Here's a Texas Monthly article by Paul Burka that takes a look at how the Presidential race might affect various key downballot races in Texas. It's pretty comprehensive, and very Burka-esque, with all the good and bang-your-head-against-a-wall-ness that implies. One point that I want to highlight, which illuminates some of my frustration with this kind of analysis:
The East Texas WD-40's
"WD-40" is Capitol-speak for white Democrats of middle age who generally represent Republican-leaning districts. In a normal year, Mark Homer, Jim McReynolds, and Chuck Hopson would be favored, but Obama may be a load to carry in East Texas.
Yeah, I think you see my problem. It's one part lazy thinking, with an equal measure of Republican talking points. And to this day, after all this time, no one has ever satisfactorily explained to me why guys like Homer, Hopson, and McReynolds have anything more to fear now than they did in 2004 when an at-his-zenith George W. Bush was leading the way for the state GOP. For crying out loud, Burka acknowledges this up front:
Finally, the R's have run out of Bushes. The 2008 election will not be a replay of 2000, or even 2004. The Democrats have a candidate who energizes the party's electorate, while the GOP nominee would not have been the first choice of most Texas Republicans.
Well, there is one more thing, which Burka doesn't mention but which must be at the root of his thinking here, and that of course is race. Maybe the fact that Obama is black will help generate Republican turnout in East Texas. Only problem with that is, there's no evidence that Obama will do any worse in such areas than some other Democrat would have done.
So does Barack Obama have a problem with white voters? The answer is a resounding "yes." And so has every other Democratic presidential candidate in the past forty years. The last Democratic candidate for president to win a majority of the white vote was Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Al Gore lost the white vote by 12 points in 2000. John Kerry lost the white vote by 17 points in 2004.
Based on five national polls that have been conducted this month--Gallup, Newsweek, Quinnipiac, CBS/New York Times, and ABC/Washington Post--Barack Obama is currently trailing John McCain by an average of nine points among white voters. So Obama is doing much better than John Kerry and a little better than Al Gore. In fact, the only Democratic presidential candidates in the past four decades who have done better among white voters were Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996. Not coincidentally, they were also the only successful Democratic presidential candidates in the past four decades. Based on his current showing in the polls, Barack Obama may well be the next one. With whites expected to comprise less than 80 percent of the 2008 electorate, and with a 20-1 margin among black voters and a 2-1 margin among Hispanic voters, Obama's current nine point deficit among white voters would translate into a decisive victory in November.