Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Map: How Tony Bennett Lost Indiana

The storyline of Tuesday night was of a mass teacher uprising allowing Democrat Glenda Ritz to topple GOP state superintendent Tony Bennett.

Electorally, Bennett’s share of the vote slipped significantly from 2008 in several key counties where other Republicans (Romney, Pence, Mourdock) won.

These losses are reflected in the map here: In counties shaded yellow, the percentage of the vote Bennett won in 2012 was lower than the percentage he won in 2008 — the deeper the yellow, the greater the loss. In counties shaded green, Bennett’s share of the vote increased in this election from 2008.

Below the map are a few takeaways.

Jessica Pupovac & Yan Lu / StateImpact

Yellow shading indicates counties where the percentage of the vote Bennett won in 2012 decreased from 2008 — Hamilton and Allen Counties, for instance. Green shading indicates counties where Bennett’s share of the vote increased — Lake County, for example.


A few takeaways from these numbers:

  • Losses on home turf. Bennett not only saw his share of the vote in Allen County slip by 7 percentage points — he lost Allen County, the home of Fort Wayne. Pence won this county by 12. Romney won it by 17.
  • 10+ percentage point drops. Despite solid Romney victories in all of these counties, Bennett saw huge drops in Jay (–10.1 percentage points), Tipton (–11.1), Scott (–11.7), Huntington (–12.3), Rush (–13.0), Adams (–13.2), Montgomery (–17.2) and Wabash (–17.4) counties this election from his 2008 totals.
  • Doughnut counties. Although he saw greater losses in other traditional GOP counties, Bennett’s support in the heavily-populated Indianapolis suburbs wavered in this election. His support slipped by 10 points in Hamilton County from 2008, by nine in Hendricks County, and by seven in Johnson County. Though he won all of these counties, Bennett clearly underperformed here — and he could’ve used those votes to help close the gap with Ritz.
  • StateImpact

    State superintendent Tony Bennett

    Lake County? Bennett won less than a third of the vote in Gary and many of its suburbs in 2008. But Bennett increased his visibility in the area after the state took over Gary’s Roosevelt High Schooland won 40 percent of the vote this year in Lake County — also, by the way, an active center for charter schools. Silver lining for Bennett?

Many thanks to StateImpact data journalists Jessica Pupovac and Yan Lu for putting together this map.  


  • Karynb9

    I think the most telling information is the his decline in the doughnut counties. Some assumed that he lost big in urban areas due to a “fear” of accountability in poor-performing school districts. The numbers show that he actually lost support in some of the state’s highest-performing school districts. This wasn’t a case of “lazy teachers” resenting a superintendent that was threatening their jobs — these are parents and teachers in Carmel and Hamilton Southeastern and Zionsville and Brownsburg and Greenwood in “A-rated” schools rising up and letting the state know that they don’t like the direction Bennett was taking THEIR schools, either.

    If you’re all just really bored and looking for something to do over there at StateImpact, it would be interesting to see THIS map somehow combined with school ranking data… ;-)

  • Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

    I thought Bennett was former superintendent of Greater Clark Community Schools,
    which is in southern Indiana, Clark County, not Allen County. Confused about what the home turf comment means.

    • kystokes

      A reference to GOP home turf, not Bennett’s home region. Republicans took the county in the governor, senate, and presidential races and Bennett won the traditionally-Republican county last year.

  • Tony Krabill

    What I find fascinating is Bennett’s increase in share among Democratic-leaning counties… Lake, St. Joseph, Monroe, etc., and decline in rural communities that lean toward the GOP. Reverse from an assumption one would make on first blush of the results.

    • kystokes

      Maybe so, but Bennett still got about 39 percent of the vote in Monroe. His increase was infinitesimal.

  • WisdomfromM2

    Voters in Indiana neither liked the substance nor the style — a double whammy. Four years were quite enough. Florida taxpayers had better become activated, or they will find themselves in the same situation as Indiana. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

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