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Don’t forget about apartments

On the subject of how Battleground Texas can achieve its aims, Greg adds a note and some numbers about apartment complexes.

I opted to look at one of the most GOP-friendly places in Harris County: HD130 in the northwestern corner of the county. Simply put, this district won’t be turning blue with anything short of multiple miracles. But part of the approach outlined by Bird, and one that I feel like I’ve been beating my head against a wall on, is that it is just as important to raise some areas from 25% Dem to 35% Dem in order to improve the overall showing. Having driven through HD130 on the way to/from Austin, I noticed that there were a few new apartments along Highway 290. I’m also familiar enough with the area to know that there are some hubs of apartments full of kids moving out from mom & dad’s place.

In just a quick scan of apartment complexes, I ended up with four quick sample studies. One was a Senior complex, but I opted to leave it in to prove a point that any perceived GOP tilt among seniors in a heavily GOP district wouldn’t harm the overall showing. The five units I ended up with had a score of 67% Dem based on Clarity‘s partisanship score for 2012. For all apartments in HD130, the score came to 52.4% Dem. So while there are certainly good and mediocre targets within the district, comparing this to a district that gave Obama 23% of the vote in 2012 shows a far healthier target for where to improve.

Furthermore, we have some valuable data from apartments: namely how many units there are in each. For the five complexes I identified, the turnout clocked in at 25% of apartment units turning out to vote. The traditional metric of turnout comes in at 45.3% turnout of registered voters. How to increase these numbers comes down to what you believe. If you believe that the registered voters track pretty closely with actual, current residents in the complex, then you face a turnout issue. But if you’re like me and believe that the registered voters track significantly less with actual, current residents, then you have to add a voter registration component to the mix in order to capture the new voters and replace the old, out-of-date information.

Good stuff, and a reminder that a lot of the voters we want to target need to be registered first, and will need to be registered again in the future. I haven’t seen Jeremy Bird specifically address the matter of apartment dwellers in the various interviews I’ve seen so far, but as Greg notes this fits well with the overall philosophy of Battleground Texas. In an interesting coincidence of timing, David Jarman of the Daily Kos does related research showing how apartment renters correlate with the Democratic-ness of a Congressional district. As it happens, three of the five districts with the highest percentage of renters that happen to be held by Republicans are in Texas. File this away for future reference and comparison.

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  1. John Robert BEHRMAN says:

    The apartments themselves are a problem for a Democratic Party: We have exited municipal politics and cannot address, much less, resolve profound and pervasive issues that involve apartment renters as Democratic voters and apartment owners or developers as Democratic donors.

    It is true that raising some districts’ Democratic vote by 10% even w/o carrying the district is important for winning statewide or countywide races in an even-numbered year. However, it is both more important and more cost-effective to raise political participation (identification + registration + mobilization + qualification + verification) during odd-numbered year elections, for instance, in the City of Houston, HISD, and so on.

    Unless there is unprecedented attention to and progress on this matter this year, the collapse of Democratic performance from 2008-10 will repeat in 2012-14. And, that will not augur well for 2016.

    Progress requires integrated party-building technology, a sophisticated counter vote-suppression strategy, and an unprecedented message that resonates with the economic interests of apartment-dwellers in Houston this year.

  2. John Robert BEHRMAN says:

    To give you an idea of how unprepared this Democratic Party is to address the class issues of apartment dwellers, consider the following three articles by Texan Michael Lind:

    In “Private Sector Parasites” Lind writes “The real “takers” in America are not poor people dependent on welfare, but the unproductive, rent-extracting rich.”

    In “How Rich “Moochers” ruin America” Lind provides “the 3-point plan of wealthy landlords, lenders and insurance providers — the true “takers” threatening the nation.”

    Then, in “Defeating Useless Rich People” Lind also provides “a populist campaign to stop them. Here’s how we can do it.”

    Now, Lind addresses these matters on the national level. So, could cringing liberals do so on the local level?

    Probably not.

  3. […] Voting turnout rates in apartments is 25% — compared to 45% for home dwellers. (according to  political analyst Chuck Kuffner) […]