INDIANA 11 Electoral Votes
Obama/Allies  |  McCain/Allies  |  Nader Candidate Travel 
A Democratic operative who worked on the campaign has helpfully provided the following observations below , which are very slighted edited.  The operative attributes Obama's success in Indiana to the economy and the fact that "Obama did what no presidential candidate has done in most Hoosiers' lifetimes – actively campaign in this state and ask Hoosiers for their vote."  The closely fought, relatively late May 6 primary contest against Sen. Clinton provided a starting point in terms of introducing Obama to voters and building organization....

It was 6-7 weeks of basically uninterrupted campaigning and message from both Clinton and Obama.  There was not [a competitive] Republican primary, so no message was out there from the Republicans.  Despite what many of the pundits were saying, the long primary process was actually very good for Indiana.  It's a state that had been largely ignored in the past, and suddenly it was the battleground in the primary.  It served to excite and activate Hoosiers who were seeing Presidential candidates campaign in their hometowns for the first time in 40 years - for many the first time in their lifetimes.  It not only motivated our base, Democratic voters but also brought new voters into the process in a significant way in a very short period of time.  As a result, we had record turnout in the Dem primary - nearly 1.3 million.

After the primary was over, we did a pretty good job of consolidating Clinton supporters behind Obama fairly quickly in June and July, and built off the extensive grassroots organizations that both Obama and Clinton had put together for the primary.  The competitive primary actually placed Obama in a very good position to put Indiana in play in the general election.  Without that, I doubt there would have been any solid basis for a competitive general election race.  The truly significant thing is that the Obama campaign recognized very early on after May 6 that putting the state in play was possible because of all these factors...and then acted on it very quickly.  By mid-June we had the first pieces of a campaign staff on the ground and by early July we were opening offices and in the second week of July went up on the air with TV ads (and never came down until Election Day).

By October, the campaign had opened 44 field offices across the state, including in many rural counties and in nearly all of the donut counties around Indianapolis. We had a volunteer base of more than 80,000 Hoosiers who had put time and effort in for Obama since January.  We had more than 350 local Hoosier Teams who were coordinating GOTV efforts in their local communities around the state.  We had paid staffers working with those volunteers across all 92 counties.  Obama didn't write off this state and didn't even write off traditional Republican areas of the state.

Looking at the results...

-Obama won more votes in each of the 92 Indiana counties than either Kerry in '04 or Gore in '00.
-Obama won the second most votes of any presidential candidate in Indiana history.  George W. Bush won more than 1.47 million in '04.  Barack Obama won 1.37 million this year.

-While some have said that African Americans or youth voters were the key to Obama's win in Indiana, those voters could never have helped put him over the top if Obama hadn't done so well across the board with Hoosier voters, including in rural counties where many doubted he would have much success.  Of the 15 counties that he won, four are considered to be very rural counties.  Also, consider how many counties where the result for Obama was 45-49% - 22 counties.  Most of those are rural counties and many are traditional Republican strongholds like Sullivan County, where Obama won 49%, or White County where he got 45%.

-Another thing to look at is the fact that Obama ran very stronger than Democrats normally do in the suburban donut counties around Indianapolis where Republicans have always counted on pulling high vote totals
No one ever thought Obama would win a majority in these counties, but we did think we could pull a lot more votes out of these counties than Democrats had in the past and focused a lot of grassroots energy on these areas.  In Hamilton County (north side of Indianapolis) Obama won 38% of the vote compared to John Kerry's 25% in 2004.  This county is the state's fastest growing county, and the 13% more that Obama received amounts to a lot of individual votes.  The same holds for the other donut counties.  In 2004, Kerry's best result in these seven counties was 28%, while Obama's lowest showing in 2008 was 36%.

Travel  compare...
Five Months (June 1-Nov. 4, 2008)
Barack Obama - 8 visits (8 days)
Joe Biden - 3 visits (3 days)
Michelle Obama (solo) - 2 visits (2 days)
Jill Biden (solo) - no visits
John McCain - 2 visits (2 days)
Sarah Palin - 3 visits (3 days)
Cindy McCain (solo) - no visits
Todd Palin (solo) - no visits

The Democratic principals spent much more time campaigning in Indiana than the Republican candidates and their spouses.  Indeed Obama's last campaign stop before his Election Night rally was to a call center in Indianapolis.

Newspaper Endorsements
Daily Journal [Franklin]
The Herald Bulletin [Anderson]
Journal Gazette [Fort Wayne]  (Oct. 19)
Lafayette Journal and Courier  (Oct. 26)
Muncie Star Press  (Oct. 26)
Post-Tribune [Merrillville]
Richmond Palladium-Item  (Oct. 19)
The News-Sentinel [Fort Wayne]  (Oct. 28)
Northwest Indiana Times [Munster]  (Nov. 2)
Indianapolis Star  (Oct. 26)   255,303 (26)
Copyright © 2008  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action