By Scott Tibbs, March 2, 2018
Just because Democrats lose elections does not mean that Congressional districts are gerrymandered, especially in a heavily Republican state. It is absurd for Democrats to whine that the fact that Democrats hold two Congressional seats in heavily Democratic areas is prima facie evidence of gerrymandering.
It is a reflection of the fact that, outside of Lake County and Marion County, Republicans hold a heavy majority. Donald Trump, Eric Holcomb and Todd Young all won statewide by big margins, despite the Democratic strongholds of Marion County and Lake County. Curtis Hill won by even more.
Yes, of course Democrats represent more than 2 of every 9 voters across the rest of the state. They would have more seats in a parliamentary system, where the breakdown of seats reflects the breakdown of voters. That is not what we have. Our elections are decided by who gets the most votes, district by district. Across most of Indiana, Republicans outnumber Democrats, so Republicans win elections.
The 8th, 9th and 6th districts - which are basically all of the southern half of Indiana - all went for Republican members of Congress by big margins. Therefore, no matter how you slice up the southern half of Indiana, Republicans are going to have a big advantage. Unless Democrats want to argue that the southern half of Indiana itself is gerrymandered, Republicans are going to win no matter how you draw the three districts that represent the voters here.
So are Democrats confined to Democratic areas? No. Indianapolis is going to have its own (heavily Democratic) Congressional district because Indianapolis is the largest population center in the state. The same is true with the northwest corner of the state, where Lake County is the second-largest population of Indiana counties. Districts have to be equal in population. That is the law, and that legal requirement is nonpartisan.
Finally, the hypocrisy angle cannot be ignored. It is impossible for me to take Democrats seriously when they whine about "gerrymandering," especially since the 2011 Republican map is a dramatic improvement over the 2001 Democratic map. The Democrats' map, as you recall, used a tiny land bridge in Monroe County to put Bedford in the same district as Purdue but not as IU, keeping heavily Republican Lawrence County out of the 8th an 9th Districts and in the 4th District.
Previously: Indiana’s Congressional districts are not gerrymandered.