Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Marion County-Indianapolis Electorate Turns Sharply Against the Republican Party

The other day, I took a look at how the GOP baseline numbers look in the Indianapolis City-County Council Districts up for election this year.  I found that seven northside districts the Republican council candidates won in 2015 are deeply underwater going into the 2019 municipal elections.

To recap, a baseline is a way political scientists have of measuring party support.  Once voters get
beyond the top few spots on the ballot, they start following their partisan leanings when it comes to lesser known or unknown candidates.   So to measure partisanship, a political scientist looks at how voters cast ballots in low profile races on the ballot.  A second caveat is that you consider the type of election.  A presidential election year will have much more turnout than a local election.  In most parts of the country, Republican candidates tend to do better with low turnout while Democrats do better in presidential election years. That though is a broad generalization though and is not true in every voting district.  It depends.

So compare apples to apples, using a low profile race.  I chose Marion County Recorder for my comparison.  Probably 90% of the voters couldn't name who the Recorder is much less tell you anything about the candidates for that position.  So the vote in that race is more about partisan affiliation than anything.   And I chose the midterms because they most closely emulate the lower turnout seen municipal elections.  I chose 2018 in particular because I wanted a recent election, post-Trump, to compare the electorate to the previous comparable election, 2014.

I cannot adequately convey how shocked I was by the data.   The Indianapolis Republican Party north of Washington Street, at least in terms of electoral support, has almost completely disappeared.  Consider the following:

The Republican Party won only 3 precincts in Washington Township (Outside) in 2018.  THREE.  That is 3 out of the 69 Washington Township precincts outside the old city limits.    While I did not look at the Washington Township precincts in the old city wards, they tend to be even heavier Democrat.

In 2018, the GOP won 1 precinct in Pike Township (outside).   That is 1 out of 51.  The other townships (outside the old city limits) precincts were better, but still horrible.  The GOP won 8 of 36 in Warren, 21 of 60 in Wayne and 17 of 67 in Lawrence.

No area has been hit harder by the GOP defections than the City-County Council District 2, a Broad Ripple area district which is currently represented by Republican Colleen Fanning who is also running for re-election.  The district, which takes in some of the wealthiest Meridian Street northside communities such as Meridian-Kessler, saw a dramatic drop in GOP support in 2018.   In 2014, the district had voted for the GOP Recorder candidate in 13 of its 30 precincts with a Republican baseline of 50.2%.  In 2018, the GOP Recorder candidate won ZERO precincts in the district and the Republican baseline in the county had dropped dramatically to 36.8%.  While that was the most dramatic decline, a substantial number precincts in other council districts flipped from red to blue. For example, Council District 3, won by then Republican Christine Scales in 2015, went from having 13 GOP precincts in 2014 to 3 in 2018.

While GOP strength on the southside of Indianapolis remains strong, it too is in decline.  My analysis shows the GOP baseline dropping on the southside between 7% and 10% depending on the area.  I did not see any part of Marion County where GOP support was strengthening.  Southside races that were once 70-30 for the GOP candidate are now 60-40.

One thing that comes through from the data is a large increase in turnout.  While in 2018 Hoosier Republican-leaning voters came to the polls in substantially higher numbers than 2014, turnout on the Democratic side was off the charts.  While Republicans can realistically hope for a significantly lower Democratic turnout in the 2019 municipal elections, it is difficult to fathom that even that would be enough to counter the long-term Democratic trend in Marion County that has apparently accelerated since the election of Donald Trump.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Republicans Set to Lose Seven Seats on the Indianapolis City-County Council that GOP Won in 2015

In 2015, Republicans won 12 of 25 Indianapolis City-County Council Districts utilizing a map drawn by Republican political operative David Brooks.  As I noted at the time, the problem was that Brooks had drawn the GOP districts with margins too small, margins that would not overcome the increasing trend of Marion County residents, particularly those living on the northside, voting Democrat.  The GOP did fairly well defending those northside districts in 2015.  It should be noted that District 2
Republican councilor Christine Scales switched to the Democratic Party after the election.

It is not that Brooks was negligent in drawing the council maps.  His charge was to draw the maps in such a way (by creating a significant number of narrow Republican majority districts) as to give the GOP a chance to win a majority of council seats in the 2015 election. He did exactly that.  The problem was those numbers would not hold.  It turns out that not only have the Republican  numbers continued their two decade long bleed, what appears to be a Trump effect has caused GOP numbers to hemorrhage.

I said at the time the Democrats, who unsuccessfully challenged the Brooks map in court, would grow to love the Brooks map.  The love begins this year.

Districts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 15 and 16 are northside council districts won by the GOP in 2015.  Mid-term elections are the most similiar to municipal elections in terms of turnout.  To establish a baseline, I looked at the Marion Recorder's Office election results in those districts in 2014 versus 2018.  Here is the table I put together of districts the GOP won in 2015.


GOP Districts 2014 GOP Baseline 2018 GOP Baseline Difference
2 49.8 36.8 -13
3 54 37.7 -16.3
4 57 43.4 -13.6
5 55.1 43 -12.1
6 51.6 39.9 -11.7
15 55 42.8 -12.8
16 49.1 40.3 -8.8
18 60.3 51.7 -8.6
20 67.5 58.3 -9.2
23 67.8 58.8 -9
24 66 58.5 -7.5
25 72.3 62 -10.3

Those are not good numbers.  Seven northside GOP districts are deeply underwater.  Even a southside GOP district, District 18, appears to be competitive.

For the record, the only district the Republicans appear to have any shot of winning is Council District 22 held by Jared Evans who upset the Republican in that district in 2015.. But that is at best a long shot.  In District 22 the GOP base went from 54.8 in 2014 to 46.5 in 2018.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Indianapolis Tea Party Presents "Alternative Facts" in Attacking Mueller Investigation

Yesterday my email landed in my inbox announcing Monday meeting of the local northside Tea Party.  As a leadoff to the reminder about the meeting and information about the guest speaker, the email red meat to the tea party members.  Reading the red meat reminds me of the "alternative facts" explanation President Trump adviser Kelly Ann Conway used when explaining why people should ignore actual facts in favor of her spin.

The email contains some doozies::
"The recently concluded Special Counsel “investigation” unfairly targeted President Trump"
Although this is an opinion, rather than an "alternative fact," it's ridiculous on its face.    Numerous members of Trump's campaign were in communication with Russian officials and then lied about it.  This included a meeting in Trump Tower attended by the President's son, son-in-law and campaign manager, a meeting held for the express purpose of obtaining dirt on Hillary Clinton from Russian officials.  The fact is virtually every Republican in Congress supported the opening of the investigation and the appointment of the special counsel. The investigation was not only to look into the nature of the Trump campaign contacts with the Russians, more importantly it was about Russian interference in the 2016 election. So the Tea Party does not think that Russian interference in our elections should not have been investigated? 
but who was propagandistically “charged" with "collusion: for which he could only be exonerated- due to the fact that collusion is not a crime. 
Not sure what this line means.  I certainly agree the media from the beginning to the conclusion mischaracterized the issue as "collusion." Collusion is not a crime. But Mueller's charge was never to investigate collusion.  It was to investigate Russian interference in our election as well as whether the Trump campaign criminally conspired with the Russians in that effort  Mueller found, at least according to Attorney General Bob Barr's spin of the report, that the answer to that conspiracy question is "no."  Contrary to media reports, Mueller never cleared Trump of "collusion."  And how could it have?  The Trump Tower meeting was indisputably an attempt by Trump campaign officials to collude with the Russians in the obtaining of dirt on the Hillary Clinton campaign.  But did it rise to the level of criminal conspiracy?  Mueller, according to Barr, said "no."
"As a victim of prosecutorial misconduct, how does the President’s righteous defense from investigatory fraud; somehow make him “guilty" of “obstruction?”  
I certainly don't accept the assumption that President Trump was a victim of "prosecutorial misconduct" or that there was "investigatory fraud" going on.  The evidence clearly says otherwise.  But assuming Trump was completely innocent of any wrongdoing, a mighty big assumption, does that mean he gets a ticket to obstruct justice all he wants?  Obviously he does not. 
Documents reveal that early on, Special Counselor Mueller knew the DNC / Clinton / Fusion GPS funded “dossier” was a work of fiction; used to illegally obtain FISA warrants for the illegal surveillance of Trump & other 2016 Presidential candidates…  
It was a conservative leaning publication which initially funded the dossier, a fact the author omits.  But the huge fabrication in the sentence is that the dossier was a "work of fiction."   Many of the facts outlined in the dossier have been proven to be correct.  Other facts remain unverified and a few, very few, have been proven to be false  None of this should be a surprise as the dossier was a compilation of raw investigatory information.  It was never meant to be a finished product in which all facts were verified.  That the dossier is a complete work of "fiction" is a lie Trumpers have been spinning from Day 1.  It is simply not true.

Oh, and that the dossier was used to obtain FISA warrants is a complete misrepresentation.  The dossier was only one of several pieces of evidence used to obtain the warrants.  And the warrants issued were perfectly legal, contrary to Trump spin.
"Considering the manufactured “Steele Dossier” is tantamount to planted evidence, counterfeited to defraud a federal court (FISC); doesn't the Special Counsel’s suppression of that & other facts require a proper investigation- into criminal misconduct?"
As noted, the Steele Dossier certainly was not "manufactured" or "counterfeited."  The fact that the dossier was funded by a political campaign was in fact made known to the federal judges considering the FISA warrant.  But even if the sourcing wasn't announced, there is no evidence - zero - that the funding of the dossier was "suppressed" from consideration by the judge considering the warrant.  Not even sure how that "suppression" would have happened.  So do Trumpers think the federal judge asked for the source of the dossier and the FBI simply lied?  Again, no evidence of that.

The sad thing is if it President Obama or Hillary Clinton were the one who were having multiple contacts with a hostile foreign power leading up to an election, and had acted the same way Trump and his allies did to try to derail the investigation into those activities, Tea Party members would be in the streets in every major city protesting.  Unfortunately, they have chosen blind worship of President Trump over sticking by their principles and any semblance of intellectual integrity.

I guess I should not be surprised.  The Tea Party's No. 1 guiding principle used to be fiscal responsibility.  I really respected them for that.  But now Tea Party members have completely abandoned that principle to enthusiastically support a President who is running record deficits, during an economic expansion no less.

Below is the video of Democratic Representative Adam Schiff's eloquent speech in response to Republicans who tried to get him to resign as chair of the House Intelligence Committee.  I defy Trumpers to find one single thing he said that is inaccurate.   Schiff is right...it is not "okay" what Trump's campaign did, regardless of whether criminality was involved.  Anyone, including members of the Tea Party, who thinks what Schiff condemns in his speech is actually acceptable conduct should never call themselves "patriots" because they are anything but.