Walorski ready to get moving, turnout down, Obama's local vote count down

Turnout Tuesday was down compared to the 2008 presidential vote, a look at the top vote-getters in Elkhart County and more.
Posted on Nov. 8, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.

President Obama mustered fewer votes here in Elkhart County on Tuesday than he did four years ago.

Turnout here, by precinct, ranged from a low of 21.3 percent to a high of 73.05 percent.

Republican Jackie Walorski, winner of the close 2nd District U.S. House race, says she's raring to get going as U.S. congresswoman.

Here's the lowdown, in the wake of the big vote:

Ÿ U.S. House: Walorski was up into the early-morning hours Wednesday, after the vote tally in her race was finalized, and she was at it all day starting a few hours later, meeting with the media and traveling in the district.

“I'm extremely humbled by it and grateful,” she said of her narrow victory over Democrat Brendan Mullen, 133,806 votes to 129,977, a 49 percent to 47.6 percent margin. Now comes the time to “roll up our sleeves” and get ready for work in Washington D.C.

Ÿ On the other side: Mullen, by contrast, will likely turn his focus to his business, a consulting firm.

“Now we cry a little and move on,” said Andy Reynolds, his campaign manager. Losing by such a thin margin, 3,829 votes, “is not a ... lot of fun.”

Libertarian candidate Joe Ruiz, who mustered 9,303 votes, 3.4 percent, suggested in a statement released early Wednesday morning that he may try again for the 2nd District post. “Tonight was the starting line, NOT the finish line!”

Ÿ Turnout: 68,395 voters in Elkhart County cast ballots, or 54.9 percent of eligible voters, according to preliminary vote totals. In 2008, 71,937 people cast ballots and turnout reached 62.3, according to the comparable Elkhart County Clerk's Office election report that year.

By polling place, the showing was highest Tuesday in the Middlebury 1 precinct just west of Middlebury, where turnout reached 73.1 percent. Turnout exceeded 70 percent in eight other precincts, around the Goshen College campus in Goshen, in Jefferson Township just east of Elkhart, around Wakarusa and Nappanee and in Harrison Township west of Goshen.

The showing was lowest in the Concord 6 precinct in Elkhart, where turnout measured 21.3 percent. Concord 6 abuts the south side of the St. Joseph River, roughly between Main Street and Lexington Avenue north of the city center.

Next lowest, 27.7 percent, was at Concord 12, centered around Middlebury Street between Main Street and Goshen Avenue, also in Elkhart.

Ÿ Popularity contest: The top vote-getter across Elkhart County was Elkhart Superior Court 6 Judge David Bonfiglio, who garnered 49,546 votes. It helped that he was running unopposed, but he also mustered more votes than several others also running unopposed.

Elkhart County Commissioner Mike Yoder seems to be marginally more popular than Commissioner Terry Rodino. Both were running unopposed and Yoder received 48,080 votes to Rodino's 47,124.

President Obama's popularity here took a turn for the worse. On Tuesday, he received 24,376 votes, 35.9 percent of the total, compared to 42,348, or 62.3 percent, for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. In 2008, Obama got 31,398 votes, 43.8 percent, compared to 39,396, or 55 percent, for John McCain, the GOP contender that year.

Likewise, Obama did worse than other Democratic contenders on Tuesday here in Elkhart County.The Romney/Obama vote gap here, 62.3 percent to 35.9 percent, compares to the 53.3 percent to 42 percent gap between GOP Senate hopeful Richard Mourdock and Democrat Joe Donnelly.

In the governor's race, the split was 57.9 percent to 39.1 percent between Republican Mike Pence and Democrat John Gregg. In the 2nd District U.S. House race, the split was 57.7 percent to 39.5 percent between Walorski and Mullen.

Ÿ More U.S. House: Walorski garnered more votes in seven of the 10 counties that are in the 2nd District, wholly or partially — Elkhart, Fulton, Kosciusko, Marshall, Miami, Pulaski and Wabash counties. Mullen won in LaPorte, St. Joseph and Starke counties.

The margin Tuesday between Walorski and Mullen, 3,829 votes, wasn't quite as close, in raw votes, as in 2010, when Walorski lost to Democrat Joe Donnelly, who won election this cycle to the U.S. Senate. Two years ago, Donnelly beat Walorski 91,341 votes to 88,803, a margin of 2,538.

Ÿ Wrong polling sites: Many Elkhart County voters on Tuesday went to incorrect polling places, not heeding mailings sent to individual voters last spring informing them that precincts here had been renamed and in some cases redrawn.

The mailing, sent before last May's primary at a cost of $36,000, informed individual voters of correct polling places. If those didn't do the trick, Elkhart County Clerk Wendy Hudson hopes voters know where they vote now. Election workers aided those who showed up at incorrect polling places on Tuesday, directing them to the correct sites mostly without incident.


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