Sunday, December 2, 2012

Thoughts on the 2012 election

I have given myself some time to digest the 2012 election, especially how it impacted Hamilton County.  In no particular order, I have the following thoughts:

1.  Two Democrats got over 50,000 votes each in Hamilton County.  This a previously-unmatched threshold for Democrats in this Republican stronghold. U.S. Senator-elect Joe Donnelly got 52,925 votes in Hamilton County, or 39.43% of votes cast.   Superintendent of Public Instruction-elect Glenda Ritz (a Carmel resident) got 52,777, or 39.71% of the votes cast in that race.  No other Democrat approached either those raw numbers or percentages.  By contrast, President Obama got 43,796 votes, or 31.95% of the votes cast.      

2.  The above results reflect a fairly standard base for Democratic votes (typically in the 30-35% range) in this county, except for the Donnelly and Ritz races, where some Republicans chose to vote for a Democrat, presumably because they thought the candidate of their own party was not acceptable.  However, as I have noted in prior blog posts, many Republicans would not vote for a Democrat here under any circumstances, even when the GOP candidate is under criminal investigation.  

3.  One of the hopes for Democrats to have an impact in local events showed up in Fishers after years of struggle.  A non-partisan group (CityYes) worked together for years to move Fishers to City status, over the sustained opposition of the majority of the Town Council and other political insiders.  Democrats, dissident Republicans, independents, and even those identifying with the Tea Party combined together for common purpose and in a vastly-outspent grassroots effort, not only succeeded in passing the "city-town" referendum by a 55.35% to 44.64% margin, but also soundly defeating a "reorganization" referendum that would have blocked the change to a real city with a mayor elected by the people by a 62.49% to 37.51% margin.   The "reorganization" was backed by 6 of the 7 Town Council members and funded by many insiders with business and other connections to the Council majority.  

The lesson here for Hamilton County Democrats?  Find issues or candidates with which you can have common purpose with non-Democrats.  Party labels mean less when there are real issues with a real impact in people's lives.  Showing that you want to make a difference in local events and that you are not just a blind partisan will lead some with a different party ID to take you more seriously.  And that coalition-building can have a real and lasting effect on local events.