Drawing the Wrong Conclusions

Curt Smith and Micah Clark have been quoted extensively in the wake of Tuesday’s primary, celebrating the social conservatives–especially “defenders of marriage”–who won their races. According to Micah, this proves that Indiana voters are “pro-life and pro-traditional marriage.” (Translation: anti-woman, anti-gay.)

Micah Clark began his post-primary newsletter with that message.

Yesterday’s primary election was as close to an across the board sweep as you will ever see in politics.   Republican voters finally got their chance in a few state legislative districts to express their anger over the failure of the GOP dominated statehouse to pass a marriage protection amendment.  If only there had been more conservative challengers in legislative races where establishment Republicans had voted for the unraveling of marriage.

In addition, incumbents targeted for their defense of social conservatism won as well.   You may recall when Rep. Bob Morris stood alone under immense criticism for pointing out that the Girl Scouts of America’s national organization had grown closer and closer to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.    The establishment loathes conservatives whom they cannot control and Bob is one of those.  In spite of a misguided high-profile pro-life endorsement of his pro-homosexual marriage opponent, Bob won the primary re-election yesterday.

Actually, as I recall, Morris made the bizarre claim that the Girl Scouts promoted abortion and turned girls lesbian….but I digress.

The newsletter went on (and on) in that celebratory vein. Micah went so far as to suggest that Eric Turner’s recent ethics problems were the result of leaks by “pro-homosexual” lawmakers. (Because Jesus would have been A-OK with his behind the scenes arm-twisting to protect his own pocketbook….)

So, are Micah and Curt right? Do the primary results vindicate their views? This is Indiana, after all.

Unfortunately for that conservative thesis, it ignores two very inconvenient facts: turnout was unusually low, even for a primary; and the social conservatives who won were Republicans running against other very conservative Republicans.

Reported statewide turnout for both parties was around 10% (in Marion County, it was a pathetic 7.9%) and a number of races on both sides were uncontested. Furthermore, primary voters in both parties are notoriously more ideological–the right wing of the GOP and the left wing of the Democratic party are the reliable primary base.

What the results do unequivocally tell us is that the Republican party is moving farther and farther to the right. Clearly, supporters of candidates running against the Very Most Rabid Righteous did not come out to vote on Tuesday. The primary left Indiana’s GOP ever more firmly in the hands of its radical fringe.

Today’s GOP is the party of Richard Mourdock, Curt Smith and Micah Clark.  The party of Richard Lugar and Bill Hudnut is long gone.

The question is: will Indiana Democrats (or Libertarians) mount respectable challenges to these candidates in November? Will voters have a reason to come to the polls, and an actual choice when they get there?

If that happens–if there is decent turnout and reasonable opposition–and the Christianist Caucus prevails in November, Curt and Micah will have a legitimate victory to celebrate.

Tuesday’s results, however, just reminded me of the old Bob Newhart line: What is the sound of one hand clapping?


  1. Sheila; the only way to keep abreast of current GOP comments and actions is to digress.

  2. Regarding Bob Morris: perhaps Smith and Clark were unaware that Morris’ opponent (Michael Baranda) was endorsed by local pro-life groups as well as the local (very) conservative newspaper (The News-Sentinel) and other major conservative organizations and still lost. I believe the difference was somewhere about 6%.

    Baranda, judging from what little I could tell, was an even more radical Tea Party Republican that Morris. Nevertheless, Morris still supports the Smith / Clark agenda too so they would have said they won if either candidate won.

    Still, there was some serious money and organization behind Baranda: mailings, door-to-door canvassing, mailings after the canvassing and even a phone bank operation on the days before the election. All that Morris ever seemed to have was a multitude of signs around the area (which reflected that he was in a difficult battle) and just one or two mailings.

  3. There has to be a list of the most extremist right wing people in the legislature. Surely, the whole legislature isn’t like Kruse and Morris, but there are enough of them and it’s serious enough for them to be listed upfront. The people who elect these people need to know that they have sided with the crazies and why the rest of the world sees and knows it: This is Rep. Nutjob from District xx (Cold Nob and Wheatflour, Indiana) who says we need to nuke everyone who disagrees with us. Let’s see a list of each one of them along with their infamous positions and stunning quotations on the front page of every newspaper.

  4. I stayed home for the first time because my party (“we’re not perfect, but at least we’re not crazy”) mailed me a costly sample ballot with the wrong candidate listed in my congressional district. How can we expect them to mount respectable challenges when they can’t even get that right?

Comments are closed.