Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Heavy Turnout in Pike Township (Indianapolis) During Today's Indiana Primary

I never received my application to request an absentee ballot to vote in this Spring's primary.  Still I could have obtained the application or voted downtown early.  Having failed to do that, I was left with the choice of voting at a polling location or skipping the election altogether.  Having never missed an election, primary or general, since I turned 18, I was not about to break my string.

I heard there were two voting locations in Pike Township.  I chose the closest one - Guion Creek Middle School.  The plan was to go in the middle of the day, avoid the morning and late afternoon rushes.

Government officials had been pushing voting by mail and since it was a primary, I figured there would not be many people at the polls. I guessed I could get in and out, worst case scenario, in 15 Boy was I wrong.

When I got there the voting line was wrapped around the building and along several athletic fields, probably 1/2 mile long.  Even with six lines for voting inside, I spent 1 hour and 40 minutes in line before I could cast a vote.    I had thought earlier about leaving and coming back.  Glad I did not. When I came out of the air-conditioned gym, I saw the line and gasped.  It had grown to nearly a mile long.  I estimate that the people at the end of the line will probably have to stand outside in the nearly 90 degree heat 2 1/2 hours to vote.

I did not see anyone with a Trump hat or shirt.  I did see one person with an NRA shirt with the Gadsen flag slogan "Do Not Tread on Me."  Pretty sure he was voting Republican.  Of the people waiting in line, probably 75% were black.

In Indiana, we do not register by political party.  We make our political preferences known when we show up at the primary and pick a Republican or Democratic ballot.  Political parties and (some) candidates have access to a voter's voting history, which includes which primary ballot he or she chooses if that voter participates in the primary.  When a voter is regularly casting  ballots in Democratic primaries, that person is considered a "hard" Democrat," someone who is generally not open to voting for any Republican candidates.  When you talk to a person and learn he or she usually votes Democratic in the general election, but does not participate in the Democratic Primary, that person is a "soft Democrat" and is someone who will occasionally scratch for a Republican the voter come to like.

I know the Pike Township electorate very well.  As a candidate and political activist,  I have literally knocked on thousands of doors in Pike.  One thing I learned about the middle-class African-American voters living in Pike is that while they vote Democratic in the general election, most do  not participate in the Democratic primary. 

That has changed during the last 10-15 years, which change accelerated during the Trump years.  Pike Township African-American voters are no longer skipping the Democratic Primary. They are participating bigly.  If voters vote in the primary, they are not going to miss the general election that follows.  They are going to show up and vote Democrat, up and down the ballot.

While Pike Township is just a small snippet of the electorate, what I saw today was not good news for the future of the Republican party in Marion County (Indianapolis).


Anonymous said...

Part of it is the Trump effect.
However after he leaves office the turnout surge from Dems will drop off. Especially if the economy is bad in 2022 & 2023 with Biden in the White House.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Anon 11:37, I totally agree. People do not understand how much Trump is driving Democratic turnout. The minute he is gone, D turnout will drop a lot and the Rs will start winning some of the more marginal districts they can't win with high D turnout.