January 08, 2006
Roundtable on the Governor's race

The Chron got some opinions from different perspectives on the four-way Governor's race. It's a good read, some of which you've seen before here and elsewhere, and some of which is new. Couple points I want to highlight:

Mike Baselice: Pollster for Perry

Baselice said he thinks Strayhorn's decision to run as an independent increases Perry's chances of re-election.

"I don't know how this works. It's a Republican-leaning state," Baselice said. "There's only so many disenchanted party loyalists who are willing to take a stab at an independent candidacy."

Baselice said Texas has a base Republican vote of 50 percent and a base Democratic vote of 35 percent. He said if each party loses 5 percent of its vote and it is added to the independent, the swing vote just reaches 25 percent.

" If you gave it all to Strayhorn and none to Kinky, she's still woefully short," Baselice said.


Tom Pauken: Former Texas GOP chairman

Pauken said there is enough dissatisfaction with Republican voters about Perry's administration and inability to pass a public school finance plan than either Strayhorn or the Democratic nominee can defeat Perry in a multicandidate race.

"It's not a given that Perry will be re-elected," Pauken said. "He's alienated a lot of Republicans."

As I said before, even if you agree with Baselice's estimate of the partisan divide, "Republican base" is not the same as "Rick Perry's base". Strayhorn was likely to get about 30% of the vote in the GOP primary, leaving Perry with 70%. Guess what? Seventy percent of fifty is 35, which puts Perry even with the Democrats' base. All Strayhorn needs to do to put Perry in jeopardy is hold onto the support she would have gotten in the primary.

Jason Stanford: Bell's chief consultant

Stanford said Democratic nominee Tony Sanchez got 40 percent of the vote against Perry in 2002. He said that vote will be enough for the Democratic nominee to win in a multicandidate race against Perry.

"Everyone in this race is making a persuasive case to fire Rick Perry," he said.

I just want to point out that Tony Sanchez was not the only Dem running statewide in 2002, and he was not one of the better performers that year:

Candidate Votes Pct
John Sharp 2,082,281 46.03
Margaret Mirabal 1,978,081 45.90
Ron Kirk 1,955,758 43.32
William Moody 1,860,251 43.23
Pat Montgomery 1,828,431 42.60
Jim Parsons 1,814,354 41.88
Linda Yanez 1,815,581 41.54
Sherry Boyles 1,821,751 41.48
David Bernsen 1,819,365 41.48
Kirk Watson 1,841,359 41.08
Richard Baker 1,774,242 40.50
JR Molina 1,725,065 40.00
Tony Sanchez 1,819,798 39.96
John Bull 1,692,773 39.14
Tom Ramsay 1,674,372 37.81
Marty Akins 1,476,976 32.92

Akins, by the way, was running against Carole Keeton Rylander, who scored over 64% of the vote. I don't think that means so much when running against a nonentity, but it is worth remarking on. Point I'm making here is that 40% is not that high a hurdle to clear. Even last year, all three downballot statewide Dems did better than that:

Candidate Votes Pct
JR Molina 2,906,720 42.14
Bob Scarborough 2,872,717 40.94
David Van Os 2,817,700 40.76

If the Democratic candidate really can consolidate that base vote, there's more than 40% available. Strayhorn and Friedman will be appealing to those voters as well, so it's far from a given, but the potential is there.

Last point:

Normally, about 36 percent of the state's registered voters turn out in a governor's contest. But this one could push turnout to the levels of 1990, when half the state's voters cast ballots in an election that put Democrat Ann Richards in the Governor's Mansion in an upset over Republican Clayton Williams.

Turnout in the Governor's race was 36.24% in 2002, 32.39% in 1998, and 50.87% in 1994. The Secretary of State's webpage does not go back to 1990, so I'm not sure if RG Ratcliffe is mixing up his years here. I also have no idea how a boost in turnout could affect the various scenarios for each candidate. Oh, yeah, I'm ready for some poll numbers.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 08, 2006 to Election 2006 | TrackBack

Dean Barkley, Friedman's campaign manager: "In a four-way race, he said the victor could take it with as little as 30 percent." - What does that say about the ability of the victor to govern? What a lousy campaign strategy, "I want to be Mr. Governor 30.5 percent."

Sorry Kuff, but I'd tend to agree with the Perry advisor that the base Democratic vote is more like 35% than Sanchez's 40%.

Even Sanchez probably benefitted from the "I hate Perry even though I'm a Republican" vote. I had a very liberal friend who voted for Perry because of some silly thing that Sanchez said or did involving veterans. I'm sure the same happens for conservatives. Point is that in a multi-candidate race, those several percent of can't-stand-Perry voters who would vote for a Democrat in a two-candidate race have other places to turn.

I'd say the Democratic nominee starts with 35% and has to fight with the others for the rest. And of course if the Democratic nominee comes across as a loser, then even the 35% are at risk. How many Sanchez voters might have gone elsewhere if there had been an alternative of any credibility on the ballot?

Posted by: John D. Wilson on January 8, 2006 8:37 PM