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Targeting 2008: CD10

BOR lists “Five Things You Can Do To Help Win TX-10”. We know there’s two announced candidates on the Democratic side, and we know that incumbent Michael McCaul won with a modest 55% in 2006. What else do we know about this district and the chances of winning it in 2008?

Well, ask me a question like that and I’ll give you a spreadsheet. Here’s how the statewide candidates did in CD10 last year:

Republican Votes Pct Democrat Votes Pct ======================================================= Combs 107,403 63.1 Head 62,564 36.8 Abbott 107,990 62.9 Van Os 63,605 37.1 Hutchison 107,988 62.5 Radnofsky 64,818 37.5 Dewhurst 104,155 61.7 Alvarado 64,540 38.3 Patterson 97,762 58.9 Hathcox 68,328 41.1 Staples 97,273 58.1 Gilbert 70,124 41.9 McCaul 97,712 57.8 Ankrum 71,415 42.2 Ames Jones 95,750 57.7 Henry 70,112 42.3 Keller 98,243 57.3 Molina 73,136 42.7 Willett 89,899 54.4 Moody 75,343 45.6

Remember that all percentages are for the two-party totals, and that every race except Keller/Molina had a Libertarian in it; Mike Badnarik scored about 4% in CD10. Basically, McCaul compares poorly to the other Republicans on the ballot. An incumbent with his financial resources should have done better than he did.

I believe the key to making CD10 a viable target in 2008 is Travis County. You may recall that Ted Ankrum commissioned a poll in CD10 back in July, which showed the race splitting 50/42, with Libertarian Michael Badnarik getting the remaining 8. The poll skewed towards Travis – 47% of the respondents were from Travis County, 36% from Harris, and the remainder elsewhere. I noted that this was a critical factor, because Travis was going to be the main source of Democratic support. I also noted that this was a significant departure from 2004, where Harris slightly outpolled Travis. Here’s how everybody performed in the CD10 portion of Travis County last year:

Republican Votes Pct Democrat Votes Pct ======================================================= Combs 34,418 49.1 Head 35,667 50.9 Abbott 33,790 47.5 Van Os 37,321 52.5 Hutchison 33,359 46.3 Radnofsky 38,654 53.7 Dewhurst 32,597 46.3 Alvarado 37,798 53.7 Patterson 29,295 42.6 Hathcox 39,512 57.4 Staples 28,972 41.9 Gilbert 40,256 58.1 Ames Jones 28,539 41.9 Henry 39,638 58.1 McCaul 28,576 40.9 Ankrum 41,351 59.1 Keller 28,962 40.4 Molina 42,769 59.6 Willett 25,479 37.3 Moody 42,845 62.7 Puryear 30,765 42.5 Brees 41,550 57.5 Waldrop 28,578 39.8 Coronado 43,191 60.2 Wilson 28,564 39.6 Henson 43,647 60.4 Connor 27,069 38.1 Baird 44,070 61.9

The bottom four candidates are all judicials. Ankrum did well here, but again there’s room to grow. (There’s also room to drop if you’re not as good a candidate as some others, which I think explains the disparity between Mina Brees and her judicial colleagues.) More importantly, Travis County took in more votes than Harris did – where Harris was about 40% of the vote in 2004 and Travis 39%, it was 41% Travis and 37% Harris in 2006. A strong turnout operation could boost performance and total vote even more, which brings you that much closer to a win.

You can’t do it all in Travis, of course. The Democrat will have to move the baseline up in Harris County, where the average statewide contender got 23% – Ankrum for 27%, Moody 29%. Topping 30% – ideally, getting 32 or 33 percent – has to be the goal. Which is easier said than done, given the utter lack of Democratic infrastructure in that part of the district. But if you believe CD10 is winnable – and I for one do – then this work needs to get done. Having the necessary financial resources would help a lot. Hopefully, the DCCC and the in-state money people are paying attention. We’ll see.

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