50 States in 50 Days Election Preview: 19. Indiana

In the 50 days leading up to the election on November 6th, I will be doing a profile of the 50 states and previewing what is on the ballot and how they are likely to vote. All of the posts so far can be found here

19. Indiana

Capital: Indianapolis

Nickname: The Hoosier State

Motto: The Crossroads of America

About the State

Prior to the arrival of French settlers, Indiana was home to Native Americans of the Algonquian tribes, including the Shawnee and Miami, who were joined by refugees from the east after they had lost the Beaver Wars to the Iroquois. The land was controlled by France from the early 1700s until they were defeated in the Seven Years’ War and signed the Treaty of Paris, ceding Indiana to the British. Following an uprising in the entire region by groups of Native American tribes – known as Pontiac’s Rebellion – the British issued a proclamation that all land west of the Appalachians would be reserved for the Native Americans, but the Iroquois sold their territorial claims back to them in a treaty of 1768. It was then held by the British until the American Revolution, during which a Virginian soldier – George Rogers Clark, older brother of William Clark who carried out a famed transcontinental expedition with Meriwether Lewis – formed and army to fight in the Old Northwest. This unit was successful in capturing Vincennes and Fort Sackville in 1779, and prevented the Eastern colonies from being attacked by British troops from the West.

In 1787, Indiana was designated as part of the Northwest Territory of the United States, which covered an area which also included what would become the states of Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and some of Minnesota. After Ohio had split off to become a state, it was renamed the Indiana Territory and its first Governor was William Henry Harrison, who would later become the 9th President of the United States. In 1811, Native American tribes led by the Shawnee Chief, Tecumseh, and his brother, Tenskwatawa, rebelled against the American expansion into land they believed was theirs, but they were defeated at the Battle of Tippecanoe. Indiana was accepted as the 19th state of the Union in 1816. The Federal Government’s Indian Removal Act, signed into law by President Andrew Jackson in 1830 was legislation that targeted the relocation of the so-called “Five Civilized Tribes” in Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama, but it also led to other treaties being negotiated and the Potawatomi and Miami tribes were mostly moved out of Indiana in the 1840s.

By the start of the Civil War, Indiana was the sixth most populous state and its loyalty to the Union was crucial in their success over the Confederacy, as it provided more than 200,000 men and millions of dollars in equipment and supplies. There was only one conflict within Indiana during the war, the Battle of Corydon, but the hostilities did have an impact on the demographics of the state, as more of the population was forced north to export their goods via the Great Lakes, as access to the Mississippi River (which was connected via the Ohio River) was cut off for four years. The expansion of this region hastened in the 1880s when natural gas was discovered, leading to the rapid growth of cities like Hartford City and (the aptly named) Gas City and created an economic boom that lasted into the 20th century.

Indiana’s economy still has a large energy sector in oil, gas and coal, as well as renewable sources. Alongside this, the state is also a major place for agriculture – its main crops being corn, wheat, soybeans and tomatoes; and manufacturing, where it ranks as the biggest producer of steel in the United States. Southern Indiana is the source of decorative limestone that is mined from the hilly Lawrence County and the product has been used on many public buildings, including the Pentagon.

It is the 38th biggest state in area – the smallest west of the Appalachians in the continental US – and with just over 6.5 million residents, it ranks 15th in population. Indiana is home to the University of Notre Dame, as well as two “Big Four” sports teams, the Indianapolis Colts (of the NFL, who were moved from Baltimore in 1984) and the Indiana Pacers (NBA). Its biggest sporting claims to fame in are the Indianapolis 500 – the famed 500 mile Indy Car race held each Memorial Day weekend – and for being the birthplace of NBA legend, Larry Bird – who grew up in French Lick, went to Indiana State, but then played for the Boston Celtics throughout his professional career.

Presidential Race

Electoral College Votes: 11

2008 Result: Obama 49.9% McCain 49%

Latest Poll: Romney +12%

President Obama’s victory in Indiana was the only the second by Democratic Party candidate since 1936 (LBJ carried the state in 1964) but he appears unlikely to repeat that success this time around. Should Governor Romney fails to win there in November, his chances of winning the election will be all but zero.

Also on the Ballot

Congress: There is one Senate election in Indiana in 2012. Republican Richard Lugar has represented the state in the Senate since 1977, but will not be up for a 7th term as he was defeated in the GOP Primary by a Tea Party candidate, Richard Mourdock. In November, Mourdock will face the Democrat Joe Donnelly, who is currently the Congressman for Indiana’s 2nd district, with the polls suggesting it will be a very close race.

Indiana has 9 Representatives in the House, with the current delegation having a split of 3 Democrats to 6 Republicans, but that ratio is expected to move to 2:7 with a GOP victory in the 2nd district, formerly Donnelly’s seat. There is also a Gubernatorial election in Indiana this year and the incumbent, Governor Mitch Daniels (R), is limited to two-terms and thus is not on the ballot this time around. The Republican candidate running in his place, Mike Pence, is widely expected to beat the Democratic Party’s challenger, John Gregg.

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