I, along with several others of you on DKE live in the 9th District of Indiana, which was won by Todd Young in 2010. However, redistricting made several changes to the old 9th District. The question is whether Democrats, and specifically this year, Shelli Yoder can pick this seat up for the Democrats. This diary will explore how a Democrat can possibly win the 9th District in a county by county analysis. This is not to say that a Democrat will win the 9th district. Much of the story will be in Clark, Floyd, Harrison and Jackson counties, where Shelli Yoder must take 53-54% of the vote to offset the new Republican areas.
First is the redistricting of the 9th District where it changed its shape from a district that took in all but three of the Ohio River counties to one that now goes to the border of the City of Indianapolis. Todd Young got more than he could have desired in redistricting. He got all of Johnson County and about 65% of Morgan County, which Rep. Larry Buschon in the 8th district would have liked. He also gained heavily Republican Lawrence County and the western third of Monroe County, which was a traditional Republican area, but has been moving Democratic. To the west, he lost Perry, Spencer, and Dubois Counties. Perry is strongly Democratic, Spencer leaning Democratic, and Dubois has been Democratic, but trending away from them. To the east, he lost Jefferson, Jennings, Ripley, Switzerland, Ohio, the portion of the district in Bartholomew and Dearborn, and half of Scott County. Dearborn and Ripley were strongly Republican. Jefferson, Jennings, and Switzerland leaned Democratic. The Scott County portion was heavily Democratic. The Bartholomew County portion and Ohio County leaned slightly to the Republican side.
2010 was as bad for Democrats in this area as about any place in the country. Unknown and in some cases, totally unqualified Republicans won many local races in counties were most local offices had been held by Democrats. In a few counties, the only Democrats that won were ones that were unopposed. Democrats lost three State House (Robertson, Blanton, and the Oxley open seat) and a State Senate seat (the Sipes open seat) in this area. Baron Hill easily was defeated and carried only three counties- Perry, Scott, and Monroe. Perry and half of Scott County are now in other districts.
I have grouped these counties in six groups- (1) The Blood Red Indy Suburbs; (2) The Traditionally Republican Counties; (3) The Leftover Counties; (4) The sunny side of Louisville: Clark-Floyd Counties; (5) The Still Strongly Democratic Rural Counties; and (6) The Bloomington Area.
The Blood Red Indy Suburbs- Johnson and Morgan (part) Counties
When I try to explain how Republican these counties are, many Democrats where I live to not compute exactly how Republican they are. I was telling this to one county chair, who proceeded to tell me that we could possibly persuade them to come over to the Democratic side. Another explained that Democrats have never ran campaigns there. The cold fact is that neither of these counties have voted Democratic for President since 1936. There are no county Democratic officials in either county. Democrats are not well organized in either county. The only thing here is trying to keep the margin of loss down, and not to a minimum, but trying to make it 25 rather than 50. Only the Evan Bayh landslides even budged these counties. If Shelli Yoder gets the 3% extra in each of these two counties (meaning getting 39% in Johnson and 38% in Morgan), it makes victory in the 9th much easier.
2010 Auditor- Berry (R) 27,698; Locke (D) 7,962
2008 President- McCain (R) 36,487; Obama (D) 21,553
2008 President-Dem Primary- Clinton 11,537; Obama 9,189
2008 Governor- Daniels (R) 44,743; Long Thompson (D) 11,813
2006 Secretary of State- Rokita (R) 20,559; Pearson (D) 9,044
2004 President- Bush (R) 37,765; Kerry (D) 13,109
2004 Governor- Daniels (R) 34,269; Kernan (D) 16,253
County Offices: Assessor-R; Auditor-R; Clerk-R, Recorder-R, Surveyor-R, Treasurer-R; County Commissioners 3R-0D; County Council 7R-0D; Judges- 6R-0D; Prosecutor-R; Sheriff-R
State Legislators- All R
If you look at Marion County, you will find that the growth of Democratic numbers seems to be pushing out Republicans especially to the north, but also to the west and east, but not the south. The three southern townships of Marion County are all fairly Republican (Perry less so than Decatur and Franklin). If you start with the premise that the suburban voters are similar to the areas that they are closer to, this is not a good sign for Johnson County. This is one of the rapidly growing counties in Indiana. Most of the county's population is easily linked to Indianapolis by I-65. The major two cities here are Greenwood and Franklin. Both areas are strongly Republican. Democrats hope that there might be a few pockets of strength in Greenwood, where they point out that there is a small Hispanic community (about 5%), but that seems to be grasping at straws. A key for Shelli Yoder is also that she needs to try to pick off some Republican women here.
The bottom line is that Shelli Yoder will lose here, and by a wide margin, but it can't be too wide. The best case scenario for her in Johnson County is to carry 39% of the two party vote. For her to have a chance district-wide, she needs to get at least 36% of the two party vote share or higher.
Morgan County (part)
2010 Auditor- Berry (R) 12,842; Locke (D) 3,680
2008 President- McCain (R) 18,129; Obama (D) 10,330
2008 President-Dem Primary- Clinton 6,522; Obama 3,761
2008 Governor- Daniels (R) 19,818; Long Thompson (D) 7,570
2006 Secretary of State- Rokita (R) 10,019; Pearson (D) 5,059
2004 President- Bush (R) 19,157; Kerry (D) 6,650
2004 Governor- Daniels (R) 16,716; Kernan (D) 8,740
County Offices: Assessor-R; Auditor-R; Clerk-R, Recorder-R, Surveyor-R; Treasurer-R; County Commissioners 3R-0D; County Council 7R-0D; Judges- 4R-0D; Prosecutor-R; Sheriff-R
State Legislators- All R (The new HD-60 is a Morgan-Monroe seat. Peggy Welch is running here, but does not currently represent any of Morgan County)
About 65% of Morgan County is in the 9th. Mooresville and the western part of the county are in the 4th district. There is not much difference in the parts of it, though this part is about a point more Republican than the 4th district portion. The 9th district portions is about one point more Republican than the 4th District portion. Basically this district is primarily made up of the heavily Republican Martinsville area and the rapidly growing northeastern corner of the county. Democrats locally seem to be more organized than usual. Some are excited that with Peggy Welch running in her redrawn seat that they actually have something to fight for. The Democratic J-J Dinner had over 200 attendees. It would have helped Democrats even further here had they chosen Martinsville teacher Justin Oakley as there nominee for State School Supt. than Glenda Ritz. Oakley would have helped organize the party here. Another thing important to point out about the southern part of Morgan County and particularly the Martinsville area, is the long history of racism here. Many years ago (1968), there was a black lady selling encyclopedias that was murdered. The killer was not arrested until years later and died before trial. After racist remarks were made by Martinsville residents at a home basketball game against a Bloomington High School, they were banned from having home games for a while. Black students in Bloomington taking the highway to Indianapolis were even warned not to stop there for food or gas. The point of this is that the venom against President Obama here may trickle down even further. And this house is in Martinsville.
The bottom line here is like Johnson County- Shelli Yoder will lose here big. Given that Morgan County is a smaller area, she can afford to do a little worse, but not much. Her best case scenario is to win about 38% of the two party vote here, but to have a chance, she needs to be able to win about 35% of the two party vote.
The Traditionally Republican Counties- Lawrence and Orange
Lawrence and Orange Counties get their own section because they were voting Republican when the rest of Southern Indiana was a Democratic stronghold (along with Martin and Daviess Counties). The difference is that these counties are more open to voting Democratic than Johnson County is.
2010 Auditor- Berry (R) 7,241; Locke (D) 2,821
2008 President- McCain (R) 11,018; Obama (D) 7,208
2008 President-Dem Primary- Clinton 4,637; Obama 2,407
2008 Governor- Daniels (R) 10,504; Long Thompson (D) 7,281
2006 Secretary of State- Rokita (R) 6,924; Pearson (D) 4,990
2004 President- Bush (R) 12,207; Kerry (D) 5,346
2004 Governor- Daniels (R) 11,480; Kernan (D) 5,904
County Offices: Assessor-R; Auditor-R; Clerk-R, Recorder-R, Surveyor-R, Treasurer-R; County Commissioners 3R-0D; County Council 7R-0D; Judges- 2R-1D; Prosecutor-R; Sheriff-R
State Legislators- All R
While most people focused on the addition of the heavily Republican suburbs of Indianapolis, they missed the addition of extremely Republican Lawrence County. When Frank O'Bannon won his first win as Governor in 1996, Lawrence County was the lone county running through or south of U.S. Highway 50 to vote for Indianapolis Mayor Steve Goldsmith. There is only one countywide Democratic official, a Superior Court Judge. Democrats hold no power in the county seat Bedford. Democrats do run competitive races in Mitchell, home to astronaut Gus Grissom. They did lose the mayoral race in 2011. This is also the political base of Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman, who was elected County Recorder at age 27 and has held political office . Always strange that Mitch talks about career politicians and named Skillman, who had held political office continuously for the last 32 years. This county is also home to Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Jonathon George, the very hyped candidate for Congress that ended up coming up in third place in the primary in the 9th District. This is the only county he won and the only county not won by Shelli Yoder in the primary.
The good thing is that the Democratic base number is much better than Johnson or Morgan. The bad news is that Shelli Yoder will not win here. She needs to win at least 41% here to have a chance to win.
2010 Auditor- Berry (R) 3,370; Locke (D) 1,971
2008 President- McCain (R) 4,536; Obama (D) 3,390
2008 President-Dem Primary- Clinton 2,190; Obama 999
2008 Governor- Daniels (R) 4,046; Long Thompson (D) 3,760
2006 Secretary of State- Rokita (R) 3,157; Pearson (D) 2,527
2004 President- Bush (R) 5,693; Kerry (D) 2,885
2004 Governor- Daniels (R) 4,818; Kernan (D) 3,621
9th District Results
2002- Sodrel (R) 3,231; Hill (D) 2,537
2004- Sodrel (R) 4,991; Hill (D) 3,437
2006- Sodrel (R) 3,129; Hill (D) 2,469
2008- Hill (D) 4,279; Sodrel (R) 3,426
2010- Young (R) 3,414; Hill (D) 2,190
Todd Young may have a built in advantage in Orange County in that his wife is from here. She also is Dan Quayle's niece. Jennifer Tucker Young's aunt is Marilyn Tucker Quayle. The Tucker Family is also very influential and respected in Orange County. The Democrats have a powerful family here as well- the Blantons. Larry Blanton is a three term Judge and the most popular official in Orange County. His wife, Sandy Blanton was the State Representative here three years until the 2010 landslide, when she still carried Orange County. She is running again in the redrawn 73rd district, which split Orange County to weaken her or former St. Rep. Jerry Denbo from making a comeback. As far as parts of the county that tend to vote strongly Republican- the main area is the Orleans area and the northern part of the county. There are some pockets of Democrats in the sparsely population southern part of the county and in the town of Paoli, while the areas just outside the town limits vote strongly Republican. The more competitive part of the county is around the French Lick-West Baden Springs area.
The bottom line with Orange County is that it is a Republican County, but unlike some others, it is willing to consider voting for select Democrats. Also, Democrats have a higher floor than they do in a place like Johnson County. Shelli Yoder is highly unlikely to win Orange County. However, the question is whether she can keep her loss down. For her to have a chance, she needs to carry at least 43% in the two party share of the vote.
The Leftover Counties: Brown, Harrison, Jackson, and Washington Counties
I list these counties as leftovers because they don't so easily fit into the other categories. I thought about putting Brown County with Bloomington and Harrison with Floyd-Clark, but they seem to deserve their own section. These counties are all traditionally Democratic counties, but have seen Republicans make varying numbers of gains in each county. The 2010 election was a varying degree of disaster for Democrats in each county, but Democrats managed to win a few more races in Brown County than the others. These counties are important in this district. They are full of persuadable voters. Shelli Yoder could win victories here, or Todd Young could again rack up his 2010 margins. These will be counties that will tell early on whether this race is competitive or Todd Young is going back to Congress.
2010 Auditor- Berry (R) 3,391; Locke (D) 2,309
2008 President- McCain (R) 4,060; Obama (D) 3,854
2008 President-Dem Primary- Clinton 2,562; Obama 2,557
2008 Governor- Daniels (R) 4,967; Long Thompson (D) 2,880
2006 Secretary of State- Rokita (R) 2,976; Pearson (D) 2,656
2004 President- Bush (R) 4,512; Kerry (D) 2,730
2004 Governor- Daniels (R) 4,010; Kernan (D) 3,118
9th District Results
2002- Sodrel (R) 2,708; Hill (D) 2,542
2004- Sodrel (R) 3,960; Hill (D) 3,081
2006- Hill (D) 2,845; Sodrel (R) 2,818
2008- Hill (D) 4,166; Sodrel (R) 3,381
2010- Young (R) 3,365; Hill (D) 2,519
County Offices: Assessor-R; Auditor-R; Clerk-D, Recorder-D; Surveyor-D, Treasurer-R; County Commissioners 2D-1R; County Council 5R-2D; Judges- 1D, 0R; Prosecutor-D; Sheriff-D
State Legislators- Currently split between Peggy Welch (D) and Eric Koch (R) in House; Vi Simpson (D) in State Senate
For most people, Brown County and its county seat of Nashville are a tourist destination. After all, there is a large state forest, campgrounds, and a downtown with a lot of artists and shops. It is nestled about halfway between Bloomington and Columbus. It is a relatively short drive from the Indianapolis and Louisville areas. When his home in Columbus was drawn out of the 9th District in 1982, Lee Hamilton moved his residence here. This county has many influences. In some ways it can be said to be with the traditionally Democratic counties in southern Indiana. On the other hand, it is in the orbit of the Indianapolis media market. At the federal level, it did join with other Southern Indiana counties to vote for Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton, but those elections were close in Brown County. Then it voted big for George W. Bush in both elections, above that of the state as a whole. President Obama did much better in 2008, only losing by 206 votes. At the local level, the elections tend to be competitive. Democrats did faced a stiff breeze at their faces in 2010, not a tsunami like other counties in the 9th District. Looking at the county, Democratic strength tends to be in the areas with the most connection to Bloomington, while Republican strength goes to the areas closer to Johnson County and Columbus. This was never a particularly strong area for Baron Hill. He always underperformed here. Shelli Yoder will need to use her Bloomington ties to do much better here. She needs to win at least 55% of the two party vote to come out ahead.
2010 Auditor- Berry (R) 7,851; Locke (D) 5,573
2008 President- McCain (R) 10,551; Obama (D) 7,288
2008 President-Dem Primary- Clinton 6,837; Obama 2,685
2008 Governor- Daniels (R) 10,277; Long Thompson (D) 7,447
2006 Secretary of State- Pearson (D) 6,695; Rokita (R) 5,795
2004 President- Bush (R) 11,015; Kerry (D) 6,171
2004 Governor- Daniels (R) 9,242; Kernan (D) 7,885
9th District Results
2002- Hill (D) 6,151; Sodrel (R) 5,870
2004- Sodrel (R) 8,979; Hill (D) 8,011
2006- Sodrel (R) 6,577; Hill (D) 6,404
2008- Hill (D) 10,166; Sodrel (R) 7,287
2010- Young (R) 8,087; Hill (D) 5,866
County Offices: Assessor-D; Auditor-R; Clerk-R, Recorder-R; Surveyor-R, Treasurer-D; County Commissioners 2D-1D; County Council 4R-3D; Judges- 1D, 1R; Prosecutor-R; Sheriff-R
State Legislators- House- Rhonda Rhoads (R) and Steve Davisson (R); Senate- Richard Young (D)
Democrats were absolutely clobbered in Harrison County in 2010. A lot of this was thanks to corrupt outgoing Sheriff Mike Deatrick (D), who had been indicted on several crimes from his time as Sheriff. Add that in with the general GOP wave, and it spelled out disaster. Democrats came out with three wins in the county- the Assessor, who was unopposed, the Treasurer's race, where the Democrat who ran unopposed in 2006 won only 51% to an opponent who said at a candidate forum that she "had no experience, but you have to start somewhere", and a highly respected County Councilman who saw his margin drop from over 1200 votes to only 71 votes, in Harrison Township, which is the more Democratic part of the county. Among the Democrats that lost were a retired four term Prosecutor who was a law partner of the late Gov. Frank O'Bannon, who lost a race for Judge. An incumbent four term Commissioner lost in a race that no one saw coming. A County Councilwoman in the northern part of the county lost to a person that race for County Commissioner two years before and lost every precinct in the county. And the incumbent two-term Prosecutor lost to a challenger who had been a lawyer for a little over a year. Needless to say, Democrats went from controlling 15 county offices down to only 8. It was a major blow, considering Democrats had nearly swept the ticket in 2006 (one longtime GOP County Councilman with a non-credible challenger in the Republican leaning southern part of the county held on).
The main question is for Democrats in Harrison County is whether 2012 repeats 2010 or the county swings back to the Democrats. Except for State Rep. Rhonda Rhoads, none of the 2010 are up this year. They only races will be those that ran in 2008, when Democrats won more races than they lost. After being deeply depressed after 2010, Democrats in the county appear cautiously optimistic, but still worried about the possibility that straight GOP tickets could sink them. Most people seem to believe Democrats will regain the Clerk's race, but lose one of their County Commissioner seats, where the incumbent Democrat lost the primary. Democrats are also optimistic about winning the Recorder's race, while the County Council seems likely to stay 4-3 Republican, where two Democrats and one Republican are likely to win this year. However, some Democrats locally seem to be salivating at the chance to win back control of the County Council and Prosecutor's Office in 2014, where the incumbents there appear particularly vulnerable.
There is where Harrison County sits- is it now in the pretty safe Republican column, or will it swing back to Democrats, or will things be competitive? Baron Hill always ran slightly behind his district margin here. When he came back in 2006, he failed to carry Harrison County. Then he easily won it in 2008, but was defeated by a wide margin in 2010. For Shelli Yoder to win district wide, she likely needs to win by a narrow margin here to the tune of about 53%
2010 Auditor- Berry (R) 7,692; Locke (D) 4,718
2008 President- McCain (R) 9,726; Obama (D) 7,354
2008 President-Dem Primary- Clinton 5,906; Obama 2,911
2008 Governor- Daniels (R) 9,729; Long Thompson (D) 7,218
2006 Secretary of State- Pearson (D) 6,885; Rokita (R) 5,951
2004 President- Bush (R) 11,083; Kerry (D) 5,092
2004 Governor- Daniels (R) 9,587; Kernan (D) 6,527
9th District Results
2002- Hill (D) 6,544; Sodrel (R) 4,588
2004- Hill (D) 8,074; Sodrel (R) 7,981
2006- Hill (D) 6,952; Sodrel (R) 5,825
2008- Hill (D) 10,533; Young (R) 5,904
2010- Young (R) 7,617; Hill (D) 4,980
County Offices: Assessor-D; Auditor-R; Clerk-R, Recorder-R; Surveyor-D, Treasurer-D; County Commissioners 2R-1D; County Council 5R-2D; Judges- 2R, 1D; Prosecutor-R; Sheriff-R
State Legislators- House- Terry Goodin (D) and Steve Davisson (R); Senate- Jim Smith (R) and Brent Steele (R)
Jackson County is home to two important figures: John Mellancamp and former Rep. Baron Hill. The largest city here, Seymour is home to both of them. It is the "small town" that Mellancamp sings about. It is also the town that Baron Hill made a name for himself in high school basketball, which is practically religion in Indiana. It is where he made his start in politics by winning a State House seat in 1982. It was never as strongly Democratic as some of the counties further to the south, but it was a Democratic leaning county for a long while. Those days are gone. The Democratic organization there has declined over the years as the city of Seymour has grown because of its great location on I-65 half way between Louisville and Indianapolis. It is also the home of a large Wal-Mart distribution center, which has become the largest employer as the factory jobs have disappeared. Then in 2007, the Democrats lost their longtime hold on the Mayor's Office in Seymour. Many of the precincts in Jackson County seem to swing in both directions. The exception are some of the precincts outside of the downtown of Seymour, which vote strongly Republican. Democrats do well in some of the downtown Seymour precincts, but their stronghold is the Town of Crothersville and Vernon Township, which was removed from Sen. Jim Smith (R-Charlestown)'s district that he won his 2010 upset and given to the strongly Republican district of Sen. Johnny Nugent (R-Lawrenceburg).
Democrats had a tough 2002 and seemed to have bottomed out in 2004 here at the county level. But in 2006 and 2008, Democrats began to make inroads back into power, winning control of the County Council in 2008. 2010 was not kind to Democrats. Baron Hill lost his home county by more than 3,000 votes. Democrats lost the Sheriff's election, and only won an unopposed Assessor's race and one of the four County Council seats, which dropped them to a 5-2 minority on the Council. There seem to be a lot persuadable voters in this county.
Shelli Yoder needs to win here, about the same as she does in Harrison County. Baron Hill saw his margins fluctuate wildly in his home county. Shelli Yoder needs to win about 53% of the two party vote here to have a shot.
2010 Auditor- Berry (R) 4,797; Locke (D) 2,849
2008 President- McCain (R) 6,519; Obama (D) 4,562
2008 President-Dem Primary- Clinton 4,019; Obama 1,330
2008 Governor- Daniels (R) 6,141; Long Thompson (D) 4,894
2006 Secretary of State- Pearson (D) 4,096; Rokita (R) 4,008
2004 President- Bush (R) 6,915; Kerry (D) 3,879
2004 Governor- Daniels (R) 6,419; Kernan (D) 4,297
9th District Results
2002- Hill (D) 4,046; Sodrel (R) 3,965
2004- Sodrel (R) 5,919; Hill (D) 4,791
2006- Sodrel (R) 4,418; Hill (D) 4,102
2008- Hill (D) 6,392; Sodrel (R) 4,361
2010- Young (R) 4,892; Hill (D) 3,035
County Offices: Assessor-R; Auditor-R; Clerk-D, Recorder-R; Surveyor-R, Treasurer-R; County Commissioners 3R-0D; County Council 6R-1D; Judges- 2R, 0D; Prosecutor-R; Sheriff-D
State Legislators- All R
One thing about Washington County is that it is a but isolated compared to other counties. It has no interstate or four lane road going through it. It has not experienced the population growth of the counties to its south. It is also a relatively poor county, where local politics have drifted to the GOP. Democrats took a beating here in 2010. Due to retirements, they lost their one County Commissioner and two County Council members. And a popular Circuit Court Judge that was in office since 1980 was easily defeated. The only Democrat elected in 2010 was the popular Sheriff, who was unopposed for his fourth term. Had he been opposed, he may have lost as well. The GOP wave hit Washington County hard, where the GOP has out organized Democrats over the last five years. Democrats have to worry that with the retirement of their lone County Council, that they will have no members left on that body.
The bad thing for Democrats is that they still have their areas of strength such as in the city of Salem, where there is a Democratic Mayor. They also do well in the Fredericksburg, Campbellsville, and Little York areas. Republicans tend to dominate the unincorporated areas around Salem and the southeast part of the county around the town of New Pekin. Many of the seats that Democrats have let Republicans win they have let go unopposed. Organization is a big problem for Democrats here. This is not to say Democrats should dominate here. Baron Hill underperformed his district wide numbers here. It is closer to reality to say that Washington County now Leans Republican rather than it is Solid Republican.
One thing Shelli Yoder has going for her here is that she has the backing of popular four term Sheriff Claude Combs, who endorsed her in the primary. That is not to say she is the favorite here though. But these counties illustrate the problem for Shelli Yoder in these four counties- she needs to run nearly even or win here. This will not be easy. For Shelli Yoder to have a chance to win, she needs to win at least 50% of the two party vote here.
The Sunny Side of Louisville: Clark and Floyd Counties
Clark and Floyd Counties have several things in common: they have experienced a lot of growth in the last 25 years; they have core Democratic areas; they have wealthy GOP precincts; Democrats have lost power recently; and they both have dysfunctional county party organizations. They are also the third and fourth largest counties in the district. They also could be the key to this seat.
2010 Auditor- Berry (R) 16,940; Locke (D) 13,337
2008 President- McCain (R) 25,326; Obama (D) 21,953
2008 President-Dem Primary- Clinton 18,094; Obama 8,710
2008 Governor- Daniels (R) 28,622; Long Thompson (D) 17,821
2006 Secretary of State- Pearson (D) 16,736; Rokita (R) 13,736
2004 President- Bush (R) 24,495; Kerry (D) 17,648
2004 Governor- Kernan (D) 20,964; Daniels (R) 20,471
9th District Results
2002- Hill (D) 12,783; Sodrel (R) 11,800
2004- Hill (D) 21,109; Sodrel (R) 20,494
2006- Hill (D) 16,411; Sodrel (R) 15,891
2008- Hill (D) 26,913; Sodrel (R) 19,054
2010- Young (R) 17,573; Hill (D) 13,926
County Offices: Assessor-D; Auditor-R; Clerk-D, Recorder-D; Surveyor-D, Treasurer-R; County Commissioners 3D-0R; County Council 4D-3R; Judges- 4D, 0R; Prosecutor-D; Sheriff-D
State Legislators- House- Steve Stemler (D), Terry Goodin (D), Rhonda Rhoads (R) and Steve Davisson (R); Senate- Ron Grooms (R), Jim Smith (R)
Clark County was once the Gibraltar of the Democratic Party in Indiana, to the point that in the 90s, state Republicans would encourage local Republicans to intentionally not run any county candidates to try to depress turnout so they would deprive Democrats of a large margin of victory in state races. Times have changed, a lot here. Clark County was one of the fastest growing counties in the last decade in Indiana, growing at 14.3%, and adding nearly 15,000 new residents. It seems that a great deal of them are Republicans. The first sign of some slippage for the Clark County Democrats was in 2004, when Republicans won two of the three at-large County Council seats, but the rest of the Democrats managed to hang on, despite a large win by George W. Bush. Democrats then roared back, winning nearly every race in 2006 and 2008. But that covered up a lot of the infighting within the party.
2010 and 2011 were horrible for Democrats. In 2010, they went from a 6-1 majority on the County Council to a 4-3 majority. They lost races for Auditor and Treasurer, offices which Democrats had held for as long as anyone could remember. Clark County also helped to bounce out St. Sen. Jim Lewis (D-Charlestown), St. Rep. Paul Robertson (D-Depauw), and give Republicans open seat victories in the seats of St. Sen. Connie Sipes (D-New Albany) and St. Rep. Dennie Oxley (D-English). Victorious St. Rep. Terry Goodin (D-Austin) also failed to carry Clark County. Baron Hill lost Clark County by nearly 4,000 votes. Democrats lost more ground in 2011, losing the Mayor's office in Jeffersonville for the first time in more than 30 years (to a candidate that switched parties to run), as well as control of the City Council there. They lost two seats on the Clarksville Town Council. Democrats also failed to win back the mayor's office in Charlestown and lost a council seat. They managed to stay even in Sellersburg. The lone bright spot was Democrats continued to dominate Utica. After the 2011 results, the Clark County Chair removed 5 precinct committee members that had backed Republicans, and just about a month ago, the Chairman resigned in favor of newer and younger leadership under Bob Bottorff. One of the keys to many of the 2011 Democratic losses were Democrats jumping ship to back certain Republicans. There was also a charge by Republicans late in the campaign challenging absentee ballots. Right now the immediate challenge that Democrats are facing is not to continue their downward slide. The leading Republican candidate for the County Council is also founder of the Clark County Tea Party, which is very active in politics there. If any of the three Republicans win a County Council seat, they will take control of the body. Democrats also have to defend their control of the County Commissioners Board.
The real question is whether Democrats make a comeback in Clark County or does the trend towards Republican continue. Growth in Clark County seems to be in areas where Republicans dominate such as the Covered Bridge Golf Community, Silver Creek Township, and Union Township, where there are wealthy Republican subdivisions. Democrats can feel good that the new Republican Mayor of Jeffersonville is now feuding with the Republican controlled City Council. Democrats need to regain their foothold in Jeffersonville and reestablish their dominance of Clarksville, where they lost a County Council seat in 2010 and two Town Council seats in 2011. The problem for Democrats is that since they swept the local ticket in 2008, they have to defend all local offices this year, which is a tall order for the new Chairman.
If Shelli Yoder is to win the 9th District, she will need to win Clark County by a descent margin. In the two party vote, she is going to probably need to get no lower than 54.5%. This is a tall order given the slide to the right in Clark County and the money that Todd Young will have to run ads across the river.
2010 Auditor- Berry (R) 14,008; Locke (D) 10,160
2008 President- McCain (R) 19,957; Obama (D) 16,263
2008 President-Dem Primary- Clinton 12,350; Obama 6,456
2008 Governor- Daniels (R) 22,471; Long Thompson (D) 13,020
2006 Secretary of State- Pearson (D) 12,229; Rokita (R) 11,363
2004 President- Bush (R) 19,877; Kerry (D) 13,857
2004 Governor- Daniels (R) 16,869; Kernan (D) 16,503
9th District Results
2002- Sodrel (R) 11,170; Hill (D) 11,132
2004- Sodrel (R) 16,812; Hill (D) 16,214
2006- Sodrel (R) 12,572; Hill (D) 11,895
2008- Hill (D) 19,987; Sodrel (R) 15,030
2010- Young (R) 14,437; Hill (D) 10,513
County Offices: Assessor-D; Auditor-R; Clerk-D, Recorder-R; Surveyor-D, Treasurer-R; County Commissioners 2R-1D; County Council 4D-3R; Judges- 4D, 0R; Prosecutor-R; Sheriff-D
State Legislators- House- Rhonda Rhoads (R) and Ed Clere (R); Senate- Ron Grooms (R)
I once asked an attorney in New Albany about what was wrong with the Democratic Party in Floyd County. His response summed up the problems for Democrats in Floyd County when he simply asked, "Which one?". Democrats here have some of the same problems that Democrats do in Clark County. There has been a destructive feud within the Democratic Party in Floyd County going back almost 12 years. It seemed to have reached its zenith with the bitterly contested Democratic primary for Prosecuting Attorney in 2002, where the winner of the primary was so bloodied, and faced a divided party that he narrowly lost the office in 2002. The good thing for Democrats is that the feud has not gotten any worse since 2002, but in county politics it has not gotten any better.
Basically, when talking about Floyd County, people separate things into "the city" and "the county", where the city is New Albany, and the county is everything not in New Albany. Many years ago, Republican strength was in the city and Democratic strength in the county. Now it seems to be the exact opposite. The problem for the Democrats is that easy access to the once fairly rural Georgetown, Greenville, and Lafayette Townships have filled up with Republicans as I-64 and I-265 have made for easy access to downtown Louisville (except when the Sherman Minton Bridge was closed, and going down the Knobs at morning rush hour). When Democrats made major gains throughout Southern Indiana in 2006 and 2008, it seemed that Democrats in Floyd County did not get the memo. Democrats were surprised when Randy Stumbler, the County Chairman at the time, lost an open County Commissioner seat, and Democrats lost a seat on the County Council in Georgetown and Greenville Townships. Much of this was due to several backstabbing Democrats, who will remain nameless, but whose initials are L.M.) Democrats also nominated a weak candidate who could not regain the Prosecuting Attorney's Office. However, the party did manage to win back the Sheriff's Office. 2008 was also disappointing for Democrats. They lost the Treasurer's Office and failed to win back a County Commissioner seat won by the Republicans in 2004 by a candidate who won largely because his last name was Bush. Democrats did manage to increase their advantage on the County Council, but the most devastating loss was the narrow defeat of longtime St. Rep. Bill Cochran (D-New Albany) after a dirty campaign by Ed Clere and the state GOP.
After this loss Democrats threw out their chair and hoped for a better 2010. However, something odd seemed to happen in 2010, and that was the unusually large number of unopposed candidates. Candidates for Prosecuting Attorney, Sheriff, Clerk, and Assessor ran unopposed. Many people think a deal was cut between some of these officials to not run anyone against them (not Assessor, where the Democrat was unopposed largely because very few people qualify to run for the office in Indiana today). That turned out to be a big break for the Democrats, as many people acknowledge that nearly any Democrat with an opponent would have lost. Democrats lost the Auditor's Office to a candidate that campaigned very little, and their numbers on the County Council dipped to a 4-3 majority. They also saw their entire state legislative delegation go Republican. Baron Hill lost here by nearly 4,000 votes. Democrats did very well in the 2011 municipal elections though. They easily held the open mayor's race in New Albany and continued an 8-1 majority on the City Council. They also gained control of the Georgetown Town Council. In 2012, it doesn't seem that much will change, as both the Democratic Commissioner Chuck Freigberger and Republican Commissioner Steve Bush face their 2008 challengers. Republicans think their real opening may be to win control of the County Council, which controls the purse strings of the county. 2014 will be the real test of where the county is going (unless the GOP sweeps in 2012, which does not appear likely).
Shelli Yoder needs a win here. No way around that and it will not be easy. She needs to win at least 53% of the two party vote here.
The Still Strong Democratic Rural Counties: Crawford and Scott
These two counties have several things in common: they both still vote Democratic at the local level; GOP 2010 gains were limited; they are both split by redistricting; and they are the only counties of their type left in the district. Shelli Yoder should win these counties, but they can only produce a small amount of votes, as the parts of these counties in the 9th district make up the two smallest in the district.
Crawford County (part)
2010 Auditor- Berry (R) 1,755; Locke (D) 1,668
2008 President- McCain (R) 2,393; Obama (D) 2,286
2008 President-Dem Primary- 2,140; Obama 775
2008 Governor- Long Thompson (D) 2,869; Daniels (R) 1,869
2006 Secretary of State- Pearson (D) 2,039; Rokita (R) 1,405
2004 President- Bush (R) 2,609; Kerry (D) 1,932
2004 Governor- Kernan (D) 2,231; Daniels (R) 2,231
9th District Results
2002- Hill (D) 2,113; Sodrel (R) 1,483
2004- Hill (D) 2,288; Sodrel (R) 2,131
2006- Hill (D) 2,093; Sodrel (R) 1,695
2008- Hill (D) 2,980; Sodrel (R) 1,606
2010- Young (R) 1,821; Hill (D) 1,817
County Offices: Assessor-D; Auditor-D; Clerk-D, Recorder-D; Surveyor-D, Treasurer-D; County Commissioners 2D-1R; County Council 6D-1R; Judges- 1D, 0R; Prosecutor-D; Sheriff-R
State Legislators- House- Steve Davisson (R) (after redistricting Sue Ellspermann (R)); Senate- Richard Young (D)
Crawford County has a powerful local Democratic Party. Republicans only seem to get elected locally if the Democratic machine decides not to get behind their nominee, unless some overpowering local issue takes precedence. Locally, in 2010, and probably in 2012 it may. In 2009, a company sought to bring into Crawford County a biomass incinerator. It was only stopped when the company decided not to proceed. People in the county were extremely opposed to this project. Some believed that the materials to be incinerated would contain asbestos and other harmful materials. People blamed local officials for it. What they should have blamed the county for was the lack of establishing planning and zoning, which is the way in Indiana to stop unwanted businesses. However, a longtime Democratic County Commissioner was voted out of office in 2010 by a wide margin and Democrats lost a County Council seat. The 2010 wave hit Crawford County, but it was not the tidal wave that hit other nearby counties. The margin of victory of Sen. Richard Young her and in Perry County helped him win a narrow reelection to the State Senate when every other opposed Democrat in a Southern Indiana Senate seat lost.
In 2012, things could get even stranger. A former Democratic County Prosecutor, who suffered a landslide defeat in the 2006 Democratic Primary, and was disbarred a few years later, is now the Republican candidate for County Commissioner, against a longtime enemy of the now Republican candidate Jimmie Montgomery. This year there were hardly any contested primary races on the Democratic side and Republicans hope that they can make further inroads. Many of the powerful Democrats supported Robert Winningham in the primary, but are now firmly with Shelli Yoder. She is being received very well in Crawford County. The main area excluded from the 9th district is around Alton, which is traditionally a Republican area. If Shelli Yoder is to win the district, she will need close to 60% of the two party vote in Crawford County.
Scott County (part)
2010 Auditor- Locke (D) 3,303; Berry (R) 3,080
2008 President- McCain (R) 4,445; Obama (D) 4,271
2008 President-Dem Primary- Clinton 4,478; Obama 1,245
2008 Governor- Daniels (R) 4,717; Long Thompson (D) 4,330
2006 Secretary of State- Pearson (D) 3,754; Rokita (R) 2,188
2004 President- Bush (R) 4,793; Kerry (D) 3,822
2004 Governor- Kernan (D) 4,681; Daniels (R) 3,862
9th District Results
2002- Hill (D) 3,823; Sodrel (R) 1,894
2004- Hill (D) 5,053; Sodrel (R) 3,508
2006- Hill (D) 3,780; Sodrel (R) 2,497
2008- Hill (D) 5,743; Sodrel (R) 2,858
2010- Hill (D) 3,383; Young (R) 3,209
County Offices: Assessor-D; Auditor-D; Clerk-D, Recorder-D; Surveyor-D, Treasurer-D; County Commissioners 3D-0R; County Council 6D-1R; Judges- 2D, 0R; Prosecutor-D; Sheriff-R
State Legislators- House- Steve Davisson (R); Terry Goodin (D); Senate- Jim Smith (R)
Republicans decided to split Scott County roughly in half. About half of the population lives in the Scottsburg area (Vienna Township) and the other in the Austin area (Jennings Township). There is also the lightly populated Finley Township. While both parts are strongly Democratic, they took out the strongest Democratic half in Austin and left the also strong Democratic Scottsburg area. As you may see, Scott County, along with Perry County is about the most Democratic County in Southern Indiana. Democrats suffered only minor losses here in 2010, losing the Sheriff's race, where the term limited Sheriff's wife lost the race to a former Navy SEAL. There is a Republican mayor in Scottsburg who has been in office for many years, but that and the Sheriff are the limits of GOP strength here.
This county was also Hillary Clinton's strongest county in 2008 in Indiana. She won over 78% of the vote, and actually won more primary votes than Obama won in the fall. This is also one of only three counties Baron Hill won in 2010, so you can understand why Republicans wanted to exclude as much of it as possible from the district. Shelli Yoder needs to do very well in this county to win. She needs to carry at least 60% of the two party vote here to catch Todd Young.
2010 Auditor- Locke (D) 17,609; Berry (R) 15,036
2008 President- Obama (D) 41,450; McCain (R) 21,118
2008 President-Dem Primary- Obama 19,953; Clinton 10,033
2008 Governor- Long Thompson (D) 30,026; Daniels (R) 28,482
2006 Secretary of State- Pearson (D) 18,108; Rokita (R) 13,554
2004 President- Kerry (D) 26,985; Bush (R) 22,834
2004 Governor- Kernan (D) 26,317; Daniels (R) 22,031
9th District Results
2002- Hill (D) 9,854; Sodrel (R) 8,690
2004- Hill (D) 21,608; Sodrel (R) 14,600
2006- Hill (D) 16,353; Sodrel (R) 8,271
2008- Hill (D) 31,906; Sodrel (R) 13,189
2010- Hill (D) 16,455; Young (R) 10,090
County Offices: Assessor-D; Auditor-D; Clerk-D, Recorder-R; Surveyor-D, Treasurer-D; County Commissioners 3D-0R; County Council 5D-2R; Judges- 6D, 3R; Prosecutor-D; Sheriff-D
State Legislators- House- Matt Pierce (D), Peggy Welch (D); Senate- Vi Simpson (D)
This county is where Shelli Yoder or any Democrat for that matter must run up the score. Monroe County is of course home to Bloomington, where Indiana University is located. If you look at the precinct by precinct numbers, some of the precincts around the university gave President Obama up to 87% of the vote. The City of Bloomington makes up the majority of Monroe County and is spread across four townships. Bloomington has been very liberal and Democrats have held the Mayor's Office for more than 40 years. There are no Republicans on the City Council either. Bloomington has been on the cutting edge of liberal politics in Indiana, often acting as an oasis of blue surrounded by red. Bloomington was the first Indiana city to support rights for gays and lesbians. They also have one of the toughest smoking bans in the country. Bloomington is currently dominated by Indiana University, but it has not always been that way. Like many other medium sized Indiana cities, there was a large manufacturing base in Bloomington, but many of those jobs such as at Thompson Electronics and Otis Elevator disappeared. Luckily, Bloomington has been able to take advantage of its workforce and attract jobs in the pharmaceutical industry, such as the Cook Company. This has helped to keep a very steady population increase going, along with the high standard of living within Bloomington.
While Bloomington was solidly in the Democratic camp, the county as a whole has only moved firmly into the Democratic column recently. As recently as ten years ago, there was a majority of Republicans on the County Board of Commissioners, and many of the county officials were Republicans. Democratic margins in Bloomington were simply not enough to offset Republican votes elsewhere, such as Ellitsville, which some people often say is where the Republicans in Bloomington live. However, there was a sea change here in the Bush Administration. Anti-war and socially liberal politics pushed Monroe County into a firmly Democratic posture. By 2008, President Obama carried the county by a 2 to 1 margin and Democrats had taken the vast majority of county offices.
The key for Democrats in Monroe County is turnout. Many of the students at Indiana University are from the Northeast, and getting them registered and turned out will be a challenge. Many of the students that registered in 2008 have already graduated. Baron Hill, who represented the western two-thirds of the county saw his margin in 2010 drop from more than 18,000 to less than 7,000. Turnout dropped a lot in the mid-terms. Nearly 63,000 people turned out in 2008 to help President Obama carry Indiana, but I do not see how turnout rises to that level. The level of commitment that OFA will put into Bloomington will have a lot to do with Shelli Yoder's chances. I took a more muddled approach to turnout in 2012, coming up with a model closer to 2004 turnout than 2008. If the turnout is higher than my model of 53,000, Shelli Yoder will have an easier time. The basic model is that Shelli Yoder will need a big enough margin from Monroe County to counteract Johnson County and even Morgan County, where Todd Young will ring up extremely large margins. Shelli Yoder needs about a 2 to 1 edge here to be in the game.
Chart of how the numbers break down
County Turnout Young % Young Vote Yoder % Yoder Vote
Brown 8000 45 3600 55 4400
Clark 48000 46 22080 54 25920
Crawford 4200 39 1638 61 2562
Floyd 36500 47 17155 53 19345
Harrison 18200 47 8554 53 9646
Jackson 17500 47 8225 53 9275
Johnson 59000 64 37760 36 21240
Lawrence 18500 59 10915 41 7585
Monroe 53000 34 18020 66 34980
Morgan 20000 65 13000 35 7000
Orange 8100 57 4617 43 3483
Scott 4500 40 1800 60 2700
Washington 11300 50 5650 50 5650
Total 153014 153786
As you can see, this is not an easy task. Shelli Yoder must win at least 53% in Clark, Floyd, Harrison, and Jackson Counties, all counties that went strongly for Baron Hill in 2008, but swung heavily against him in 2010. She must also post a big win with good turnout in Monroe County. Then she needs to keep her losses down in Johnson and Morgan Counties. I have her at around 35-36% here. If she can hit 40%, she would be doing very well. As you may see, this is not an easy task, but it is doable.