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Mayoral election outcome could hinge on turnout

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The fate of mayoral and City-County Council candidates in Tuesday’s election is likely to come down to turnout in a few key districts, including Center Township and southern Marion County.

Political science experts say each party’s get-out-the-vote efforts will be critical this year, particularly for council races that have drawn little voter interest.

“It’s basically who turns out their base,” said Brian Vargus, a political science professor at IUPUI who studies voting patterns. “The Democrats have a bigger base, but will they vote?”

Democrats indeed have the demographic advantage; the party led Republicans in straight-party voting in Marion County by 20,975 votes in the 2010 election.

But that didn’t bring them victory in 2007, when Republican Mayor Greg Ballard defeated incumbent Democrat Bart Peterson and Republicans took control of the council, due in part to lower-than-usual turnout in traditionally strong Democratic areas.

This time around, targeting large swaths of voters in Center and Warren townships will be particularly important for Democrats, Vargus said, as will drawing high turnout among African-Americans, who make up a major part of the Democratic base.

For Republicans, the southern Franklin, Perry and Decatur townships will be key.

Ed Treacy, chairman of the Marion County Democratic Party, said his party’s strategy since 2004 has been to target every Democratic voter in every precinct, including those that have as few as one Democrat. That was a shift in strategy from earlier years, when Democrats focused on the areas where their base was strongest.

 “Once we started working every precinct, we starting winning the elections,” Treacy said.

Republicans, meanwhile, have been making a strategic push to conduct “the largest get-out-the-vote effort in possibly the history of Marion County Republicans,” said Kyle Walker, the party’s chairman. That has included phone calls, door-to-door efforts and community meetings.

And while Republicans lag demographically, Walker said there’s a strong base of independent voters in the county, as evidenced by the 2008 election, when Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels and Democratic President Barack Obama both won the county by strong margins — 48,357 and 105,816 votes, respectively.

Drawing independents is a viable strategy, Walker said, “particularly in a municipal election when the issues that will be governed by the ultimate winners are very close and very important to voters.”

“Municipal elections are very candidate-driven,” he said.

It’s unclear how many independent voters reside in Marion County, but Vargus agreed that a large swath of independents could tip the balance for either Ballard or Democratic challenger Melina Kennedy. Still, he thinks party-based voting will drive turnout in this election, as it does on the national level.

So far, early voting, including in-person, absentee and overseas ballots, has been stronger this year than in 2007, when there were 10,267 early ballots cast with three days remaining until the election. As of Sunday, this year's tally was 18,055.

But Vargus said that’s not necessarily an indication of strong turnout on Tuesday. He anticipates turnout will be lighter than in 2007, when it was about 27 percent.

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  • voters
    not to be offensive even though some will be, but anyone that votes a party line just because they call themselves a party member should have their right to vote removed. come on people look at the individuals running and what all they stand for. i am not a republican and i am not a democrat. i am an AMERICAN. we talk about equality yet divide ourselves on everything. in this election there is not much seperating ballard from kennedy. but the differances that are there is what makes me vote. in this case it isn't so much the better person but what they stand for. i can not in good conscience vote for someone that wants to trample on my constitutional rights the way that kennedy wants to. i, a registered voter in this city, will not vote for someone that gets on tv and acts like they are so smart that i can't see the BS they are spreading. i hope and pray that each one of you votes your conscience and your heart and not a party line. amen
  • voters
    not to be offensive even though some will be, but anyone that votes a party line just because they call themselves a party member should have their right to vote removed. come on people look at the individuals running and what all they stand for. i am not a republican and i am not a democrat. i am an AMERICAN. we talk about equality yet divide ourselves on everything. in this election there is not much seperating ballard from kennedy. but the differances that are there is what makes me vote. in this case it isn't so much the better person but what they stand for. i can not in good conscience vote for someone that wants to trample on my constitutional rights the way that kennedy wants to. i, a registered voter in this city, will not vote for someone that gets on tv and acts like they are so smart that i can't see the BS they are spreading. i hope and pray that each one of you votes your conscience and your heart and not a party line. amen

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  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.

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