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Hoosiers’ ticket splitting

Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
Ali Penland cheers as results come in for Democrats during the party’s election night celebration at Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 166Tuesday night.

Hoosiers once again demonstrated thoughtfulness and independence at the polls Tuesday, giving a convincing victory to Republican Mitt Romney, more narrowly electing Republican Mike Pence as governor but rejecting the GOP’s candidate for U.S. senator, instead electing Democrat Joe Donnelly.

Donnelly’s victory over Republican Richard Mourdock demonstrated yet again that candidates cannot take voters for granted.

Overconfident after upsetting the respected veteran Sen. Richard Lugar in the GOP primary, Mourdock espoused his tea party views on national television, belittling bipartisanship.

As the campaign continued, he made little effort to win over the more moderate Lugar supporters, doubling down on his controversial comments.

Donnelly’s victory demonstrated that Hoosiers don’t like extreme views of the left or right. Indeed, Donnelly is not a typical Democrat. He opposes abortion and sports a record of rejecting President Obama’s agenda more than only five other U.S. representatives.

While some will blame Mourdock’s controversial comments on abortion and rape for his loss – and wrongly accuse Democrats of twisting his words – it’s likely that his comments only solidified voters’ doubt about Mourdock’s views rather than causing voters to change their minds.

Mourdock’s loss is yet another reminder that the candidates who win party primaries are not necessarily the party’s best candidate in a general election.

Undoubtedly, Lugar would have kept the seat in Republican hands had GOP voters nominated him instead of Mourdock in May.

Candidates praise Hoosiers for their common sense. After listening to the opinions of Donnelly and Mourdock, they demonstrated that sense Tuesday.