Vigo County puts 'Bellwether' status on the line with 2020 Presidential Election

When it comes to presidential elections, Vigo County is a trendsetter. In fact, Vigo County is labeled a Bellwether County. The County almost always votes in alignment with the winner of the presidency.

Posted: Oct 15, 2020 6:13 PM

VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - When it comes to presidential elections, Vigo County is a trendsetter. In fact, Vigo County is labeled a Bellwether County. The County almost always votes in alignment with the winner of the presidency.

It’s a streak that puts the spotlight on our county every four years. Vigo County has only missed voting for the winning presidential candidate twice since 1888 and has experienced a perfect record since 1956. That’s 60 years, 15 straight presidential elections, and makes for the second-longest streak in the entire United States only trailing Valencia County in New Mexico.

News 10 spoke with Indiana State Associate Professor of political science Matthew Bergbower. He says this is a very interesting correlation between the nation and our small community.

Political ID has a lot to do with it Bergbower says. Statistically, 90% of republicans and democrats are loyal to their party at the ballot box, so it’s true that middle ground that seems to be the deciding factor every four years.

Bergbower says this phenomenon certainly bears significance.

“When you have a streak that’s over 60 years now of correlating with the Electoral College outcome, it becomes a badge of honor,” Bergbower said, “It’s a true consideration of how we are a microorganism of the nation.”

Bergbower says Vigo County is what you would call a purple county, and this has a lot to do with what’s called the peripheral voter.

Peripheral voters are those who don’t turn out for midterm elections but do for presidential elections. This makes up about 25% of voters nationwide. These voters are made up of many independents or those who really aren’t strong affiliates for either political party.

Bergbower says within this crowd, they recognize a national mood. For instance, in the 2000’s it might have been terrorism. In the 2010’s it was the economic climate with the Great Recession, and in 2020 it’s obviously the COVID-19 pandemic.

Peripheral voters tend to succumb to the national mood and favor one candidate over the other. Bergbower says that’s truly the difference in Vigo County. With that being said, he made his prediction if the Bellwether streak will continue.

“I do not expect Trump to win by as large of margin—15% in 2016—but I still expect him to win Vigo County,” Bergbower said, “Having said that, National Polls suggest that Joe Biden is doing very well. I expect him to win the popular vote and the Electoral College vote, thus, the Bellwether streak in Vigo County would be broken in 2020.”

Bergbower says with all this being said, he said the exact same thing in 2016. A lot can happen, and it will definitely be something to keep your eye on during this election season here in Vigo County.

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