— Certain days define certain things, and no Tuesday in recent memory may define the ingredients on the label of this state more directly than what’s about to happen.
Sen. Richard Lugar vs. State Treasurer Richard Mourdock. It’s that simple when it comes to defining how “red” this “red state” will be on the grand political map of the United States.
If Lugar wins, it will still be considered a red state, but one that’s more moderate than many people voting in the GOP primary next Tuesday might think.
Of course, there are those political television commercials associating Lugar with his former Senate colleague, Barack Obama, who once called Lugar his favorite Republican. If that’s the case and
Lugar wins Tuesday, color Indiana a little purple, as in red and blue combined, and as in a little bruised and battered from what has to have been the most bitter Senate primary in this state in decades. If Mourdock wins, color this state blood red and part of the lockstep of the remaining tea party movement and the ultra-conservative wing of the party.
The question that keeps coming back to me about Tuesday is this: If Lugar wins, is it a sign that Obama could win Indiana again in November?
The answer is probably yes. If he wins, it probably will be because independents who have voted for Lugar before are concerned enough to vote in the Republican primary.
That’s probably a bit shocking to think about for some Republicans who are counting on Mitt Romney to lead the state ticket to another victory in the governor’s race and continued majorities in both the state’s congressional delegation and the Indiana General Assembly.
And if Mourdock wins? Well, it will likely be a dogfight up and down the ballot, but it also could energize the ballot for independents who tend to stay on the sidelines during primaries, as well as Democrats, who now have an incumbent Democrat they elected statewide in the White House for the first time since the 1960s.
This is the kind of race and election day that shows which way the political weathervane in the state is pointing, and that’s often a critical gauge in determining the level of funding that flows into the state from other places.
When the polls close at 6 p.m. Tuesday, watch for the direction the weathervanes are pointing.
• Dave Kitchell is a columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached through the newspaper at firstname.lastname@example.org.