Monday, April 11, 2011

GOP Congressional Map Satisfies Community Of Interest Test

It's not the congressional map Democrats would have drawn, but when your party controls the legislature, you get to decide how to draw the new boundaries following a census. While the Republicans on balance are the big winners under the new map, not all incumbent Republicans fared equally under the proposed maps. The Washington Street Politics blog has plugged in the vote the congressional candidates of each political party received in the 2010 election to give a clue about the political make-up of the proposed districts. It should be pointed out that 2010 was a very Republican year as elections go. The congressional map proposed by the Republicans can be viewed here. On balance, the proposed congressional districts are more compact and better reflect the community of interests than Indiana's current congressional map and should easily withstand any legal challenge if one is undertaken.

Todd Rokita is a loser because his Marion County precinct was thrown into the 7th District with Democrat Andre Carson. Rokita could easily run in the heavily Republican 4th District despite his residence being located outside of it, which he has already indicated he plans to do. Rokita's 4th District had its length shortened considerably by losing the southern end; however, the district is arguably tailor-made for Sen. Brandt Hershman, who challenged Rokita unsuccessfully in the 2010 primary election to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Steve Buyer. The district picks up new areas where Hershman is better known. Hershman would have to give up his state senate district to challenge Rokita. The 4th District gave 66% of its vote to the GOP in 2010, making it the most Republican of Indiana's nine reconfigured congressional districts.

Dan Burton is also a loser because his district loses a lot of friendly territory, picks up some less Republican areas, such as Kokomo and some additional areas of Pike, Washington and Lawrence Townships in Marion County, and on balance becomes a much more competitive district than it has been in the past. The good news for Burton is that his toughest challenger from the 2010 primary, Luke Messer, no longer resides in his district. The 2010 GOP vote in the proposed 5th District is 53.2% compared to 37.9% for the Democrat. That number is somewhat skewed because the Libertarian received an unusually high percentage, 8.9%, in 2010. The district picks up new areas of Pike Township in Marion and Zionsville in Boone County that are currently in Sen. Mike Delph's senate district, which could make the district attractive to him should Burton decide against seeking re-election.

Marlin Stutzman is a big winner in the the 3rd District. While his district is modified slightly, it remains a heavily-Republican district. He gives up the western areas of his district to the 2nd District and sees his district expanded to include more rural counties stretching southward to east-central Indiana. The 2010 GOP vote for the proposed 3rd District is 62.4%, which makes it the third most Republican congressional district in the state.

Todd Young's 9th District turns a shade more Republican as he gives up some territory along the Ohio River in southeastern Indiana near Cincinnati and the southwestern rural counties of his current district but picks up area to the north that reaches into the southern Indianapolis suburbs, including all of Johnson County and the southeastern half of Morgan County. The baseline GOP vote in the 9th District based on the 2010 election is 57.6%.

Larry Buschon's 8th District picks up some rural counties in the far south from the 9th District and the southernmost part of Rokita's 4th District while losing some areas in the far north. The new district voted 56% in favor of the GOP candidate in 2010.

Mike Pence is vacating his 6th District. The proposed district picks up the GOP suburban Cincinnati areas along the Ohio from the 9th District and picks up territory in Shelby and Hancock Counties from Burton's 5th District. The GOP vote in 2010 for this proposed district is 64.1%, making it the second most Republican district proposed by the GOP. This district could be attractive to Luke Messer, who narrowly lost to Burton in the 5th District primary in 2010.

On the Democratic side, Pete Visclosky is a winner as his district is made much more compact and remains overwhelmingly Democratic. His 1st District seat will now only encompass Lake, Porter and the eastern and northern-most portions of LaPorte County. Based on the 2010 vote, the district voted 60.4% in favor of the Democratic candidate.

Joe Donnelly is clearly the biggest loser among Indiana's three Democratic congressmen. He loses Kokomo in the South and some favorable areas in LaPorte and Porter Counties to the west while picking up new territory in Elkhart County and some Republican territory in Burton's current 5th District that should help his 2010 GOP opponent, Jackie Walorski, in a rematch should he decide to run for re-election rather than seek the Democratic nomination for governor. The proposed district favored the GOP candidate in 2010 by a 53.1% to 41.9% margin.

Andre Carson fared about as well as he could have expected to make out under GOP-drawn maps. His proposed 7th District remains entirely within Marion County as does his current district. He will be disappointed to lose some Democratic areas of Pike and Washington Townships, while picking up Republican precincts in Pike, Wayne, Decatur, Perry and Franklin Townships. His proposed district split almost evenly between the Republican and Democratic candidates in 2010, with the GOP candidate slightly getting more at 48% to 46.8%.

Here is my earlier analysis that showed how much each district would have to gain or lose in population to account for the 2010 census.

3 comments:

Wilson46201 said...

Adam Kirsh, Exec.Dir. of Marion Cnty Democrats just sent the following memo:

Based on an analysis of the Marion County Democratic Party database of election results, the new 7th District remains a district Congressman André Carson will be re-elected to for the foreseeable future. The two most recent elections demonstrate that the new 7th is actually more Democratic than Marion County as a whole.

2008 Election

In 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama ignited a Democratic base in Indianapolis on his way to being the first Democratic candidate for President to carry Indiana in 44 years. He took a 90,866 vote lead out of the proposed 7th or 66.3% of the vote. In Indianapolis, President Obama received 63.7% of the vote.

The performance difference between the county and the new 7th carries on at the county level, with an average county ticket performance in the new 7th being 64.3% in contrast to “just” 60.6% in Marion County as a whole.

In short, in 2008, the new 7th was more Democratic than the very-Democratic Marion County.

2010 Election

The 2010 Election was in stark contrast to that of 2008 at the national level, but Marion County Democrats had another great year. Congressman Ellsworth carried 53.0% of the vote in all of Marion County, but in the new 7th, carried 55.6%. The baseline performance countywide in 2010 was 53.65% (underperforming the new 7th’s 56.33%).

The new 7th was more Democratic than Marion County as a whole again in 2010, suggesting that it (like the current 7th) will continue to be more Democratic than the County as a whole in years to come.

Conclusion

While the Republicans in the legislature made an effort to hurt Congressman Carson’s reelection chances, it appears that the new 7th will be a district that will be proudly served by Congressman AndrĂ© Carson for years to come.

Advance Indiana said...

The map was drawn to protect, Andre, not defeat him. We didn't need to hear that from anyone with the Marion Co. Democratic Party. If the GOP wanted to get rid of him, the map would have split the county in two.

Wilson46201 said...

Au contraire! The map was drawn to protect the Republican districts surrounding the 7th from the contagion of Indianapolis Democratic voters. In technical gerrymandering terms it's called "packing".

That quickie analysis from Washington street Politics blog showing a 50/50 district split was flawed. Sadly, many young Republicans wannabes had their hopes raised -- this new analysis should dash them.