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?


Anonymous said...

It is difficult to use the 2007 vote tallies for predictions and comparisons. Thousands of Dems stayed home due to the disorganzied and uninspiring campaign of the Dem mayor candidate. Many of the close Dem districts normally would have not have been so close had there been a normal turnout. 1 or 2 of the GOP winners did so by very small amounts and would not win in a normal year. The at-larges will return Dem in a normal turnout year. That is why the republicans are willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to redistrict before the census. It is simply a blatant political move and hopefully will be challenged in court.

Jon E. Easter said...

I urge you to look at the results again. Only one of the district races that went to Republicans went by a close margin. That was in District 7. The other wins by Republicans were fairly large. Conversely, Democrats won fairly close races in four districts including Dane Mahern's district which has now been fairly razor thin for two straight elections now.

My point is that no matter what way the at-larges go; a redistricted map that switches those four close Democratic wins to Republican wins will make it difficult for Democrats. The ploy is probably to assure that the R's have control of the council when the seats are redistricted again based on the '10 Census numbers.

Anonymous said...

District 4 was a very close election also.

Jon E. Easter said...

As I mentioned in the post.

Christopher Jackson said...

You must also factor in the fact that the District 1 seat is currently held by Jose Evans, who is contemplating a run for the Democratic nomination for Mayor. If he jumps in this race, then chances are we will lose that seat, because he was the first Democrat ever elected to that seat, and as you have said, it was by a close margin.