The final numbers won’t be available for several weeks, but the bottom line is clear:
Indiana’s voter turnout Tuesday hit a modern-day record low — and likely is the lowest in state history.
Based on preliminary vote totals, it appears that turnout will fall somewhere between 29 and 35 percent. The previous low was 39 percent in 2002, according to Secretary of State data online going back to 1954.
While it remains unclear how the turnout affected races, election day proved, in the words of State GOP Chairman Tim Berry, to be “Red Tuesday.” With Republican Mike Pence already holding the governor’s office, the party won all three statewide offices on Tuesday’s ballot and seven of nine Congressional seats.
Republicans, who already held supermajorities in both the state House and Senate, added to their commanding control in both chambers.
In the House, the GOP majority grew by two seats to 71-29. The voting gave Republicans the largest majority enjoyed by either party in at least 40 years.
Among those wins were races involving two seats targeted by Democrats.
Residents of House District 32, a rural, largely Republican district north of the Indianapolis metro area, re-elected embattled Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero — despite his pledge to resign if he won.
Turner, who has faced ethics questions over his role in killing legislation that would have hurt his family's business, defeated Democrat Bob Ashley, a freelance journalist from Tipton. GOP leaders in that district will select a replacement for Turner in the coming weeks.
Voters also returned Sen. Mike Delph, a Carmel Republican and outspoken opponent of gay marriage, to the Statehouse. Delph faced a challenge from J.D. Ford, an openly gay Democrat, in a contest where the issue of gay rights took center stage.
Republicans also picked up three seats in the Senate, boosting their majority to 40-10. The last time the Senate saw a majority of that size was more than 60 years ago.
No matter how you slice it, though, turnout was worse than the previous low-tide mark in 2002. But the final turnout rate remains squishy for a couple reasons.
The first is the final vote total. The Star’s current estimate is based on unofficial totals in the Secretary of State race, with 99 percent of the votes counted. That was the statewide race which garnered the most votes.
The second reason for the variation in turnout estimates is that the number of eligible voters is not clear. State data as of Oct. 31 says Indiana has a potential of 4.59 million eligible voters, but the Election Division of the Secretary of State’s office lists the status of 787,267 of those voters as “inactive.”
Trent Deckard, co-chair of the election division, said those “inactive” voters were eligible to cast ballots if they had not moved from the addresses listed on their voter records.
So we looked at both extremes.
If all 4,593,465 voters were eligible Tuesday, turnout (based on 1,326,533 votes cast in the Secretary of State race) would be 28.9 percent.
At the other end of the spectrum, if none of the inactive voters were eligible to cast ballots, the turnout would land at about 34.8 percent.
Both would be well below that 39 percent in 2002.