As we get closer to the November election, voters have either already made their decision, or are in the process of making the final decision. In either scenario, there is something that encourages a voter to support a particular candidate. For those already decided, it may have been party identification. However, many voters now will vote based on certain issues and the candidates’ stances on those issues.
Indiana is no different. Especially with the lower races in the state, many voters are still undecided and are waiting to be persuaded by the candidates. For the presidential election, Indiana voters overwhelmingly support Romney, meaning he does not have to do much campaigning on issues in the state.
However, races for the U.S. Senate seat and several U.S. House seats are a toss-up. Even the race for Governor is beginning to heat up after the second debate between the candidates. With so many major races in the state, it is important to understand the issues that Indiana voters will analyze to make their decisions. What are these issues, and what are the stances taken by each of the parties?
The Economy and Jobs
Just like the nation as a whole, Indiana voters are very concerned with the economy and jobs. The state has had a high level of unemployment throughout the recession. Last month, the unemployment rate dropped to 8.2%. The month before, August, the unemployment rate was 8.3%. Although this is good news for the state, the percentage in Indiana is higher than the current national rate of 7.8%.
Even though the unemployment rate has dropped, the state lost over 6,000 jobs in the private sector in September. This means that the decrease in unemployment came from an increase in public sector jobs. Republicans candidates now claim they will make sure that private sector regulations are loosened so the private sector will not continue to lose jobs. Democrats, on the other hand, praise any type of job growth and will support that if elected.
The economy and jobs are important to Indiana voters since the population is heavily invested in only a few areas of jobs. About 20% of the state’s citizens are employed in manufacturing. This sector was hit extremely hard by the recession in 2008, meaning these citizens are very likely to vote on economic issues. Furthermore, another 20% of the population is employed in agriculture. Farmers want to be able to sell their products for high prices, so the economy weighs heavily on these voters.
The state budget surplus makes Indiana an interesting case for economic growth. Currently, Indiana expects an $800 million surplus each year in its biennial budget just passed this year. Decisions concerning how to allocate the surplus will surely affect future economic growth of the state. Democrats are pushing for more funding of pension plans and Social Security, whereas Republicans are pushing for tax cuts. The budget surplus issue will give Indiana voters something extra to think about for the Governor’s race and other state races.
With 40% of the population in just two sectors of employment, candidates must be sure to focus on the economy during the election. Republicans candidates attack Democrats and the Obama administration, claiming that their policies have hurt economic growth in the state. Democrats state that the economy is continuing to improve, and continuing with Obama administration policies will eventually lead to more growth. The economy has been a pivotal issue in the 2012 election, and Indiana is no exception to this trend.
Health care has been a major national issue since the 2008 election. Indiana voters will have extra considerations when making their decision in November since the state has its own health care system. The Healthy Indiana Plan provides an affordable health plan for low-income citizens not eligible for Medicaid. Of the people eligible, 94% took advantage of it this year, with 94% of those enrolled saying they are satisfied with the system.
President Obama’s health care program will destroy the state program if fully implemented. Indiana has asked for an extension of its state program for 3 years, but was only given a one year extension. This has created tension between Indiana and Washington, D.C. Since many Indiana voters support the state health care program, the issue of potentially repealing national health care has become even more important.
Republican candidates in the state, especially for federal races, have gone on the attack over Obamacare. The U.S. Senate race in the state provides a clear example. Republican Richard Mourdock claims that Obamacare will ruin the economy, and he vows to vote to repeal if elected in November. The opposition to Obamacare is very typical of Republican candidates not just in Indiana, but nationally.
On the other hand, most Democrats running for office in the state are fully supportive of Obamacare. In the Senate race, Democrat Joe Donnelly fully supports Obamacare and will be sure to keep it in place if elected. Other Democratic candidates in the state are making the same claims in both state and federal races.
Indiana voters will have the difficult decision of deciding who will best support their livelihood with health care. This is made even more difficult by an effective state health care system that is highly popular. The health care issue will surely influence voters in the state as they head to the polls.
The final major issue that influences Indiana voters is education. The state has made major progress in its attempt at education reform over the past several years. Indiana graduation rates and college attendance rates have increased in the past two years. Furthermore, the state has implemented a voucher program that has achieved much success, especially in the past year.
Indiana instituted a voucher program for students that qualify for financial aid. These students can obtain a voucher to help pay for education at a private school, which provides a better quality of education in most cases. In 2012, the number of students doubled to almost 9,000. The state expects even more students to take advantage of the program next year.
This program has faced opposition from several groups. Teacher unions have filed a lawsuit since some of the schools under the voucher program are religious schools, which could be a possible violation of the first amendment. Democrats are opposing the voucher program because they believe it is a major disadvantage to public schools that need state assistance to develop. Republicans in the state started the program and remain in full support of it.
All across the country, states need better schools and more teachers. Indiana voters, especially parents, are worried about the future of the education system for their children and grandchildren. Thus, major decisions reforming the education system will heavily influence the outcome of the election. Candidates will need to present reasonable and effective plans if hoping to be elected, especially in state-level races.
Indiana follows the basis national trends for major issues. These 3 issues are important to many voters all across America. However, Indiana has different state laws that make each of the issues unique. The presidential candidates have not focused much on the state, so these issues will not come into play in that race. However, in other federal and state races, the candidates are focusing heavily on these issues to gain support from voters. Indeed, in close races such as the U.S. Senate race, just one of these issues may propel a candidate to victory.