Updated: November 6, 2012 11:23PM
FISHERS, Ind. (AP) — Mitt Romney brought Indiana back into the Republican fold Tuesday, reclaiming a traditionally GOP state that was usurped by Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 on his way to his first term as president.
Four years ago, Obama became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry Indiana since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. But the presidential campaigns bypassed Indiana this year in favor of battleground states such as Ohio.
The gamble paid off for Romney, who handily won the state as voters expressed their disenchantment with Obama’s handling of the stumbling economy.
For some who voted for the change Obama promised in 2008, it was time for change again.
John Vixon, 77, a retired Indianapolis resident, said he has voted as a Democrat since the 1950s but voted Republican for the first time in his life Tuesday. In fact, he voted a straight Republican ticket.
“I’m a Democrat, but I got tired of all the Democrats,” he said. “I know they’ve got to do something about health care and Social Security and Medicare, but I don’t want the government to take over my way of life.”
Joe Reece, 34, an Indianapolis software salesman, said he believes Romney can bolster the country’s weak economy.
“I feel like he’s got the background and the acumen to be able to help us reverse course quickly,” Reece said. “I’m hopeful the next four years will truly see the change we talked about and have needed for so long.”
Despite the presidential contest, much of the state’s attention was focused on a bitter fight to replace longtime Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, who lost the GOP primary after he was targeted by the tea party.
The race between Democrat Joe Donnelly and Republican Richard Mourdock had been tight until Mourdock said during a debate that a pregnancy resulting from rape is “something God intended.” Democrats pounced on the remark, and polls taken in the weeks before Tuesday’s election showed Donnelly with a lengthening lead.
Janet Sutton, of Indianapolis, said she voted for Lugar in the GOP primary last spring and then reluctantly voted for Donnelly on Tuesday, even though she wants Republicans to win a majority in the Senate.
“I sat in there quite a while trying to figure out which way I was going to go,” said Sutton, who would only say she is in her 60s. “I did not like some of the issues Mourdock had.”
Sutton said she didn’t like Mourdock’s comment on rape, though she wasn’t sure he intended it the way he said it.
“I don’t know if what he said is really the way he meant to say it,” she said. “I never heard any other explanation from him concerning that. Maybe I missed it.”
Voting was heavy across the state, but Valerie Kroeger, a spokeswoman for the Indiana secretary of state’s office, said it went smoothly in most places. Significant voting delays were reported in heavily Republican Hamilton County just north of Indianapolis, where voters were still standing in line at some sites as the deadline for polls to close passed.
A technical glitch delayed the start of voting by about 20 minutes at some sites in the suburban county, but Hamilton County Election Administrator Kathy Richardson said waits of up to three hours in some places were more due to turnout fed by keen interest in the presidential election and a local referendum on whether Fishers should remain a town or become a city.
“I knew it would be this way,” Richardson said. “We put every voting machine that we own out,” she added.
For some, the wait wasn’t worth it.
Part-time retail worker Charlene Shannon, 67, said the line to vote was so long at Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers that some people, including an elderly neighbor who is hypoglycemic and had to go get food, gave up.
“People are leaving and not voting, and that’s so unfair,” she said, noting that her son waited in line for five minutes to vote in Chicago. “Something is wrong here.”
Associated Press writers Charles Wilson, Ken Kusmer and Tom Murphy in Indianapolis and Tom Coyne in Mishawaka contributed to this report.