For Goodness Sake, Indiana!

Remember that much-hyped slogan, developed by (undoubtedly overpaid) consultants–the one that was going to bring gobs of tourists to our state? “Honest to goodness, Indiana!” didn’t do much for me, and as best I can tell, it didn’t prompt many people to think “well, that’s a state I simply have to visit!”

I wonder if we’d do better with a teaser like, “come see one of the most gerrymandered states in the whole of the USA!”

The results of the 2020 census have been issued and the states–including Indiana–are in the midst of the redistricting that takes place every ten years. In Indiana, a coalition of citizens headed by the League of Women Voters, Common Cause and other nonpartisan, “good government” organizations has been strenuously lobbying for fair maps for at least the last five years; clearly, as the IBJ recently reported, the hundreds of Hoosiers who’ve called and written their legislators and descended on the Statehouse could have saved themselves the trouble.

Republicans will keep greater control of Indiana’s Legislature than merited by the number of votes they receive, according to a political analyst who on Thursday called the state’s proposed new election districts among the most skewed in the country.

The analysis came as a legislative committee held a second day of public hearings on the Republican-drawn maps, with several people criticizing the fact that the new election district maps were released less than 48 hours earlier.

The redistricting plan review conducted for the left-leaning political group Women4Change found Republicans would likely win 69 of the 100 Indiana House seats while typically receiving 56% of the vote. Republicans now hold a 71-29 majority in the Indiana House.

Christopher Warshaw, a political scientist at George Washington University who analyzes election data, said the proposed maps that will be used for the next 10 years boost Republicans by creating overwhelmingly Democratic districts to limit the impact of those voters.

“I think that while geography or other factors could explain part of these biases, these are so extreme that really nothing but politically intentional gerrymander could really explain the extent of the bias in these maps,” Warshaw said.

Calling Women4Change “left-leaning” is only possible in a state where opposing race and sex discrimination and favoring civic education and “one person, one vote” are considered extremely liberal positions. The organization includes a number of prominent Republicans (granted, of the sane variety) and bends over backward to be nonpartisan. But I digress.

A friend who shall remain nameless had a meeting a couple of months ago with the current Speaker of the House, and raised the issue of maps. Let’s just say the response was not along the lines of “oh, yeah, we’re working hard to make them fair…”

The only hopeful data I’ve come across was an observation from a friend who is a political science professor. He’d looked at the census numbers, and noted that this particular round of partisan redistricting was considerably more difficult than in the past, because rural areas of the state are less populated than they previously were. Those areas are continuing to empty out. Indiana Republicans are dependent upon those thinly populated parts of the state, so unless there is a significant change in Hoosiers’ population trends, the GOP’s carefully constructed advantage will disappear–probably not in 2022 or even 2024, but soon thereafter.

I sure hope his reading of the population tea leaves is correct….

Meanwhile, the voices in the heads of the far right Trumpers continue to harp on “voter fraud” and the Big Lie. Since there is exactly zero evidence supporting these attacks on the legitimacy of those who won election, I was initially puzzled. On what, exactly, do they base these hysterical, manufactured claims?

Then I figured it out.  As Jamelle Bouie noted in the New York Times, 

“Voter fraud” is not a factual claim subject to testing and objective analysis as much as it’s a statement of ideology, a belief about the way the world works. In practice, to accuse Democrats of voter fraud is to say that Democratic voters are not legitimate political actors, that their votes do not count the same as those of “the people” (that is, the Republican electorate) and that Democratic officials, elected with those illegitimate votes, have no rightful claim to power.

Yep. Members of the GOP’s super-majority in our legislature firmly believe that “those people”–city dwellers, Democrats, people of color–aren’t really entitled to cast ballots that count the same as the ballots cast by “real” Americans…so the gerrymandering that disenfranchises them is perfectly appropriate.

For goodness sake, Indiana!


  1. I’m going to place a call to the Russian hacker hotline to see if we can get some election rigging in Indiana because the only path to victory is to outcheat the cheaters. Quite frankly, as corrupt as Hoosier Republicans are, I could not imagine the cleanup work required for those officials following them in office. You’d be paranoid about others cheating if you played the games the Republicans play.

    I’m just voting for local elections this go around and not participating in the charade they call democracy.

    I still believe national elections will be a nightmare after the states pass all the voting laws printed by the Koch dark network, ALEC. If what I’m reading is a fraction of the truth, the elections will be a fiasco.

    Meanwhile, nuclear war, climate change, and a global pandemic are all due to unhinged capitalism driving competition for limited resources. We need to get more power at the level of the United Nations because God needs help on the physical plane.

  2. Indiana’s GOP had shame for gerrymandering a 70% Republican House and an 80% Republican State Senate 10 years ago even though the state had voted for a Democratic President in the most recent presidential election.

    Elections averaging 56% of the more recent elections are insufficient for the GOP in drawing today’s state legislative and congressional maps. Apparently the appetite for state legislative power is insatiable.

  3. Regarding that juvenile slogan, “Honest to goodness, Indiana!”; where do we find honesty or goodness in our governance?

    As for the 2020 Census; I was only asked questions regarding how many Hispanics reside in my home, using 2 questions to provide a longer list of same. The remaining 8 questions, totaling 10 residents in my home, were race and ethnic origin. Only little old white me living here as one of the waning numbers of white population in the state didn’t help with the recent gerrymandering. I can only ASSUME I will be notified by the Marion County Election Board if I have been moved inadvertently to another precinct; due to the Pandemic confusion, polling places changed and we can look forward to applying to qualify for Absentee Ballots again.

    WTF, Indiana?

  4. These districts are an outrage and an affront to representative government. If one is a moderate or left then they have no voice in Indiana. None.

    As for tourism, anyone remember Wander Indiana? That was a beaut.

  5. Well thank the good Lord the legislative powers that be could find a way to ensure US Representative Greg Pence could win even more easily. I’ve been worrying myself sick over it.

  6. I followed State Senator Jean Leising’s FaceBook posts (think Lincoln Dinner and Fair pictures) asking ‘respectfully, when may Hoosiers expect a nonpartisan, independent redistricting commission?’ She replied’ Don’t hold your breath’ and then unfriended me. What a clutch of tools we have in our disgraceful legislature!

  7. Well, as covid keeps deleting the lives of the right, liberals might have a chance in Indiana some day!

    Somebody please sue the state about this gerrymandering!

  8. Power is power. What humans would truly want to give up any power they gain (fairly or unfairly) in favor of “fairness?” Unfortunately, not the titans of power that make up the current state legislative government .

    The Indiana Citizens Redistricting Committee did wonderful work by holding hearings around the state to listen to the voters and their concerns on redistricting, er, gerrymandering. And they got an earful, which they passed on to the legislators. Various lawmakers said they “listened.” Well, maybe. But the input certainly seemed to have had zero impact on their maps.

    And so here we are again. Legislators care nothing for their voters as evidenced by their lack of respect. If I displayed such disrespect for my clients, my business would have been belly up years ago.

  9. It feels like I’m a voyeur, listening in on Hoosier secrets, here, today. You all sound as helpless as I feel, when I send a “petition” to my Florida representative, or my 2 more than useless senators. The scariest thing, for me, is that Scott and Death Santis have POTUS dreams.

  10. Note to Todd Smekens – Please vote in the national elections. If you don’t the charade wins for sure.

  11. The resident of every state likes to think their state is the worst when it comes to X. It rarely is.

    If you think Indiana’s redistricting is bad, try going to Wisconsin where Democrats regularly win statewide but Republicans have near super majorities in their House and Senate. Democrats also win Pennsylvania statewide all the time, but Republicans have strong majorities in the House and Senate. Same with Michigan.

    Then you have Florida, which is about a 52% Republican state and the Republicans have 65% of the House seats and 60% of the Senate Seats. Georgia has two Democratic U.S. Senators and voted for Biden in 2020, but Republicans control the Senate 34-22 and the House 103-76.

    Now let’s look at legislatures where D’s are drawing the maps. In California, Democratic Newsom won the Governor’s Office in 2018 with nearly 62% of the vote. Democrats have 78% of the seats in the state senate in CA and 80% of the House seats.

    Massachusetts has a Republican Governor, but Democratic Biden won the state with over 65% in 2020. Its legislature? In the MA House, Democrats have 81% of the legislators. In the Massachusetts Senate, Republicans elected a total of FOUR people in 2020. Democrats have 90% of the representatives in the state senate.

    Or how about Hawaii? Democrat Biden won just under 64% of the Hawaiian vote in 2020. In the Hawaii state senate Democrats hold 24 of the 25 seats (96%) and 47 of the 51 Hawaii House seats (92%).

    Now tell me again, how Indiana has the worst gerrymandered state legislative districts in the country. They don’t. Indiana is above what is expected (majority party baseline + 10% is a good rule of thumb) when it comes to legislative seats, but it’s not even close to the worst. And I don’t recall complaints when not that long ago when the Democrats drew the maps and won majorities in the Indiana house in 7 of 9 elections despite being the minority party. Indiana Democrats drew the House maps in 1990 and 2000, and got as high as 55 seats in 1992.

    Let’s also not forget that having the power to draw the maps doesn’t guarantee control. Republicans drew the Indianapolis county-council districts ten years ago and Democrats now have 20 of the 25 council seats under that GOP map. (I wrote at the time the map was adopted that the Ds would come to love the GOP-drawn map and they sure enough did.) In that case, GOP operative David Brooks had to cut the GOP margins so narrow to ensure a GOP majority on the Indianapolis Council at the start of the 10 year cycle that those Republican incumbents got wiped out after a few elections.

    Indiana is a state that is trending more and more Democratic so it’s no guarantee that the GOP holds the seats ten years down the road that it’s drawing today. Given the GOP’s dwindling numbers, the mapmakers are having to cut the margins significantly to satisfy Republican incumbents. If trends continue, Democrats could be knocking on the door to a majority in the Indiana House ten years from now.

  12. Paul @ 11:46 am makes a good points. To victors go the spoils.

    It is difficult for me to see why anyone would think the GOP has contributed positively to the commons. I can understand why the wealthy would vote for the GOP as low taxes or lower taxes are always popular. It is the poor rural counties that are the flotsam and jetsam – What has the GOP done for these people??? Other then appealing to some by gone or never was social-cultural America of the past.

    Alabama is shrinking under the onslaught of Covid-19, its chief medical officer said, as deaths in the state outnumber births for the very first time.

    Speaking to reporters in Montgomery on Friday, Dr Scott Harris said: “Here in Alabama, we continue to see deaths at a really high rate … 2020 is going to be the first year that we know of in the history of our state where we actually had more deaths than births.

    “Our state literally shrunk in 2020, based on the numbers that we have managed to put together, and actually by quite a bit.”

    “We have data going back to the first decade of the 20th century, so more than 100 years, and that’s never happened before, nor has it ever even been close before. In world war two or during the flu pandemic of 1918, or world war one, we’ve never had a time where deaths exceed births until this past year.

    “It’s certainly possible that could happen this year as well if we continue in the same rate that we’re seeing now.”

  13. Gerrymandering and minority control of our political systems are peas in a pod, and majority rule is one of the linchpins of a functioning democracy. See any problems, whoever does the gerrymandering?

  14. As for Gerrymandering, I have to agree with Paul. Indiana is not the worst.

    Note to Charlize – Actually, at first glance, Spartz is the big winner, pushing her district out of Marion County, leaving her safe until Carmel and Fishers become more Democratic.

    Greg Pence, at first glance, is still safe, but slightly less so – or course, he may face a primary fight
    In Imperial China, punishment meant death to 7 generations; Greg is the brother of the “traitor” who wouldn’t overthrow the election. He has to go.

    Now as for “voter fraud” – we used to call that being a sore loser –

    I don’t know how many remember when Rhodesia became independent Zimbabwe.
    They held their election with strong international oversight. Robert Mugabe refused to participate.
    Mugabe then said that the election had to be rerun — or he would kill a lot more people. He also said that the second election was only valid IF HE WON (sound familiar)
    Unlike certain US former Presidents, Mugabe got his wish. The international community said “sounds fair”.
    The citizens of Zimbabwe had two wishes: (1) be rid of the Brits, and (2) stay alive.
    Mugabe won.

    Voter fraud is another name for “I didn’t win”.

    I declare here and now that if I don’t win the next Presidential election, it is due to voter fraud — or perhaps because I won’t be on the ballot — either way – “VOTER FRAUD” 8)>

  15. In response to Paul K. Ogden’s statement that “…legislatures where D’s are drawing the maps. In California, Democratic Newsom won the Governor’s Office in 2018 with nearly 62% of the vote. Democrats have 78% of the seats in the state senate in CA and 80% of the House seats.”: While the numbers cited by him are true, in California the districting maps are drawn by an independent commission. The Democratic majorities are reflective of the will of the people in the state, not a result of gerrymandering.

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