As Republicans must hold all five of their competitive seats in this election while also picking up four seats to win a majority in the Senate, the Indiana contest has been among the most closely watched in the U.S. Senate. The ultra-competitive race has become the most expensive in the state of Indiana’s history.
A Rasmussen Poll released October 15 showed that Republican nominee Richard Mourdock (Who ended up beating longtime incumbent Senator Dick Lugar in the primaries by a landslide), held a five-point lead over the Democratic nominee, my very own Congressman Joe Donnelly. However, these numbers shifted after the October 24th debate, when Mourdock supplied the 2012 election cycle with yet another outrageous rape statement:
“I’ve struggled with it [rape exception for abortions] myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God, and, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
Three days after his debate statement, Mourdock’s campaign released a poll showing that while he had lost his large lead, he was still tied with Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly at 44%. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee responded by releasing their own poll which showed Donnelly gaining a lead of 7 points over Mourdock, 47% to 40%. According to these polls, Mourdock may still have a chance at winning the Senate seat.
Professor Heldman’s October 24th blog post not only offers valuable insight on Mourdock’s now famous statement, but also provides the sobering statistic that 1 in 5 Americans agree with Mourdock’s stance. She provides Razib Khan’s analysis of this social survey, which demonstrates that the most likely of all Americans to believe that abortion should be illegal in the case of rape are those who identity as extremely conservative, have lower levels of education, and who believe that the Bible is the word of God. While we do not know if Indiana directly mirror the nation’s opinion on abortion in the case of rape, the demographics of the state certainly reflect Khan’s analysis:
- Indiana’s population of persons with a Bachelors degree or higher is five percent below the national average.
- While 40% of the population in Indiana is religiously affiliated, only .55% identified with a non-Christian faith.
- A 2011 Gallup poll showed that 43% of the state identifies as republican.
I’ve spoken to many Oxy democrats from red states who are rather apathetic about voting in this election, as their “vote won’t count” in the electoral process. True, there’s a slim-to-none chance that my democratic vote for president will effect the total elector votes Obama receives from my traditionally red home state of Indiana. Even though I’m not planning to move back to the Midwest when I graduate, I’m concerned by such extreme restrictive views on women’s health representing the place where I grew up. I’m concerned for women like my sister, who doesn’t agree with the extreme anti-birth control pro-life University of Notre Dame, but will remain in Indiana attending the Catholic university for the next six years as she works towards her PHD. Although it is commonly Labeled part of the “bible belt,” the “breadbasket,” or as my fellow oxy students like to call it, the “flyover zone,” the fact is that as with all other 49 states, Indiana has a political say in Washington, and it is in the best interest of women (and their allies) to ensure that their voice is heard on November 6th.
So to you Midwestern democrats (that don’t happen to be from blue Illinois) and you East Coast republicans please don’t underestimate the value of your vote. Although when we’re in sunny Los Angeles its easy to forget about what’s going on back in your boring old hometown, make sure you take the time to consider your local candidates. You never know when they will be the punch line of Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert’s jokes.