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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. A Tilted Kilt at a water park themed hotel? Who planned that one? I guess the Dad's need something to do while the kids are on the water slides.

  2. Don't come down on the fair for offering drinks. This is a craft and certainly one that belongs in agriculture due to ingredients. And for those worrying about how much you can drink. I'm sure it's more to do with liability than anything else. They don't want people suing for being over served. If you want a buzz, do a little pre-drinking before you go.

  3. I don't drink but go into this "controlled area" so my friend can drink. They have their 3 drink limit and then I give my friend my 3 drink limit. How is the fair going to control this very likely situation????

  4. I feel the conditions of the alcohol sales are a bit heavy handed, but you need to realize this is the first year in quite some time that beer & wine will be sold at the fair. They're starting off slowly to get a gauge on how it will perform this year - I would assume if everything goes fine that they relax some of the limits in the next year or couple of years. That said, I think requiring the consumption of alcohol to only occur in the beer tent is a bit much. That is going to be an awkward situation for those with minors - "Honey, I'm getting a beer... Ok, sure go ahead... Alright see you in just a min- half an hour."

  5. This might be an effort on the part of the State Fair Board to manage the risk until they get a better feel for it. However, the blanket notion that alcohol should not be served at "family oriented" events is perhaps an oversimplification. and not too realistic. For 15 years, I was a volunteer at the Indianapolis Air Show, which was as family oriented an event as it gets. We sold beer donated by Monarch Beverage Company and served by licensed and trained employees of United Package Liquors who were unpaid volunteers. And where did that money go? To central Indiana children's charities, including Riley Hospital for Children! It's all about managing the risk.

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