Much of the media coverage of 2020 primary elections focused on the mechanics of voting methods, instead of the campaigns.
That’s because the COVID-19 pandemic led the state election commission to postpone the primaries four weeks, from May 5 to June 2, and to make no-excuse absentee voting available for any voter. That meant every voter could vote by mail, instead of showing up in person to vote on any of the six days before Election Day or the day itself.
In Monroe County, a lot more people voted by mail, ahead of Election Day, than they did in 2016. Of the 26,791 voters who cast a ballot for this year’s primary, 17,785 (66 percent) did it by mail.
The 66 percent who voted by mail this year was more than twice the percentage who voted before Election Day in 2016. The 2016 figure also includes mail-in ballots and in-person ballots cast during the early voting period.
Did the increased percentage of mail-in votes this year affect the outcome of any races? Maybe.
In Republican races there was less of a chance that mail-in votes had an impact. The breakdown by party showed Democrats voting by mail at a higher rate than Republicans. Of the 19,767 Democrats who voted in the primary, 71.5 percent did so by mail compared to 51.2 percent of the 7,024 Republicans who voted by mail.
The Democratic Party primary races were a mixed bag for the impact of voting method on outcomes.
Percentages in the District 40 state senate race, won by Shelli Yoder, were pretty stable across voting methods. Yoder’s in-person tally was around 3 points better than her mail-in numbers.
In the District 8 circuit court race, won by Kara Krothe, the margin for the winner was even greater for in-person voting than for mail-in ballots. Krothe had 66 percent of mail-in votes, but on Election Day she was 9 points better, with 75 percent
In the District 1 circuit court race, won comfortably by Geoff Bradley by a 24-point margin, the tally of Election Day in-person ballots went in favor of Bradley’s opponent, Al Manns, by a margin of 51.3 to 48.7 percent.
The same held true for Dominic Thompson, the candidate who placed fourth overall in the five-way at-large county council race for three nominations. Election Day voting put Thompson third, just ahead of incumbent Geoff McKim, whose bigger overall total claimed the third nomination spot. Thompson was 12.5 down from McKim overall, but out-pointed McKim on Election Day by .07 percent, or 6 votes.
Yoder over Zody
Based just on the fundraising totals, including last year’s numbers, Shelli Yoder would have been an easy pick over John Zody and Trent Feuerbach in the Democratic Party’s District 40 senate race.
Yoder raised $91,120 compared to $39,549 for Zody and a nominal amount for Feuerbach. Yoder’s better than 2-to-1 fundraising margin translated to about a 5-to-1 vote tally.
|Woodrow A Myers||152||$477,505||
state senate Republican
|Eric Joseph Holcomb||375||$391,473||
|Scott A. Baldwin||135||$379,681||
state senate Republican
attorney general Democrat
|Christopher Paul Jeter||67||$119,730||
state rep Republican
|Justin Thomas Busch||93||$108,421||
state senate Republican
|Shelli Renee Yoder||358||$91,120||
state senate Democrat
|David Lee Niezgodski||35||$88,831||
state senate Democrat
|Adam J. Krupp||109||$84,954||
attorney general Republican (dropped out)
Yoder’s fundraising total ranked eighth statewide among either Democrats or Republicans who were running for office in state government.
Among Democrats, only the Democratic Party candidate for governor, Woody Myers, and the candidate for attorney general, Jonathan Weinzapfel, raised more than Yoder.
Only Republican Governor Eric Holcomb had more donors (375) than Yoder (358).
Yoder’s strength across the district was evident in the tallies for each precinct.
The smallest margin for Yoder in any precinct was 38 points, in Bloomington 12, in the northeast corner of Bloomington Township.
Yoder’s highest margin, of 88 points, was in Bloomington 7, on the northeast part of town.
Of the the 26 votes cast in Bloomington 7, Yoder got 24 of them. The other two were split by Zody and Feuerbach.
Krothe over Kehr
Based on fundraising, the race for the Democratic Party’s Division 8 circuit court race could have been expected to be closer than it turned out.
Krothe raised about $900 more than Kehr, $8,921 to $8,069. But she doubled his vote total, taking 68.5 percent of the vote compared to Kehr’s 31.5 percent.
The lone precinct in the county won by Kehr was Bean Blossom 01, in the county’s northwest corner, where he had 70 votes compared to Krothe’s 59.
Other than the one precinct she lost, Krothe took every other precinct by at least a 10.5-point margin.
Her best margin was in Bloomington 05, a campus precinct just north of 7th street, which she won by a 70-point margin.
Bradley over Manns
Overall vote totals gave Geoff Bradley a comfortable margin over Al Manns in the race for the Division 1 circuit court race.
Bradley had 62.3 percent of the vote compared to 37.7 percent for Manns. But on Election Day, it was Manns who had a 4-point margin over Bradley.
Adding in early voting, the other method of in-person voting, Manns still had a winning margin. So mail-in ballots made the difference in Bradley’s win.
Reached by The Square Beacon, Manns said mailing in a ballot is a legitimate way to vote and he supported the outcome, even though he lost.
Manns called Bradley and “fine person who will make a fine judge.” Mann said he’d be supporting Bradley in the general election against Republican nominee Carl Lamb.
Asked if he had a theory for his better showing among in-person voters, Manns said he thought it might have been the fact that his newspaper ads didn’t appear until a week before Election Day, so he missed all the voters who’d already cast a ballot.
Munson, Deckard, McKim over Thompson and Boehm
The five-way race for the Democratic Party’s nominations for the three at-large county council seats saw a similar pattern to the Bradley-Manns race for circuit court judge.
Incumbent Geoff McKim won the third-place nomination, because he outpointed the Dominic Thompson, the fourth-place candidate, by 12.5 percentage points.
But Election Day voting put Dominic Thompson third, just ahead of McKim. Thompson out-pointed McKim on Election Day by .07 percent, or 6 votes.
The two other incumbents, Cheryl Munson and Trent Deckard, won the other two nominations. Finishing fifth was Karl Boehm.
Reached by The Square Beacon, Thompson said he did not know why his performance was better on Election Day voting than for mail-in voting. But he said the campaign had picked up a lot of momentum in the run-up to the Election Day. Thompson said he measured momentum by website page views and the number of interactions that had been generated on Facebook.
McKim speculated that a higher number of students voted in-person instead of absentee, and that might account for Thompson’s increased support on Election Day. Thompson is a student at the Indiana University O’Neill School of Public & Environmental Affairs.
McKim pointed out that Bernie Sanders support in the primary was also stronger among Election Day voters. The 35 percent of votes that Sanders had among Election Day voters was double his total for mail-in votes.
The geographic distribution of votes on Election Day is consistent with McKim’s speculation along the lines that Thompson’s strength was related to student voters. Thompson had success in precincts near campus.