TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Pollsters and political prognosticators drew much attention in this fall's presidential race for their increasingly complex models of the U.S. electorate.
In the future, they would do just as well to limit their surveys to Vigo County, Indiana.
Voters in this southwestern Indiana county, population about 108,000, have an uncanny knack of picking a presidential winner, Republican or Democrat. Vigo Countians have selected the winner every four years, for the past 124 years, with just two exceptions.
They called it again last Tuesday, when a majority of Vigo voters chose President Barack Obama over Republican Mitt Romney, mirroring the national outcome. This despite Romney's near certain victory in Indiana. He carried the state with 54 percent of the vote but lost Vigo County to Obama by fewer than 350 votes.
The Vigo County weathervane started in 1888 and has only missed twice: Vigo voters backed Adlai Stevenson in 1952. (Stevenson was the Democratic senator from neighboring Illinois who lost to Dwight Eisenhower.) They went for William Jennings Bryan in 1908, when he ran on a ticket with Indiana Sen. John Kern. The famous orator lost his third and final run for president that year to Republican William Howard Taft.
Historian Dave Leip, who maintains the online Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections, said no other county in the United States more closely reflects the nation's political inclinations.
Details for this story were provided by The Tribune Star in Terre Haute, Ind.