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Indiana voters split over economy, education

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Wednesday, November 7, 2012 - 12:24 am

FISHERS — Indiana voters vented their fear over their financial futures by splitting their votes Tuesday, choosing Republicans for the White House and the Statehouse while handing Democrats control of a Senate seat and the state’s top education post.

Mitt Romney handed Indiana back to the GOP on Tuesday, Republican Mike Pence was poised to work with a GOP-led Legislature in his first term as governor and Republicans maintained their edge in the state’s congressional delegation.

Romney’s win in Indiana was founded on support from whites, conservatives, voters older than 40 and people with family incomes of at least $50,000. Obama lost ground with younger people and those with incomes of more than $100,000.

Voters said they looked to Pence to follow in the footsteps of two-term Gov. Mitch Daniels, a conservative favorite.

Lance McElroy, 46, an engineer from Indianapolis, said he supported Pence because he believes Pence can continue Daniels’ “creative” policies, such as leasing the Indiana Toll Road.

Some voters were disappointed they weren’t able to return longtime Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar to Washington.

Joe Donnelly, a three-term Democratic congressman from northern Indiana, drew some of his votes from former Lugar supporters who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for tea party favorite Richard Mourdock, who dislodged Lugar in the primary.

“I actually voted for Donnelly. I normally don’t vote Democrat. But Mourdock kind of freaked me out a little bit,” said Jon Town, 50, a Hamilton County business owner. Town said he voted a straight Republican except for the Senate race.

The race had been tight until Mourdock said during a debate that a pregnancy resulting from rape is “something God intended.” Democrats pounced on the remark, and voters were disturbed by it even though many doubted Mourdock had intended it the way it came across.

Republican incumbent Tony Bennett, who incurred teachers’ wrath by pushing conservative education policies such as linking their pay to students’ test scores, fell to Democrat Glenda Ritz in the race for the state’s top education post.

Ritz said parents, as well as teachers, disliked Bennett’s agenda, which she saw as more political than educational.

Voting was heavy across the state but went smoothly for the most part, said Valerie Kroeger, a spokeswoman for the Indiana secretary of state’s office.

There were a few wrinkles, however. A bank robbery and shootout in Muncie made it difficult for voters to get to one polling site, and election officials in Bloomington said a misleading email caused confusion over where Indiana University students were supposed to vote.

Significant voting delays were reported in heavily Republican Hamilton County just north of Indianapolis, where voters were still standing in line at some sites an hour after the deadline for polls to close passed. Officials there said the lines were due more to voter turnout than to a technical glitch that delayed the start of voting at some sites.