October 28, 2002
Races enter homestretch

Tony Sanchez is working to get out the vote as the campaign enters the final week before Election Day. The conventional wisdom continues to be that it's too little, too late:

The pollsters concluded that a victory by either Sanchez or Kirk would require a record-breaking turnout among minority voters, which was the Democratic Party's goal in assembling a racially diverse statewide ticket.

Sanchez also would have to chip away some of Perry's support.

Some Democrats have reported privately that black activists have assembled a strong get-out-the-vote effort for Kirk, and that Kirk likely will receive more than 90 percent of those votes.

But figures released by the secretary of state show that voter registration of Hispanic-surnamed Texans increased by only 170,127, far short of the 500,000 new-voter goal set by former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros' Every Texan Foundation. Cisneros claimed that his voter-registration effort was nonpartisan, but he is a strong backer of Sanchez and Kirk.

There are 2.5 million registered voters with Hispanic surnames. But voter registration in the heavily Republican North Texas counties of Denton and Collin outpaced new registration in the heavily Hispanic South Texas counties of Bexar, Cameron, El Paso, Hidalgo and Webb by almost 16,000.

The problem that I have with this analysis, which I've said before, is that there's a large trove of already-registered Hispanic voters who generally don't vote that Sanchez can and undoubtedly will try to tap into. In 1994 and 1998, between 450,000 and 470,000 turned out in the gubernatorial elections. This year the projection is 750,000 Hispanic voters. That's still less than a 40% turnout among such voters.

By the way, the Chron article mentions 2.5 million registered voters with Hispanic surnames. The Borderland News article linked immediately above cites 1.95 million as of 2000. I point this out to note that even counting Hispanic voters can be a dicey proposition. The bottom line is that we're all guessing. My guess, based on recent electoral history, is that Hispanics will turn out for and vote for Tony Sanchez. Whether it will be enough remains to be seen, but I'm confident it will be more than what's been projected so far in the press.

The "experts" may even realize that they could be wrong:

[Jerry] Polinard [chairman of the political science department at the University of Texas Pan American in Edinburg] said that until early voting started, there hadn't been much noticeable enthusiasm for the governor's race, but that is beginning to change.

"Much of Sanchez's strategy was that much of the heavy lifting would be below the radar," he said. "We may not have as good a handle on this as we think."

I'll report from Sanchez's Houston headquarters on Monday.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 28, 2002 to Election 2002 | TrackBack