Indiana May Provide Early Election Night Clues

Conservative Indiana provided the first sign of a Democratic sweep in 2006 when Republicans lost three House seats in the Hoosier state, then glumly watched dozens more fall as polls closed across the country. Now a resurgent Republican Party wants to rerun the same script with a distinctly different ending, aiming to recapture dozens of seats it lost in 2006 and 2008 and putting junior Democrats under political duress from New Hampshire to New Mexico. And Indiana, where unemployment is measured at 10.2 percent and newspapers run page after dreary page of home foreclosure notices, could again be an early indicator. Republicans appear to be on their way to reclaiming one of the three seats they lost in 2006 and are mounting a strong challenge for a second. They entertain hopes of taking back the third, as well, although their candidate, state lawmaker Jackie Walorski, is conservative enough to accuse the National Rifle Association of being irresolute. "The economy hasn't gotten better. A lot of things haven't changed in Indiana, and I think that may be what's driving some of these elections," said Chris Chocola, a former congressman who lost his seat in 2006 and now heads the conservative Club for Growth in Washington. "If anything, things have gotten worse ... so I think there's a little buyer's remorse." Counting the Indiana seats held by Reps. Joe Donnelly, Baron Hill and Brad Ellsworth, who is now running for the Senate, Democrats took 55 districts away from the Republicans in 2006 and 2008 as they built their majority and then strengthened it. Some of them are all but certain to fall to Republicans this fall, and the millions of dollars in campaign advertising now pouring into many of the rest are evidence of renewed political significance. A majority of the 55 stretch across the nation's northern tier, from New Hampshire to Michigan. More than one-quarter are in New York (6) Pennsylvania (5) and Ohio (4). There also are four in Florida and three each in Arizona
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