When great drama hung over the nation after the Nov. 8 midterm election, Hoosier voters found themselves mere spectators.
In many states, voters defied expectations and shook off traditions. They penalized candidates who repeated former President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulently decided in favor of Joe Biden.
In doing so, they returned control of the US Senate to the Democratic Party and denied Republicans the red wave they had so hoped would give them a large majority in the House of Representatives.
Indiana voters, at least those who bothered to vote, were not part of this movement. Rather, they took a status quo approach to Hoosier policy, returning a legislative majority to Republicans and electing GOP candidates to any statewide office on the ballot.
This performance in the elections was mostly expected. Indiana has emerged as a reliably red state over the past decade, helped in part by gerrymandering, which yields more than 70% of legislature seats for Republicans, despite statewide GOP candidates receiving less than 57% of the vote.
It seems like forever since Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama won Indiana en route to the White House in 2008 and Democrat Joe Donnelly captured a Senate seat in 2012.
The 2022 voting results were clear. The Indiana Democratic Party continues to struggle to garner enough support to lead it to statewide election victories. Even when it presents high-quality candidates to voters, the results are the same.
This reality has never been as stark as this year in the race for secretaries of state in Indiana.
Democrat Destiny Wells launched an aggressive and competent campaign against Republican Diego Morales, an exceptionally weak candidate who once claimed the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump and vowed to tighten state voting systems more.
He has been accused of misrepresenting his military service and allegations have been made of committing voter fraud by voting in one county while receiving a property tax exemption on a home in another county.
As if that weren’t enough to cast doubt on Morales’ fitness for office, he had twice previously resigned from the state secretariat after poor performance reviews.
He still won the election by a comfortable margin, although his vote count fell short of the rest of the statewide GOP ticket.
Morales’ election raises uncomfortable questions. Didn’t voters know the Republican nominee’s poor qualifications for the office he’s running for? Or did they just not care because he had an “R” after his name? Most likely, the answer is: a little bit of both.
With voter turnout remaining among the lowest in the nation, Indiana’s political makeup remains unchanged. Meanwhile, heavily rigged congressional and legislative districts ensure that Republicans continue to have an advantage in Hoosier politics that is greater than the electorate they govern.
The Tribune star, Terre Haute