Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Thoughts on Indiana Senator Richard Lugar's Passing

Some brief thought on the passing of former Indianapolis Mayor and Senator Richard Lugar.

I was not a fan of Lugar.  I never thought he was much of a conservative.   In his last several years in office turned his back on the Indiana Republican Party.  He stopped going to state Republican dinners.  He wouldn't help out GOP candidates with their campaigns or to raise money for the party.  He, reportedly, even went so far as to have his staff send out threatening letters candidates who had their pictures taken with him and might consider using their photos in a campaign commercial. 

Worse yet, I felt Lugar turned his back on Indiana.  On the rare occasions he came back to the Hoosier state he would have to stay in hotel rooms because he did not have a residence in the state.  For decades, Lugar voted using an Indianapolis address from which he had moved some 30 or so years earlier.  The dubious voter fraud charges against former Secretary of State Charlie White for supposedly voting somewhere he didn't live in ONE election pale in comparison for the decades of voter fraud charges that could have been filed against Senator Lugar and former Senator Bayh, who also votes using an Indiana address at which he clearly does not live.  Though to give Bayh some credit, unlike Lugar, he actually owns the Indiana property he falsely claims is his residence when he votes.

But I digress.  Lugar was a giant when it came to foreign policy.  He understood the important role of NATO in securing world peace post World War II.  Lugar had a keen grasp of the complexities involved in advancing the interests of the United States while simultaneously dealing with the competing interests of other countries.  Foreign policy is complicated and it takes a person with a high intellect and calm temperament to understand the issues and judge them without bias.  Lugar had that intellect and that temperament. The unfortunate turn in Lugar's career is not that he lost the primary to Richard Mourdock in 2012 (which loss he really brought that on himself for failing to do even the minimum to maintain his favored status in the GOP), but that he never became Secretary of State, a position for which he was so ideally suited.

In the Senate, Lugar was a fixture of collegiality and decency.  Lugar worked across the aisle to forge coalitions with like-minded Democrats to advance legislation.  Those were not always measures traditional conservatives wanted, but many were  Lugar did not view Democrats as the enemy but simply as people who were, usually, wrong about the issues and needed convincing.  In today's political world of unabashed tribalism, we could use more people who take Dick Lugars' approach toward politics.

I note with irony that Richard Lugar's partisan political career (he had been an IPS school board member) began in 1967 with an upset victory over Democrat Mayor John Barton in the Indianapolis Mayor's race.  That was the final Indianapolis Mayor's race conducted using the old city limits which only took in a tiny portion of the eight townships surrounding Center Township, the heart of Indianapolis.  During Lugar's first term, the Indiana General Assembly passed Uni-Gov, essentially  expanding the boundaries of the City of Indianapolis to the entire Marion County.  The addition of those Republican dominated Indianapolis suburbs into the city brought in decades of Republican dominance in Indianapolis Mayoral elections, which was not ended until 1999 with the victory of Democrat Bart Peterson.  Now as the 2019 mayoral election appears the horizon, Democrats are once again the dominant force in Indianapolis politics.

RIP Senator Richard Lugar.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Analysis of Indiana Election Results Suggests Troubling Future for Hoosier GOP in Trump Era

On the evening of November 6, 2018, Hoosier Republicans celebrated the victory of Mike Braun over Senator Joe Donnelly who was the only remaining Democrat with a statewide constituency.  That same night, Republicans swept the other statewide offices and, again,  won large majorities in the Indiana General Assembly.    The Indiana GOP had what appeared to be a great night and State GOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer wasted no time bragging about the Republican success.  But a close look at the 2018 election data reveals a troubling future for the Indiana GOP.

In my last post, I took a deep dive into the local election data to find that Democrats now winning virtually every precinct on the north side of Marion County (Indianapolis) and even cutting into Republican dominance in the southern half of the state's most populous county.  Many politicos will write off
Marion County (which is well on its way to becoming the most Democratic county in the state) as an aberration.  After all, in the Trump era, red counties are getting redder and blue counties are getting bluer.

Except that is not true.

In establishing a baseline, I compared the State Auditor's election results in 2014 to 2018.  In the 2018 midterms, there was a tremendous increase in turnout over the election four years earlier.  Republicans, Democrats and Independents came to the polls in record numbers.  While the Republican State Auditor candidate still won an easy victory (57.5% of the R-D vote) that total was down from the winning 62.4% in 2014.  (To make comparisons between 2014 and 2018 easier, I have dropped out the Libertarian vote from the analysis and instead compared the R-D vote head-to-head.)  

So the state GOP baseline, using the State Auditor's race, was down in 2018 by nearly 7%.  While statewide Hoosier Republican candidates can lose that much and still win easy statewide victories,that may well not be the case during presidential election years when Indiana Democratic statewide candidates generally do much better.

Indiana has 92 counties.  In 2018, 50 counties saw decreasing GOP percentages while 42 counties had shares of the Republican vote that increased.  Again, the general assumption is that red counties have gotten redder during the Trump era while blue areas have gotten bluer.  An analysis of the data shows that to be a fiction, at least in Indiana.

Looking at the top 34 GOP counties percentage wise for 2014, only 5 of those red counties saw an increase in the Republican vote.  And even in those counties the GOP increase was small.  Only in one county did the Republican percent increase by more than 1%. 

Examining the raw Republican vote totals for largest to smallest, one sees a similar pattern.  Of the 11 counties with the most Republican vote, none became redder in 2018 compared to 2014.  Of the top 29 best GOP raw vote counties, only two became more Republican in 2018 compared to 2014.

Again, there was a significant number of counties (40 of 92) that did become more Republican in 2018.  If redder counties getting redder is a fiction, what then is a common characteristic in these, let's call them Trump Republican, counties?  

The answer is population...or more precisely the lack thereof.  Eight of the nine smallest population counties became more Republican in 2018.  Taking a wider look, 15 of the 19 smallest population counties became redder.

Flipping the numbers, the top 12 most populous Indiana counties saw a decrease in Republican vote from 2014 to 2018.  Of the top 29 counties population wise, only two counties became more Republican and that was by increases of less than 1%.  

Here is an abbreviated table, sorted by largest Republican decreases to largest GOP increases, percentage wise, in the counties:

County 2014 R Pct 2018 R Pct GOP Movement 2019 Population
Vanderburgh 70.3 54.6 -15.7 181,616
Hamilton 75.3 62.2 -13.1 323,747
Monroe 47.1 36.3 -10.8 146,986
Boone 76.9 66.3 -10.6 65,875
Hendricks 76.9 66.7 -10.2 163,685
Tippecanoe 62.2 52.2 -10 190,587
Johnson 79.1 70.5 -8.6 153,897
Marion 46.1 38.1 -8 950,082
Elkhart 73.6 65.4 -8 205,032
Wayne 72.1 64.1 -8 66,185
Warrick 70.5 62.5 -8 62,530
Allen 68.2 60.5 -7.7 372,877
Hancock 79.5 71.8 -7.7 74,985
St. Joseph 53.9 47.4 -6.5 270,434
Bartholomew 71 65.6 -5.4 82,040
Kosciusko 83.1 78 -5.1 79,206
Grant 70.5 66 -4.5 66,491
Huntington 80 75.7 -4.3 36,337
Marshall 72.5 69 -3.5 46,498
Vigo 54.5 51.4 -3.1 107,516
Montgomery 79 76 -3 38,525
Floyd 59.7 56.8 -2.9 77,071
Clinton 76.5 73.6 -2.9 32,317
Whitley 78.2 75.5 -2.7 33,756
Posey 66.3 63.6 -2.7 25,595
Lake 38.4 35.9 -2.5 485,640
Putnam 76.2 73.7 -2.5 37,702
DeKalb 75.5 73.3 -2.2 42,836
Rush 78.1 75.9 -2.2 16,645
LaGrange 78.3 76.2 -2.1 39,303
Steuben 74.2 72.1 -2.1 34,484
LaPorte 50.2 48.2 -2 110,029
Morgan 79.1 77.1 -2 69,713
Benton 76 74 -2 8,613
Porter 51.8 49.9 -1.9 168,404
Shelby 74.9 73.2 -1.7 44,395
White 72.6 70.9 -1.7 24,182
Noble 75 73.4 -1.6 47,452
Lawrence 74.9 73.3 -1.6 45,666
Carroll 75.2 73.6 -1.6 20,039
Fulton 72.8 71.4 -1.4 20,059
Wabash 76.2 74.9 -1.3 31,443
Clark 57.7 56.6 -1.1 116,973
Delaware 55.2 54.2 -1 115,184
Spencer 63.9 62.9 -1 20,394
Brown 63.9 63.1 -0.8 15,035
Wells 78.4 77.7 -0.7 27,984
Dubois 65 64.4 -0.6 42,558
Pulaski 69.8 70.3 -0.5 12,534
Tipton 75.8 75.5 -0.3 15,128
Dearborn 75.8 75.8 0 49,741
Fountain 75.8 75.9 0.1 16,505
Cass 68.5 68.7 0.2 37,994
Miami 74.2 74.4 0.2 35,845
Randolph 72.2 72.5 0.3 24,922
Daviess 79.4 79.9 0.5 33,113
Orange 68.6 69.2 0.6 19,426
Howard 64 64.7 0.7 82,363
Owen 69.4 70.1 0.7 20,839
Madison 58.4 59.4 1 129,498
Decatur 76.4 77.4 1 26,737
Parke 72.5 73.7 1.2 16,886
Gibson 66.5 68.1 1.6 33,576
Adams 72.4 74.1 1.7 35,491
Henry 67 69.1 2.1 48,476
Jasper 68.6 70.8 2.2 33,447
Warren 71.3 73.7 2.4 8,201
Ripley 73 75.7 2.7 28,442
Perry 48 50.7 2.7 19,081
Clay 69.9 72.8 2.9 26,198
Jay 67.3 70.3 3 20,945
Knox 64.2 67.5 3.3 37,508
Crawford 55.7 59.7 4 10,566
Martin 68.2 72.3 4.1 10,215
Union 71.1 75.2 4.1 7,200
Jackson 67.3 71.6 4.3 43,884
Jefferson 56.5 60.8 4.3 32,089
Greene 66.7 71.2 4.5 32,177
Newton 66.8 71.4 4.6 14,130
Vermillion 52.4 57.8 5.4 15,505
Harrison 61.1 66.7 5.6 39,898
Ohio 64 69.7 5.7 5,828
Fayette 62.8 68.8 6 23,209
Starke 56.4 62.4 6 22,893
Pike 60.9 66.9 6 12,365
Washington 64.3 70.6 6.3 27,827
Franklin 71.6 78.5 6.9 22,619
Blackford 60.3 67.4 7.1 11,976
Scott 49.1 56.7 7.6 23,870
Jennings 62.4 70.6 8.2 27,626
Sullivan 54.7 62.9 8.2 20,746
Switzerland 54.9 67.1 12.2 10,696

You don't have to be much of a political analyst to see the problems the Indiana GOP faces if these post-Trump trend lines continue.

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.