Who’s Representing You?

As a part of the decennial census and as required by law, the Indiana General Assembly recently passed new legislative district maps for Indiana’s state house, state senate and congressional districts. If you haven’t already seen the new maps you can do so at these links: House, Senate, Congress.

While the timeline to drawing these maps were very similar, when they are actually implemented is a whole other issue. The Terre Haute Tribune-Star brought to light this fact in a recent article.

So who are your current legislators? The Indiana House and Congress are following the standard model. For example, even if your home has been drawn into a new legislative district your current representation in the Indiana House and Congress would remain the same prior to the redistricting until after the 2012 Election when you have had a chance to vote on your new representative.

The Indiana Senate is different. Here, your state senator might change based on the new Indiana Senate district map with the decision to go ahead and implement those changes prior to the next election. The reason for this is because only half of the Indiana Senate is elected at any given election. The Senate believes that enacting those changes now will avoid confusion later.

Got it? If not, use the new Indiana Senate district map and compare it to the list of Indiana senators here to see who’s representing you.

Independents Rising

More and more Hoosiers consider themselves true “independents,” casting aside any political identification with either Republicans or Democrats. 

Twenty percent (20%) of Indiana voters today identify themselves as “independent,” even after factoring out those who self-identify as leaning to one party or the other. This is a 150% increase in true independent voters in just the last six years.

Indiana has whip-sawed in recent elections, delivering the state to President Obama in 2008 in the same year it voted by historic margins for Mitch Daniels. Then in 2010, the state led the nation in a surge for the GOP. What will Indiana independents do in 2012?

These are just some of the findings from a recent statewide poll commissioned by the Indiana Chamber’s political action program, Indiana Business for Responsive Government (IBRG).

Adding Up the Election Numbers

Chamber members had the opportunity earlier today to hear from two guys in the election trenches during our monthly Policy Issue Conference Call. I can’t share all they had to say, but did want to recap some of the numbers and insights they offered.

Jeff Brantley is director of political affairs for the Chamber’s Indiana Business for Responsive Government, focused on electing pro-economy, pro-jobs candidates to the Indiana General Assembly. Michael Davis previously was in that position before moving to Washington earlier this year for a role with BIPAC, focused on congressional elections and working with states on their political programs.

Among the offerings:

  • Michael cited "enthusiasm gap" polling that reflects the mood of the electorate. Typically a strong advantage for Democrats, it’s currently in the +2 to +10 range for Republicans. In 1994, when a major GOP swing took place in the mid-term election, the "gap"  was +4 for Democrats.
  • There are between 120 and 125 competitive U.S. House races (at least twice the norm). The striking difference is in which party currently controls those competitive seats — 105 for Democrats and 18 for Republicans.
  • At a minimum, there will be 15 new U.S. senators, 43 new reps and a continuing trend in governors who were not in power as recently as two years ago.
  • At the state level, Jeff notes there are "very competitive races in places we’ve not seen competitive races before." He also points out the absence of the traditional human services and education issues; the attention is focused on the economy and jobs, jobs, jobs.
  • The "change" mantra in Indiana is strongest in the southern portion of the state. There are very competitive Statehouse races along the Ohio River and in other southern areas. Change, of course, can mean a backlash against incumbents — no matter the party.
  • Turnout, as always, will be crucial. But turnout takes on a whole new meaning with the growing number of voters who cast their ballots well ahead of Election Day.

The bottom line: November 2 and its results will be most interesting and important.

Where, Oh Where Are All the Voters?

I am the first to admit that I make my share of mistakes. Just ask my wife, children, friends, co-workers. … You get the picture.

But unlike 79% of eligible Hoosiers who did not take a few minutes to vote on primary Election Day, I did cast my ballot on May 4. And I’ll be there on November 2 when the general election rolls around. More people will decide to be part of the process at that time, but the numbers will still be way lower than what one would expect. People should vote — not because it’s their duty (well, maybe it is), but it’s a right and a privilege to help choose your government representatives. OK, that’s the end of the soapbox.

In this space earlier this month, I was swept up in the 2008 election euphoria (40% turnout due to the Democrat primary battle for president) and predicted 30% or more participation this time around. Didn’t happen. Not even close. The totals sunk back to traditional levels for non-presidential primary years. That is a real shame.

For those looking to be informed now, the Chamber’s IBRG continues to update its election report with results and analysis. In addition, the state released some numbers yesterday. Included in its info:

Data compiled by the Indiana Election Division from post-election reports filed by Indiana’s 92 counties show 21 percent of registered voters cast a ballot in the 2010 primary election. Of those who voted, 11 percent cast an absentee ballot.

Voter turnout for the 2010 primary election was slightly higher than the 2006 primary, when 19 percent of registered voters cast a ballot. In the 2004 primary, voter turnout was 21 percent, and in 2002 was 22 percent. Due to the heavily contested Democratic Presidential primary in 2008, voter turnout was an unprecedented 40 percent.

The newly released figures show a 54 percent increase in absentee voting compared to the 2006 primary election, the most recent primary election with a similar voter turnout to 2010. In this year’s primary 94,671 Hoosiers cast an absentee ballot. Of those, 48,666 voters cast their ballot in person at a county clerk’s office or satellite voting office. The remaining 46,005 ballots were cast by postal mail or by traveling board.

In 2006, 7 percent of Hoosiers cast an absentee ballot in the primary. In the 2004 primary, 6 percent of Hoosiers cast an absentee ballot, and in the 2002 primary, 7 percent of Hoosiers cast an absentee ballot. In 2008, 11 percent of Hoosiers cast an absentee ballot in the primary. 

Find Out What You Missed in IBRG Election Report

Didn’t stay up late to see or hear all the 2010 primary election results? Not sure what the outcomes mean for the November general election? Don’t worry. The Chamber’s Indiana Business for Responsive Government released its initial comprehensive primary election report early this morning, with results and analysis. Updates in the coming days will include final, official vote totals and be available at www.ibrg.biz.

W-I-N for IBRG

It’s been a good, no make that a very, very good, night thus far for the Chamber’s Indiana Business for Responsive Government political action committee.

IBRG’s top race — political newcomer Rebecca Kubacki taking out incumbent Bill Ruppel in House District 22. Ruppel hasn’t been engaged in the Indiana Chamber’s pro-economy, pro-jobs agenda. Much more is expected from Kubacki, who promises to focus on jobs and education.

Another House Republican incumbent, Jacque Clements (District 38), lost to IBRG-endorsed Heath VanNatter. During her two years in office, Clements gained more notoriety for her troubles back home in Clinton County than any legislative accomplishments.

IBRG also backed a number of incumbents who had been working hard to be part of the solution, not the problem, at the Statehouse. This includes, among others, wins for Dan Leonard (Huntington-District 50) and Tom Dermody (LaPorte-District 20).

These are four of the successes. In all, 15 of 17 IBRG-endorsed candidates earned victories. Full details will be coming in the post-election report early Wednesday morning, but it’s clear that IBRG continues to be the dominant force in working with pro-employer, pro-employee candidates. 

Primarily Speaking, It’s a Crucial Voting Period

Primaries have always been my favorite. In most districts, the primary election is the election that will decide who gets to raise his or her right hand and take office. The pressure is generally more intense and often more personal given that the political parties see them as “their fights.” Not us. We represent the business community (employers and employees) and recognize the opportunities presented by a good primary fight no matter the party. Primaries are usually the best, if not only, chance to take out many of those incumbents who say they are pro-business, but their voting record and actions indicate otherwise.

Just a few months ago, the only race in town was for control of the Indiana House. With only eight days to go until the last day of the primary election voting season, there are several others that are just as compelling. What was once a cakewalk U.S. Senate re-election race for Evan Bayh has turned into a competitive Republican primary that people are paying close attention to and a November contest that will be one of the most watched in the country. There are highly competitive primaries in the fourth, fifth, eighth and ninth Congressional districts. And of course, there are a bevy of state legislative primaries that are hotly contested.

After the 2008 failure of the political parties to recruit enough pro-jobs, pro-economic development candidates, (even leaving several competitive districts uncontested), we decided to fully implement our own candidate recruitment and development program. Since December 2008, we have met with well over 100 potential candidates and recruited several who decided to run.  Following this effort, Indiana Business for Responsive Government (IBRG) is now leading or playing a significant role in no less than seven highly competitive Indiana General Assembly primaries.  

This post kicks off an impressive lineup of guest bloggers we have assembled this week. They include state chairmen, a former state chairman, media representatives, popular Indiana bloggers and leaders/communicators from the state’s largest three political parties.

Please check back this afternoon as one of the most insightful and respected individuals in Hoosier politics weighs in. Robin Winston is a former Democratic state chairman, Indiana Week in Review panelist and key strategist for Hoosier Democrats. Grab a nice hot tea or caffeinated drink of your choice and enjoy. I certainly will.

The Roller Coaster Ride of Candidate Filing Comes to a Close

Even though we have been heavily involved in candidate recruitment this election cycle, the candidate filing period was full of surprises and plenty of candidates wanting to serve Indiana at the Indiana Statehouse and the U.S. Capitol.

Here is the complete list of filings (PDF).

We will write more analysis next week, but here are some early highlights:

  • Eighty-three candidates filed for U.S. Senate or U.S. House of Representatives. Someone pull out the history book and tell me the last time the party holding an open U.S. Senate seat did not have a candidate on the primary ballot.
  • U.S. Senator Bayh, Congressman Steve Buyer and Congressman Brad Ellsworth will not be returning to Washington in their current seat. Ellsworth is vacating his congressional seat for a run at the open U.S. Senate seat.
  • The early scoreboard on the race for control of the Indiana House is 30-11 for the Republicans. There are 30 districts currently held by a Republican without a Democratic challenger and 11 uncontested for the Democrats. Each party has until June 30 to fill a ballot vacancy for the general election.
  • The Senate scoreboard is 23-10 for the Republicans. This includes seats not up until 2012 (Republicans control 18 of those 25 seats).
  • There are eight contested primaries in the Senate. Three are on the Democratic side and five on the Republican side.
  • There are 38 contested primaries in the House. Ten are on the Democratic side and 28 on the Republican side.
  • Sue Errington and John Waterman are the only two incumbent senators with a primary.
  • There are 19 House incumbents with a primary: Charlie Brown, Dan Stevenson, Chet Dobis, Don Lehe, Doug Gutwein, David Wolkins, Shelli VanDenburgh, Tom Dermody, Bill Ruppel, Bill Friend, Jack Lutz, Jacque Clements, Tim Brown, Dan Leonard, Dick Dodge, Tom Knollman, Woody Burton, Phyllis Pond and Mary Ann Sullivan.
  • There were a total of 263 candidates that filed for the Indiana General Assembly.
  • Only 17.1% of the candidates were women.

Look for more analysis over the next several days on candidate filings. Please feel free to add to the conversation and post your comments or questions.

Indiana Chamber PAC (IBRG) is Hiring a Fundraiser

Interested in raising over a million dollars this election cycle for one of the most sophisticated and active Chamber or business PACs in the country? Do you want to be part of a top bi-partisan political team that has a strong record of success? One more item to consider — not only do we deeply believe in what we are doing in electing pro-business candidates, but we also have a lot of fun while winning a lot of campaigns! 

Indiana Business for Responsive Government (IBRG) is hiring a Manager of Political Fundraising. This person would provide fundraising expertise to IBRG and endorsed candidates, as well as assist the President, Vice President of Political Affairs and IBRG Board members in meeting the fundraising objectives for IBRG. The Manager of Political Fundraising is the person with primary responsibility for executing the IBRG fundraising plan. IBRG’s political fundraising includes in-state PAC, federal PAC and “soft-dollar” fundraising efforts.

Still interested? Read the brief description and then view the full job description and apply.

Another IBRG Vendor Takes Home Multiple Awards

IBRG, the political arm for the Indiana Chamber, has a long relationship with The Strategy Group for Media in working together to do political TV advertising for IBRG endorsed candidates. The Strategy Group for Media has been honored with 6 "Pollie Awards" and 11 "Telly Awards" for creative advertising produced in 2008. They were recognized by the American Association of Political Consultants and Public Affairs Professionals at its recent annual awards conference. The "Pollies" are widely recognized as the political Oscars. The Telly Awards were presented for creative TV produced in 2008. The Telly Awards honor "the very best local, regional, and cable television commercials."

Our favorite TV spot they produced for IBRG in 2008 was in support of the Randy Truitt for State Representative campaign. This was an open seat race that Truitt won by 26 votes after a recount. The Truitt ad came at a critical juncture in the campaign and helped to successfully shift the message to highlight Truitt’s economic development background. 

Congratulations to our friends and partners Rex Elsass, Scott Schweitzer and the rest of the talented staff at The Strategy Group for Media on your awards and producing the most creative and compelling political advertising for IBRG. They are well earned.

Early this year, IBRG mail vendor Faulkner Strategies won a Reed Award.  See that post here.