tuesday night, Trump had 60% of the vote. If that pattern, which emerged shortly after the polls close at 6 p.m., holds Trump will likely end up with more votes and a higher percentage of the total.
Contact Tim Evans at 317-444-6204 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @starwatchtim.
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