Tuesday’s election in Madison County, perhaps as much as anything, was another clear indication of the power of the local Democratic Party.
Voters cast 11,265 straight Democrat ballots and 8,783 straight Republican ballots, spotting Democratic candidates a 2,482-vote lead over their Republican counterparts.
Fueled by this advantage, Democrats won:
- One of two county commissioner seats
- Two of three county council positions
- County auditor
- County coroner
- County surveyor
In the county council race, the vote was largely a referendum on the current council majority, represented by incumbents Mike Phipps and Mike Gaskill. Of the six candidates, Phipps garnered the fewest votes and Gaskill was fourth, leaving both out in the cold and showing clearly that voters did not like their strong-arm tactics in cutting government jobs and slashing budgets. Phipps is president of the council and is closely aligned with Gaskill and other tea party Republicans.
Presumably, hundreds of moderate Republicans crossed party lines to vote for Lisa Hobbs, who easily out-polled all of the other council candidates with 27,429 votes. The next-closest candidate was Lisa Phillips, a Republican, with 24,123 votes.
Despite the high number of straight Democrat tickets, President Barack Obama lost Madison County to Mitt Romney by more than 2,300 votes, illustrating local disenchantment with the president’s policies. Indiana, which gave its electoral votes to Obama in 2008, swung against the president, as well.
One other immediate observation about Tuesday’s election in Madison County: Incumbents enjoyed an advantage but clearly were not rubber-stamped by voters. In contested races, eight incumbents and five challengers won the county.
What does all of this mean? Despite the fact that 20,399 of the 53,047 who voted cast straight-party ballots, voters distinguished between candidates in selected races. And this lends a strong impression that Tuesday’s vote wasn’t a popularity contest, but one based on the issues, voting records and individual appeal of the candidates. That’s the way the democratic process should work.
Democrats carried the day in most local races, but Madison County showed its disenchantment with President Obama’s policies.