Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Difficulty of Predicting the 2015 Indianapolis Elections

Over at Advance Indiana, blogger Gary Welsh is predicting that Republicans hold onto control of the Indianapolis-Marion County council due to low turnout. He astutely notes the missed opportunities for the Indy mayoral campaigns of Democrat Joe Hogsett and Chuck Brewer:
If Democrats fail to win control of the City-County Council or win the mayor's race by a
significant percentage, there will be a lot of hand-wringing and finger-pointing in Democratic circles. Some critics are already blaming Hogsett's campaign for taking black voters for granted. Hogsett's strategy clearly was focused on winning over voters who like the job Ballard has been doing for the past 8 years as opposed to winning over those who see many shortcomings in Ballard's two-term tenure. Many blacks have felt slighted by Ballard for the past 8 years, but knowledgeable sources say Hogsett failed to tap into their deep discontent towards the current city administration. Hogsett never once criticized Ballard's record as mayor, and he and his Republican opponent, Chuck Brewer, appeared to agree on every major issue discussed during the campaign....
Brewer's greatest failing has been his inability to distinguish himself from his Democratic opponent. Although he's been a resident of Indianapolis for only four years and has never run for political office before, he spent much of the campaign hitching himself to Ballard's coattails and trying to connect to political insiders, while Hogsett, the insider's insider, spent the last two months of the campaign trying to cast himself as an outsider who would take on the downtown insiders.,,,
Brewer's failures as a candidate I attribute to his simply not understanding the political game.  Given voter disaffection with the current administration, particularly among conservatives who feel Ballard completely abandoned his 2007 promises, he should have firmly established himself as independent-minded, someone who would take the city in a different direction.  Hogsett's failure I attribute to a candidate who was playing it safe, not wanting to rile the Republicans into aggressively challenging what appeared to be his inevitable election.  The problem with Hogsett's strategy is that it doesn't encourage Democrats to go to the poll and may well result in Republicans winning the council.

Gary's detailed crunching of the turnout numbers and turnout's effect on results is excellent analysis.  Where we differ (he predicts Republicans to win a majority on the council, while I predict the Democrats will win) is I try to account for the county trending more and more Democrat. Since the 2011 municipal elections we have had two elections (2012 and 2014) in which the GOP has not been competitive in Marion County.  Evidence of that change is that while Republican operative David Brooks drew the new council districts using 2010 midterm election baselines, the 2014 election results show that in 17 of the 25 council districts the GOP baseline declined.  Most of those were in competitive Republican-leaning districts.

It's not that I don't have doubts about my weekend predictions.  I might be wrong on Republican councilor Janice Shattuck retaining her northwest side district which is heavily Democrat during presidential election years.  I might also be wrong about Democratic councilor Frank Mascari winning his Beech Grove area district.   Those predictions, and my guess that Republican councilor Jeff Miller will lose re-election in his near southside district, cause me the most concern.  All three races I have breaking for Democrats.  If I'm wrong on those three races, it is likely that Republicans retain control of the council.

Oh, well, election predictions are about fun and entertainment.  I'm just glad people generally forget my predictions the next day.  The exception is 2007, when I predicted the win by Republican Greg Ballard, GOP control of the council and that the at-large districts would be split between the Rs and Ds. (I predicted 2-2 and it was 3-1 in favor of Democrats Republicans.)  I wish people would remember my predictions that year.


MikeC said...

What's the smell? Is it..... could it be......an upset??????

Anonymous said...

I predict the slim winners: Colleen Fanning, Janice McHenry, Frank Mascari and Jeff Miller.

Anonymous said...

Correction-2007 at large split was 3-1 split in favor of republicans. Only Sanders won on the democrat side.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Anon 11:00, you are correct. I am making the correction.

Anonymous said...

what's the saying? That's why you play the game?