Indiana 5th District
Indiana’s most rapid growth is taking place in the suburban ring counties around Indianapolis, especially in Hamilton County, directly north of the city. This is affluent suburbia, with subdivisions full of spacious houses, shopping centers, and office developments in what were not too long ago farm fields. Hamilton County’s population increased from 82,000 in 1980 to 182,000 in 2000 and to 262,000 in 2007—a 43% jump in this decade, making it one of the fastest growing counties in the Midwest. It’s now the fifth largest county in the state, soon to become the fourth, and it is certainly the most affluent. Indianapolis’s wealthy used to be concentrated on the north side of the city; now they’re more likely to be in the former farm communities of Carmel, Fishers, and Noblesville. These are not rich liberal suburbs. Hamilton County is the most Republican of the large counties in Indiana and one of the most Republican in the nation. It voted 74%-24% for George W. Bush in 2004 and 61%-38% for John McCain in 2008.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
Almost half the people of the 5th Congressional District of Indiana live in Hamilton County. The district also includes suburban but less affluent (and less Republican) Hancock County, where the U.S. Lawn Mower Racing Association’s championship is held every September. It takes in parts of Shelby and Johnson counties to the south. On its northern end, the district includes quite different parts of Indiana, with small industrial cities like Marion heavily dependent on the auto industry and suffering from auto-parts companies’ bankruptcies and layoffs. The population is declining and new subdivisions are just about nonexistent. There is also Miami County, the birthplace of Cole Porter, and Wabash and Huntington counties, the birthplaces of vice presidents: Democrat Thomas Marshall, Woodrow Wilson’s vice president, was from North Manchester in Wabash County, and Republican Dan Quayle, the first George Bush’s vice president, spent his high school years and later practiced law in Huntington. The latter town was in a Fort Wayne-based district when Quayle represented it in the House.