With the presidential election receiving so much media coverage, it is often easy to forget about state gubernatorial elections, which usually have considerable impact on the citizens of each state. In Indiana, Eric Holcomb (Republican) was elected the new governor of Indiana by a shockingly wide margin of votes against John Gregg (Democrat), according to Assistant Professor of Political Science Laura Albright. Holcomb has served as Mike Pence’s lieutenant governor since March 2, 2016, having never been elected to public office until his recent win for governorship. Although Holcomb is a relative newcomer to elected office, he has work closely with both of Indiana’s two previous governors, Mitch Daniels and Pence, before being appointed as lieutenant governor.
Just as many national polls predicted a Hillary Clinton win over Donald Trump, many state-level polls across Indiana predicted that Gregg would come out of the election victorious, when in fact Holcomb beat Gregg by a seven percent margin. Albright was among those who were surprised by the differences between the polls and the actual results of the election.
“Based on the polling, we thought it would be a close race, and we thought it would lean towards Gregg,” Albright said. “There were different points. Certainly the Monmouth Poll that came out in October seemed overzealously in favor of him [Gregg]. I believe it gave him an 11 or 12 percent advantage, which seemed really high. But most of the polling had indicated Gregg was leading the entire race. That was when Holcomb came in in July, and he [Gregg] looked like he was going to be able to carry it through. Holcomb didn’t have the name recognition; Gregg had basically been running for the last four years because he lost to Pence in 2012. So my general thought, which was alongside the polling and really the campaign strategy, was that it was going to be a close one, but a win for Gregg. And what we know is that it was basically the complete opposite.”
According to junior political science major and student body president Jason Marshall, it remains to be seen how Holcomb will govern Indiana, whether he will follow in the footsteps of Daniels and Pence, or whether he will bring new ideas to the state.
“It’s hard to say who he [Holcomb] is, because he doesn’t have a voting record,” Marshall said. “He’s not been in an elected office before. So I think it’s partly him riding on the coattails of [the] republican ticket, with Trump and everything. Or they [the voters] want to see that continued path, [since] he worked with Mitch Daniels, [and] people liked Mitch Daniel. He worked with Pence, [and] that’s hit or miss with people. If he just continues that conservative principled leadership, I think that’s the majority of what Indiana is looking for right now.”
Junior political science major and intern for Holcomb’s campaign Daniel Miller applauded Holcomb’s focus on all areas of Indiana, not just areas that traditionally vote Republican.
“I think what pollsters overlooked is the attention that he [Holcomb] gives people,” Miller said. “He showed a lot of attention to the Region, considering how populous and how dense the demographic of Democrats are there. A lot of Republican governors, governor-elects or nominees don’t show the attention there because they assume ‘we lost there’ and just throw it in the bag. Now we [Holcomb’s campaign] did lose Lake County. We lost the heavy Region, but didn’t get blow out, and that was our goal.”
According to the Indianapolis Star, Holcomb plans to expand state-funded pre-kindergarten education for low-income families and allow parents to choose which school their child should attend. Holcomb claims to be supportive of the LGBTQIA community and against discrimination of any kind, according to ontheissues.org. He promotes private sector economic growth, rather than increasing the taxes of citizens. Holcomb also believes that Planned Parenthood is “despicable,” but that it should not be shut down, according to ontheissues.org.
Holcomb will be sworn in as Indiana’s 51st governor on January 9, 2017, along with Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch.