Thursday, December 5, 2019

Analysis Show Democrats in 2018 Made Significant Gains in Indiana State House Races


One thing that's always been true about Indiana politics  (at least as long as I can remember) is that Democratic candidates generally do better during presidential election years than during mid-terms.  In short, Hoosier Democrats typically are not as good at going to the polls as Republicans. Indiana Democrats tend to only want to show up for the big marquee event every four years when the Presidential race is on the ballot.

But Democrats, since Trump's election in 2016, have been energized and mobilized, even in the Hoosier state.  That's showing up in the numbers.

I did a comparison of the D v. R vote in Indiana state house races, 2016 v. 2018.  In particular I looked at those that had major party candidates squaring off in the district in both years.  Of the 100 house races, I found 50 had major party competition in 2016 and 2018.  Of those 50, Democratic candidates saw an increase in their percentage of the vote in 37 districts

Not surprisingly, the greatest movement toward Democrats has been in the more suburban districts, particularly around Indianapolis.  Below is a chart showing the numbers in the districts in which Democrats gained 3% or more.

Dist
2016 D Pct
2018 D Pct
Change
Winner 2018
87
52.2%
62.2%
10.0%
  Hamilton (D)
88
34.7%
44.5%
9.8%
  Bosma (R)
37
36.0%
45.5%
9.5%
  Huston (R)
26
47.4%
56.7%
9.3%
  Campbell (D)
75
30.8%
38.8%
8.0%
  Bacon (R)
81
39.1%
46.3%
7.2%
  Carbaugh (R)
39
36.1%
43.0%
6.9%
  Torr (R)
90
33.3%
39.7%
   6.4%  
  Speedy(R)
93
32.6%
37.6%
5.0%
  Frizzell (R)
41
22.1%
26.8%
4.7%
  Brown (R)
63
28.2%
32.8%
4.6%
  Lindauer (R)
15
45.7%
50.2%
4.5%
  Chyung (D)
60
36.6%
41.0%
4.4%
  Mayfield (R)
89
45.4%
49.5%
4.1%
 Kirchhofer (R)
55
23.7%
27.8%
4.1%
  Ziemke (R)
84
33.9%
37.4%
3.5%
  Morris (R)
23
29.6%
33.0%
3.4%
  Manning (R)
58
33.4%
36.7%
3.3%
  Burton (R)
32
25.1%
28.4%
3.3%
  Cook ( R)

Obviously, the transformation of retiring Speaker Brian Bosma's district into a competitive battleground stands out  Bosma could have faced some stiff competition in 2020.  Now that he is bowing out, picking up seat will be an even bigger priority for the Democrats.

Just north of Bosma's district is that of the next Speaker-Elect Todd Huston.  Like Bosma, Huston's district has suddenly become competitive.  Making him a target in the next election will likely cause him to spend precious resources protecting his own turf instead of helping fellow Republican incumbents.  

Then there is District 91.  Anchored on the southwest side of Indianapolis, the district is  represented by Republican Robert Behning.  In 2016, Democrats did not even have a challenger against Behning.  In 2018, Democrats not only found a candidate, he received 40% of the vote.  

Note: as a rule of thumb, once the losing party gets to 40%, it is considered a competitive district.  When it gets to 45%, it is highly competitive.  That is a very general rule though as factors like incumbency affect the competitiveness of a district.

There were a few House districts in which the Democratic incumbents lost ground in 2018.  Districts in which Democrats saw their numbers drop 3% or more are in the following table:

Dist
2016 D Pct
2018 D Pct
Change
Winner 2018
65
37.3%
30.7%
-6.6%
May (R)
66
60.3%
54.6%
-5.7%
Goodin (D)
56
38.7%
33.1%
-5.6%
Barrett (R)
11
39.5%
34.7%
-4.8%
Aylesworth (R)
42
43.4%
39.6%
-3.8%
Morrison (R)
68
24.9%
21.3%
-3.6%
Lyness (R)

Those are the more rural districts.  In addition to Goodin's district, Republicans appear to have an excellent shot at picking up District 35 which went from 52.5% Democrat in 2016 to 50.6% in 2018.

As Republicans hold 67 of the 100 seats in the Indiana House, the GOP will almost certainly hold onto its majority after the 2020 election.  But the data suggest Republicans will continue to lose seats as suburban districts continue to become more favorable to Democrats.

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