Clark: Primary Could Serve as Barometer for GOP Enthusiasm


Murray Clark is the Indiana Republican Party Chairman.

From every primary election, dozens of stories emerge to set up the narratives that are played over and over again through November. Which candidate won and why? How was Candidate X able to pull off an upset and will he or she be able to pull it off again in the fall? Is Candidate Y as electable in a general election against Candidate Z as he or she was in the primary? How much did Candidate Q’s fundraising advantage help?

But for all the stories one can cull from primary election season, I’m most interested in looking at the broader themes that will shape the discussion we have through the summer and fall. Which races had the most voters, and what does that tell us about enthusiasm? What are the common denominators with the candidates that won? What do the results tell us about the issues most important to the electorate?

Comparing and contrasting the candidates who will square off in November is a worthwhile endeavor and immediately helps to educate voters on the issues. However, under the surface, campaigns will look to answer questions about party momentum and the mood of the electorate. We’ll work hard to identify trends that can tell us what is most pressing with voters and what can we expect from that. This bigger picture view will do much to shape individual races, as well as give us a better idea of how voters will make that final decision on November 2. 

But it also allows those of us with the party organizations to determine if our strategy to date has been effective, or if we need to shift focus. We’ve spent a lot of time at the Indiana Republican Party highlighting the successes of the policies of Gov. Daniels and legislative Republicans, arguing that this record is one of positive change and clearly the best leadership for the state to continue its progress. We’ve also pointed out that the tax-and-spend policies of Washington Democrats that will bankrupt businesses and leave the unemployment rate stagnantly high puts the nation on the wrong track. By looking at those broader questions as they’re played out across all races, we’ll get our first chance to see if the voters agree.

So while pundits in the media start looking at those individual storylines on primary election night and beyond, I’ll be taking an aggregate view. If you want a better idea of how this fall will play out, I’d encourage you to do the same.

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