Douglas Meagher

For the political junkies...

Filed By Douglas Meagher | May 08, 2009 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics

Here's something for Hoosier political junkies. There have been 49 presidential elections since Indiana attained statehood in 1816.

The results of those elections are after the jump...

Election Year Electoral Votes Indiana Winner Political Party National Winner
1816 3 Monroe Democratic-Republican Monroe
1820 3 Monroe Democratic-Republican Monroe
1824 5 Jackson Democrat Adams
1828 5 Jackson Democrat Jackson
1832 9 Jackson Democrat Jackson
1836 9 Harrison Whig Van Buren
1840 9 Harrison Whig Harrison
1844 12 Polk Democrat Polk
1848 12 Cass Democrat Taylor
1852 13 Pierce Democrat Pierce
1856 13 Buchanan Democrat Buchanan
1860 13 Lincoln Republican Lincoln
1864 13 Lincoln Republican Lincoln
1868 13 Grant Republican Grant
1872 15 Grant Republican Grant
1876 15 Tilden Democrat Hayes
1880 15 Garfield Republican Garfield
1884 15 Cleveland Democrat Cleveland
1888 15 Harrison Republican Harrison
1892 15 Cleveland Democrat Cleveland
1896 15 McKinley Republican McKinley
1900 15 McKinley Republican McKinley
1904 15 Roosevelt Republican Roosevelt
1908 15 Taft Republican Taft
1912 15 Wilson Democrat Wilson
1916 15 Hughes Republican Wilson
1920 15 Harding Republican Harding
1924 15 Coolidge Republican Coolidge
1928 15 Hoover Republican Hoover
1932 14 Roosevelt Democrat Roosevelt
1936 14 Roosevelt Democrat Roosevelt
1940 14 Willkie Republican Roosevelt
1944 13 Dewey Republican Roosevelt
1948 13 Dewey Republican Truman
1952 13 Eisenhower Republican Eisenhower
1956 13 Eisenhower Republican Eisenhower
1960 13 Nixon Republican Kennedy
1964 13 Johnson Democrat Johnson
1968 13 Nixon Republican Nixon
1972 13 Nixon Republican Nixon
1976 13 Ford Republican Carter
1980 13 Reagan Republican Reagan
1984 12 Reagan Republican Reagan
1988 12 Bush Republican Bush
1992 12 Bush Republican Clinton
1996 12 Dole Republican Clinton
2000 12 Bush Republican Bush
2004 11 Bush Republican Bush
2008 11 Obama Democrat Obama

In those 49 elections Indiana has voted for the national winner 37 times and the losing candidate 12 times. We have voted for the national winner in 75% of the elections, the loser in 25%. Democrats have won 31% of the 49 presidential elections held in Indiana. Republicans have won 61% of those elections. The Whigs and Democratic-Republicans have won 4% each.

The Democratic-Republicans won Indiana twice, both for James Monroe. The Whigs have also carried Indiana twice but lost one national election and won another, both also with the same candidate, William Henry Harrison.

The Democrats have carried Indiana 15 times. In 12 of those elections Indiana voted for the winning candidate, 3 times for the losing candidate. Democrats carrying Indiana and winning the national election are: Jackson (1828, 1832), Polk (1844), Pierce (1852), Buchanan (1856), Cleveland (1884, 1892), Wilson (1912), Roosevelt (1932, 1936), Johnson (1964) and Obama (2008). Democrats carrying Indiana and losing the national election are: Jackson (1824), Cass (1848) and Tilden (1876).

The Republicans have carried Indiana 30 times. In 22 of those elections Indiana voted for the winning candidate, 8 times for the losing candidate. Republicans carrying Indiana and winning the national election are: Lincoln (1860, 1864), Grant (1868, 1872), Garfield (1880), Harrison (1888), McKinley (1896, 1900), Roosevelt (1904), Taft (1908), Harding (1920), Coolidge (1924), Hoover (1928), Eisenhower (1952, 1956), Nixon (1968, 1972), Reagan (1980, 1984), Bush (1988), and Bush (2000, 2004). Republicans carrying Indiana and losing the national election are: Hughes (1916), Willkie (1940), Dewey (1944, 1948), Nixon (1960), Ford (1976), Bush (1992), and Dole (1996).

Eighty percent of the Democratic wins in Indiana have been for the winning national candidate, 20% for the losing candidate. Seventy-four percent of the Republican wins have been for the national winner, 26% for the losing candidate. The Democratic-Republicans have a 100% record of carrying Indiana and winning the national election, the Whigs 50%.

The Electoral Vote totals are presented primarily as an interesting indication of the State's relative importance in the Electoral College. Note that Indiana is the 19th State to enter the Union and the 49th and 50th were not added until 143 years later. Accordingly, our seemingly small number of votes was actually a larger percentage of the total number.

Equally interesting are the popular vote totals both nationally and in Indiana. Several elections in the 19th Century were quite close in the popular vote; most notably the 1880 contest. Elaboration on this point may be a follow-up topic.

Some general observations to be drawn from these results are that antebellum Indiana was populist and somewhat sympathetic to the South. Hoosier politicians were instrumental in creation of the Republican Party and that legacy is apparent from 1860 through 1932, although in the latter 19th Century Indiana was a very competitive State.

Indiana is otherwise a reliably Republican State. The periods of strongest Republican electoral success in Indiana mostly match the times when Republicans enjoyed national electoral majorities; the Gilded Age, the 1920s and the 1980s. Indiana tends to vote for Democratic candidates when there is a significant move to the Democrats nationally but then quickly returns to a pattern of supporting Republican presidential candidates. The best examples of this tendency may be the 1932 and 1936 Roosevelt wins and Johnson's win in 1964. We'll see if that trend continues.

Indiana voters seem to favor the status quo or at least the prevailing political philosophies of the age, having voted for the national winner 75% of the time. However, Hoosiers also seem to favor conservative Republicans. There is no period of sustained Democratic Party success in winning Indiana's presidential votes. Democrats carried Indiana only 4 times in the 25 elections held in the 20th Century; only 3 times during the period of 1932 to 1980 when the Democratic Party last enjoyed significant electoral majorities.

In the 8 elections from 1980 to 2008 only Obama carried the State for the Democrats. Nationally, Democrats won only 3 of those 8 elections. The President won 50% of the popular vote in a year when the incumbent Republican Governor won 58% of the vote. Much can be made of comparing those figures. It could be argued that Obama's vote total would have been higher if Jill Long-Thompson had run a stronger campaign. Or, it could be argued that Daniels and Obama were both seen as appealing agents of change. I'm sure that even more can be made of this comparison. My impression is that these results support the observation that Indiana goes Democrat when there is a significant national win for the Party.

So, what on Earth does all this has to do with homo-politics you ask. Well, someone a lot smarter than me once said that you don't know where you're going if you don't know where you've been. Clearly, this is a conservative state that will break from its traditional Republican voting pattern when there is a political realignment favoring the Democrats but those breaks do not lead to any similar, enduring realignment of Hoosier voters. If Obama carries Indiana again in 2012 he'll be the first Democrat in 76 years to win successive victories here.

As a partisan Democrat, a great fan of the President and a gay man, I firmly believe that his re-election is a must. I also believe, as many have noted, that we seem to be at the end of a conservative age; that liberal and progressive views are again ascendant. The facts above tell us where we've been and they make getting to where some of us want to go look like an ordeal; that being re-election of the President and creation of a Democrat electoral majority in Indiana.

Conservatism may be instinctive to Hoosiers. Perhaps times and circumstances explain our long-time support of Republican presidents. Maybe President Obama's election is the beginning of new era. What will be needed is another extraordinary effort on his behalf; to help both him and us. To paraphrase my hero, perhaps this generation of Hoosier homos has a rendezvous with history.

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