June 12, 2005
Analysis of HD47

As promised, I've done a fuller analysis of HD47, the State House district which has just been abandoned by incumbent Republican Terry Keel. You can see all of my data in this spreadsheet. Here's an executive summary.

Overall, as expected, this is a moderately Republican district. Here's the breakdown for the statewide races, including the contest in the 21st Congressional District:

GOP Cnd Votes Pct Dem Cnd Votes Pct
======================== ========================
Bush 40,955 53.31 Kerry 35,872 46.69
LSmith 39,020 56.20 RSmith 30,409 43.80
Carillo 38,173 53.87 Scarboro 32,685 46.13
Keasler 38,959 53.00 Molina 34,545 47.00
Brister 39,657 53.61 Van Os 34,318 46.39

Total 197,797 53.73 Total 170,365 46.27

Note: Of HD47's 51 precincts, 46 are in CD21, and the other five are in CD25. The spreadsheet combines the CD25 votes with CD21 (overall totals are 40,053/32,945, or 54.87%/45.13%), but I'm just showing the CD21 result above. As you can see, about a seven point advantage to the GOP. Note that all results given here are for two-party totals. The data downloaded from the SOS website appears to only include the top two votegetters.

Things are a bit different at the county race level, though. The six races include four judgeships, Travis County Sheriff, and a Constable race:

GOP Cnd Votes Pct Dem Cnd Votes Pct
======================== ========================
PKeel 40,589 54.80 Yelenosky 33,475 45.20
Pemberton 37,145 50.35 Henson 36,634 49.65
Green 35,332 47.75 Patterson 38,660 52.25
Anastas's 34,291 47.00 Cooper 38,661 53.00
McNeill 37,139 52.08 Hamilton 34,168 47.92
ThKeel 31,787 50.01 McCain 31,768 49.99

Total 216,283 50.34 Total 213,366 49.66

(Note: The Constable race between Thornton Keel and Richard McCain covered 44 of the 51 precincts.)

Now that's a swing district! I don't know what the dynamics were in these races, but the message should be clear: The right Democrat can win here.

There's one last factor to consider. Terry Keel ran unopposed in 2004. Since I can't do a two-party comparison, let's see how he did in terms of percentage of total turnout. I've included all the Republicans in this district who did not have a Democratic opponent; Lawrence Meyers and Cheryl Johnson, both Court of Criminal Appeals justices, had Libertarian opponents.

GOP Cnd Votes Pct
TeKeel 49,075 62.22
O'Neill 47,203 59.84
Green 46,677 59.18
Johnson 43,749 55.46
Meyers 42,988 54.50

You want an illustration of why you need to contest races, there you have it. The best percent-of-turnout performance among the contesteds was Bush with 51.92%. Only Patrick Keel (51.46%) and Scott Brister (50.28%) reached a majority (the combined Lamar Smith/Becky Klein vote was 50.78% of turnout). All other candidates lost between 1 and 10 points from their vote percentages.

What conclusions can we draw? I think based on his actual 2004 performance that Terry Keel would have won reelection with something like 55 to 57% of the vote had he had a viable Democratic challenger. Also based on that performance, he'd be a solid favorite in 2006, but not quite a lock. His non-lockstep voting record would be on balance a plus for him, but his assassination of the campaign finance reform bill HB1348 plus his bizarre mini-meltdown over HB268 at the end of the session would provide some fodder for whoever took him on. Opening this seat up is a tremendous boon for the Democrats, and raises the profile of this race greatly.

Now that I've figured out how to extract this kind of data efficiently, I hope to do more of this sort of analysis in the coming weeks. If you've got any requests, let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 12, 2005 to Election 2004 | TrackBack

Kuff, that is a 2-1 advantage GOP district.

The "right" dem candidate would be the one who switches parties and runs in the GOP primary. Now, he might have a chance! :^D

Posted by: ttyler5 on June 12, 2005 1:41 PM

What conclusions can we draw? That Kuff has a lot of time on his hands... :)

Posted by: kimmy on June 12, 2005 3:46 PM

Kuff, I think the non-contested portion of the analysis is a little fuzzy ... uncontested candidates generally get about 1-2,000 more votes due to some voters feeling obligated to vote in every race. Joe Nixon was notable for the absence of this phenomenon, admittedly (and gleefully at that). I'd have to do some further analysis to see if there's a constant percentage that uncontesteds get, but quite frankly, I'm not to the point where I'm splitting hairs that finely in my own research. Keel got 49k to Bush's 41k - by any account, an impressive pickup. Could be due to some good name ID building on Keel's part, could be due to an indication that he's better regarded in the district than we might hope for. Dunno ... but I think we're on the same page when I say contest the races and sort things out after we do that.

The number of GOP State Reps who pulled in a higher percentage than Bush can be counted on pretty much one hand. Had we had a strong candidate in this race from the get-go, it would have been (or at least, should have been ... had it been a typical district) around 50-50, give or take a point or so.


Time has passed you by in looking at this district. Check the math above from 2004 and tell me which Republican got twice as many votes as their Democratic challenger. In 2006, the message should be clearer ... this is a Democratic district. Mathematically, it's the ripest district for picking up, ahead of even Harris County's District 133 (Nixon's).

Posted by: Greg Wythe on June 12, 2005 4:17 PM

From the actual data, rather than your report from fantasy land, it's not a 2-1 advantage Republican district. This is excellent news for anyone eyeing the seat, and good news for a Congressional challenger in the 21st if RSmith did as well as he did without doing a damn thing.

Posted by: Karl-T on June 12, 2005 5:45 PM

What conclusions can we draw? That Kuff has a lot of time on his hands... :)

Heh. Actually, I did much of this work while the cable modem was out. So there was one benefit to being offline. :-)

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on June 12, 2005 7:19 PM

Looked through some of the same numbers last night -- very promising.

Any district where a presidential candidate who performed terribly in Texas got nearly 47% of the vote is ripe for the picking.

A good strong candidate with solid fundraising should pick this seat up.

Posted by: houtopia on June 12, 2005 8:11 PM

Check out ye ol' Burnt Orange Report post on potential candidates. Would love a piece of that action, baby.


Posted by: Red Dog on June 13, 2005 5:14 PM

Greg, Karl T and Houtopia,

BEEEEEEEEP! Wrong!!!!!

Kuff is right, you must always run a candidate for the leg, even if he can't win he will cut down on the down-ballot drop-off. The dems in fact did the gop a big favor in 2004 in those closer down-ballot county races by not filling the ballot position for state rep. This is not merely a tactical blunder, it tells you the dem organization is not in good shape in that district.

But you guys are being rosey-lensed about this one, anyway, and it's because you are looking too hard at the gop down-ballot drop off from the 2004 race. It's the vote for state rep from the last contested race in the district in 2002 that means something, and you've got a republican candidate defeating a democrat in this district 2-to-1, followed by an uncontested ( and for gawd's sakes, in a presidential year to boot!) republican victory in 2004.

What the figures tell you is that 65.9% ( Keel's total in 2002) of the district's off-year voters are ready and willing to vote republican for the state legislature. And if Hutchison is the gop nominee for guv next year, and she probably will be, her coat tails will be a tidal wave in that district for gop Tex leg candidates. The voters aren't gonna send her to Austin without a gop leg, it will be a package deal in any district that already has voted gop for state rep and it will spill over into the senatorial districts as well. This gal is immensely popular and she will probably win the biggest landslide in Texas guv election history.

The way to re-take seats in the leg in 2006 is to go after seats where the off-year spread was 1-3 points. This is going to be especially true if the republicans are smart enough to run Hutchison for guv, because the gender divide will disappear in favor of the gop. Run somebody for every ballot position, but get serious about the very close races from 2002 and 2004.

(PS: Hope this does not post twice, it wants me to repost.)

Posted by: ttyler5 on June 14, 2005 2:40 AM