INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Indiana Democrats don’t expect their election prospects to improve soon
after Republicans drew election maps that led to the GOP picking up two U.S.
congressional seats in 2012.
redistricting marked the first time in decades that Republicans controlled
the redistricting process, as they dominated the state House and Senate and
hold the governorship. In 1991 and 2001, Democrats held the Indiana House,
giving them a say in the Congressional maps.
once-sprawling districts and made them more compact, reducing the potential
for competitive U.S. House races. Those moves, plus Democratic Rep. Joe
Donnelly’s decision to run for U.S. Senate, resulted in Democrats losing
their 5-4 edge in the Indiana congressional delegation as Republicans
claimed seven of the state’s nine seats in 2012.
director of the Mike Downs Center for Politics at Indiana University-Purdue
University Fort Wayne, pointed to the movement of heavily Republican areas
such as Kosciusko County from the Republican-strong 3rd District to the
more-balanced 2nd District as key changes that helped GOP candidates.
“I think it is safe
to say that the redistricting benefited the Republicans in 2012,” he said.
“When districts are competitive, small shifts can make the difference.”
Under the old
Democrat-drawn maps, the 5th and 4th Districts made strange contortions to
encapsulate more Republican voters, while the 9th District was drawn in such
a way to capture conservative Democrats along the Ohio River and stretched
to Bloomington to capture a pocket of liberal Democrats.
The new maps
concentrate Democrats in northwestern Indiana’s 1st District, where Rep.
Pete Visclosky has served 15 terms, and in the heart of Indianapolis, where
7th District Rep. Andre Carson is in his third full term after succeeding
his grandmother, longtime Rep. Julia Carson, who died in 2007.
Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, has advocated for a commission to study the
redistricting process before the next maps are drawn in 2021. House
Republican leaders also crafted a similar measure that would have appointed
a committee to hold public hearings and craft a map with better input.
gained traction in the Republican-led Senate, frustrating Democrats.
“I just think as
long as the maps are drawn by the people who will run in those maps, it
seems like politics is going to endure,” Lanane said.
For now, Democrats’
best hope of winning back a seat lies in the 2nd District, which used to be
held by Donnelly.
In 2008, when
Democrat Barack Obama pulled out a surprising presidential victory in
Indiana, voters in the 2nd District chose him over Republican John McCain by
9.4 percentage points. But in 2012, Republican Mitt Romney beat Obama by 14
percentage points in the redrawn district, and Republican Jackie Walorski
won a narrow victory.
candidate Joe Bock, a Notre Dame professor and former Missouri state
lawmaker, has drawn support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign
Committee. But the makeup of the new district is still strongly Republican,
favoring incumbent Walorski in the 2014 election.