Thursday, October 24, 2019

Indianapolis GOP Face Possible Wipeout in Upcoming Municipal Election

This Spring, as my beloved Cincinnati Reds take the field for the first game of the season, I will take my place in centerfield.

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 Districts2014 GOP Baseline2018 GOP BaselineDifference

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.


Greg Purvis said...

Paul, one error, Merritt's Senate district is on the north side, not south. It includes portions of Hamilton County and Democrat Derek Camp gave him a good contest in 2018.

Leon Dixon said...

Finally, a post with no polls and just a tiny bit of Trump misinformation. Duh Republicans will not face up to the puppet strings that control Marion county R's. Merritt runs for this office because he is the weakest in a long line of stumblebums who have been anointed as R chairs. Bums who know little to nothing about convincing people retreat into the excuses of demographics and trends unaware that you can't beat something with nothing (see their previous candidate for mayor) (see also the string of mummy dummies that is a result of country club R's sipping cocktails and thinking they have been constructive). R "elites" who preferred the Gov of Ohio for President are not in touch with voters.
Why would anyone vote for the Republican candidate for Mayor? Scales had the right idea...when a pack of slobs stab you in the back there is no reason to continue to associate with said slobs. Hanging out with creeps would be and is preferable. As far as Trump is concerned, he has no use for republicans in name only....which would be Indiana R "elites"(losers). Trump carried Indiana and will do so again being assisted by Democrats who are very tired of having to hold their noses and vote D for the national tickets which are generally corrupt old has beens with no discernible talents and no desire to be of service to the voters.
Which field of losers is worst? Binary choice...this year's crowd of D clowns or the R field of losers that Trump beat like a drum? As you look at D's in Congress, can you find any honorable person?

Paul K. Ogden said...

Leon, there is no bigger "Republican in Name Only" than lifelong Democrat and pretend Republican. Donald J. Trump. AI provided no "misinformation." Look at the 2016 and 2018 numbers for Marion County and Hamilton County. The GOP numbers are way down in those counties. Trump is popular in Indiana rural areas. He is not popular in Indiana urban and suburban areas.

I'm surprised that a Trumper like yourself would talk about "honor." Has there ever been a less honorable person in politics than Trump? I have never seen a more corrupt, more dishonest President in my lifetime. Trump's dishonesty is only matched by his utter incompetence. His administration has been a complete failure by any measure...and that's being charitable. Trump makes Jimmy Carter look like an excellent President.

I really don't blame Trump though. I blame the fools who made a Trump presidency possible and refuse to hold him accountable for words and behavior that Trumpers would find unacceptable from any other politician. Time to put down the Kool-Aid, Leon, and rejoin reality.

Paul K. Ogden said...


You're right. Not sure what I was thinking. I will fix. Yes, those northside legislative districts which straddle Marion and adjoining counties are getting competitive. Hamilton County in particular is not a strong GOP county for Trump. Romney was much more popular in Hamilton County in 2012.

Anonymous said...

After reading the front page of the Indpls Star this morning, I think you're probably right. The negative Merritt story is the lead story. Then there is Abdul's poll and the commercial featuring a Republican counselor. Finally, the mayor has 6 times theh money Merritt has and the polling indicates that, Merritt has moved numbers, BUT IN THE WRONG DIRECTION.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Anon, what was most shocking in the Abdul poll was the generic ballot numbers, D v. R. An unnamed D candidate is preferred over an unnamed R candidate 56% to 29%. That is a 29 point gap. Wow.

Anonymous said...

Jim Merritt is the worst ..... anything ...... in the history of ever. Two faced and all Columbia Club Republican. He has nothing to lose in this race. The binary political system is truly lined up along urban (D) and rural (R) voters and look for 2023 to be the first election where the GOP doesn’t field a candidate in any seat in Marion County except for the excluded cities and towns. The old guard of Marion County Republicans are dying off and the new generation of voters are more inclined to vote for Xi Jinping than any R.

Anonymous said...

What did you mean by your last sentence.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Correction to my 3:43 comment, the generic ballot was 56 to 27, not 56 to 29. That was the 29 point spread I indicated.

Anonymous said...

10/27 8:33 PM - I’m referring to the likes of P.E. McAllister, the SeurVass family (who as I understand all became D’s), the Township Republican machine operatives who are all either deceased now or in their 70s and 80s and won’t be around for much longer. That Old Republican Guard. There is no “new” Republican Guard.

My Xi Jinping reference was for all these millennials who vote based on handouts and the “promise of socialism”. Such in the case of the West Point grad who turned out to be a communist and wrote it on the inside of his cover.

Anonymous said...

It's shaping up to be a bigtime Democrat floor mopping. The only North of Washington Street district that's close so far is the Speedway/West Side District 15 (Andy Harris/Jessica McCormick) - Andy has a little advantage of being well known in that area. Even that is razor thin. Even some southside districts look like they are going D. We are witnessing the extinction of the GOP in Marion County.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Anon 7:52, actually McHenry was ahead for awhile in her Wayne Township/Pike district for awhile, but she eventually fell behind and lost. It appears Harris also lost too. That wipes out all the northsiders I believe. It looks like the Republicans only will have 5 of the 25 council seats, all based primarily below Washington STreet.

McHenry, by the way, is a phenomenal door-to-door candidate. She probably met every voter in that district 5 times personally. An exaggeration, perhaps, but that district should have gone Democratic last election if not the one before that. Only by sheer hard work did she keep it in the Republican column for as long as she did.