Democrats are screaming that the Republicans have engaged in "gerrymandering," i.e. the drawing of districts to favor the GOP. Every majority party gets accused of this at re-election time and rightfully so because that's exactly what the majority party always does.
Having said that the Democrats' concerns are way overblown. The fact is, while Republicans can lock down legislative gains through redistricting, it would be difficult to increase the margins substantially more than what they are now. The Indiana Senate is now 37-13 majority Republican using a map drawn by Republicans. The Indiana House is 60-40 majority Republican using a map drawn by Democrats. It is virtually impossible for Republicans to take out the numbers much beyond that because when the GOP tries it would cut the districts too close leaving scores of Republican legislators vulnerable during the inevitable GOP down years. One bad election and poof the majority is gone.
Indiana is about a 55% majority Republican state. 74% of the state senators are Republican, 60% of the state Representatives are Republican. What Republicans would try to do with a gerrymander is to create a majority of seats that are close but safe...say 60% to 40%, a 20% cushion. In the remaining districts you throw as many Democrats as you can into those districts, conceding them by margins of 80% to 20%, for example. So what the Republicans would be trying to do is spread out their votes in such a way as to have a solid majority in that chamber. Democrats in the House did the same thing when they drew the map...though it is tougher for the D's to have a solid majority as their overall numbers are less.
It wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing for Democrats if the Republicans overreach and create too many majority districts or protects too many incumbents. If the GOP does that the party will cut the margins too closely. So let's say you cut the margins on districts from 60-40 to 57-43 to win more overall seats. Suddenly the elections are a lot more competitive and a good Democrat year throws out slews of Republicans and might even give the party of the donkey an unexpected majority.
Without political data, it's tough to estimate the political impact of the house and senate maps. Visually I can make some observations:
|Proposed State House Map|
In a few years, thee Marion County house delegation could easily be 11-4 in favor of the Democrats. By not taking out the northern Marion County districts to pick up Republican precincts in other counties, the House map is certainly no friend of Marion County Republicans.
|Proposed State Senate Map|
|Proposed Congressional Map|
I find it interesting that they chose to divide Southern Indiana (the most lightly populated part of the state) up into three congressional districts.
It appears that the Republicans are angling to win 7 of the 9 congressional districts (all but District 1 and 7). Doing so means they've had to cut the numbers in some of the more heavily leaning Republican districts, like the 8th Congressional district in southwest Indiana. Marion County Republicans are giddy that Andre Carson's district has been drawn more Republican by including the Republican southside of Marion County while excluding some of the northern part that is more Democrat. Too much is being made of this. The Republican southside is sparsely populated when compared to the north side of Marion County, plus the very north part of Marion County now excluded from the 7th is by no means heavily Democrat. The district will only be marginally closer.
Me being the cynical political person I am, I could see the Republicans making the 7th District closer in the hopes that the Democrats invest resources to help Andre Carson, thus taking money away from other races.
I may have more observations later once I get more information on district lines.