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Kathie Glass

Don’t expect the Kathie Glass effect to be much

Seems like every four years we talk about the possible effect of third party candidates on various races. Usually, it’s in the context of legislative races, where some candidates have won with less than 50% in recent years and one could make a case that the presence of a (usually) Libertarian candidate might have had an effect on the outcome. The subject came up for the Governor’s race a little while back, and I’m here to tamp down on any irrational exuberance.

Hop on the bus, Gus. Or don’t. Your call.

Don’t forget 1990.

That was the year a third-party candidate made a potentially game-changing difference in the Texas governor’s race, drawing slightly more than the number of votes separating Democratic winner Ann Richards from Republican Clayton Williams.

And while third-party gubernatorial candidates did not participate in Friday’s debate between Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis, they could help decide who will be the next governor of Texas.

“Third-party candidates can mean a big difference in close elections,” said Allan Saxe, an associate political science professor at the University of Texas at Arlington. “Third parties can rarely win. Generally, [they] play a spoiler role.”

[…]

Observers say this year’s Nov. 4 general election could provide a number of close races where a third-party candidate might change the entire dynamics of a race.

“In these contests there exists the possibility that were one or more third-party candidates not on the ballot … the outcome of the election would [be] different,” said Mark P. Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston.

[…]

Political analysts say third-party candidates could make a difference in the governor’s race.

Abbott, the state’s attorney general and GOP nominee, squares off against Davis, a state senator from Fort Worth and Democratic nominee. Libertarian Kathie Glass and Green Party candidate Brandon Parmer are in the race as well.

If the race tightens up, Glass and Parmer combined could draw as little as 4 percent of the vote and impact the result.

“That could mean the difference in a very close election,” Saxe said.

After all, in 1990, Richards won by claiming 99,239 more votes than Williams, and Libertarian Jeff Daiell earned 129,128 votes.

“Overall, the principal impact of the Libertarian Party and Green Party candidates this fall will be to provide voters with a different perspective on how to address many of the key challenges facing the state today,” Jones said.

A key example, he said, is Glass, “who is far and away running the most visible and vibrant campaign of any third-party candidate in Texas.”

I will admit, I saw the Kathie Glass Bus on the side of the road as we were heading back from Austin on 290 a couple of weeks ago. I was tempted to take a picture of it, but I was driving at the time, and I didn’t think Tiffany would have appreciated me hauling out my cellphone at that moment. Maybe some other time. In any event, I will admit that as far as that goes, Glass’ campaign has been more visible than some other Libertarian campaigns of recent years.

Nonetheless, I’m going to play spoiler as well. Here’s a compilation of all third-party candidate performances in Texas gubernatorial races since 1990. See if you can spot the problem.

Year Lib Green Other Total Win % ======================================== 1990 3.32 0 0.30 3.62 48.19 1994 0.64 0 0 0.64 49.68 1998 0.55 0 0.02 0.57 49.72 2002 1.46 0.70 0.05 2.21 48.90 2006 0.60 0 0.01 0.61 49.69 2010 2.19 0.39 0.14 2.72 48.64

Notice how in none of these six elections how the combined Lib and Green (and write-in, which is what the Other above represents) total has reached four percent? In fact, outside of 1990, it’s never reached three percent? This could be the year that it happens – the Kathie Glass Bus is quite impressive, after all – but if you’re going to write this story, you ought to acknowledge the history. Don’t get our hopes up without justification.

It’s my opinion from looking at as many election results as I’ve seen over the years that the higher the profile the race, the lower the ceiling for third party candidates, our wacky 2006 Governor’s race excepted. Honestly, outside of the hardest of the hardcore political junkies and members of the third parties themselves, I doubt more than a handful of people even know who the L and G nominees are. With all due respect to Kathie Glass and her bus, the people that will be voting for her are basically the people that always vote Libertarian and the people that for whatever the reason didn’t like the nominee from the party that they tend to vote for no matter how much they protest their “independence”. Frankly, if the base party vote is reasonably close to even overall – which at this point I don’t think is likely, but I could be wrong – the place where an L and/or G candidate could affect the outcome is down ballot. I went through this exercise before, to show that one doesn’t need to get 50% of the vote to win most statewide races in Texas due to the presence of other candidates, and as you can see the higher totals for third party candidates tend to be in the lower profile races. I’m not saying that Kathie Glass and Brandon Parmer can’t have an effect on the outcome of the Governor’s race. I am saying that if I had to pick one race where there might be an effect, I’d probably pick Railroad Commissioner or Supreme Court justice. I promise to look at this again after the election.

Mostly looking good for Prop 6

A good poll result for the water infrastructure Constitutional amendment.

Texans support $2 billion in water infrastructure financing by a better than 2-to-1 margin, but nearly a quarter haven’t decided how they will vote on the issue this November, according to a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

The respondents favored the measure, known as Proposition 6, 52 percent to 19 percent. A quarter said they had not decided how they would vote.

Political leaders including Gov. Rick Perry have been urging voters across the state to pass the proposition, saying the state’s future depends on it. They have some work to do: Asked how much they have heard about the constitutional amendments on the November ballot, nearly one-half of the respondents said they had heard either “not very much” or “nothing at all.” Only 9 percent said they had heard “a lot” about the amendments.

“To me, there was not a big surprise here,” said Jim Henson, director of the Texas Policy Project at the University of Texas at Austin. “People reflexively support water funding. People are aware of the drought, we just got out of a hot summer. … There was a decent amount of public discourse.”

The poll found Texans put a high priority on public education, water, and roads and highways. Asked to rank those things, 73 percent said they consider addressing public education needs to be very important, 65 percent said the same about water, and 55 percent gave that highest importance to roads and highways.

And the respondents agree with the Legislature about who ought to be deciding the water issue: 75 percent said “it’s best to let the voters decide” big issues, while 16 percent said “we vote legislators into office to make big decisions.”

The crosstabs are here and the poll summary is here. As pollster Henson explained in a subsequent post, the trick to these low-turnout affairs is to guess who really is a “likely” voter. (See also: Polling in Houston Mayoral races.) The good news for the pro-Prop 6 forces is that they span the political spectrum and have a lot more money than the opponents. They also have better organization and frankly, a better argument than the naysayers.

Until now, there has been little opposition to the measure, and even those leading the fight describe the coalition as “informal.” It includes libertarians, property rights activists, tea party supporters and rural residents worried about losing access to water.

[…]

In Houston, Kathie Glass, a Libertarian candidate for governor, said she is opposed to the proposition because it would encourage more borrowing by local entities already buried in debt. “All this would add to our debt in an unknown and open-ended amount,” she said.

Policy experts said building reservoirs and other big-ticket projects to meet future demand that does not materialize will put the credit ratings of public water systems at risk and significantly increase tax and water bills for customers. At the same time, the fund, as designed, would allow municipalities seeking to build projects to raise money faster and less expensively than through usual channels.

“The state isn’t going into debt on this,” said Ronald Kaiser, a professor of water law and policy at Texas A&M University. “It’s using its savings so that local communities can invest in themselves.”

Color me shocked that it’s these folks making factually dubious claims. I understand why some environmental groups aren’t thrilled by Prop 6, but this strikes me as one of those times to be careful about the alliances of convenience one forms. All in all, I’d much rather be in the Prop 6 supporters’ position, and since I do support Prop 6, that’s fine by me.

What will the teabaggers do?

For the most part, I don’t really care what they’ll do, but there is one point worth noting:

“I can’t say the tea party support for Rick Perry is very strong, but the opposition to Bill White is intense,” said Don Zimmerman, a state Republican executive committee member who is active in tea party groups around Austin. “I’m supporting Rick Perry, but \u2026 I’m working more on the down-ballot races.”

Many tea party activists have remained silent on the gubernatorial contest, instead focusing on congressional and statehouse races in the Nov. 2 election, said Greg Holloway, a board member for the Austin Tea Party Patriots. Those voters, he said, realize the importance of the Legislature’s decisions on issues such as voter identification, immigration and health care.

Tea party voters who have an anti-incumbent bias and supported maverick candidate Debra Medina in the GOP primary may turn away from Perry and toward Libertarian Kathie Glass or may not vote, Holloway predicted.

For any of this to be meaningful, you have to accept the premise that “tea party” and “Republican Party” are two distinct entities. They’re not – note that in this context, we’re talking about people who voted in the Republican primary – but for the sake of argument, let’s skip over that. If there’s going to be any kind of significant Libertarian effect in the Governor’s race, it’s going to come from these people, Republicans who for whatever the reason don’t want to support the Republican candidate for Governor. It’s my opinion that party affinity is a frequently underestimated force, which is why I don’t put that much stock in predictions of Kathie Glass getting a significant number of votes. I could be wrong about this. Certainly, the 2006 campaign showed that people can be persuaded in large numbers to abandon their party for an alternative. The question is whether or not they’ll do it on their own accord, since Kathie Glass has neither the resources nor the personal following to do more than a token amount of that persuading. I say no, but we’ll soon see.

On a side note, this guy thinks the teabaggers should be abandoning Perry. Fine by me, I’m just not counting on it.

Will there be a Libertarian effect in the Governor’s race?

Hard to say, but the odds that there would be at least one article about the possibility of a Libertarian effect in the Governor’s race were pretty close to 100%.

[Kathie] Glass, 56, is a Houston civil lawyer and Libertarian candidate for governor who is trying to pick up the frustrated right’s mantel where Debra Medina dropped it off.

While winning would be a long shot for Glass, her appeal to frustrated conservatives could draw enough votes to put a real kink into Perry’s lead over Democrat Bill White.

While Green Party candidate Deb Shafto has put her campaign into a website and a few public appearances, Glass and her husband, Tom, are criss-crossing the state in a motor home to espouse her views via a variety of talk radio programs. She also is buying radio ads to promote her appearances at Tea Party and activist group gatherings.

“I have an uphill battle, but in a three-way race, 34 percent can take this thing,” Glass told a San Antonio-based Texans United for Reform and Freedom meeting recently.

The odds against winning are huge, but Medina jumped from almost nonexistent in the polls to about 20 percent in the March GOP primary after she won a spot in a statewide debate. Medina’s campaign ultimately stumbled with a gaffe.

The real potential for Glass is that her message of stark government downsizing will steal votes from Perry.

In the 1990 governor’s race, where many voters were disgusted with the Republican candidates, Libertarian Jeff Daiell won almost 4 percent of the ballots. Daiell received enough votes to have given Republican Clayton Williams a victory over Democrat Ann Richards.

Let’s be clear about one thing: The difference between Debra Medina’s performance in the primary and Kathie Glass’ potential performance in November comes down to one thing, and that’s straight party voting. I surveyed straight ticket voting patterns back in 2006 when some polls showed Chris Bell barely breaking 10%. At that time, I concluded that a bit less than half of all votes cast in non-Presidential year races were straight party votes, meaning that the worst any Democratic candidate could possibly do was about 20%. I’ve checked some numbers for the 2006 election, and they clearly show just how hard it would be for anyone outside of the two-party system to make headway. Here are the straight ticket voting totals for some of Texas’ more populous counties:

County Straight Governor Pct ==================================== Harris 283,528 589,348 48.1 Dallas 232,136 406,325 57.1 Tarrant 160,352 326,337 49.1 Bexar 110,606 273,780 40.4 Travis 83,788 226,346 37.0 Collin 65,329 138,159 47.3 Denton 51,377 108,513 47.3 Fort Bend 48,816 98,667 49.5 El Paso 37,762 90,764 41.6 Williamson 31,681 84,085 37.7 Hidalgo 25,079 47,827 52.4 Nueces 23,892 67,623 35.3 Lubbock 22,113 53,564 41.3 Jefferson 21,858 46,775 46.7 Brazoria 20,584 58,441 35.2 Montgomery 16,051 31,510 50.9 Midland 11,538 24,769 46.6 Webb 8,002 18,391 43.5 Rockwall 7,070 15,625 45.2 Total 1,261,562 2,706,849 46.6

“Straight” is the sum of the Republican and Democratic straight ticket votes for each county. “Governor” is the total number of votes cast for all candidates, including write-ins, for the Governor’s race. As was the case in 2002, nearly half of all votes cast were straight party R or D votes. To get to 34% of the total in these counties, a Libertarian candidate would have needed to get more than 900,000 of the 1.44 million remaining votes, or about 64% of the non-straight vote total. What do you suppose are the chances of that happening? Even to match Medina’s 20%, she’d need 38% of the remainders. And remember, that would have been in a year with that bizarre four-way Governor’s race, which must have had a negative effect on normal straight-voting patterns. I fully expect straight ticket trends to be up this year compared to 2006. If you want to suggest that Kathie Glass could somehow repeat Debra Medina’s performance, you need to tell me how the math works for her.

This Politico story produces a different misleading statistic to bolster its claims about Glass’ potential effect on the race:

Perry received only 39 percent of the vote in his reelection in 2006, and Libertarians consistently draw between 3 and 5 percent of the vote. In an anti-establishment year, a compelling candidate like Glass “could easily get up to 7 [percent],” [Phil] Martin [who works for the Texas Democratic Trust] said.

I hate to disagree with my good friend Phil, but it’s not in the Governor’s race where Libertarian candidates have drawn that 3 to 5 percent, it’s in the other statewide races, usually the ones that are the most lightly contested. While the 1990 Governor’s race is interesting, and does demonstrate what can happen when you’ve got a candidate that is disliked by a non-trivial number of members of that candidate’s party, since then no Libertarian gubernatorial candidate has done anywhere near that well:

Year Lib % ============ 1994 0.64 1998 0.55 2002 1.46 2006 0.60

You’d have to have a mighty tight race for those numbers to make a difference. The last time a statewide candidate won with less than 50% was in 1998, when Carole Keeton Rylander captured the Comptroller’s office with 49.54% to Paul Hobby’s 48.99%; Libertarian Alex Monchak collected 1.45%. My observation is that Libertarian candidates fare especially poorly in the highest-profile races, when the Republican and Democratic candidates have sufficient resources to run real campaigns and are well known to the voters. If I had a lot more time and the statistical chops, I’d build a mathematical model to try to predict Libertarian performance in a given race. My guess for this race is that the over/under for Glass is 2%, and I feel that’s being generous. But we’ll see.

Now, even 2% could be a game changer, especially if Glass succeeds at taking more votes from Rick Perry than from Bill White. And hey, I could be wrong, and Glass could get the four percent that Daiell got in 1990. But as I’ve said before in the context of articles about how Libertarian candidates might have an effect on this race or that, let’s try to maintain some perspective. The hype is almost always bigger than the actual numbers turn out to be.

Glass and Shafto get debate invites

Back in August, when I wrote about the upcoming media sponsored gubernatorial debate to be held will be held on October 19 that Rick Perry will duck, I said that if there was ever a time to ditch polling-related qualifications for third party candidates, this was it. Apparently, the sponsors now agree with that position.

In an effort to produce some form of a debate, the media organizations today will issue renewed invitations to Perry and [Bill] White and also invite Libertarian Kathie Glass and Green Party candidate Deb Shafto. Glass and Shafto will be allowed to participate regardless of whether Perry and White accept.

Glass and Shafto have accepted the invitation and will square off with White, while Rick Perry works on his dance moves. As I said, as a partisan I’d rather White have the stage to himself for an hour. But it was right to invite Glass and Shafto, just as it was cowardly of Perry to duck out. I’m sure the three candidates with the guts to face unscripted scrutiny will make the most of it.

Another debate Rick Perry won’t attend

This one will be in Houston.

The latest debate, set for Oct. 3, is to be hosted by the Harris County League of Women Voters and the Harris County Department of Education.

Perry has refused to debate until Democrat Bill White releases his personal income tax returns from the mid-1990s when White was deputy U.S. energy secretary.

Libertarian Kathie Glass said Perry is doing Texas voters a disservice by not debating.

“Gov. Perry is applying for a job. He apparently thinks because he’s held the office for 10 years he doesn’t have to show up,” Glass said. “But he does.”

Unlike the other debate, Libertarian candidate Glass and Green Party candidate Deb Shafto have been invited to participate, so it won’t just be Bill White on stage. I still think a cardboard cutout or some such to represent Perry is appropriate. Whatever is chosen to stand in for him would contribute about as much to the discourse as the real thing.

The first candidate forum

What do you get when you have a gubernatorial candidate forum without Governor Perry? Pretty much the same as what you’d have with him, but without the distraction of his pathetic attempts to defend his record.

The League of Women Voters forum before about 275 people at the Kathleen C. Cailloux Theater in Kerrville gave Democrat Bill White and Libertarian Kathie Glass, both of Houston, the opportunity to make their case against Perry without rebuttal. The event was carried only on local television, but was available statewide on the Internet.

White chastised Perry, saying he has run his office as a “political machine” and a “revolving door” for lobbyists. White said Perry wants to avoid accountability for his record of 10 years in office.

“Rick Perry will see how many times he can say (President) Obama and liberal in slick T.V. commercials and see if that will get him by with 51 percent of the vote,” White said. “In prior elections, he attacks his opponents with negative campaigns, takes credit for what’s good and accepts no responsibility for a lot of mismanagement.”

White said Perry should not be allowed to avoid forums where the questions come from citizens in the audience.

“If you don’t have the guts to get up here on stage and answer to the taxpayers who pay your salary, then you shouldn’t be re-elected governor,” White said.

That’s more or less what I expected. As you can see from Phillip’s liveblog, there was a fair amount of substance in the Perry-less conversation, but the story is what was said about him. You’d think a candidate would want to be there for himself and get his own licks in rather than depend on his spokesbeing after the fact, but then you’re not Rick Perry. For which you are no doubt grateful.