Monday, April 11, 2011

Indiana House Maps Create Opportunities For Newcomers And Fights For Some Incumbents

The proposed Republican legislative map for the House of Representatives promises an active 2012 election season. Surprisingly, there are 8 districts in which there is no incumbent member currently residing. Three districts will potentially pit 3 Republican incumbents against one another, while three districts pit fellow Democratic legislators against one another. In four districts, there is a Republican incumbent pitted against a Democratic incumbent. Cam Savage gives a good rundown of the races at Capitol & Washington blog, which shows the following potential match-ups:

Republican v. Republican

Jeff Espich v. Dan Leonard
Tom Knollman v. Jud McMillan
Rich McClain v. Dan Lehe

Democrat v. Democrat

Chet Dobis v. Vernon Smith
Jeb Bardon v. Vanessa Summers
Ed Delaney v. Greg Porter v. John Day

Republican v. Democrat

Tom Dermody (R) v. Nancy Dembowski (D)
Bruce Borders (R) v. Kreg Battles (D)
Ralph Foley (R) v. Matt Pierce (D)
Bob Cherry (R) v. Scott Reske (D)

Savage notes there is some talk Sen. Bev Gard may choose to retire, and Cherry may opt to run for her open Senate seat. That could set up a rematch between Reske and Republican Kyle Hupfer.

Democrats are already crying foul over the drawing of this map, but there was no way they weren't going to come out big losers simply by virtue of changing demographics. Brian Howey noted the 40 House seats held by Democrats gained a combined 4,681 people during the census compared to a gain of more than 398,000 for the 60 Republican districts. Thirty districts lost population during the census period, 21 of which were held by Democrats. It looks like even under the worst case scenario, the Republicans would lose no more than 5 seats, and they could well maintain their current 60-40 majority, even adding one or two to their numbers.

The Senate GOP-drawn map can be viewed here. I found it interesting that Sen. Brent Waltz' district 36 appears to be extended into the downtown area of Indianapolis, taking in my neighborhood. If someone knows where there are Marion County-only maps with greater detail, I would appreciate it. It's kind of hard to decipher exactly where the boundaries are because of the condensed size of the districts in Marion County. It's very odd that Bev Gard's Hancock County district has been drawn to extend into Marion County all the way to Center Township.


Cato said...

So the state is becoming significantly more Democrat, but the Democrats come out losers in a map redraw?

These maps should be drawn by faceless and honest algorithm, not by self-interested scum seeking only to entrench their power.

Cato said...

And with the districts being gerrymandered, the Dems are given moral authority to walk out and slam the entire mess to a halt, whenever they want.

It really is hollow to say that "when you get control, you can run it as you want," when the system is designed to ensure the other party can never achieve control.

The Dems are certainly no angels, either, but one of these parties needs to come forward, right now, and promise to work for the people, instead of party interest.

Mike Kole said...

If the Republicans were really drawing maps purely for political gain, there is no way whatsoever they would have permitted three Indiana House districts to have two Republican incumbents in them.

That together with having drawn the maps with so few counties broken up in the proposed districts, and being vastly more compact, it's going to be very tough argument for critics to make an 'its all politics' argument that stands up. Yes, there are subtle ways that the districts benefit Republicans, but it's hardly the sledgehammer over the head approach that Dems took 10 years ago.

Look at the shape of the current 4th District, for example, and compare it to the proposed- and then consider that they drew incumbent 4th District Congressman Todd Rokita out of the proposed 4th.

These maps could have been infinitely more devastating to the Democrats.

Advance Indiana said...

The Rs could have easily gerrymandered Carson out of existence if they had been so inclined. The Burton district as I note is not near as Republican as it has been. The House Democrats drew the districts in such a partisan way they were able to maintain majorities in elections where the clear majority of voters cast votes for Republican candidates. Even if you drew the maps without any partisan consideration, it should still favor the Republicans simply because of the state's demographics.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Cato, where do you get that the state is becoming more Democrat? Indiana is as Republican as it ever has been. The Obama election was clearly an aberration.

Marv said...

Will Waltz's proposed district include his actual residence?

Cato said...

No, Paul, 2010 was the aberration. 2012 will be better for the Dems, and it could be bleak for the GOP after that.

This state, like the country, is moving to the Democrats. Far more Republicans are dying off than being created. Existing Republicans are on the walk, in droves. To young people, being a Republican is unalluring and difficult to justify to one's peer group. Drive around the new heart of Indy: Broad Ripple to Noblesville to Geist to Zionsville, and you'll see core Democratic constituencies: educated, tolerant, aesthetic-minded, socially aware people moving in and dramatically changing Indy, even though these populations may spill across county lines and districts, limiting the power of their voting bloc.

Now, you may tell me that 'Republican' is just a label and has no intrinsic meaning. Jim Brainerd would be a sterling exhibit in such an argument. If you said such a thing, Republicans could well have a bright future in a Kleenex vs. Puffs sort of fight where one is really just as good as the other. Most Republicans, however, do assert that they stand for certain things, and these things are increasingly distasteful to the country.

And do remember that the Southern social conservatives have only been Republicans since the mid-80's to early 90's. If the Republicans didn't change their platform to attract the Southerners, things would be quite different, already. I don't see another potent group for the Republicans to attract with the ease that they were able to woo Southern conservatives. Texas is on the cusp of going blue. Over half its public schoolchildren are Hispanic.

Give this country 10-15 years, and Republicans will be quite challenged.

In order to have a voice and make meaningful change, it might already be time for polite and mannered Conservatives to join the Democrats and hope to effect change from within.

I no longer see Republicans as the lesser of two evils.

Bradley said...

Re: Brent Waltz (my current senator) and his new district possibly being in your neck of the woods. I would love to see an up-close map of where his line will be (primarily to see if I remain in his district or get placed in Greg Walker's district (which would scare me greatly). I did some quick checking on Senator Waltz's address because although the map is hard to decipher, there is no doubting Waltz's old address would be well out of his new district.

It appears Waltz recently purchased a 4-bedroom/3-bathroom, $300,000+ condo south of Greenwood along State Road 135 and Demaree Road (which is between Olive Branch Road, which his parents live off of not far away and he was accused of living at in 2008, and Stones Crossing Road). It looks like that condo is (barely) in his district. His district's western and eastern borders have been moved inward quite considerably it now appears. So if he was barely in the district last time, he will really barely be in the district this time (and I'm not sure if his parent's house would be in his district either, which was where many people believed he lived, including his primary opponent, in 2008). Should be interesting to see.

One other bit -- the transaction for the condo has an amount of $0.00. I have little knowledge of real estate, but that seemed odd. I looked at my house transaction and it showed the full price correctly. That may not mean a thing because of my lack of knowledge of real estate, though. The previous owner is listed as "La Gotte Sondra Lee Trustee of The". The name Sandra L. La Gotte appears to be linked with Milano Inn in Indianapolis.

Concerned Taxpayer said...

"The Obama election was clearly an aberration."
Actually, Paul, I think it's an "OBAMA-nation."

Paul K. Ogden said...

Cato, I agree 2010 was an aberration too. But in 2008, Republicans held onto all the statewide offices despite the D's winning the states. There hasn't been any movement on the statewide baseline numbers. The D's are not really coming close to winning statewide office. They came reasonably close in 2008, only because of a huge D turnout for Obama.

Again, the baseline numbers don't show a D statewide trend.

Regarding your generation argument, the fact is older voters have historically favored Democrats, not Republicans. Remember Social Security? It's only recently evened out. Outside of an issue like same sex marriage, the youthful issues don't favor Democrats more than Repulicans.

Let's take abortion for example. Recently polls show that more people than ever call themselves pro-life and younger people are in that group trending more pro-life.
Not all social issues are created the same.

More voters are pro-life than ever before, especially younger voters.