June 17, 2008
Good poll news in CD10

CD10 candidate Larry Joe Doherty has released a poll memo (PDF) with some good and interesting news.

This district may have been gerrymandered to be a safe Republican seat, but it certainly does not look like one any longer. In the initial trial heat, [incumbent Rep. Mike] McCaul gets 43% of the vote to Doherty's 34% a scant nine percentage point lead that shows McCaul starting out well short of the 50% mark - and as the incumbent, he should be starting this race at or above the winning percentage. In addition, in a generic trial heat that just asks voter preference on voting for a Democrat or Republican for Congress, the generic Democrat gets 41% of the vote, and the Republican garners 45%, only a 4-point difference.

That's in line with an earlier IVR poll that showed McCaul with a 6 point lead. We knew from the 2006 result that this district was trending purple, so none of this should be a big surprise. And if you presume, not too unreasonably, that the Democratic part of the district, in Travis County, is more enthusiastic about voting than the Republican part in Harris County, it becomes easy to see how the gap can narrow further.

McCaul has failed to capitalize on the biggest advantages of incumbency: despite serving two terms in Congress, nearly half of all likely voters do not even recognize his name (47% don't recognize), the most basic measure of a politician's strength. His job rating is utterly anemic at 28% positive, 29% negative, and 42% unsure - and this is when McCaul is identified as their current Congressman.

This district encompasses some fast-growing areas in Harris and Travis Counties, so by its very nature there are a lot of people in CD10 who have never voted for Mike McCaul. It's amusing to think that this so-carefully-drawn district, which was thought to be so red in 2004 that no Democrat bothered to file for the primary, has changed so much from the original Tom DeLay vision of it.

Voters are moving to the center and more receptive to Democratic solutions to the nation's problems at the same time that McCaul has aligned himself solidly with a failed President. Bush's job rating is 70% negative here (in Texas) and 69% of C.D. 10 voters think the country is seriously off on the wrong track. Furthermore, the data shows that many of the tired, traditional attacks on a Democratic candidate will work no better in this district than they did in Mississippi or Louisiana. In addition, the economy and high food and gas prices, tough issues for incumbents, are increasingly the top concerns for voters.

We may not have much information about Bush's statewide approval rating, but if he's doing that poorly in CD10, you have to figure he's not doing too much better overall. Perhaps someone should notify Tina Benkiser of this fact.

BOR has more. Larry Joe is also a Blue America candidate, and you can learn more about him at his Firedoglake chat or my interview with him from the primary.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 17, 2008 to Election 2008