Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Will GOP Downward Slide in Indianapolis-Marion County County Continue in 2014?
One race I will be watching closely on election night is the Marion County Recorder's race. Why? Because that race more than any of the others, best establishes the new baseline for the political parties. With no offense to the candidates involved in the race - Republican Terry Dove and Democrat Kate Sweeney Bell - their race is a default race. Because only a tiny percentage of voters will actually know the candidates, voters tend to "default" to their party preference when casting a ballot on that race. Low profile races such as recorder are used to establish the parties "baseline vote."
I would add that Marion County Republicans do substantially worse in presidential elections when there is a much higher turnout. My analysis shows the GOP base vote has dropped from 50.09% in 2000 to 38.21% in 2012.
I have been tracking the declining GOP base in Marion County. November will be an off-year election. While Republicans in Marion County do better in off-years, the Republican base has continued to erode for the last several elections. See graph. It should be noted that 2010 was an excellent Republican year and, nonetheless, the Democrats still trimmed off nearly two more points from the Republican base.
This November's election will more closely approximate the turnout in the municipal elections in 2015. If the GOP baseline vote comes in at 42% or less, that will push the county beyond being what is seen by most analysts as competitive. Such a result might also cause Indianapolis Republican Mayor Greg Ballard to opt out of running for a third term as the partisan hill will have become too steep to climb.