A Red Stronghold in Republican Indiana Turns a Little More Purple
(INDIANAPOLIS) - One of Indiana's most reliable Republican strongholds looked a lot bluer in last week's election.
Hamilton County officeholders and the Republican statewide ticket of Secretary of State Connie Lawson, Treasurer Kelly Mitchell and Auditor Tera Klutz all racked up about 60% of the vote in a county where downballot Republicans historically collect about 70%.
Senator-elect Mike Braun won the county by just eight points -- a third of Todd Young's 24-point margin two years ago. And four state representatives lost seven-to-13 points off their 2016 vote share, with Fishers Representative Todd Huston matching Braun's eight-point victory margin. House Speaker Brian Bosma, Carmel Representatives Jerry Torr and Donna Schaibley, and Indianapolis Senator Jim Merritt were all under 60% of the county vote.
State Democratic Chairman John Zody suggests the demographics of the longtime Republican stronghold are shifting in Democrats' direction, and says the county also saw some of the suburban anger toward President Trump which fueled Democratic gains elsewhere in the U.S. He says the county is a growth opportunity for Democrats. Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer thinks the slippage is a one-time blip, driven in part by Senator Joe Donnelly targeting the county in his unsuccessful reelection push against Braun. He says the baseline Republican vote is still strong, even if individual races were down.
The statewide officeholders' margins were similar to state school superintendent Jennifer McCormick's 61%two years ago. But McCormick, like Braun, was running against a Democratic incumbent. Attorney General Curtis Hill posted 69% of the vote that year. Lawson, Mitchell and then-Auditor Suzanne Crouch were even higher in their 2014 campaigns.
Despite the shrunken margins, Republicans still won every Hamilton County race. Carmel Republican Mike Delph lost his state Senate seat, but still carried Hamilton County by four points. That's far below his 30-point win over Democrat J.D. Ford that year, but Ford's big margin in Marion County in this year's rematch would have given him the win even if Delph had maintained his 2014 performance.