The voters of Vigo County -- whose county seat is Terre Haute -- may know more about who will win the race than any pollster or strategist. Since 1956, Vigo County election returns have been right every time, making it the nation’s finest bellwether county of presidential prediction.
Obama led Republican Mitt Romney by 162 votes with all precincts reporting, according to unofficial results provided by County Clerk Patricia Mansard. Official results will be posted later this month, she said.
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Even so, all of Indiana’s 11 electoral votes will go to Romney. Obama carried the county in 2008 and won the state as well, the first for a Democrat since Lyndon Johnson won here in 1964. This year, Obama essentially conceded Indiana to Romney, translating into relative campaign silence from the Obama camp.
Since 1888, Vigo County has voted for the winning candidate with only two exceptions, according to data compiled by election historian Dave Leip. Voters were wrong in 1908, when they chose William Jennings Bryan over William Howard Taft, and in 1952 when they favored Senator Adlai Stevenson from neighboring Illinois over Dwight Eisenhower. Since 1956, the county’s voting streak has been perfect.
Vigo County residents are a blend of Democrats with culturally conservative views that used to dominate the U.S. South and union members whose economic populism is more of those in urban areas.
“You balance those things out and you get a microcosm of America,” said Evan Bayh, the Democratic former Indiana governor and U.S. senator who hails from Vigo County. “You don’t have some of the highest highs and some of the lowest lows. That is why we represent the focal point of America.”
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