Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Indianapolis and Hamilton County Election Takeaways

Yesterday, Indiana held municipal elections across the state.  Here are my thoughts on the the election results in Indianapolis (Marion County) and Hamilton County:
  • Death of the Marion County GOP:  The once great Marion County Republican Party has been struggling for awhile, but there was always hope.  Yesterday that hope was extinguished. The GOP won 12 of the 25 Indianapolis city-county council seats in 2015.  Yesterday, the GOP
    won just 5 of the 25 seats.  My warning that only Republican council candidates with districts south of Washington Street might survive the council election turned out to be deadly accurate.  If that wasn't bad enough, two of the winning Republican candidates narrowly won their southside districts.
  • Marion County Supplants Lake County as Most Democratic County:  Last night, incumbent Democratic Mayor Joe Hogsett won 72% of the vote versus the Republican challenger State Senator Jim Merritt's 27%.   Democrats running countywide in Lake County regularly beat Republicans by 2-1 margins.  While the high profile Indianapolis Mayor's race is not the best one for measuring a partisan baseline, that race along with the council races suggest Marion may now be the most Democratic-leaning county in the state.  Move over Lake County.
  • Hamilton County Democratic Party Scores Council Wins:  The good, no great, news for the Hamilton County Democratic Party is that it won a council seat in Carmel as well as a district and at-large seat in Fishers.   But the Democrats gave up the opportunity for a majority of the six person Fishers council when it fielded only one candidate in the three person at-large race. (I know this might have been part of a deliberate strategy to get the one candidate elected, but don't think there is much data to show that strategy actually works.)
  • Hamilton County Democratic Party Blows Mayoral Opportunities:  Looking at the 2018 numbers, I knew the Democrats could run competitive mayoral elections in Carmel and Fishers in 2019.  But Hamilton County Democratic Chairman Joseph Weingarten apparently couldn't find candidates for the mayoral slots, leaving the Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard and Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness unopposed in their bids for re-election.  The 2019 election results show Fadness in particular could have been beaten.  In my original analysis, I forgot to consider Westfield where Republican Andy Cook was running for re-election in that city.  Cook had no Democratic challenger, only a Libertarian opponent...who received an incredible 39% of the vote.  Cook is, obviously, an unpopular mayor but the Democrats can't when they don't field a candidate.
  • Marion County/Hamilton County Developments Could Spell Trouble for Statewide GOP Candidates:  If the state's largest county (Marion) is suddenly 70% plus Democrat and the formerly state's most Republican county (Hamilton) is no longer providing huge GOP margins, can statewide Republican candidates continue to win statewide elections?  Probably ... as long as rest of the Indianapolis donut counties continue to provide GOP votes. Haven't studied the results in Boone, Hendricks, Johnson, etc. yet, but my guess is their shift in the Democratic direction is much slower than Hamilton County.  
  • Trumpism's Damage to GOP Brand is Real:  Several of my fellow Republicans warned in 2016 that if the GOP nominated such a disreputable character as Donald J. Trump, Trumpism would come to define and harm the Republican brand.  That damage was on display in the 2018 election results and now once again in 2019.  Possibly that damage is temporary, but my guess is it is long term and will take a generation from which to recover.


Sean Shepard said...

I might argue that Republicans in Marion and Hamilton Counties have been difficult to distinguish from how we might expect Democrats to govern - spend money, increase debt, raise taxes. Not really likely to motivate base fiscal conservatives to come out and vote when your options are effectively the Democrat or the other Democrat.

leon dixon said...

You were doing all right until your Trump bias showed. If Trump runs
he will exceed his former results in Indiana. The proffered wager
(all the beer Adam can drink at one sitting) you have not
responded to. I think your analysis is mostly correct in that
RINO candidates will never be popular and they ought not be.

Anonymous said...

The damage to the GOP from Trump is temporary.
Do you remember Watergate? Less than 7 years later Ronald Reagan wins in a landslide of 1980.
In today's 24/7 news cycle and attention span of a gnat society the GOP will recover a few years after Trump leaves office.

Anonymous said...

It’s not that people in Hamilton County are switching to Democrat. It’s Marion County people moving north of 96th Street. So statewide the numbers are likely the same. They are just proportionally spread out differently now. I think about two-thirds or more of the population of Hamilton County is concentrated between 96th and 146th Streets.

Andy Cook is disliked in Westfield because he spends money like his pal Jim Brainard. Cook was running scared with no less that 10 mail drops in the two weeks prior to election and ran cable TV and social media ads. Rainwater only had a smattering yard signs.

Two cities I thought would be Democrat strongholds in Kokomo and Muncie went GOP for their mayors though.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Anon 9:49,

I agree there has been movement from Marion County to Hamilton County. But I don't think that alone is an explanation. The departure of Democrats from Marion County to the surrounding counties clearly has not made Indy more Republican. Plus, while voters in Hamilton County pulling the D lever in large numbers has been slowly increasing, the election in 2018 and 2019 has seen a very dramatic increase in that practice, far beyond what can be attributed to just Ds moving into the county.

Decades ago, industrial cities like Kokomo, Muncie and Anderson were dominated by unions and very Democratic. Those years are long gone. I'm never terribly surprised when Rs win races in those cities. And Trump remains popular in smaller cities and more rural areas, unlike he is in the bigger cities and their suburbs.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Anon 5:09,

I get the Watergate analogy, I just think it's apples and oranges. Watergate was seen as the failings of one individual - Nixon. Trumpism goes well beyond the failings of one man, and reflect something deeply wrong with the conservative movement. Trump is merely a symptom of the problem on the right. Nixon was the problem.

Paul K. Ogden said...


Is there anything that Trump could do that you possibly could ever find to be wrong? You know darn well that if Obama had pulled any of the stuff (like shaking down an ally by withholding foreign aid to get that ally to investigate a political opponent or using his office to enrich himself) Trump has done, you and the other Trumpers would be screaming for his impeachment. The fact Trumpers can't recognize their obvious hypocritical approach to politics shows beyond doubt they are in a cult... a cult that is being led by a two bit con man, a man who was a Democrat until recently and gave money to scores of liberal Democrats he supported. Trump is not a conservative, not even close. There is no bigger RINO than Donald J. Trump.

If you don't believe what every poll is saying about Trump's electoral weakness, why not look at the actual election results across the country since Trump's election? Republicans are getting killed. If you think that's a coincidence, I have a bridge to sell you. Trump is the greatest gift to Democrats and socialism that Republicans could have ever given.

Is it possible he will win again? Yes, if the D's are foolish enough to nominate a Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. But the fact that even they could beat Trump shows what a incredibly weak candidate Trump is. If the Ds are smart (little evidence of that) and they nominate someone moderate, Trump will almost certainly lose very badly.

Anonymous said...

"2018 and 2019 has seen a very dramatic increase in that practice, far beyond what can be attributed to just Ds moving into the county."

I'll agree to disagree. It is D's moving into the county. From both Marion County and transplants from the East and Left Coasts. Eli Lilly, Roche, Elanco, etc.

In the case of Marion County, both D's and R's are moving here but anymore it's more D's as they've set the Marion County dumpster on fire, and now bring the same garbage to Hamilton. What R's are left in Marion that moved to Hamilton are just making things even.

Did you see Zionsville has a new Democrat mayor? Probably the Gun Ban Moms group got her elected?

Anonymous said...

"Less than 7 years later Ronald Reagan wins in a landslide of 1980"

Only because Carter was the 2nd worst US President in history. If Carter was even halfway decent such as JFK he would have been re-elected.

Wes said...


It is definitely not just people from Marion County moving to Hamilton County. It's shifting attitudes towards the GOP, mostly the "Trump-effect". There are plenty of college educated Republicans in the suburbs that are repulsed by him. This is all across the country, including Indiana.

Look at other Metro areas in the State. My hometown of Fort Wayne voted for their Democratic Mayor Tom Henry big, 61% to 38%. That was surprising to a lot of people. Democrats also gained seats on city-council, with the GOP having only a 5-4 majority. South Bend continues to be a stronghold, and Evansville Democrats gained seats on their council.

And Paul, I agree with you. We (the Dem's) are stupid if we vote for Warren or Sanders. I live in California now and there are way too many people on the coasts that don't know how Midwest politics work. Most people think things like "Trump is so crazy he'll never win again". Watch what happens if we elect Socialist candidates. I may personally like them, but they're way too far left to win. I mean they could possibly beat Trump, but it would be way too close for comfort. I personally want Mayor Pete to win the nomination, but if that doesn't pan out I'll vote for Biden. I think he's the perfect solution.

Anonymous said...

"there are way too many people on the coasts that don't know how Midwest politics work."

They know exactly how it works here in the Midwest. Hence their movements to nullify the Midwestern vote by either abolishing the Electoral College or its attempted workaround the national compact. The compact will base the electoral college vote on the national popular vote instead of the individual state's vote, ensuring the choice of New York and Commiefornia will prevail.

leon dixon said...

I suppose the only valid reason you might advance for not accepting the wager proffered is that you are unable to afford all the cost of beer that Adam could consume at one sitting. I agree that it would be an unknown cost and sort of like writing a blank check but surely his bladder is not super normal. As for Trump misdeeds, conservatives would be the first to call out Trump misdeeds as President. We might disagree, for instance, with his Israel policies some conservatives being well read. We might think his insistence on lowering the artificial interest rates is foolish but we also think Duh Fed is foolish. As for his being a Democrat, well, that isn't a sin. Ronald Reagan was a Democrat longer than he was ever a Republican. Democrats did not exist solely in mental institutions in the past though their national leaders these days belong in them.

As for Marion County Republicans the rot is at the top. Their top stinks. It has stunk now for decades? I don't know, only paid slight attention for 15 years or so. There is nothing more dishonest in Indiana than Marion County Republican leaders. As for Muncie, that is something I know somewhat. There has not been an R City Council for 40 years. There is now as of the first of the year and there will be a Republican Mayor. I do recall that you addressed the group mostly responsible for this sea change.

I did like the R candidate, Dan Jones. He got beat 2:1. Brother Hart (a winner) won the prospect of being 20% of the R party on Clowncil (which is what is going to be their monicker as soon as they figure out how to loot, steal, rape and pillage).

More anon......(I look forward to drinking about half as much as Adam on your expense account).

leon dixon said...

That there Republican Brand seems very Trumpian these days. All those imaginary stalwarts Paul imagines are burrowed deep into their traditional spinelessness. Now, the worthies he would have you emulate have all come out against Trump and are or were hard at work
running against his record and him. "(NEWSER) – Mark Sanford's 2020 campaign did not get off to an auspicious start. And now, just 60 days after it began, the campaign by the former governor of South Carolina is over, reports the Post and Courier. Sanford called it quits Tuesday during a press conference in New Hampshire, where he was supposed to be campaigning all month, per Politico. Sanford attracted scant attention from voters and the media, and he acknowledged that the current drama in DC didn't help. “You gotta be a realist, and what I did not anticipate is an impeachment,” he said. His departure leaves two other Republicans with bids to unseat Trump as the party nominee—Joe Walsh and William Weld. (Read more Mark Sanford stories.)" Hold off breathing...sure some more R's might decide to Romney aka POS.