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December 12th, 2022:

State and county election result relationships: Tarrant County

In years past, Tarrant County was a pretty close bellwether for election results in the state of Texas. From 2004 through 2016, the closeness of their Presidential numbers with the statewide numbers was eerie. But since 2018 the talk has been about how Tarrant is on the verge of turning blue, which puts it at least a little to the left of the state as a whole. As I did before with Harris County, I thought I’d take a closer look at how statewide candidates have done in Tarrant County compared to the state overall, to see what it might tell me. We start as we did with Harris in the distant past of 2002:

2002                 2004                   2006
State Tarrant  Diff   State Tarrant  Diff   State Tarrant  Diff
===================   ===================   ===================
43.33   41.27 -2.06   38.22   37.01 -1.21   36.04   34.80 -1.24
39.96   38.53 -1.43   40.94   37.36 -3.58   29.79   31.07  1.28
46.03   42.63 -3.40   40.77   38.06 -2.71   37.45   37.06 -0.39
41.08   37.76 -3.32   42.14   39.15 -2.99   37.23   36.99 -0.24
32.92   30.86 -2.06                         37.01   36.41 -0.60
41.48   37.94 -3.54                         40.96   40.67 -0.29
37.82   34.85 -2.97                         41.79   40.86 -0.93
41.49   39.02 -2.47                         41.73   40.52 -1.21
40.51   37.55 -2.96                         44.89   42.79 -2.10
41.54   38.73 -2.81                         43.35   41.56 -1.79
41.89   38.49 -3.40								
43.24   39.74 -3.50								
45.90   42.26 -3.64								
39.15   35.90 -3.25								
42.61   39.20 -3.41								
40.01   36.92 -3.09								
Min   -3.64           Min   -3.58           Min   -2.10
Max   -1.43           Max   -1.21           Max    1.28
Avg   -2.96           Avg   -2.62           Avg   -0.75

You can read the earlier posts for the explanation of the numbers. The bottom line is that in early to mid Aughts, Tarrant was more Republican overall than the rest of the state. As was the case with Harris, there was a step in the Democratic direction in 2006, with the chaotic multi-candidate Governor’s race providing the first Democrat to do better in Tarrant than in the state, but it was still about a point more Republican than overall.

2008                  2010                  2012
State Tarrant  Diff   State Tarrant  Diff   State Tarrant  Diff
===================   ===================   ===================
43.68   43.73  0.05   42.30   40.98 -1.32   41.38   41.43  0.05
42.84   42.52 -0.32   34.83   34.97  0.14   40.62   40.41 -0.21
44.35   43.39 -0.96   33.66   33.90  0.24   39.60   39.20 -0.40
43.79   43.47 -0.32   35.29   35.24 -0.05   41.91   41.40 -0.51
45.88   44.16 -1.72   35.80   35.83  0.03   41.24   40.31 -0.93
44.63   43.51 -1.12   36.24   35.64 -0.60				
45.53   43.81 -1.72   37.26   35.39 -1.87				
43.75   42.49 -1.26   37.00   35.97 -1.03				
                      35.62   35.17 -0.45				
                      36.62   36.05 -0.57				
Min   -1.72           Min   -1.87            Min   -0.93
Max    0.05           Max    0.24            Max    0.05
Avg   -0.92           Avg   -0.55            Avg   -0.40

Still slightly on the Republican side as we move into elections that feel more familiar to us – as I’ve said before, looking at those elections from 2002 through 2006 is like visiting a foreign country – and you can see how dead on the Tarrant Presidential numbers were. Tarrant was a bit more Republican in the judicial races than in the executive office and Senate races, but otherwise not much else to say.

2014                  2016
State Tarrant  Diff   State Tarrant  Diff
===================   ===================
34.36   36.13  1.77   43.24   43.14 -0.10
38.90   41.08  2.18   38.38   38.62  0.24
38.71   39.53  0.82   38.53   38.43 -0.10
38.02   38.91  0.89   41.18   40.49 -0.69
37.69   38.67  0.98   39.36   39.58  0.22
35.32   36.49  1.17   40.05   39.75 -0.30
36.84   38.14  1.30   40.20   40.91  0.71
37.25   38.43  1.18   40.89   40.59 -0.30
36.49   38.02  1.53				
37.60   38.41  0.81				
36.54   38.00  1.46				
Min    0.81           Min   -0.69
Max    2.18           Max    0.71
Avg    1.28           Avg   -0.04

I wouldn’t have guessed that 2014 would be the year that Tarrant County officially became (slightly) more Democratic than the state as a whole, but here we are. Maybe because 2014 was such a miserable year, maybe because Wendy Davis was the Dem nominee for Governor, maybe it was just time. It wasn’t quite the start of a trend, as things snapped back a bit in 2016, but a threshold had been crossed.

2018                  2020                  2022
State Tarrant  Diff   State Tarrant  Diff   State Tarrant  Diff
===================   ===================   ===================
48.33   49.93  1.60   46.48	49.31  2.83   43.81   47.24  3.43
42.51   43.75  1.24   43.87	46.18  2.31   43.44   47.36  3.92
46.49   47.25  0.76   43.56	45.25  1.69   43.62   46.80  3.18
47.01   48.11  1.10   44.49	46.71  2.22   40.91   44.33  3.42
43.39   44.70  1.31   44.08	46.14  2.06   42.10   44.90  2.80
43.19   43.99  0.80   44.76	47.23  2.47   43.63   46.72  3.09
46.41   47.37  0.96   44.35	46.50  2.15   40.51   43.83  3.32
43.91   44.85  0.94   45.18	47.38  2.20   41.81   45.14  3.33
46.83   47.86  1.03   44.70	47.03  2.33   42.87   46.36  3.49
46.29   47.44  1.15   45.47	47.91  2.44   43.55   46.75  3.20
46.29   47.68  1.39                           43.02   46.48  3.46
45.48   46.24  0.76                           42.74   46.22  3.48
45.85   47.14  1.29								
Min    0.76           Min    1.69            Min    2.80
Max    1.60           Max    2.83            Max    3.92
Avg    1.10           Avg    2.27            Avg    3.34

And thus, despite the small hiccup of 2016, the ball moved ever forward. It would be easy to look at the Tarrant County results in 2022, especially at the top, compare them to 2018 and 2020, and declare that Tarrant had backslid, but as you can see that would be a misreading of the data. I’m going to step a little out on a limb here and say that Tarrant will be Democratic at a Presidential level again in 2024, and there’s a good chance that will be true elsewhere on the statewide ballot as well. Going by the average gap in 2022, two other Dems would have carried Tarrant County in 2018. If the trend we see here continues, getting to about 45% statewide would probably be enough to win Tarrant in 2024. Please feel free to point at this and laugh at me if this turns out to be wildly off base. Until then, I’ll do this same exercise for a couple more counties, just for the fun of it.

Settlement of the sexual harassment lawsuit against HCC Trustee Glaser on the agenda

On the agenda for this Wednesday’s HCC Trustee meeting is this item of interest.

Robert Glaser

Proposed Settlement Authority regarding Southern District of Texas Houston Division, Civil Action 4:21-cv-02216; Patricia Dodd vs. Houston Community College, et al.

Authorize the administration to attend the court-ordered settlement conference in Patricia Dodd v. HCC with the authority discussed during closed session with the Board of Trustees.

Dodd filed a lawsuit on July 8, 2021, against Robert Glaser, In His Official Capacity; Cesar Maldonado, In His Official Capacity; and Houston Community College for the Southern District of Texas Houston Division, Civil Action 4:21-cv-02216; Patricia Dodd v Houston Community College, et al., (hereinafter referred to as the “Lawsuit”).

As discussed in closed session.

See here, here, and here for some background. The lawsuit was filed last June, and other than Glaser stepping down as Board Chair this is the first news I’ve seen since then. I don’t know what the settlement will be, so I don’t want to get too far out on a limb here, but if we’re at a point where HCC, and thus the taxpayers, are on the hook for a payment of some kind, then both Glaser and Maldonado ought to be writing their resignation letters. Like I said, I’m missing some context here, and that could mitigate when I’m saying here, but resignation for both should at least be on the table. I’m sure we’ll know more soon.

Driverless taxi update

Things to watch out for in the nearer-than-you-think future, with Austin first in line.

When transit systems experience delays, the reason usually isn’t very interesting: congested streets, medical emergencies, mechanical problems. But the cause of a recent holdup on San Francisco’s MUNI system at least had the virtue of being novel.

On Sept. 30 at around 11 p.m., an N Line streetcar ground to a halt at the intersection of Carl Street and Cole Street because an autonomous vehicle from Cruise, a subsidiary of General Motors, had halted on the streetcar tracks and wouldn’t budge. According to the city’s transportation department, the 140 passengers riding the N line that evening were stuck in place for seven minutes before a Cruise employee arrived and moved the driverless conveyance. (Cruise did not respond to questions about what happened that night.)

This incident, which was not reported in the media at the time, is one of many in which autonomous vehicles roaming San Francisco’s streets have disrupted the city’s transportation network. In April, a Cruise vehicle blocked a travel lane needed by a siren-blaring fire engine, delaying its arrival at a three-alarm fire. Last fall, dozens of self-driving cars from Google’s Waymo subsidiary drove daily into a quiet cul-de-sac before turning around, much to the frustration of nearby residents.

Because of California’s insufficient and outdated AV reporting requirements, many incidents like these have escaped both public attention and regulatory consequences. Facing minimal scrutiny, AV companies have little incentive to avoid mucking up the public right of way—or even keep city officials informed about what’s happening on their streets.

With Silicon Valley a few miles away, San Francisco has become the top urban location for AV testing and deployment. With California officials granting their first AV deployment permits allowing passenger service this year, the city now offers a preview of what’s to come in other places where self-driving companies are now fanning out, with expansions announced for Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Austin.

Based on San Francisco’s experience, residents and officials in those cities should brace for strange, disruptive, and dangerous happenings on their streets. And they should demand that state officials offer the protection that California is failing to provide.


The National Association of City Transportation Officials, representing municipal transportation departments across North America, submitted its own letter to the NHTSA that flatly opposed GM’s request that the Cruise Origin receive an exemption from vehicle safety rules. (NHTSA has not yet made a decision.) Kate Fillin-Yeh, NACTO’s director of strategy, said urban transportation leaders nationwide are watching events unfold in San Francisco with growing concern. “I know that AV companies can make more money in cities because there is a density of people there,” she said, “but they’re unhelpful to the many people who rely on transit or walk.”

Indeed, beyond the wow factor of stepping inside a self-driving car, it’s unclear how exactly the introduction of robotaxis improves an urban transportation network. But the risks—including disruptions on public roadways, increased congestion, and reduced transit use—are very real.

Fillin-Yeh said her top request for federal and state policymakers is that they empower local leaders to monitor and manage AVs using their streets. “Cities need to be a part of these conversations about permitting and regulating AVs,” she said. “That isn’t always happening.”

In their letter to NHTSA, San Francisco officials proposed several ways to improve AV oversight. They suggested that NHTSA treat “travel lane failures that block roadways” as a key measure of AV readiness, adding that NHTSA should also quantify and publicize AV companies’ response times to vehicle emergencies.

Riggs, the University of San Francisco professor, agreed on the need to evaluate AV companies’ emergency response times, adding that governments must be especially careful to protect so-called vulnerable road users. “We should be collecting autonomous vehicles’ near-misses with pedestrians and cyclists,” he said.

Driverless taxis have been a thing since 2016, with the first domestic service beginning in Phoenix in 2018. As the story notes, GM subsidiary Cruise has opened a waitlist for its service launch in Austin, supposedly by the end of this year, among other cities. While this story is mostly about the failure of the state of California to provide oversight of these things, the point is that other states will soon have the same opportunity to fail to provide oversight. The Lege has largely rolled out the red carpet for companies that want to test autonomous vehicles – you’ve seen my regular series of posts about autonomous trucks and various driverless delivery services. Given the Republican urge to screw cities, along with the law passed a few years ago curtailing cities’ ability to regulate rideshare services, I think we can predict how this will go. Barring a Republican legislator getting mowed down (or stuck behind) one of these things, it’ll be laissez-faire as usual. Get ready for it. In a bit of good timing, this Sunday’s episode of What Next TBD has more.