The final cumulative and canvass reports are out. I've been working off of a draft canvass, which did not include provisional ballots, so if you compare those numbers to mine you'll find a few differences here and there. Shouldn't be off by more than a handful of votes, but just so you know.
I've been poring through the data and will have a few more analyses to present before I call it quits on this, but the thing that has struck me about all of this is how little variation there is in candidate performances when you drill down. Adrian Garcia leads the pack wherever you look. The countywide candidates who did better overall do better at the district and precinct level. That seems intuitive and obvious, but I expected some regional variations, and for the most part I haven't seen them. I also expected to see Democratic downballot candidates do better against the top of the ticket, which was the norm in 2004, but for the most part the differences haven't been very great. That too was to be expected to some extent, but beyond the fact that Democrats clearly had less reason to stray, I think it also speaks to the success of the coordinated campaign's message, which was to vote Democratic all the way down the line. With very few exceptions, each Democrat got about as many votes as the others. That was the point of the coordinated campaign, and by and large it worked.
Of course, it wasn't enough to win everything, but given that the standard result for Democrats in Harris County had been to win nothing for over a decade, I don't see much point in quibbling. I think we'll see more of the same in 2010 and beyond, and it'll be up to the Republicans to find a way to break through, as a few of them did this year.
To me, the main question that remains is whether the pattern we saw in early voting this year is the new norm or an aberration. It's been funny to me to see people complain about how Harris Democrats "lost" Election Day this year, even as they were winning 27 of 34 countywide races and picking up a seat in the State House. It's true - other than Garcia (again), every countywide Democrat got fewer votes on Election Day than their Republican opponent. The same was true in absentee balloting as well. But it didn't matter, because the cushion they'd built up in early voting was enough to carry most of them across the finish line. And not to put too fine a point on it, but Democrats lost Election Day in 2004 as well. It's just that they also lost early voting that year, too, by a larger margin so nobody noticed or cared. I'll take what happened this year over what happened then, if you don't mind.Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 24, 2008 to Election 2008