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.

1 comment:

Flogger said...

Paul, I am not sure of the difference anymore in Marion County between a Democrat and a Republican. We have for all intents and purposes a Republicrat Party in Indianapolis. This party is totally united when it comes to Corporate Welfare for the well connected (Professional Sport's Team owners or big hotels, etc). Tax subsidies, abatements, and various other schemes to divert money into the pockets of the well connected is approved of.

No debate is permitted on the philosophy of Corporate Welfare only how to accomplish it.

Fiscal responsibility is what appealed to me in the past but, also the Socialist view that we are all in this together. Unfortunately, the screws of fiscal responsibility apply to the majority of us proles and the We are only the Well Connected.