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Friday, April 17, 2015
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Friday, April 17, 2015 1:19 PM

By BRIAN A. HOWEY

NASHVILLE, Ind. – Over the past several years, we have witnessed a dramatic change in polling on social issues. It has happened nationally on the gay marriage, with a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll showing 59 percent now approve of gay marriage. And it’s happening here in Indiana. In the Howey Politics Indiana Poll released this past week, we asked the question on whether the General Assembly should expand its civil rights code to include sexual orientation as a protected class. The results were emphatic: 54 percent approved and 34 disagreed.

Proponents of the constitutional marriage ban and recently passed (and then “fixed”) Religious Freedom Restoration Act, including the political team of Gov. Mike Pence, knew that multiple state and national polls showed support trending away from their positions. For instance, the Pence campaign team had indicated to me last year that they had no interest in the constitutional marriage amendment to appear on the 2016 ballot when the governor is expected to seek reelection.

The family groups who purvey wedge issues responded by racing to pass the constitutional marriage HJR-3 in 2014 and RFRA this year with Republican super majorities. It was the same thing that President Obama and Congressional Democrats did after winning the White House and both chambers in 2008. Obamacare was passed with the support of one party. What Gov. Pence and legislative Republicans failed to anticipate was the voracious kickback from the corporate community, athletes and local governments of both parties which are now racing to pass their own civil rights ordinances. Some of the most Republican cities in the state - Martinsville, Fishers, Carmel, Noblesville, Whitestown - are now expanding the protection of citizens of all races, creeds, genders and sexual orientation.

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  • By MAUREEN HAYDEN
    INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence has a problem with women. That’s one takeaway from the new Howey Politics Indiana poll that shows the Republican suffered collateral damage when the divisive religious freedom law sparked howls of protest. The poll shows the first-term governor plunging by double-digits in likability and job approval, following his signing of the law and failed attempts in the national spotlight to defend it as something other than a license to discriminate against gays and lesbians. Supporters billed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as needed protection for believers. Many of those polled saw it as an unneeded fight to pick – and one that will cost the state long-term economic damage due in part to a strong response from the business community. Almost 60 percent in the poll said the law wasn’t necessary. Less than half of those who identify as Republicans saw a need for it. The same was true for evangelical Christians. Among college-educated women, a whopping 73 percent said there was no need for Indiana to pass the law. Only a third of college-educated men said the same thing. “I was really struck by the tremendous gender gap,” said Christine Matthews, the Washington, D.C., pollster hired by Howey Politics Indiana. 
  • By JACK COLWELL
    SOUTH BEND – Is Mike Pence toast? Indiana’s governor popped out of the “freedom to discriminate” toaster, into which he had inserted himself, looking singed, maybe done. Done, said pundits in the national news media, referring to hopes by Pence of emerging as a serious contender, perchance the winner, in the contest for the Republican nomination for president. Chris Cillizza, the respected Washington Post analyst, began his evaluation this way: “Goodbye, Mike Pence!” Cillizza wrote of his amazement at how quickly Pence, about whom he had written as a dark-horse presidential candidate, suddenly became “radioactive after botching the signing of Indiana’s religious freedom law and its aftermath.” Joining a chorus now heard in Indiana as well, the Washington writer said that Pence, instead of concentrating on White House ambitions, now must spend all of his energy on “rehabbing his image in the state so he can win reelection.” 
  • By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Hoosiers know how to rebound. While it was Duke and our Badger rivals from Wisconsin on the Lucas Oil Stadium floor last Monday for a riveting NCAA men’s championship game, in the immediate surroundings in downtown Indianapolis and rippling out across our great state, Hoosiers (and Boilermakers, Irish and Bulldogs) stood proud, welcoming 70,000 fans. The folks I talked with from Kentucky, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Michigan were unanimous in their assessment: Indy knows how to throw a party. Hoosier hospitality is not just a slogan. Now the question is, will our leaders rebound? The fact is that Gov. Mike Pence and legislative leaders like House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President David Long either missed a sea change among the population when it comes to tolerance, or they chose to ignore an array of polling and actions among the people when they paved the way for the ill-fated Religious Freedom Restoration Act. NCAA President Mark Emmert explained of our political leaders, “They all grossly underestimated, to be polite, the reaction of the citizens of Indiana.”

     
  • By CHRIS SAUTTER
    WASHINGTON – The fierce backlash against passage of Indiana’s so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) tore through the state and the nation like an early spring tornado.  Leaving in its wake was a changed political landscape.  Here are 10 takeaways from the RFRA controversy. 1. The politics of the cultural wars have shifted dramatically. A decade ago, 60 percent of Americans opposed marriage equality. Now it’s reversed, with 60 percent in support. Democrats used to be on the wrong side of cultural issues and now it is Republicans who are. Religious conservatives in Indiana promoted RFRA as a way to strike back at a federal court’s recent decision declaring Indiana’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional. It blew up in the faces. One of the main reasons for the sea change is that millennials, people born between 1981 and 1997, are transforming America’s politics and culture.  
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Hillary Clinton's 'Getting Started' Video
Democrat Hillary Clinton kicked off her 2016 presidential campaign with this video released on Sunday.
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  • Christine Matthews: Turning back time for Gov. Pence

    By CHRISTINE MATTHEWS
        
    WASHINGTON – Mike Pence was elected governor in 2012, despite the storm kicked up by U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock and the damage done to the Republican brand which some say contributed to Pence’s narrower than expected margin over Democrat John Gregg. Pence has governed, until lately, in a way that hasn’t been as polarizing as some had expected, given his congressional track record, and, as a result, has enjoyed widespread support and a 62% approval rating as recently as February. Now, staring down at a re-election, he has to wonder if he could just turn back time. This poll confirms there has been damage – quite a lot – from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. However, even before RFRA, Pence began to have trouble with women voters due to the public tussles with Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz. The governor now has an image that is seriously polarized by ideology, religiosity, and gender.

     
  • Horse Race: Oesterle, Pelath roil 2016 gov race
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY  
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – While Gov. Mike Pence and legislative Republicans whistled past the graveyard this week, believing the RFRA “storm” had passed, the events of the past month have roiled the 2016 Indiana gubernatorial race with the potential entries of House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and Angie’s List CEO Bill Oesterle. The true bombshell came on Wednesday, when Oesterle announced he was stepping down as CEO, with the intriguing final sentence of the press release saying, “Mr. Oesterle has shared his intention to pursue other interests, including becoming more civically involved in the State of Indiana.” Oesterle told Howey Politics Wednesday afternoon about his stepping down as CEO,  “Here’s all you can draw from that. I love the state of Indiana. I love Angie’s List and the State of Indiana. I can’t do both. I had to take a leave of absence to help Mitch in 2004 and for eight years he did fantastic stuff. I am very concerned about what’s happened to the state. I am at the fortunate position where I can go out and do something. I honestly don’t know what that will be. “I would love to see Mitch take another run and be governor again, but it’s a virtual impossibility he would run against Pence,” Oesterle continued.
     
  • Horse Race: Who lines up for congressional seats?
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - In the coming weeks, we’ll learn the political decisions of Indiana’s younger strata of the congressional delegation and who might be reaching for that U.S. Senate plum. While we await word from U.S. Reps. Susan Brooks, Todd Young, Jackie Walorski, Marlin Stutzman, Todd Rokita and Marlin Stutzman, it’s worth a look at the potential feeder system. 2nd CD, U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski: The sophomore Republican occupies the most competitive congressional district in Indiana and could face a primary challenge from State Sen. Carlin Yoder if she doesn’t seek the Senate seat. That could prompt Walorski to follow Joe Donnelly’s path and opt for the Senate race. Republicans who would likely explore a run would be first term LaPorte Mayor Blair Milo, State Sen. Ryan Mishler, Rep. Timothy Wesco, and Rep. Wes Culver. Democrats who would line up could include South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg, 2012 Democratic nominee Joe Bock, and 2010 Democratic nominee Brendan Mullen.
     
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  • Gov. Pence reacts to HPI Poll saying 'politics will take care of itself'
    “We’ll let politics take care of itself in the future but for now my focus is jobs and schools and seeing those bright and shining faces here.” - Gov. Mike Pence, reacting to the Howey Politics Indiana Poll. Pence was asked about the poll after making a pre-kindergarten announcement Thursday. Pence campaign spokesman Robert Vane told WISH-TV, "Governor Pence is focused on passing his legislative agenda, creating jobs, the balanced budget amendment, and funding educational excellence. We will leave the polling punditry to others.”
     



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Straight ticket voting

Should the Indiana General Assembly pass and Gov. Pence sign legislation ending straight-ticket balloting?


 

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