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Precinct analysis: The two races we’re all glad to see the end of

For my last look at precinct data from the Harris County Democratic primary of 2012, let’s see what happened in the two most contentious races on the ballot: Elaine Palmer versus Steven Kirkland, and Keryl Douglass versus Lane Lewis. First up, Palmer-Kirkland:

Dist Palmer Kirkland Palmer % =============================== 126 791 417 65.48% 127 860 466 64.86% 128 815 615 56.99% 129 1155 878 56.81% 130 582 322 64.38% 131 3894 1785 68.57% 132 662 350 65.42% 133 803 884 47.60% 134 1393 2614 34.76% 135 731 401 64.58% 137 816 563 59.17% 138 649 511 55.95% 139 3266 1514 68.33% 140 897 461 66.05% 141 2547 963 72.56% 142 2992 1332 69.20% 143 1859 1122 62.36% 144 944 638 59.67% 145 982 708 58.11% 146 4546 2275 66.65% 147 4224 2710 60.92% 148 1077 1305 45.21% 149 847 514 62.23% 150 647 419 60.69%

Palmer won by a 61.5 to 38.5 margin, so her domination of the districts is not surprising. Never underestimate a large budget and a boundless willingness to go negative. Kirkland did have a base of support, it just wasn’t big enough to withstand the assault. It will be interesting to return to the precinct results in November to see how long the memories of Kirkland’s supporters are. My guess is that Palmer is going to underperform the Democratic baseline overall, and will probably do worse in the districts that Kirkland carried. Good thing for the people who bankrolled Palmer that it wasn’t actually about her winning. They’ve already done what they set out to do.

I don’t know about you, but when the early vote results came in and I first saw the Palmer-Kirkland numbers as I was scrolling through them, I cringed. I was convinced that if Palmer was winning, so too would Keryl Douglass be winning. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case.

Dist Lewis Douglas Douglas % ============================== 126 621 568 47.77% 127 741 574 43.65% 128 891 550 38.17% 129 1224 734 37.49% 130 494 405 45.05% 131 2629 2884 52.31% 132 540 471 46.59% 133 984 576 36.92% 134 2687 962 26.36% 135 627 497 44.22% 137 811 542 40.06% 138 707 422 37.38% 139 2262 2483 52.33% 140 827 564 40.55% 141 1609 1881 53.90% 142 2062 2112 50.60% 143 1815 1213 40.06% 144 1066 584 35.39% 145 1103 596 35.08% 146 3016 3449 53.35% 147 3407 3181 48.28% 148 1609 746 31.68% 149 757 594 43.97% 150 601 455 43.09%

Douglass carried five of the six African-American State Rep districts, but by relatively small margins. She did not win anywhere else. She also didn’t have anywhere near as much money as Palmer had, and I have to believe that in the end, the homophobic campaign email – whether her campaign had something to do with it or not – and push cards did not help her. I can’t say for certain that they hurt her, but I think it is safe to say that this was the wrong year to be on the wrong side of the equality issue, at least in a Democratic primary. If this is the last year that it’s even a question, I’ll consider that to be one of the better things to come out of this primary.

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  1. Ken says:

    One thing that is clear from all the data you have shown is that 134 has the most knowledgeable democrats of any district in the county, even if they have a republican representative. Todays numbers confirmed my feelings from previous days.

  2. Noel Freeman says:

    District 134 is, indeed, the most educated district in the entire state. It has the highest per capita rate of residents with post-secondary and post-graduate education.

  3. Mainstream says:

    Which is why we elected a mainstream Republican as our representative.

  4. JJ says:

    Well, Mainstream, there is much to that, I agree. But also the Dem reps in nearby districts who could give up some Dem precincts to 134 and get Rep precincts instead are not willing to increase the risk of losing their public-trough jobs to make 134 more Dem. They fully support the Rep map drawers who cram as many Rep precincts in as they can. It is a Republican district, with a decent % of independents like me who split their votes. Ellen Cohen won against the erratic Martha Wong and then against someone who didn’t campaign, all the while voting way more liberal than the majority of her constituents. Hence a moderate Republican who actually worked hard, Sarah Davis, beat her (and her cocktail society-oriented campaign, disdaining grassroots efforts) soundly despite 134 going significantly for Dem Bill White versus Rep Rick Perry. Hopefully thoughtful people don’t buy the Kuffner/knee-jerk Dem BS about Cohen losing what should be a Dem seat due to mindless Rep straight ticket voting in 2010.

  5. You make some interesting claims, JJ. The facts tell a somewhat different story.

    1. With the sole exception of Bill White, Cohen vastly outperformed every other Democrat in HD134 in 2010. Other Dems ranged from 36% to 42%; Cohen got over 49%. She received between 5000 and 8000 more votes than any other Dem in the District, while Sarah Davis got between 1000 and 5000 fewer votes than every other Republican. I don’t know how you can look at those numbers and not conclude that the tide was a significant factor in her defeat. A one point shift in the Democratic direction would have been enough for her to hold on. See for the numbers.

    2. I won’t argue with your characterization of Wong as “erratic”, but she was a strong campaigner and a formidable fundraiser. Compare Wong’s 30 day report ( to Cohen’s ( She outraised Cohen by over $100K and had more than double her cash on hand ($401K to $181K). She was also a member of the Speaker’s leadership team. Beating her was a big deal.

    3. You don’t cite any of Cohen’s votes, so I have no way to evaluate your claim about her “way more liberal” voting record. I will simply note that outside the final sonogram bill, Davis tended to vote along party lines, right there with Leo Berman and Debbie Riddle and so on. One such vote was for the original House Bill 1, which cut over $10 billion from public education ( You can call that “moderate” if you want. We’ll see what the voters think this fall.

  6. Mainstream says:

    Wong wanted to be everybody’s friend, and in the end her vacillation lost her support from all segments of the GOP spectrum. A dozen Montrose area precinct chairs deserted her over her spineless lack of leadership on issues dear to gay voters, tax conservatives refused to back her because of her support for the new margins tax, and some social conservatives were mad with her over some abortion/stem cell issues.

    Cohen, as an incumbent, had backing from Texans for Lawsuit Reform and dozens of business groups. Those interests have all lined up behind Davis, and I would expect Davis is safe for the decade in the district as drawn by the federal court, and would be even safer in the legislative plan, if it ends up being the new set of lines for 2014.

  7. Bill Kelly says:


    Facts are facts.

    I guess her showing in getting 55% in a 5 candidate field for District C shows that in 3 competitive races, she aced 2 of them and barely lost one in the worst year on record for Democrats.

    She was so “liberal” that the Republican Chairman of the Appropriations Committee and Chairman of the Higher Education Committee came to town halls that she hosted.

    Facts are facts.


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