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Who will be President? Vigo County likely holds the answer

Voters in Vigo County have correctly predicted the president in every election since 1888, with just two exceptions.

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — To find out who will win the White House, you likely just need to head to Vigo County. 

Home to Terre Haute, Indiana State University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, voters here have correctly predicted the president in every election since 1888, with just two exceptions.

It’s known as a bellwether county - one of only a handful in the United States that hold a winning streak decades long.

“It’s sort of a microcosm of the entire country,” said Terre Haute resident Sarah Dillon.

Well, yes and no.

It is not ethnically diverse. Vigo County is 85 percent white. But it is a mix of rural farm country, urban community and college town.

Locals say the rural part of the country leans Republican. The city leans Democrat.

“But the mayor is a Republican,” said resident Jim Evans. “And there are some other Republican leaders.”

Joe Etley, chairman of the Vigo County Democratic Party, said local voters tend to support the party. But when it comes to the race for president, that’s a different story.

“I think that the voters are more distinguishing about the person as opposed to the party and they are interested in the national campaign and the message and the issues,” he said. “I think that has reflected in people deviating from their party of choice.”

The county voted for Donald Trump in 2016, four years after backing Barack Obama and on and on, and back and forth it goes.

So, who will it be in 2020?

Outside the Crossroads Café, Doug Bales said he’s voting for Trump.

“I don’t like the government telling me what they want me to do. I like my freedom and I feel like Trump supports that,” he said.

But Deliliah Rixner is a first-time voter and voted early for Joe Biden.

“He’s more for human rights than economics and the way that he views the American population is working more for the people than other people in power,” she said.

An Emerson College poll published October 31 also found support in Vigo County is split between Trump and Biden – each with 48 percent.

About as close as it gets.

Now the pressure is on in this bellwether county to continue the second-longest streak in the country.

“It’s going to be really interesting to see,” said Jim Evans of Terre Haute. “I don’t think anybody knows.”