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October 26th, 2022:

Beacon Research: Abbott 48, Beto 45

A different poll result from what we had been seeing.

A poll affiliated with the Democratic Policy Institute has Beto O’Rourke tailing Gov. Greg Abbott by 3 points in the race for Texas governor, a margin narrower than other recent polls.

The poll was released Sunday, ahead of Monday’s start of early voting. Beacon Research surveyed 1,264 registered Texas voters between Oct. 15 and 19 for the nonprofit, which describes itself as developing “common sense policies that meet the needs and desires of the majority of our citizens.” The organization’s principal officer is Najy A. Metni, according to IRS documents — an O’Rourke donor. Metni has donated $50,000 to O’Rourke this election cycle, campaign finance and other public records show. Abbott’s 3 point lead — 48% to O’Rourke’s 45% — is subject to a 2.8% margin of error.

“Simply put, as voters begin heading to the polls this week, the Texas Governor’s race is anybody’s ballgame,” the institute said in a statement.

The poll puts the candidates in a closer race than other polls released in the past several weeks, including one by the Texas Politics Project at UT-Austin released Friday that had Abbott with a widened lead over his Democratic opponent. The October poll had Abbott ahead by 11 percentage points compared to five points in a poll released in September.

The poll data is here, though it doesn’t contain crosstabs. I was going to cite the recent Marist poll as a second closer result for Beto in October, but that four-point spread was for registered voters, with no screen applied. They reported a 52-44 Abbott lead among “definite” voters, but for whatever the reason didn’t include a number for those who called themselves “likely”. I continue to be puzzled by and skeptical of the distinctions between the “Likely” and “Extra Super Duper Likely With A Cherry On Top” voters. For what it’s worth, in this particular poll, they gave numbers for all voters (Abbott 48-45), “Definite” voters (Abbott 48-46), and “Less Likely” voters (Abbott 43-34). Maybe they just have a different “Likely Voter” screen than others do, or maybe they’re seeing something different. It’s hard to put a lot of faith in a single stand-out result, so make of this what you will.

One other poll came out this week, from Siena College, which has Abbott up 52-43 among “Likely” voters. They had him up by a 50-43 margin, also among “Likely” voters, in September.

The counting process

I don’t think I had seen this explained before.

Harris County residents likely will have a long night waiting for election returns Nov. 8, according to county Elections Administrator Clifford Tatum.

It takes around one minute for the county’s equipment to read a digital drive that contains a polling location’s vote count — and election workers will be receiving a drive from each of the county’s 782 polling locations.

The county’s equipment can read two of those drives at the same time, which would put the total counting time — assuming no problems arise — at more than six and a half hours.

“That sort of tells you how long it’s going to take to process all of the results that come in from Election Night,” Tatum said.

“The reality is that we will not have all of the final results tabulated before midnight,” Tatum added. “The math simply does not lend itself to allow us to do that.”

The county has not had complete results before midnight in decades, owing largely to the population and sprawling geography poll workers had to traverse to turn in ballot boxes and voting machines after the polls closed. In recent years, however, wait times for results have stretched further into the early-morning hours. This year’s March primaries took 30 hours to tally, prompting harsh criticism of Tatum’s predecessor, who later resigned over vote-counting issues. Harris County was the only one in the state to exceed the 24-hour limit.

Tatum said the elections office’s top priority is accuracy over speed.

“We just need our voters to know that simply because all the results aren’t in before midnight doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong,” Tatum said. “It’s just the process.”

Asked why the county does not have more equipment available to cut down the reporting time, Tatum said the challenge is balancing speed and accuracy.

“If you have multiple readers going, you want to be sure that the operators that are operating those readers are following the processes and procedures. So, if we have the opportunity to add in an additional reader, we’ll do that. But right now, our plan is to read two at a time. They are expensive equipment. It’s about control and accuracy in the process.”

Sounds reasonable. Usually, we get most of the votes tallied by around midnight – the May elections were both like that, thanks in part to the reduced turnout. The primary this year was an exception, and the blowback from it was exacerbated by a lack of communication from the Elections office. Here, Administrator Clifford Tatum lays out a schedule for when we can expect updates, and if we get that plus clear communications if and when something is causing a delay, I think we’ll be fine. Campos has more.

Ramsey and Cagle finish sabotaging the budget

They got what they wanted.

Harris County’s prolonged political battle over the budget came to an end today. For over a month, the two GOP members of Commissioners Court have broken quorum, skipping meetings to prevent Democrats from passing their proposed tax rate and budget for fiscal year 2023.

They skipped again Tuesday, despite multiple major items on the budget that impacted millions in funding for law enforcement, flood control and the Harris Health System. Here’s a play-by-play of how it all went down, from the Houston Chronicle’s government reporter Jen Rice.

You can read the rest, but it’s more of what we’ve seen before. If you don’t like the cuts to the Sheriff, the DA, and the constables that will now happen, take your complaints to Commissioners Cagle and Ramsey. They’re the ones that made this happen.

UPDATE: Chron editorial: Harris County Republicans just defunded the police.

November 2022 Day Two EV totals: Just the facts

I’m just going to get into it, I don’t have anything to add to the numbers. Final EV totals from 2018 are here and from 2014 are here. The Day Two totals for 2022 are here.


Year     Mail    Early    Total
===============================
2014   42,752   40,595   83,347
2018   53,947  127,963  181,910
2022   23,630  120,402  144,032

There were about 59K in person voters yesterday, compared to 63K for 2018. Obviously, the overall mail ballot total is down as noted before, but in the end I expect those votes to mostly show up as in person votes. I’m sure I’ll have more to say going forward, but for now we’re up to date.