Meanwhile, 90 miles up in the road, former Republican Jim Merritt will be going to work on the 25th floor, having been elected a few months earlier as the Mayor of Indianapolis.
|State Senator Jim Merritt|
Okay, neither of those things are likely to happen. But I dare say I am more likely to become the first 50-something rookie in major league baseball history, than Merritt is to win the Indianapolis mayor's race against incumbent Joe Hogsett next month.
To say Merritt has run a lackluster campaign is to be charitable. Merritt decided, in the age of populism, that his ticket to being elected was to run as a country club Republican. To make things worse, Merritt decided to run as a liberal, to the left of Hogsett, and in the process turning his back on the conservative principles he stood for decades as a northside state senator. Merritt thought the shrinking pool of Marion County Republicans would not be offended. News flash...they are. Hopefully the conservative-leaning voters in Merritt's state senate district will not forget the way he threw them under the bus in an effort to be elected Mayor.
To be fair though, even if Merritt ran the perfect campaign...he was never going to win. Marion County/Indianapolis was already trending toward heavily Democrat when the Trump phenomenon hit. Trump is very unpopular in urban/suburban areas, including Marion County. Since Trump was elected in 2016, Democrats and independents have been coming out in droves to cast protest votes against Trump and his brand of Republicanism.
Jim Merritt will hardly be the only Marion County GOP casualty on November 4th. I previously warned that the council map drawn by GOP operative David Brooks in a failed attempt to win a Republican majority in 2015 cut the GOP district margins too narrowly. I said that the map would eventually turn out to be a blessing for the Democrats, allowing the party to capture a sizable majority of the council seats as the numbers continued to drift in the Democrats direction.
Indeed my analysis earlier this year (posted below in full) of the 2018 election results in those council districts show that elected northside Republican council members are about to be rendered extinct:
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 in 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.The GOP's only hope to keep some of the northside seats is for a very low turnout municipal election and that it is mostly Democrats staying home.