Craig Fehrman | Indiana Is Weird (Or, why Abe Lincoln’s dad would be a Trump voter)

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Abraham Lincoln - Indiana (200x200)Indiana Is Weird

Or, why Abe Lincoln’s dad would be a Trump voter

by Craig Fehrman | April 29, 2016

In the last week, Indiana has played an unusually central role in the presidential primary, with Hoosiers watching as Ted Cruz and John Kasich forged a deal while Donald Trump exhumed Bobby Knight. One thing the campaigns (and many pundits) seem to agree on is that Indiana, which votes Tuesday, represents an extension of previous Midwestern races. “This is just re-running Wisconsin,” one Cruz adviser told National Review. “We have a blueprint, and it works.”

But that’s not quite right.

The Hoosier State was settled from the south and isolated from cultural change, and you can still see the effects of that today. […] That’s why, if you really want to understand Indiana, you need to go back to the time of Thomas Lincoln.

The Ohio River made it easier for Southerners to enter, and they settled the state from the bottom up. Thomas Lincoln was born in Virginia, migrating from there to Kentucky and then to southern Indiana.

Thomas Lincoln — Southern, working-class, anti-intellectual, religiously devout — made a more honest representative Hoosier than his son ever did. The prevalence of people like Thomas is also what made Indiana unusual.

More than any other Midwestern state, Indiana ended up with a certain kind of citizenry: white, working-class Protestants with Southern roots.

And the thing is, it never really changed.

A lot of those factors correlate with support for Trump. (Another way to say this is that Thomas Lincoln would have probably voted for The Donald.) The Hoosier State has lots of manufacturing — the most in the country, by some measures — and that seems good for Trump, too.

What do I think, as a native son? I think Trump will do better here than most pundits predict. (Read More)

 

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