News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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February 15, 2014

EYE ON THE PIE: Outlining Congressional districts, Hoosier demographics

TERRE HAUTE — Readers of this column are likely to know the name of their representative in Congress. However, even these involved citizens are not likely to know the number of their congressional district.

And why should we know that number? It keeps changing for most of us as Indiana loses seats in Congress because our population growth lags the national rate of growth.

Now we are down to nine representatives, with the boundaries changing as the legislative party in power mangles district borders to maintain political supremacy.   

Thus, it’s difficult to write a column about those districts without this necessarily incomplete introduction: District 1 Peter Viscloskey (D), northwest Indiana; Dist. 2 Jackie Walorski (R), South Bend to Peru; Dist. 3 Marlin Stutzman (R), Ft. Wayne, northeast Indiana; Dist. 4 Todd Rokita (R), Lafayette, western Indy suburbs; Dist. 5 Susan Brooks (R), Carmel to Marion; Dist. 6 Luke Messer (R), east central Indiana; Dist. 7 Andre Carson (D), most of Indy; Dist. 8 Larry Bucshon (R), Terre Haute to Evansville; Dist. 9 Todd Young (R), Bloomington south to the Ohio River.

The latest data on these districts come from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey for 2012. Those data show the districts are fairly even in population size (as they are mandated to be), but do vary in many characteristics.

Dist. 6 has a median age approaching 40 while Dist. 7’s median age tends toward 33. Dist. 8 has 16,200 persons 85 and older while Dist. 7 has but 8,500 in that age group.

Dist. 6, 8 and 9 have more than 92 percent of their population identified as white, while Dist. 7 stands at 60 percent.

In Dist. 1, 14 percent of the people identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino.

 This figure falls to 2 percent in Dist. 6 and 8.

Dist. 8 has more than three-quarters of its population living in the state in which they were born. Statewide, that number is 68 percent, meaning that more than two-thirds of all Hoosiers might have been born with a basketball in hand. Certainly, we cannot claim to be a great melting pot.

It would seem that the least mobile of our citizens are in Dist. 1, where 87 percent of persons one year and older lived in the same house as they did a year earlier.

Nearly one-quarter of Hoosiers claim German ancestry — 1.5 million persons, 23 percent. This concentration is greatest in Dist. 3 (31 percent) and least in Dist. 7. Persons of Irish descent (12 percent of the population) are most prevalent in Dist. 1.

Dist. 5 stands alone at the top of the money ladder with a median household income $61,130. The next best is Dist. 1 at $50,600; on the bottom rung is Dist. 7 at $37,150. About one-fifth of the families in poverty live in Dist. 7. Almost 29 percent of the households with incomes of $200,000 or more reside in Dist. 5.

Do facts matter in elections? Probably, the nine 2014 congressional races will be decided by passions and momentary distractions rather than the basic issues of who we are.

Morton Marcus is an economist, writer, and speaker who may be reached at mortonjmarcus@yahoo.com.

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