With two months left before the polls open, it appears Bartholomew County voters have more interest in the 2012 general election than they had four years ago, when then-Sen. Barack Obama defeated Sen. John McCain for the presidency and carried Indiana in the
In the 2008 presidential race, Obama received 44 percent of the votes cast in Bartholomew County to 55 percent for
Four years later, as of Thursday morning, the Bartholomew County Voter Registration office had received 197 requests for mailed absentee ballots. During the same period prior to the 2008 general election, only 127 absentee ballots had been requested.
Two months prior to the May primary, a mere 29 requests had been received, Bartholomew County Clerk Tammy Hines said.
The heads of the local major political parties agree that Columbus native and Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence is a key reason for the increased voter interest — but for different reasons.
“Support for Mike is really huge,” Bartholomew County Republican Chairman Ted Ogle said. “This is his hometown. People in this community have great respect for him, and Mike is very charismatic.”
Ogle also said that, while he was in Tampa, he witnessed delegates from different states at the Republican National Convention go out of their way to meet Pence.
“He was kind of treated like a rock star,” Ogle said.
But Bartholomew County Democratic Chairman Priscilla Scalf said she perceives a negative attitude towards Pence, especially among Hoosier women.
“A lot of people realize Pence has voted against equal pay for women, voted to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, and has not voted for a single job in Indiana,” Scalf said. “They see Mike Pence as someone who does not have an interest in this state.”
However, a mid-August poll of 600 likely Indiana voters showed Pence with a commanding lead over Democrat John Gregg by a margin of 50-32. The poll was conducted by Market Research Insight for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. That same poll showed Libertarian Rupert Boneham holding 3 percent support, with the remaining 15 percent of likely voters still undecided.
Ogle also said that most Hoosiers are unsatisfied with the Obama administration, especially in regard to the 2010 Affordable Health Care Act.
In contrast, Scalf said most women, teachers, union members, Hispanics and other minorities will vote Democratic this November in reaction to recent policies either enacted or proposed by national and state GOP leaders.
A two-day Rasmussen poll completed Aug. 1 of 400 likely voters showed Mitt Romney with a 16-point lead against Obama in Indiana. The poll has a 5 percent margin of error.
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