Redistricting Scrambles Prospects for Tuesday's Congressional Voting
Redrawn 2nd District has more GOP tilt; 9th District shifts north and west
Tuesday's primary is Indiana's first election under a redrawn congressional map.
The Second District is still anchored in South Bend and still covers north-central Indiana. But slivers of Democratic-leaning Porter and LaPorte Counties have been replaced by Republican strongholds in Elkhart, Miami and Wabash Counties. IUPUI political analyst Brian Vargus says a well-funded Democrat can still win the district, but says the changes have made it much more favorable to the GOP.
Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly is running for the Senate. Iraq War veteran Brendan Mullen is favored in Tuesday's Democratic primary, while Donnelly's 2010 opponent Jackie Walorski is the favorite on the Republican side.
Other changes will have more impact in the primary than in November. The Fifth District remains centered on Hamilton County and the northside of Indianapolis. But the rural counties further north which saved Dan Burton's renomination two years ago are gone. Vargus notes the frontrunners among the seven candidates battling to replace Burton each have their own geographic base to draw on. He says there's a good chance the winner will collect less than 40-percent of the vote.
The biggest geographic changes are to Republican Todd Young's Ninth District, which shifts from Indiana's southeast corner to a south-central orientation, stretching from Greenwood to the Kentucky border. Vargus says the southernmost counties in the district are politically volatile enough that the district remains a swing district.
The First, Third and Eighth Districts underwent minor changes, covering the northwest, northeast and southwest corners of the state. Democrat Andre Carson's Seventh District was and is entirely within Marion County. Republicans are talking up the addition of some GOP precincts in the southern part of the county, but Vargus says it would still take "very special circumstances" to produce a Republican upset.
Republican Todd Rokita's Fourth District has been reshaped but still generally covers west-central Indiana, and remains solidly Republican. The Sixth District offers the possibility of intrigue on primary day, with eight new counties in the state's southeast corner including seven carried by Travis Hankins in the 2010 primary against Young. Hancock and Shelby Counties, in the district's northwest corner, migrated from the Fifth District with Hankins' rival Luke Messer.