Indiana has been virtually a one-party state over the past decade, with Democrats struggling to find success outside urban areas and college towns. Donald Trump carried Indiana easily in both 2016 and 2020 with former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate and Republicans hold all statewide offices and supermajorities in both houses of the state Legislature.
Republican U.S. Sen. Todd Young has employed a front-runner strategy throughout his reelection campaign of largely ignoring Democratic challenger Thomas McDermott. Young maintained huge fundraising and organization advantages over McDermott, mayor of the Lake Michigan city of Hammond, who struggled to gain attention while attacking Young on issues spanning abortion rights, federal spending and marijuana legalization. National political groups virtually ignored Indiana’s Senate race this year after spending tens of millions six years ago during Young’s successful campaign against former Democratic U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh.
Democrats have focused attention on the secretary of state’s race, where Republican Diego Morales, a former governor’s office aide to Mike Pence, is facing criticism for doubting the legitimacyof the 2020 presidential election and twice being ousted from jobs in that office after being written up for poor work performance. Democrat Destiny Wells, a lawyer and Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, has argued Morales was “sowing seeds of fear and doubt” about elections and that the secretary of state, who oversees statewide voting policies, should focus on improving Indiana’s troubles with low voter turnout.
An expensive campaign is being waged in northwestern Indiana’s 1st Congressional District, where Democratic U.S. Rep. Frank Mrvan is facing Republican Jennifer-Ruth Green, a Black U.S. Air Force veteran. Democrats have typically won in the district, which hugs Indiana’s Lake Michigan shoreline near Chicago, by large margins for decades, but former President Donald Trump closed the gap by appealing to working-class voters in the district, which has some of the country’s largest steel mills. Among Indiana’s eight other U.S. House districts, political analysts expect Republicans to retain seven seats and the Democrats to keep one.
Republicans have commanding majorities in both the state House and state Senate. Democrats are looking for a backlash from voters against the Republican-backed state abortion ban approved over the summer in their attempt to chip away at the GOP’s advantage in the Legislature.
Here’s a look at what to expect on election night:
Most of Indiana’s 92 counties are in the Eastern Time Zone (polls close at 6 p.m. ET), with 12 counties in the Central Time Zone (polls close at 7 p.m. ET).
HOW INDIANA VOTES
Early in-person voting and mail-in ballots have become more common in Indiana over the past decade, but many of the state’s votes are still cast on Election Day.
In the 2020 general election, about 61% of ballots were cast early or by mail as many election officials and campaigns encouraged doing so during the COVID-19 pandemic. State reports show that dropped to 27% of total ballots cast during this year’s May primary, tracking more closely to the early and mail voting done during the 2018 general election and primary.
Republicans have typically won by such wide margins in most of rural Indiana that they overwhelm the pockets of Democratic strength in urban areas, including Indianapolis and northwestern Indiana’s Lake County, and college towns such as Bloomington. Democrats are trying to win in the fast-growing Hamilton and Boone counties in suburban Indianapolis and limit their loss margins in rural counties to give their secretary of state candidate, Wells, a chance at statewide victory.
About 14% of Indiana’s statewide vote wasn’t tallied on election night in 2020, partly because of the record number of absentee ballots. That caused a delay in calling some of the most competitive races that year.
AP will tabulate and declare winners in 87 contested elections in Indiana. That includes four statewide races and nine U.S. House races, along with the special election in northern Indiana’s 2nd congressional district to complete the term of Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski, who died in an August highway crash. Polls close at 6 p.m. local time.
In the 2020 general election, AP first reported results at 6:03 p.m. ET on Election Day, Nov. 3, and 90% of results at 6:40 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 4.
AP does not make projections or name apparent or likely winners. Only when AP is fully confident a race has been won – defined most simply as the moment a trailing candidate no longer has a path to victory – will we make a call. Should a candidate declare victory – or offer a concession – before AP calls a race, we will cover newsworthy developments in our reporting. In doing so, we will make clear that AP has not yet declared a winner and explain the reason why we believe the race is too early or too close to call.
The AP may call a statewide or U.S. House race in which the margin between the top two candidates is 0.5% or less, if we determine the lead is too large for a recount to change the outcome.
The AP will not call down-ballot races on election night if the margin between the top two candidates is less than 2% or if the leading candidate is within 2% of the 50% runoff threshold. AP will revisit those races later in the week to confirm there aren’t enough outstanding votes left to count that could change the outcome.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW?
Q: WHAT DID WE LEARN FROM THE PRIMARY?
A: Frustrated Indiana conservatives fell short in most primary races in their drive to push the Republican-controlled state Legislature further to the right on issues like abortion and guns. The roughly two dozen so-called liberty candidates saw only a few victories in Republican legislative races across the state.
Q: WHAT’S CHANGED SINCE THE PANDEMIC ELECTION OF 2020?
A: The trend toward offering early in-person voting continues. For the 2022 General Election, there are vote centers in 58 of 92 Indiana counties. For the 2020 General Election, 45 counties offered vote centers.
For the 2020 General Election, 61 percent of ballots were cast in advance by absentee ballots or at vote centers. With pandemic abating, more voters may be inclined to show up at polling places on Election Day.
Republicans had full control of redrawing Indiana’s congressional and legislative districts that are being used for the first time this election. The maps faced criticism as giving Republicans an excessive election advantage and diluting the influence of minority and urban voters in favor of white voters living in rural areas.
One notable change was shifting the Democratic-leaning north side of Indianapolis out of the congressional district narrowly won by Republican U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz in 2020 and giving it more GOP-friendly rural areas north and northeast of the city.
Q: WHAT DO TURNOUT AND ADVANCE VOTE LOOK LIKE?
A: Turnout for a midterm election is typically lower than that of a Presidential year election. For the 2020 presidential election, turnout in Indiana was 64 percent of registered voters. In the 2018 mid-term election, turnout was 50 percent.
Q: HOW LONG DOES COUNTING USUALLY TAKE?
A: For the 2020 presidential election, 50 percent of the vote was counted by 8:48 p.m. ET on Election Day, Nov. 3. By 6:40 p.m. the next day, 90 percent of the vote was counted. It wasn’t until Friday, Nov. 6 that 100 percent of the vote was counted.
Q: WHAT HAPPENS AFTER TUESDAY?
A: For the 2020 presidential election, almost 14 percent of the vote was not counted on election night, meaning several races could not be called until the next day. Expect some close races not to be called on election night, and they will be reviewed the following morning when more votes are tabulated. For those races that are still too close to call, the winner will be determined after the county canvass is completed on Nov. 25.
“It might be something that gives a little new spark to Democrats in the state. But whether that’s enough to overcome the strong Republican mindset is hard to tell.” — Indiana University public affairs professor Paul Helmke, the former Republican mayor of Fort Wayne, about the impact of Indiana’s abortion ban.