In a normal year, Indiana just isn't a major player in the primary season, because, generally speaking, by early May everything is usually wrapped up except for the official vote count and the balloon drop.
The primary season of 2016, however, strayed from the "regular" script quite some time ago. And, as it turns out, though it is surprising that it all might come down to Indiana, in a certain sense there is something oddly appropriate about it.
Because the only thing more mysterious than what exactly has gotten into the American voter this season is what exactly a "Hoosier" is.
Sure, Hoosier is a slang term for a person from Indiana — everyone knows that — but why is that the case? It seems no one knows this for sure. The practice is at least 170 years old, but its origin is a total mystery (though amusing explanations abound).
So, in a sentence, the primary season that no one understands may all come down to the voting in a midwestern state with a nickname that no one can explain.
In the absence of data, there is always drama of course: Will Ted Cruz and the #NeverTrump movement make a successful Hoosier-state stand, can The Donald bring it all down, and will the Bern live to be felt another day?
One tell that might decide how voters will swing may be in the data, specifically the store front data that has been tracked through the second quarter of last year by the PYMNTS Store Front Business Index.
On nearly every available metric, Indiana has outpaced both the national results and its regional peers – though the growth has hardly been stellar.
The overall index grew 3.1 percent through the second quarter, measured as year-over-year change, while in Indiana that was slightly higher, at 3.2 percent. The biggest contributor to that push came through the jump in real wages, at better than 5 percent for the state, as compared to 4.9 percent for the nation as a whole. A boost in real wages could signal some confidence on the part of small business owners to invest more in their workers.
Likewise, the growth in establishments themselves signals a sanguine view of the local economy, on Main Street, where 2.4 percent growth in Indiana was markedly better than the 2 percent jump both regionally and nationally. The only laggard was the 2.8 percent improvement in employment (read: positions created), where 2.8 percent additions in the state were 20 basis points better than the region, but 30 basis points less than the national average.