It may take days and weeks to completely sort out the messages voters sent on Election Day 2012. What was clear late Tuesday was that there will be multiple layers to the message.
In Vigo County, the big story was the defeat of incumbent Democrat Commissioner Paul Mason by Republican challenger Brad Anderson, a former County Council member.
Anderson has always been a popular vote-getter, and his timing could not have been better for taking on an incumbent Democrat. The commissioners’ awkward handling of the complex dispute between Woodgate homeowners and apartment developers at Cobblestone Crossings in southern Vigo County put Mason in the crosshairs of an emotional dispute. Coupled with Anderson’s popularity and strong name recognition, it was something the incumbent could not overcome, although the race was close.
On the state level, the most watched race was for the U.S. Senate seat. Republican Richard Mourdock, who defeated incumbent six-term Sen. Richard Lugar in a nasty spring primary, saw his hard-core brand of strict, tea-party partisanship come home to roost as Democrat Rep. Joe Donnelly captured the seat once thought safe for the Republicans.
Perhaps the biggest message of the year from Hoosiers will be reflected in the outcome of the Senate race. Mourdock’s brash brand of conservatism and no-compromise attitude toward the political process just didn’t sit well with Indiana voters. And Donnelly, long considered a moderate willing to work with all sides to achieve solutions to difficult public policy problems, provided the more acceptable alternative.
Many people simply got fed up with the partisanship. Mourdock paid the price.
As the Associated Press reported Tuesday night, the voices of bipartisanship could be found everywhere. Twenty-year-old Holly Deschepper, an education major at Indiana University-South Bend, says the tone of campaigns this year has been “absolutely awful.” She says that instead of focusing on talking about solutions to problems, “everyone is just bashing each other.”
Jim Harper, a 59-year-old Indianapolis voter, says the politicians in Washington need to start working more for the greater good instead of on their own agendas.
And 39-year-old Leslie Kidwell, a fundraiser for Indiana University, says she doesn’t know “where civil discourse has went in this nation but it needs to come back.”
Perhaps the results of Election 2012 will serve that end. We hope so.