Thursday, October 15, 2009
Council Redistricting Presents Political Play
The City-County Council Republican majority wants to redistrict before the 2011 Elections...I'm sure most politically-connected folks have heard this by now. What I haven't heard much is the nuts and bolts of why. Why are the Republicans this desperate to go for redistricting when the census won't even be done? Other than some light analysis here and there, no one has really looked at the actual danger that Democrats might be in here, and that answer lies in the simple math of things.
Let's examine what has happened in the last two elections. In 2003, the Democrats gained a Council majority for the first time by a one seat margin, 15-14. The Democrats swept the at-large seats but found themselves in the minority in the individual district races, 14-11. In the midst of the "taxers" in 2007, the Republicans swept in to the majority to the count of a 16-13 margin. The Democrats held on to just one of the at-large seats and the Republicans took three of them. Ed Coleman ended up switching to the Libertarian Party to give the Republicans a 15-13-1 majority. So, the Republicans now are almost dead even in the districts with the Democrats...13-12...only a one seat margin.
It doesn't take a genius to see that Marion County is becoming a blue county. Even the dimmest bulb can see that light. The vote totals for the down ballot races have shown tremendous Democratic gains in the last 10 years. The Republicans can no longer count on winning any of the at-large seats.
When you go back to the 2007 election, there were a number of close council races won by Democrats. District 1, District 2, District 17 and District 19 were all very close races. A nip here...a tuck there...a pack here...a crack there...and suddenly the Republicans are in pretty good shape to maintain control of the council no matter what happens with the at-large seats. Remember, the courts drew these districts after Democrats complained about a pretty Republican map.
Assuming the Republicans hold their 13 district seats (only District 4 is fairly close), that would give them 17 seats if they could somehow push those four close district races into the Republican column. It's feasible, and it's possible. The Democrats could win all four council at-large seats and still find themselves down 17-12.
So, see what's at stake?