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Tony Sanchez

Lupe and Beto

Beto O’Rourke has a year-old, well-funded campaign for US Senate. Lupe Valdez doesn’t have anything like those advantages in her campaign for Governor. Will her lower profile effort have a negative effect on his higher profile one?

Rep. Beto O’Rourke

The race for governor is often the biggest spectacle in Texas politics, and the governor’s mansion the biggest prize.

But the contest between incumbent Republican Greg Abbott and Democratic nominee Lupe Valdez is forecast to be not much of a contest at all. Abbott, who in 2014 beat former state Sen. Wendy Davis by 20 percentage points, looms like Goliath on the political landscape, with Valdez lacking the weaponry to take him down. She needs more than five smooth stones.

Democrats have focused much of their attention on the remarkable campaign of Beto O’Rourke, the El Paso congressman who’s challenging incumbent Ted Cruz for Senate.

The Cruz-O’Rourke showdown is the marquee race of the season, and could change the fortunes of Democrats and Republicans alike.

With Abbott poised to spend more than $40 million to turn out the Republican vote and in the process help Cruz, the question becomes: does Valdez’s presence on the ticket hurt or help O’Rourke?

Lupe Valdez

“Compared to nothing, she helps,” said Mark Jones, a political scientist at Rice University.


Paul Quinn President Michael Sorrell, who Democrats recruited to run for governor, said Valdez’s presence on the ticket will have little impact on O’Rourke’s efforts.

“I don’t think Lupe makes a difference to this race,” Sorrell said. “People view Beto’s race as a separate entity from Lupe’s race.”

Veteran Republican consultant Bill Miller said Valdez could be a problem for O’Rourke and other Democrats because her campaign is so irrelevant.

“The Democrats believe she helps, but in my opinion she hurts,” Miller said. “She’s not going to be a strong candidate and her race is not a hot race. She’s going to be discounted early on and that won’t help O’Rourke.”

My inclination is to agree with Michael Sorrell. We haven’t had a situation like this in recent memory. In the recent years where we have had concurrent races for Senate and Governor:

– Wendy Davis’s gubernatorial campaign was much higher profile than David Alameel’s Senate campaign in 2014. Not that any of it made much difference.

– The four-way Governor’s race in 2006 defies comparison to anything else.

– Both Tony Sanchez and Ron Kirk had well-funded campaigns in 2002, with Kirk doing a few points better in the end.

Honestly, the real factor here is Greg Abbott and his gazillions of dollars, which would be a major concern no matter who was his opponent. Valdez has improved as a candidate after a rough start, and in the end I think she’ll raise a million or two bucks, which is a water balloon against Abbott’s fire hose but will at least allow for some kind of campaign activity. The main way Abbott can use his money to affect other races is by spending a ton on GOTV stuff, which again he’d do if he were running instead against Andrew White or Julian Castro or whoever your fantasy alternative candidate might be. He still has to contend with whatever chaos Donald Trump unleashes, whatever discontent the electorate may feel about Hurricane Harvey and gun violence, and other things that money may not be able to ameliorate. All things considered, I think Valdez’s campaign will have little effect on Beto’s. It’s unlikely to be of any help, but it probably won’t hurt, either.

(Yes, I wrote this before the property tax story came out. I still don’t think one campaign will have much effect on the other.)

Would a contested primary for Senate be bad for Dems in 2018?

I have three things to say about this.

Rep. Beto O’Rourke

A primary showdown between two well-liked and well-funded Democrats would add an extra layer of time and money for [Rep. Beto] O’Rourke and potentially [Rep. Joaquin] Castro – and could make it easier for Cruz to brand the winner as an out-of-touch liberal if O’Rourke and Castro need to spend time winning over the state’s liberal base.

“A competitive primary will split the party, leave hard feelings and limit the ability to raise the money needed to compete in the general” election, said University of Houston professor Brandon Rottinghaus, author of a recent book on Texas politics. “Two competitive Democrats in the primary who have run in the past has fractured the party and created new fault lines that Dem voters weren’t able to cross.”

Rottinghaus brought up the 2002 election, in which former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk won a four-way Democratic primary to challenge Sen. John Cornyn for an open seat at the time. While Republicans were united behind Cornyn’s ultimately successful bid, Democrats were divided by geographical and ideological interests that made it harder to win the general election.

In recent years, big-name Democrats have largely stayed out of one another’s way in statewide races. State Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth faced nominal opposition in her 2014 gubernatorial bid against Greg Abbott, which she lost. Democrats did not contest primaries in races for lieutenant governor or attorney general.

1. I dispute the notion that a contested primary is necessarily a “good” or “bad” thing for a party’s chances in November. I certainly disagree with the assertion about the 2002 Senate primary. For one thing, it was mostly overshadowed by the Tony Sanchez/Dan Morales gubernatorial primary. For another, Ron Kirk was one of the better-performing Democrats, getting a higher percentage of the vote than any Dem after John Sharp and Margaret Mirabal. I’m gonna need to see some numbers before I buy that argument. Plenty of candidates have won general elections after winning nasty, brutal primary fights – see Ann Richards in 1990 and Ted Cruz in 2012, to pick two off the top of my head. I’ll bet a dollar right now that if Ted Cruz is re-elected next year, a primary between Beto O’Rourke and Joaquin Castro will be very low on the list of reasons why he won.

2. We don’t know yet if Castro will run or not – he says he’ll tell us later this month. As was the case last week in Dallas, Castro has made multiple appearances at events with Beto O’Rourke, which for now at least has kept everything nice and civil. I’ve said that I don’t think Castro will give up his safe Congressional seat and increasingly high profile within the party for what everyone would agree is a longshot run against Cruz. (Though perhaps somewhat less of a longshot if the political conditions from that Kansas special election persist through next November.) If he does, however, and especially if he does in the context of having to win a March election first, then I’d suggest it’s because he thinks his odds of winning are better than the current empirical evidence would imply. Maybe he’d be wrong about that, but I believe if Castro jumps in, it’s because he really believes he can win, above and beyond the usual amount that candidates believe.

3. Whatever Castro does, I do hope Beto O’Rourke faces at least one primary challenger, even if that’s a fringe or perennial candidate. I want him to take it seriously and begin engaging voters as soon as possible. As I said before, I was wrong to be dismissive about the 2014 primaries and what they meant for that November. Whoever else runs, I prefer to see this primary as an opportunity and not a threat.

On polls and turnout

Sen. Wendy Davis

Sen. Wendy Davis

So as you know, the latest YouGov poll came out on Friday, and it was ugly for Wendy Davis, showing an 18-point lead for Greg Abbott. PDiddie was despondent, EoW was trying to keep the faith, and Texpatriate was somewhere in between. I didn’t have a chance to say much about this poll in my discussion of the Davis internal poll, so let me put my thoughts here. I intend this more as a thought exercise than a deep analysis, so let’s see where this takes us.

1. If this is an accurate result, and assuming that the third party candidates collect about two percent of the vote, it suggests that Abbott is headed for a 58-40 win over Davis. That’s about the margin that Rick Perry defeated Tony Sanchez by in 2002. Do you think Wendy Davis will do no better than Tony Sanchez did? I have a hard time believing that.

2. With the same assumptions as above, if total turnout is about five million votes – basically the same as it was in 2010 – it suggests that Abbott will get 2.9 million votes while Davis gets 2 million, with the rest getting 100,000. Not many Texas Democrats have gotten two million votes in off year elections – John Sharp in 2002, and Bill White in 2010. White got just over 2.1 million in 2010. Do you think Wendy Davis will fail to get as many votes as Bill White? I have a hard time believing that, too.

3. White ran a different campaign than Davis did, aiming more at peeling votes away from Rick Perry. He was quite successful at that as we have discussed, but it ultimately didn’t matter since base turnout was too low. As we have also discussed before, Democratic base turnout in off year elections hasn’t changed since 2002. Davis, in conjunction with Battleground Texas, is working hard on raising base turnout. How successful will that effort be? I really have no idea. With the likely exception of that Davis internal poll, none of the polls we have seen published so far have given any suggestion that they have tried to measure this effect. YouGov, which uses a static sample and applies whatever model it assumes for the election to it, certainly doesn’t. This effort could be hugely successful yet fall well short of victory. The Chron story that Texpatriate cites quotes one expert that suggests this is about a ten-point race. Again giving two percent to third parties, that’s a 54-44 win for Abbott, or 2.7 million votes to 2.2 million in a five million voter turnout scenario. Assuming Davis doesn’t have a significant number of crossover votes – assuming, therefore, that the rest of the Democratic ticket has about that same number of votes as well – that would mean that BGTX’s efforts were worth a boost of about 400,000 or 500,000 over past elections. That’s a lot and ought to be seen as a big step forward and a solid foundation going into 2016 and 2018, but as noted it would not be nearly enough to pull out a win. Is that a reasonable expectation? Again, I don’t know. I really wish we’d get a little bit of reporting on this and less on what the same assortment of political scientists think about the same poll results on the same samples from the same pollsters.

I’m not going to say that Davis is winning, certainly not if her own poll numbers don’t say so. I don’t think the polls that we have seen are an accurate reflection of the race, but I have no evidence to back that up. I really have no idea what to expect, but I do know this much: The more we work on turning out our voters, especially voters the pollsters do not consider “likely” voters, the more wrong we’ll be able to say the polls were. That only happens if we do that work.

If you read just one more story about Wendy Davis’ campaign

I would recommend you read this one, by Andrea Grimes.

Sen. Wendy Davis

Sen. Wendy Davis

In four months, Texans are guaranteed to elect a new governor for the first time in 14 years, and Davis’ battle stance is appropo: She’s been under attack from naysayers, pundits, and even members of her own party since before she announced her candidacy for Texas governor back in October. Today, she continues to fall well behind her Republican opponent, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, in statewide polls, though the most recent financial reports show that Davis out-raised Abbott in the last fundraising period, and she often boasts about a grassroots base that she says puts Abbott’s small but monied good-ole-boy network to shame.

But politicos on both sides of the aisle have worried that Davis, who took her Fort Worth, Texas, Senate seat in 2008 and held on to it in a hard-fought battle in 2012, has skyrocketed to fame too quickly, taking on the burden of running for statewide office before she, or the State of Texas, is ready. Following her filibuster of an omnibus anti-abortion bill that is expected to shutter all but a handful of abortion providers in Texas, even one of her fellow Democrats situated Davis as being unable to break away from accusations that she’s a one-issue candidate who peaked on a summer night in 2013.

And the national media has expressed a singular fascination with Davis’ footwear, cooing over the pink Mizuno sneakers she wore on the floor of the Texas Senate on June 25, 2013. That day, Davis stood for 13 hours, reading Texans’ abortion stories and unheard testimony from citizens who had, days earlier, been shut out of a committee hearing by a Republican lawmaker who called their concerns about reducing access to reproductive health care “repetitive.”

That bill eventually passed in a second special legislative session, with pro-choice Democrats and Republicans roundly outnumbered by their anti-choice colleagues. A Republican pundit quickly gave Davis the glib and sexist nickname “Abortion Barbie,” and conservatives have worked hard to try and make it stick.

But Davis’ policy bench goes deep, as does her bipartisan record: the Harvard-educated lawyer served on the Fort Worth City Council for nine years, overseeing remarkable economic development initiatives and voting in Republican primaries, even donating to Republican campaigns. When she ran for state senate as a conservative Democrat in 2008, she took the office from a Republican incumbent and later held on to the seat in a costly and combative race against Tea Partier Mark Shelton in 2012. In 2011, Davis filibustered in the state senate for the first time, opposing a $4-billion cut to education funding and forcing Gov. Rick Perry into a special legislative session. In 2013, she shepherded through a Texas version of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act with nigh-unprecedented bipartisan support, only to see it vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry.

If, despite this record, Davis is considered a one-trick pony in pink sneakers, what must we make of her opponent, Greg Abbott? Abbott frequently describes, only half-jokingly, most of his 12 years on the job as attorney general thusly: “I go into the office in the morning, I sue Barack Obama, and then I go home.”


Despite the fact that both parties are running very different, very big-personality candidates, Davis has almost exclusively borne the brunt of both legitimate and bad-faith criticism, and she has been the primary subject of an outsized share of the 2014 Texas statewide race coverage, perhaps because of her novelty as a viable Democrat—and a woman, at that.

And yet the strengths that make Davis a potential winner are, simultaneously, the very weaknesses that seem to bring her down. It all depends on who you ask.

To the anti-choice talk-radio crowd, Davis continues to be “Abortion Barbie,” too blonde and not nearly matronly enough to garner anything but outright misogynistic derision from Erick Erickson, Rush Limbaugh, and their ilk. To the national media, Davis is the sneaker-wearing—never, never forget the pink sneakers—underdog about whom a steady stream of “Can she or can’t she?” stories must be written until election day. To Texas political wonks, she’s a charismatic leader playing a losing hand as poll after poll shows her trailing Greg Abbott by double digits. To Texas’ long-beleaguered liberal media, she’s Moses without a map.

And Davis is also under tremendous political pressure to appeal to a wide array of moderate, liberal, and progressive voters that an ever-rightward leaning Texas GOP has long left behind.

To those who would or could support her, she variously: talks too much about abortion, doesn’t talk enough about abortion, secretly wants to militarize the border, wants to give all immigrants citizenship starting tomorrow, is an out-of-touch capitol insider, needs more experience in the capitol, should focus on Medicaid expansion, should get tougher on environmental concerns, should spend more time in the Rio Grande Valley, should stop pandering to people in the Rio Grande Valley, needs to recapture that filibuster spirit, should stop relying on the filibuster to carry her through November, and so-on and so-forth, and lo, the list lengthens as November 4 grows closer.

Wendy Davis just can’t seem to do anything right, and nobody on either side of the aisle seems to mind weighing in on the nuances of why, and how, she’s setting herself—and by extension, all Texas Democrats—up to fail this November.

Meanwhile, Greg Abbott—whose Republican party just weeks ago recommended “reparative therapy” for gay people and called for easing foster parents’ ability to use corporal punishment on their wards—is taking tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from Koch chemical companies before handing down favorable AG rulings that lessen the corporate behemoth’s public safety obligations, and all folks seem to want to know is what he’s thinking for the window treatments in that big, pretty governor’s mansion at 11th and Lavaca in downtown Austin.

If things look a little off to you, you’re not the only one who thinks so.

Grimes’ story is by far the best one I’ve read about the campaign, and it gets at a number of things I’ve thought about but haven’t been able to express nearly as well as she has done. It’s the first story I’ve seen that does more than just writes about what’s right in front of someone’s nose, or which complains about the campaign not doing the things that the writer wants the campaign to do.

I can’t begin to tell you how frustrated I’ve been at the lack of coverage and analysis on Battleground Texas and the Davis ground game. We’ve never seen anything like it before, and while I get plenty of email from BGTX telling me how awesome it’s all going, it would be nice to get an objective evaluation now and again. Yet one critic of Davis and her campaign after another, from Lisa Falkenberg to Bob Ray Sanders to Paul Burka write as if Davis is acting in a vacuum. (Forrest Wilder has been the exception to this.) Davis and BGTX clearly understand that she can’t win – hell, she can’t really compete – with the same Democratic electorate and turnout levels that we’ve seen since 2002, but no one analyze the polls beyond the headline numbers. How effective a job is BGTX, which wasn’t originally intended to be a force in 2014, doing? What are their targets, realistic and reach, for this year? How are they doing in high-growth, generally red suburban areas like Collin and Williamson, how are they doing in places Democrats have long abandoned like West Texas, and how are they doing in the critical Dem-heavy but turnout-light places in South Texas and the Valley? Do the Team Obama methods translate from Ohio and Florida, where voters are used to being harassed frequently contacted by campaigns, to a (shall we say) more laissez-faire state like Texas? How do the BGTX foot soldiers feel about the bad polls for Davis? So many questions, so little interest in the media in exploring any of them.

Actually, I’ve been saying all along that the Davis/BGTX ground game effort has never been seen before in Texas, but is that really true? The Bill White campaign had a lot going on, and Lord knows the Tony Sanchez campaign spent money like it was going out of style. What had they been doing by this point in the campaign? What is Davis/BGTX doing that they didn’t, and vice versa? I’m sure there’s a great story to be told there, if someone cared to look into it.

I honestly have no idea what to expect from the BGTX effort. I believe they’re having an effect, and I believe that effect will show up on Election Day, but I have no clue how much of an effect. One can certainly criticize the choices the Davis campaign has made in its messaging, and one can certainly believe that emphasizing various themes differently could put Davis in a better position to succeed – Grimes does so with gusto – but there’s no way to know. Nate Silver can simulate a thousand elections based on exogenous factors like the economy and various approval ratings and the accuracy of polls, but I don’t know how to predict the efficacy of a turnout operation, even one with the pedigree of Team Obama and its BGTX founders. They could be wildly successful at boosting base turnout from the recent anemic levels yet still fall well short of victory for Davis and the rest of the statewide Democratic ticket. The post mortem will have plenty of evidence to dissect, but until then we’re all talking out of our nether regions.

Anyway. Go read the whole thing and see what you think.

More on LVdP for Lite Guv

Mostly from Monday’s Lone Star Project news roundup email.

AP: Texas Democrats offering stark contrast.

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte

Texas voters won’t have a hard time telling the difference between the Republican and Democratic candidates next year.

With the addition of San Antonio Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, attorney Sam Houston and party activist Steve Brown last week, the Democratic slate offers a vivid contrast to the Republican ticket, both in demographics and politics. And there are more announcements to come.

So far, Democrats are offering a diverse roster with most running unopposed on a strong progressive record, not unlike the so-called Dream Team in 2002. Republicans are more conservative than ever, with a ticket that is predominantly white and male.

The Democrats lost dramatically in 2002 and haven’t won a statewide elected office since 1994. But this year they are banking on delivering more supporters to the polls, while Republicans are relying on a dependable conservative base that has kept them in power for 20 years.


Democrats have a long way to go to win in 2014, but no one can say they’re not offering Texas voters a distinct choice.

Not sure what “more announcements to come” is referring to. The story also mentions AG candidate Same Houston.

NBCLatino Opinion: A Texas Latina throws her hat in the ring

We usually think of down ballot races benefiting from the top of the ticket, not the other way around. But in the case of Wendy Davis’ gubernatorial run, the only shot she has of winning is in getting Latino support, and if anyone can get that support it’s LVP as her lieutenant governor.

Senator Van de Putte is a Latina political leader with deep state ties and a national presence. Here in South Texas she has a finely tuned political infrastructure that will be crucial for the Davis ticket. As a co-chair of the 2008 Democratic National Convention and past president of both the National Conference of State Legislators and the National Hispanic Council of State Legislators LVP has a healthy rolodex to aid her fundraising efforts.

“LVdP will help boost Latino turnout in 2014” is one of two themes you see running through these stories, and it’s likely one you’ll see over and over again for the foreseeable future. I believe LVdP will have a positive effect on Latino turnout for the Dem ticket, and I agree that that is a necessary condition for victory, but no one with a realistic view of the situation believes it is sufficient. Wendy Davis et al will also need to do at least a little better among Anglo voters, which is why there is also a focus on suburban Anglo women.

Making that first theme more explicit, The Monitor: Van de Putte likely to boost Hispanic turnout for Dem. ticket

“I think she’s going to be a plus to the party, to the ticket,” said U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo. Cuellar’s district includes Starr and western Hidalgo counties as well as parts of Van de Putte’s state Senate district, which she has held since 1999.

Javier Villalobos, the Hidalgo County Republican party chair who’s said he would not seek another term, offered a verbal shrug when asked prior to the announcement what Van de Putte’s candidacy would mean for voters in the Valley.

“Actually what I think is going to drive the people to the polls is going to be the election for district attorney,” referencing the Democratic primary in March between incumbent Rene Guerra and former judge Ricardo Rodriguez. “Right here in the Valley, I really don’t think she’ll make it stronger or weaker.”

But another partisan opponent believed Van de Putte could change the race.

“Texas Sen. Leticia Van De Putte is a formidable candidate that presents long term challenges to the Texas GOP,” tweeted Aaron Peña, shortly after Saturday’s announcement. “Take note.” Peña is a former state representative from Edinburg who now chairs the Texas Hispanic Engagement Team for the Republican National Committee.

As a Latina — albeit without the benefit of a common Hispanic surname — Van de Putte could appeal more to Latino voters than whichever of the four leading Anglo males emerges from the Republican primary.

“She will be able to draw out the Hispanic vote,” state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, said.

But again, Republicans said that claim might be exaggerated.

“Friends of mine who are Democrats don’t even know that Van de Putte is a Hispanic last name,” said Roman Perez, the vice president of the Republican Club of Brownsville. He added that even in the last election cycle, when Democrats nominated Linda Chavez-Thompson for the same spot, it didn’t significantly impact the race.

“Actually, I don’t think the name will make much of a difference,” Villalobos said. “She might have to spend more money down here, when otherwise she might not have to.”

Regardless of her name, Van de Putte represents the type of an experienced, centrist candidate Peña would like to see more of in his own party.

“Sen. Van de Putte is going to present challenges to a Republican Party that, in my opinion, is not moving fast enough to confront a changing Texas,” he said.

It’s adorable seeing Aaron Pena discover that his new Republican buddies aren’t exactly with him on the things he claims to value, isn’t it? I assure you, Aaron, no one could have predicted that. As far as the turnout predictions go, excitement and engaging voters are a big part of it, but so are getting the message out and good old GOTV efforts, both of which require a certain level of funding. The bit in the previous story about LVdP’s national connections and her potential to be able to raise the kind of funds she’ll need to operate a full-scale campaign is encouraging. I don’t know how much she might be able to raise between now and the January finance report, but I sure hope she’s burning up the phone lines.

For the other theme, we have Rangel: Van de Putte, Davis give Democrats best hope in years

[T]here is no question the Davis-Van de Putte ticket is the best hope Texas Democrats have had in 12 years. My Dallas Morning News colleague Wayne Slater hit the nail on the head with his assessment that Democrats seem to be assembling “Dream Ticket II.”

However, as Slater and other Austin watchers well know, Dream Ticket I was crushed in the 2002 election.

The three top Democrats running that year — Laredo businessman Tony Sanchez for governor, former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk for U.S. senator and former state Comptroller John Sharp for lieutenant governor, a Hispanic, an African-American and an Anglo — and all Democrats running for statewide office, lost.

Gov. Rick Perry, running for his first four-year term, buried Sanchez with 58 percent of the vote while Texas Attorney General John Cornyn and Land Commissioner David Dewhurst, running for the first time for their current posts, beat Kirk and Sharp with 55 and 52 percent respectively.

What gives today’s Democrats hope Dream Ticket II will fare much better — and possibly win in 2014 — is Davis and Van de Putte have the charisma and passion their three 2002 predecessors, particularly Sanchez and Sharp, lacked.

Yep, the Dream Team, an irresistible analogy and comparison for this year that we likely won’t escape any time soon. Thankfully, Enrique Rangel provides the short answer why this year’s lineup is not like 2002’s.

We close with Burka: Leticia Van de Putte Enters the Race

I have a high regard for Van de Putte as a politician, who earned a spot on this year’s Ten Best legislators list. She is no ideologue. She’ll work with the other side — and did so during the regular session, when she joined forces with Rick Perry to push for more rigor in House Bill 5. She’ll be an asset to Wendy Davis on the Democratic ticket, and she’ll be a worthy opponent for whoever wins the Republican primary.

One of the problems for Democrats is that in counties with large Hispanic populations, particularly in South Texas, the primary is where the action is, not the general election. In the Rio Grande Valley, the races that motivate are those for local positions — city councils, school boards, and courthouse jobs. The elections frequently come down to a battle of one prominent family against another.

The turnout issue again, in a slightly different form. The ingredients are there, or at least can and should be there, to make it happen. We’ll likely have a pretty good idea of how it’s all coming together well before anyone casts a vote.

Some Garcia 2002 numbers

When I did an analysis of County Commissioner Precinct 2 for this year’s election, I said that I couldn’t include a comparison from 2002 because I didn’t have precinct-level data for that year. I got an email the other day from Robert Jara, in which he kindly included a spreadsheet of some of that 2002 data. You can see that here. It only has information about the Senate and Governor races, from which we can see that CC2 was two to three points more Democratic than Harris County as a whole, at least for those contests. My guess is that would be fairly consistent down the line, which would make CC2 in 2002 much like it was in 2006, maybe even a pinch more Democratic, likely the result of better turnout in base Democratic areas in 2002 thanks to the Tony Sanchez campaign. Garcia ran several points ahead of the Democratic norm – three points better than Ron Kirk, four points better than Sanchez, likely more than some other members of the ticket. Anyway, now you know. My thanks to Robert Jara for sending me the data.

As goes Harris, so goes CC2

Just as HD133 was a microcosm of Harris County in 2008, Sylvia Garcia’s County Commissioner precinct was a miniature version of the county as a whole in 2010. Take a look at how Democratic candidates did in County Commissioner Precinct 2 (CC2) versus how they did countywide and see for yourself:

Candidate CC2 Harris ========================= STV Dem 45.01 45.30 White 50.34 51.06 C-Thompson 43.14 43.26 Radnofsky 40.68 41.67 Uribe 43.38 43.25 Gilbert 43.79 43.85 Weems 44.38 44.96 Sharp 44.61 44.50 Moody 44.48 44.95 Bailey 42.01 42.73 Hampton 43.74 43.83 Jackson 45.45 46.15 Bennett 45.44 45.63 Trautman 44.88 45.27 Briscoe 42.36 43.01

All percentages are for the straight up R/D comparison. “STV Dem” is the Democratic share of straight ticket votes. Spooky, isn’t it? It’s also not unexpected. Take a look at the same calculations for 2006:

Candidate CC2 Harris ========================= STV Dem 56.88 51.45 Radnofsky 42.22 42.22 Alvarado 44.98 43.46 Van Os 43.10 41.90 Head 44.86 43.23 Hathcox 46.91 45.69 Gilbert 48.36 46.49 Henry 48.55 46.50 Moody 51.68 49.56 Molina 49.57 47.02 Sharp 52.03 50.12 Kahn 49.80 48.01 Shike 48.26 46.09 Pierre 46.60 44.69 Garcia 49.58 48.34 Burks 50.50 48.63

Obviously, the county as a whole was more Democratic in 2006, and CC2 in particular was slightly more Democratic than the county that year. Garcia, who has no opposition in 2006 and was named on over 62% of all ballots cast to easily lead the pack in vote total, would likely have cruised to re-election with more than 55% of the vote had she been challenged that year. Had Harris County been as little as one point less red, or if CC2 had been slightly more Democratic than the county as was the case in 2006, she would likely have managed to win. That’s how high the tide was this year.

Another shorthand way of looking at this is to compare Garcia to HCDE Trustee candidate Mike Rose, who was running in Precinct 2 as well in a race that was almost certainly decided by partisan affiliation and little else. Here’s how that looks:

Candidate Votes Pct ======================== Garcia 63,766 49.11 Rose 56,283 44.43 Morman 66,070 50.89 Morris 70,387 55.57

“Morris” is Republican HCDE candidate Marvin Morris, who will succeed incumbent Carl Schwartz. Garcia got nearly 7500 more votes than Rose did, which includes about 4300 votes that went to Morris, and 3200 that didn’t vote at all in that race. That’s a big difference, just not quite big enough for her.

I unfortunately don’t have precinct data for 2002, so I can’t tell you how much better than the average Democrat Garcia must have done to win the open seat in another year that was unfriendly to Democrats, nor can I tell you if this same pattern persisted. I suspect that Garcia and other Democrats in this area were helped by the Tony Sanchez campaign, which as we know was generally a boon for Latino turnout, but I can’t put a number on it. Sorry about that.

All this suggests three points to consider for Democrats who would like to win this post back in 2014:

1. A rising tide lifts all boats, some more than others. If you assume that 2010 was a unique confluence of events, then 2014 will almost certainly be a more promising year, both countywide and in CC2. A good overall turnout effort, combined with a real effort to reach Latino voters, will go a long way.

2. Of course, CC2 won’t be the same in 2014 as it is today, since like everything else it will be redistricted in 2011. Guess who gets to draw the lines for County Commissioner precincts? That’s right, Commissioners Court. One presumes that the Republican majority on the Court will do what it can to protect their newbie. There may be only so much they can (or will be willing) to do given that Steve Radack’s precinct needs shoring up as well. They may decide that Radack needs more help for his Presidential year elections than Jack Morman will for his off year elections. And of course, the cardinal rule of redistricting is “Every man and woman for himself and herself”, so if someone is gonna get screwed, it’s gonna be Morman, the low man on the totem pole. This will bear watching.

3. Don’t underestimate the power of incumbency. Commissioner Garcia was able to run as far ahead of the pack as she did because people in that precinct knew her and knew her work. If Jack Morman isn’t a complete idiot, he will do everything he can to put himself in that same position in four years’ time. Morman won’t be running against Barack Obama in 2014, he’ll be running on his own record, and if for whatever the reason he doesn’t, then that’s what his opponent should focus on. Incumbents get their advantage from doing stuff voters like. Given that this will likely work against the Democratic candidate, he or she needs to be prepared to point out all of the things Morman will have done that they don’t like.

Now of course, Democrats don’t have to wait till 2014 to even things back up on the Court. I’m just saying that it’s not too early to be thinking about it, and that things we do in the next two years to pull ourselves out of the hole we’re in now can and will pay dividends further down the line.

On Latino turnout

I don’t know how to make more Latinos vote. But I do know these things:

1. Whatever it is that Texas Democrats have been doing, assuming there is something that qualifies as some kind of action in this area, it ain’t working; to be slightly more charitable, it ain’t working as well as it should or could be.

2. The one thing that I can’t say I’ve seen much discussion of when talking about Latino voting is funding. Whoever it is that’s responsible for getting more Latinos to the polls – the TDP, the local parties, the candidates, other groups – doing so costs money. Why don’t we start by talking about putting together the funding for a real Latino outreach/turnout effort? I’m quite sure there are plenty of people who know how to do that. With sufficient resources, the rest can be figured out. We can learn from what other states do, and if all else truly fails, we experiment. There’s no place to go but up.

3. Whoever takes on that challenge – and I hope there will be multiple groups doing so – a core part of their mission will need to be dealing with the vote-suppression organizations that crawled out from under various rocks this year. Look at what happened with Houston Votes, a non-partisan non-profit that was just trying to register voters, and then imagine the hysteria that will accompany a partisan effort to get Democratic-leaning voters to the polls. From this point forward, any group that doesn’t start out with a plan in place for fighting back against these jackwads is committing malpractice and isn’t worth supporting.

4. One reason why Latinos are such a rapidly growing segment of the population is because on average they’re a lot younger than the rest of us. That means that any outreach/turnout strategy has to think in terms of reaching a younger audience, which among other things doesn’t consume news and media the way us old farts do. As an extra added bonus, younger people in general tend to vote Democratic, but don’t vote in numbers commensurate with their share of the population, so any strategy aimed at getting Latinos to vote should also work pretty well for getting millennials to vote, too.

5. Another thing that I can’t say I’ve seen discussed much, if at all, is what we think Latino turnout “should” be, given factors such as age, education, income level, and so forth. What research, if any, exists to provide objective data? Yes, I know, the answer is “As high as possible”. The question is, how high is possible? How high is reasonably achievable, at least in the short term?

6. For the record, here’s how turnout in the Latino State Rep. districts in Harris County compare over the last three non-Presidential year elections:

Dist 2002 2006 2010 d0610 d0210 ======================================= 140 24.80 17.45 25.57 +46.5 +3.1 143 26.31 18.77 26.48 +41.1 +0.6 145 29.79 21.47 29.38 +36.8 -1.4 148 34.62 30.53 40.08 +31.3 +15.8

“D0610” and “D0210” are the percentage differences in turnout from 2006 to 2010 and 2002 to 2010, respectively. For the most part, it’s a modest improvement over 2002, the year in which the Tony Sanchez campaign did a decent job of getting Latinos to vote. Does this change anyone’s perception? Here’s what it looks like at the state level, for a few selected counties:

Year Cameron El Paso Hidalgo Maverick Webb ==================================================== 2002 29.67 28.81 27.87 26.52 41.99 2006 24.48 24.16 17.08 15.49 18.12 2010 23.52 23.28 24.63 26.40 27.43

I have no idea what’s going on in Cameron and El Paso. Webb’s performance in 2002 was juiced by being Tony Sanchez’s home county. Again, does this change anyone’s perceptions, one way or the other?

For what it’s worth, here’s how Bill White compared to Chris Bell and Tony Sanchez in the two-party race against Rick Perry in these counties:

Year Cameron El Paso Hidalgo Maverick Webb ==================================================== 2002 60.71 64.69 68.90 80.38 89.87 2006 49.86 52.28 56.00 63.00 66.60 2010 58.39 62.54 67.78 73.26 76.72

Remember, these numbers do not include Strayhorn, Kinky, or any third party candidates. White ran about ten points better than Bell, and was close to Sanchez outside of his back yard. Not a bad performance if you ask me. There’s already some arguing about how Perry did with Latino voters. Next year, when all of the relevant election data is available for all State Rep districts, I’ll do the same analysis on them as before, and we’ll see what we get.

7. Let’s keep some perspective here. Increasing Latino turnout will only get you so far. If there had been 100% participation in these five counties, with everyone getting the same percentage, White would have netted an additional 222,716 votes, and still would have lost by about 400,000 votes. Maybe in another year that would have truly helped, but even in 2006 Perry won by a wider margin than what this would have gained. Now of course there are plenty of Latino voters elsewhere, and there may be some level of turnout at which the election could have been tipped. I won’t know till I get more data. Point is, this is only one piece of the puzzle. A big piece, to be sure, but not the only one. I’ve said this before, after the 2008 election, Latinos don’t just exist in these counties and State Rep districts. They live everywhere, and a real outreach/turnout strategy needs to take that into account.

The Blum poll

I don’t know what to make of this.

Ill will toward President Barack Obama and a voter belief that Republican Gov. Rick Perry has helped save the Texas economy are giving Perry a re-election lead over Democrat and former Houston Mayor Bill White, according to a new poll done for the Houston Chronicle and four other state newspapers.

Perry leads with 46 percent support to 39 percent for White, with Libertarian candidate Kathie Glass trailing at 4 percent among likely voters; 11 percent were undecided.


The enthusiasm of Republican voters is dramatic. Among registered voters who answered the survey, Republicans held an advantage of 9 percentage points — roughly typical of the vote in recent elections.

Among those who said they are likely to vote, the Republican advantage jumped to 18 percentage points over Democrats.

The telephone survey was of a random sample of 1,443 Texas adults, including 1,072 registered voters and 629 likely voters, conducted Sept. 15-22.

The margin of error for the likely voters is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points. The survey was conducted by Blum & Weprin for the Houston Chronicle, the San Antonio Express-News, the Austin American-Statesman and The Dallas Morning News.

Perry and White are in almost a dead heat in Houston and San Antonio. Perry is drubbing White in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, with a lead of more than 30 percentage points in those cities. White holds a 7-point lead in Austin.

The two are even in urban areas, but Perry has an almost 11-percentage-point lead in non-urban areas.

I could believe White and Perry are running even in Harris and Bexar counties, which is what I presume they mean by “Houston” and “San Antonio”. I expect White will do better than that, but it’s at least a plausible result to me.

White is leading in Travis County (again, my interpretation of “Austin”) by seven points? Chris Bell, in his four-way race, won Travis by 19 points. David Van Os, who lost by 22 overall in 2006, carried Travis by almost nine points. White leading by seven? I’ll take the over on that.

Perry leading in “the Dallas-Fort Worth area” by 30 points? I’ve already shown that these are Tony Sanchez numbers. Once again, color me skeptical.

On the flip side, how is Perry only leading by 11 in non-urban areas, which are the Republican strongholds, especially in a year where the electorate is supposedly nine points more Republican than expected? (Note that this is not a universal finding.) If Perry is doing better in the places that White would be expected to be strong, how is he doing worse in the places where he’s supposed to clean up? Putting it another way, if White is underperforming in the urban counties, and the electorate is extra Republican this year, how is it that Perry isn’t leading by double digits? Something doesn’t add up.

Yes, the “D” in “Big D” stands for “Democratic”

I continue to not understand the belief that some folks have that Dallas is a swing county.

Ridgewood Park was a battlefield staging area for riled-up Republicans determined to take back their legislative district, their city and their county. In shorts, T-shirts and walking shoes and fortified by breakfast tacos and orange juice, approximately 50 grass-roots volunteers gathered for a couple of hours of going door to door in a legislative district that fell to a Democrat in 2006. It also is a district where Democrat Bill White has a fighting chance of making inroads against Republican Rick Perry in his uphill race for governor.

Dallas-area Congressman Pete Sessions rallied the troops, reminding them that the now-Democratic county once again is in play.

“Dallas County has turned into a battleground again because of the seeming success of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi,” he told them, “but, you know, that change thing didn’t work out all that well, did it? We are out here this morning as Republicans and as tea party members to do the hard work to close the deal.”

The legislative district this bit is set in is HD107, held by Rep. Allen Vaught, who won it in 2006 and then won a rematch against the guy he ousted, Bill Keffer. It’s a legitimate swing district – you’ll note that John McCain carried it by a small margin – and could very well be taken back by the GOP in a good year, especially if they can convince some ticket-splitters to stick with their party. But as I said before, Dallas County in 2008 was far more Democratic than Harris County was Republican in 2004. If Dallas County is genuinely competitive this year, it won’t be just bad for Texas Democrats statewide, it’ll be a disaster of Biblical proportions.

Now I can understand why a guy like Pete Sessions is deluded. But I’d have thought the local GOP chair would have a better grasp of the situation:

In 2006, Democrats transformed traditionally red Dallas County into a sea of blue when they won every county race they entered, including a victory by District Attorney Craig Watkins and an upset by County Judge Jim Foster that was almost as unexpected as the 2004 election of Sheriff Lupe Valdez, an openly gay Hispanic woman. Buoyed by Obama two years later, Democrats reinforced their advantage by racking up an average of 57 percent of the total vote.

“We lost because we lost our base and we lost the independents,” said Jonathan Neerman, the GOP’s Dallas County chairman.

Dallas County is Democratic for the same reason that Harris County went Democratic in 2008 and Fort Bend County is trending that way: Changing demographics. The vast majority of people who vote Republican are Anglos. A little more than a third of Dallas County is Anglo. That ain’t enough for them to win. If by “we lost our base” Neerman means “too many of the Anglo voters we depend on have died or moved to the suburbs”, then I’d agree with him. I suppose I can understand it if he wouldn’t want to say that on the record.

Perry, as SMU political scientist Cal Jillson pointed out, should be able to carry northern Dallas, Denton, Collin and Tarrant counties by a 70-30 margin without too much trouble. If White carries Dallas County as expected and is able to cut into Perry’s suburban margin, maybe inching up to a 34 percent share, “that,” in Jillson’s words, “is a great strategy.”

I have no idea where Cal Jillson is getting these numbers from, but there’s no way in hell Perry gets 70% of the vote in Denton, Collin, and Tarrant Counties. Here’s how he did in those three counties in 2002 and 2006:

Candidate County 2002 2006 ============================== Perry Collin 75.6 67.6 Patterson Collin 75.4 67.9 Perry Denton 72.9 66.9 Patterson Denton 72.5 66.0 Perry Tarrant 60.7 56.3 Patterson Tarrant 60.2 57.7

I threw in Jerry Patterson, who was on the low end of Republican performance each year, as a point of comparison. Perry’s 2006 vote share is just the straight two-party percentage – his vote total divided by his plus Chris Bell’s. Because Tarrant had more total votes each year than Collin and Denton combined, his overall percentage in these three counties is near the midway point. That’s 66.3% for Perry in 2002, 61.0% for him in 2006. Again, I don’t know what “north Dallas” amounts to in this context, but I strongly doubt it was red enough or populous enough to move those numbers northward by much, if at all.

Bottom line, then, is that Tony Sanchez hit that 34% target Jillson is talking about for Bill White. Putting aside the fact that it didn’t help him much, that’s far too low a total for White to aim for, especially given the Democratic improvement in 2006. If I’m the White campaign, I’m shooting for 40% in Collin and Denton, and I want to carry Tarrant County or come real close to it. Maybe that’s too high a bar to clear, but for damn sure 34% isn’t nearly high enough.

Comparing the reports

Just out of curiosity, I thought I’d see how Bill White did with his fundraising compared to the last two Democratic candidates for Governor. Here’s what it looks like:

Bill White

Totals From Report For William H. White
Filed on: July 15 2010
Covering the Period February 21, 2010 Through June 30, 2010

Total Unitemized Contributions: $55.00
Total Political Contributions: $7,447,799.33
Total Unitemized Expenditures: $0.00
Total Expenditures: $3,276,436.29
Total Unitemized Pledges (Schedule B1 or B2) $0.00
Total Contributions Maintained As Of The Last Day Of The Reporting Period $9,045,425.60
Total Principal Amount Of All Outstanding Loans As Of The Last Day of the Reporting Period $0.00
Total Unitemized Loans: $0.00

Chris Bell

Totals From Report For R. Christopher Bell
Filed on: July 14 2006
Covering the Period February 26, 2006 Through June 30, 2006

Total Unitemized Contributions: $18,282.77
Total Political Contributions: $1,312,467.89
Total Unitemized Expenditures: $7,275.23
Total Expenditures: $533,999.70
Total Unitemized Pledges (Schedule B1 or B2) $0.00
Total Contributions Maintained As Of The Last Day Of The Reporting Period $654,501.62
Total Principal Amount Of All Outstanding Loans As Of The Last Day of the Reporting Period $0.00
Total Unitemized Loans: $0.00

Tony Sanchez

Totals From Report For Tony Sanchez for Governor, Inc.
Filed on: July 15 2002
Covering the Period March 03, 2002 Through June 30, 2002

Total Unitemized Contributions: $187.25
Total Political Contributions: $8,666,412.70
Total Unitemized Expenditures: $0.00
Total Expenditures: $12,486,908.86
Total Unitemized Pledges (Schedule B1 or B2) $0.00
Total Contributions Maintained As Of The Last Day Of The Reporting Period $0.00
Total Principal Amount Of All Outstanding Loans As Of The Last Day of the Reporting Period $17,761,662.81
Total Unitemized Loans: $0.00

The main thing to note about Sanchez is that much of his money came from himself. Take a look at his list of individual contributors, and you see that at least $6 million of that Total Political Contributions amount came from his family interests. (I say “at least” because I just scanned it, zeroing in on the Sanchez name, rather than going line by line. What I saw was two donations, one for one million and one for five million, from Sanchez Spousal Trust.) Moreover, by my count there were 1147 total contributions listed for Sanchez during this period; the total number of contributors is less than that, as some gave more than once. That’s less than one-tenth of the number of new contributors that White’s campaign claimed – 11,700 – which is the number that really stands out to me. Sanchez of course spent a lot more money than White will ultimately raise, but there is a difference between raising it and spending it. The former is evidence of how broad a candidate’s appeal is, and on that score we haven’t seen anything like Bill White since at least the days of Ann Richards.

Rick Perry and the Latino vote, part 3

Having looked at the 2002 election last week, I turn my attention now to 2006. This presents a number of challenges, thanks to the bizarre four-way contest that was the Governor’s race. In all my previous work on the 2006 elections, I’ve generally skipped over the Governor’s race because the numbers are so different from all the other races. Today it can’t be helped.

Let’s start with the basics. Here’s how the four candidates did in the 29 State Rep Districts (SRDs) in which the Spanish surname voter registration (SSRV) percentage was at least 50. Note that these are not the exact same SRDs as in 2002. SRD78 was a smidge over 50% in SSRV in 2002, but not in 2006, while SRD140 did not meet the threshhold in 2002 but did do so in 2006. All other SRDs are the same.

HD Perry Bell Kinky Strayhorn ======================================= 31 3,094 8,896 717 1,567 33 9,595 8,996 3,831 5,212 34 9,781 9,354 3,458 4,664 35 9,867 10,337 4,156 6,615 36 3,845 5,766 533 1,812 37 4,054 5,503 828 3,179 38 6,298 6,191 1,009 4,240 39 3,505 5,112 503 2,096 40 2,309 4,545 483 1,747 41 6,370 4,981 1,125 2,748 42 3,741 7,308 1,019 2,699 43 7,176 6,236 1,561 3,721 74 9,812 8,194 3,436 5,269 75 5,223 5,996 1,527 3,278 76 3,502 7,769 1,209 2,953 77 3,840 6,572 1,555 2,741 79 5,534 5,361 1,625 3,577 80 7,595 8,168 2,713 5,030 104 2,347 6,142 1,088 1,409 116 5,178 7,828 2,615 4,044 117 7,357 7,366 2,848 4,932 118 6,561 8,160 2,974 5,482 119 5,318 7,931 2,679 4,836 123 8,114 5,436 3,164 3,983 124 6,257 7,834 2,493 5,165 125 7,498 8,894 3,244 5,584 140 2,168 4,055 871 956 143 2,284 4,273 1,097 1,020 145 2,649 4,904 1,308 1,243 160,872 198,108 55,669 101,802 HD Perry% Bell% Kinky% CKS% ====================================== 31 21.68% 62.32% 5.02% 10.98% 33 34.72% 32.55% 13.86% 18.86% 34 35.88% 34.32% 12.69% 17.11% 35 31.85% 33.37% 13.42% 21.36% 36 32.16% 48.23% 4.46% 15.16% 37 29.89% 40.57% 6.10% 23.44% 38 35.51% 34.90% 5.69% 23.90% 39 31.25% 45.58% 4.48% 18.69% 40 25.42% 50.03% 5.32% 19.23% 41 41.84% 32.72% 7.39% 18.05% 42 25.33% 49.49% 6.90% 18.28% 43 38.39% 33.36% 8.35% 19.90% 74 36.73% 30.68% 12.86% 19.73% 75 32.59% 37.42% 9.53% 20.46% 76 22.69% 50.34% 7.83% 19.13% 77 26.11% 44.68% 10.57% 18.64% 79 34.38% 33.30% 10.10% 22.22% 80 32.31% 34.75% 11.54% 21.40% 104 21.36% 55.91% 9.90% 12.83% 116 26.33% 39.81% 13.30% 20.56% 117 32.69% 32.73% 12.66% 21.92% 118 28.31% 35.21% 12.83% 23.65% 119 25.61% 38.20% 12.90% 23.29% 123 39.20% 26.26% 15.29% 19.24% 124 28.77% 36.02% 11.46% 23.75% 125 29.73% 35.27% 12.86% 22.14% 140 26.93% 50.37% 10.82% 11.88% 143 26.33% 49.26% 12.65% 11.76% 145 26.22% 48.54% 12.95% 12.30% 31.15% 38.36% 10.78% 19.71%

Perry’s percentage drops a bit from 2002, while Bell’s percentage is dramatically lower than Sanchez’s. I’ll get into the details of that in a minute, but if you look carefully, you’ll see that there were two SRDs in which Perry received more votes in 2006 than in 2002, even though his overall total in these districts declined from 232,177 to 160,872. Those districts were SRDs 31 and 42, both of which include Sanchez’s home base of Webb County and which were easily his best-performing SRDs. They’re also the SRDs with the highest (SRD 31, 91.2%) and third-highest (SRD 42, 85.9%) SSRV. In the district with the second-highest SSRV (SRD40, 88%), Perry’s 2006 vote total was 81.6% of what it was in 2002, but given that his overall vote total was only 69.2% of what it was in 2002, that’s not bad at all.

As with 2002, I then compared Perry’s performance with four other Republican candidates. As before, I used the Senate and Lt. Gov. races, but this time I looked at the Agriculture Commissioner and Railroad Commissioner races for the other two, as the downballot races were where Democrats did the best. Here’s how that looked:

Race Candidate Votes Pct Ratio ================================================ Senate Hutchison 2,661,789 63.12 0.62 Lt. Governor Dewhurst 2,513,530 60.85 0.65 Ag Commish Staples 2,307,406 56.72 0.69 RR Commish Ames Jones 2,269,743 56.42 0.70 Governor Perry 1,716,792 39.37 1.00 Race Candidate Votes Pct Ratio State ======================================================= Senate Hutchison 243,158 49.20 0.63 0.62 Lt. Governor Dewhurst 211.977 43.28 0.72 0.65 Ag Commish Staples 187,330 39.39 0.79 0.69 RR Commish Ames Jones 188,359 40.68 0.77 0.70 Governor Perry 160,872 31.15 1.00 1.00

Unlike 2002, Perry performed better relative to other Republicans across the board in 2006. Since it would not necessarily be the case that Bell’s relative performance would be the inverse of Perry’s, I checked that as well:

Race Candidate Votes Pct Ratio ================================================ Senate Radnofsky 1,555,202 36.88 0.81 Lt. Governor Alvarado 1,617,490 39.15 0.77 Ag Commish Gilbert 1,760,402 43.28 0.69 RR Commish Henry 1,752,947 43.58 0.69 Governor Bell 1,310,337 29.97 1.00 Race Candidate Votes Pct Ratio State ======================================================= Senate Radnofsky 251,022 50.80 0.76 0.81 Lt. Governor Alvarado 277,788 56.72 0.72 0.77 Ag Commish Gilbert 288,303 60.61 0.63 0.69 RR Commish Henry 274,721 59.32 0.65 0.69 Governor Bell 198,108 38.36 1.00 1.00

Indeed, Bell did do worse relative to other Democrats. This suggests to me that he was hurt more by the presence of Kinky Friedman and Carole Keeton Rylander in these districts than Perry was. My guess is that the reverse may be true in red areas, but that’s a post for another time.

Finally, we have to consider turnout here, and the effect that the overall lesser turnout may have had on each side. I took the four non-Governor’s races from each year and compared the totals in each of the common SRDs:

HD R Tot D Tot R Avg D Avg 2002 R% 2002 D% 31 9,680 61,788 2,420 15,447 13.54% 86.46% 33 50,184 62,661 12,546 15,665 44.47% 55.53% 34 54,074 57,600 13,519 14,400 48.42% 51.58% 35 59,829 67,349 14,957 16,837 47.04% 52.96% 36 17,447 51,982 4,362 12,996 25.13% 74.87% 37 17,562 39,030 4,391 9,758 31.03% 68.97% 38 27,565 44,873 6,891 11,218 38.05% 61.95% 39 19,088 44,219 4,772 11,055 30.15% 69.85% 40 10,571 42,410 2,643 10,603 19.95% 80.05% 41 35,185 39,008 8,796 9,752 47.42% 52.58% 42 22,601 90,335 5,650 22,584 20.01% 79.99% 43 36,529 57,211 9,132 14,303 38.97% 61.03% 74 53,337 60,369 13,334 15,092 46.91% 53.09% 75 22,776 43,592 5,694 10,898 34.32% 65.68% 76 15,391 61,788 3,848 15,447 19.94% 80.06% 77 18,797 47,873 4,699 11,968 28.19% 71.81% 79 27,140 40,596 6,785 10,149 40.07% 59.93% 80 42,063 58,150 10,516 14,538 41.97% 58.03% 104 15,605 37,932 3,901 9,483 29.15% 70.85% 116 36,438 48,683 9,110 12,171 42.81% 57.19% 117 39,691 40,307 9,923 10,077 49.61% 50.39% 118 39,867 45,324 9,967 11,331 46.80% 53.20% 119 35,600 49,944 8,900 12,486 41.62% 58.38% 123 39,940 51,019 9,985 12,755 43.91% 56.09% 124 37,774 47,238 9,444 11,810 44.43% 55.57% 125 48,220 53,471 12,055 13,368 47.42% 52.58% 143 15,890 33,709 3,973 8,427 32.04% 67.96% 145 19,341 34,858 4,835 8,715 35.69% 64.31% 868,185 1,413,319 217,046 353,330 38.05% 61.95% HD R Tot D Tot R Avg D Avg 2006 R% 2006 D% 31 9,408 43,773 2,352 10,943 17.69% 82.31% 32 50,671 51,515 12,668 12,879 49.59% 50.41% 34 52,947 49,150 13,237 12,288 51.86% 48.14% 35 60,151 55,072 15,038 13,768 52.20% 47.80% 36 15,498 29,340 3,875 7,335 34.56% 65.44% 37 17,958 31,196 4,490 7,799 36.53% 63.47% 38 27,804 36,470 6,951 9,118 43.26% 56.74% 39 15,390 26,989 3,848 6,747 36.32% 63.68% 40 10,023 24,290 2,506 6,073 29.21% 70.79% 41 30,067 27,416 7,517 6,854 52.31% 47.69% 42 16,658 38,631 4,165 9,658 30.13% 69.87% 43 33,073 35,885 8,268 8,971 47.96% 52.04% 74 51,648 45,024 12,912 11,256 53.43% 46.57% 75 24,952 35,500 6,238 8,875 41.28% 58.72% 76 15,442 42,765 3,861 10,691 26.53% 73.47% 77 17,947 36,841 4,487 9,210 32.76% 67.24% 79 26,924 33,351 6,731 8,338 44.67% 55.33% 80 42,838 43,873 10,710 10,968 49.40% 50.60% 104 12,019 29,325 3,005 7,331 29.07% 70.93% 116 30,992 42,673 7,748 10,668 42.07% 57.93% 117 43,302 40,557 10,826 10,139 51.64% 48.36% 118 41,429 44,839 10,357 11,210 48.02% 51.98% 119 32,761 44,731 8,190 11,183 42.28% 57.72% 123 32,767 44,169 8,192 11,042 42.59% 57.41% 124 37,005 44,844 9,251 11,211 45.21% 54.79% 125 44,754 49,759 11,189 12,440 47.35% 52.65% 143 11,597 20,667 2,899 5,167 35.94% 64.06% 145 13,781 23,991 3,445 5,998 36.48% 63.52% 819,806 1,072,636 204,952 268,159 43.32% 56.68%

The third and fourth columns are the average vote totals in the four examined races for each SRD. Republicans did better overall in 2006 than in 2002. What’s clear is that the decrease in turnout from 2002 to 2006, which we have discussed before, affected Democrats more than it affected Republicans. The Democrats’ task in these areas isn’t as much persuasion as it is base turnout. If these folks come out to the ballot box, they’ll vote Democratic in large numbers. It’s just that they may or may not show up. The job for Bill White and every other Democrat on the ticket is to give them a reason to participate.

It’s also important to note that while Perry held onto a larger share of the vote in these SRDs than Bell did, it’s still the case that his support declined. Again, we can’t say for certain what proportion of the vote in these SRDs is Latino Perry voters, but it’s clear he didn’t get 35% in 2006, and if he didn’t do that in these SRDs, he didn’t do it overall, either. He has his work cut out for him just to match the 37% he rung up in 2002.

I have one more post for this series. I hope you’ve found it useful. Let me know if you have any questions.

Rick Perry and the Latino vote, part 2

On Tuesday, I took a look at how Rick Perry did in the 2002 election in the State Rep districts (SRDs) that have Spanish surname voter registration (SSRV) percentage of 50 or more in order to try to get a handle on the question of how well Perry performed with the Latino vote. Today I’m going to try to add some context to that by seeing how Perry’s performance in those districts compared to some other Republicans on the ballot that year. I performed the same calculation for the other top of the ticket races: John Cornyn versus Ron Kirk for Senate; David Dewhurst versus John Sharp for Lieutenant Governor; Greg Abbott versus Kirk Watson for Attorney General; and Carolyn Keeton Rylander versus Marty Akins for Comptroller. All but the latter feature candidates that were reasonably well matched in terms of ability and fundraising; the Rylander-Akins race is included to see what the outer limits of Republican performance were that year. Here’s the summary of how they did in these 29 SRDs:

Race Candidate Votes Pct ====================================== Comptroller Rylander 271,075 46.94 Atty General Abbott 223,085 37.48 Governor Perry 232,177 37.16 Lt Governor Dewhurst 217,896 36.08 Senate Cornyn 213,037 34.99

Rylander got over 65% of the vote against the hapless Akins, so her strong showing in these districts should not be a surprise. These numbers are interesting, but there’s still something missing. Just as Rylander lapped the field at the state level, Perry’s overall performance was better than some and worse than others. What we have here is a rough guide to how Republican candidates did in these SRDs in 2002. What we want to know is whether or not Rick Perry did any better or worse than he might have been expected to do, and for that we need a finer look at the numbers. Here’s how Perry did at the state level in comparison to these other candidates:

Race Candidate Votes Pct Ratio ================================================ Comptroller Rylander 2,878,732 66.09 0.89 Governor Perry 2,632,591 59.13 1.00 Atty General Abbott 2,542,184 57.99 1.02 Senate Cornyn 2,496,243 56.07 1.05 Lt Governor Dewhurst 2,341,875 52.93 1.12

“Ratio” is the ratio of Perry’s vote percentage to the other candidates. He got 89% of Rylander’s share, 102% of Abbott’s, 105% of Cornyn’s, and 112% of Dewhurst’s. Now let’s go back to the previous comparison and add in this calculation, so we can see if Perry performed relatively better or worse than his partymates in these parts of the state.

Race Candidate Votes Pct Ratio State ==================================================== Comptroller Rylander 271,075 46.94 0.79 0.89 Atty General Abbott 223,085 37.48 0.99 1.02 Governor Perry 232,177 37.16 1.00 1.00 Lt Governor Dewhurst 217,896 36.08 1.03 1.12 Senate Cornyn 213,037 34.99 1.06 1.05

“State” is the Ratio from the previous table. What this says is that while Perry got 89% of the vote share that Rylander did, he only got 79% of the share she received in these SRDs. By this measure, Rylander outperformed him, as did Abbott (99% of the vote share versus 102% overall) and Dewhurst (103% versus 112%). Only Cornyn failed to outdo him in these Latino-heavy districts.

As before, there are many caveats. First and foremost is the fact that only Perry had a Latino opponent, Tony Sanchez. As we’ve discussed before, whatever else you may say about the Sanchez campaign, it got people to the polls in a lot of these places, and while all Democrats benefited from that, Sanchez in particular reaped the bounty. You can see this the most clearly in the earlier post in SRD 42, which encompasses Webb County, which is Sanchez’s home of Laredo. The point I’m making is simply that Perry had a steeper hill to climb, and that should be taken into account when you judge his performance.

And as I said in the previous entry, this is a crude measure. Nearly half of these SRDs have less than 60% SSRV. It’s entirely possible that many of these districts had Anglo majorities voting in them, and it’s entirely possible that Perry did more poorly with a smaller number of Latino voters in these districts but made up much of that ground with the bigger Anglo voter bloc. You’d have to get to the precinct level to get a truly clear picture, and while I can get my hands on that data, I don’t know enough about these SRDs to know which precinct goes with which neighborhood. Marc Campos has some of that for Harris County precincts, and the picture that emerges there is not one of great attraction towards Rick Perry from Latino voters; I’d guess the effect is the same in these other races as well, but I haven’t taken the time to look for myself. At the very least, we’d need to get a handle on the relative levels of turnout among Latino, Anglo, and other voters. I don’t have that data, so I’m looking at what I do have and squinting. It’ll have to do for now. I’ll have more on this next week.

Rick Perry and the Latino vote, part 1

Say what you want about Rick Perry, he’s got a much firmer grasp of the changing demographics of Texas and their political implications than many of his partymates do. As such, he plans to compete vigorously for the Latino vote in Texas.

Perry campaign manager Rob Johnson said the campaign will try and improve upon the one-third of the Latino vote that the governor has won in past elections.

“We can do better,” he said.

And for the future of the party, it must do better, Johnson said, citing that Hispanics will make up 50 percent of the state’s population in 10 years. A party that only wins one-third of that vote will have an uphill election battle, he said.

I’ll leave it to others to judge the efficacy and likelihood of success for Perry’s strategy. What I want to do is check Rob Johnson’s math. I don’t have access to any exit polling data from 2002, so I’m going to do my best to take a rough guess at Perry’s support level among Latinos from 2002 by looking at State Rep district data. What I’ve done is pulled out all of the Governor’s race returns from the SRDs in which the percentage of Spanish surname voter registrations (SSRVs) is at least 50. Here’s what that data looks like:

HD Representative Perry Sanchez Perry% Sanchez% SSVR ========================================================== 031 Guillen 1,965 18,154 9.8 90.2 91.0 033 Luna 12,466 16,167 43.5 56.5 53.1 034 Capello 13,861 14,512 48.9 51.1 52.4 035 Canales 15,794 17,186 47.9 52.1 52.2 036 Flores 4,857 13,168 25.3 74.7 79.7 037 Oliveira 4,833 10,360 31.8 68.2 81.7 038 Solis 7,465 11,614 38.8 61.2 74.5 039 Wise 5,288 12,417 29.9 70.1 78.1 040 Pena 2,829 11,678 19.5 80.5 86.8 041 Gutierrez 9,137 10,516 46.5 53.5 62.6 042 Raymond 3,399 27,357 11.1 89.9 85.5 043 Herrero 9,615 14,975 39.1 60.9 68.2 074 Gallego 13,998 16,342 46.1 53.9 55.7 075 Quintanilla 5,541 11,940 31.7 68.3 77.7 076 Chavez 3,659 16,769 17.9 82.1 64.6 077 Moreno 4,640 13,191 26.0 74.0 69.9 078 Haggerty 14,662 12,041 54.9 45.1 51.6 079 Pickett 6,815 10,759 38.8 61.2 80.0 080 Garza 11,179 15,628 41.7 58.3 68.9 104 Alonzo 3,650 10,342 26.1 73.9 51.3 116 Mrtinez-Fischr 8,858 12,798 40.9 59.1 57.5 117 Mercer 9,748 10,621 47.9 52.1 56.7 118 Uresti 9,907 11,917 45.4 54.6 56.7 119 Puente 8,781 13,061 40.2 59.8 57.2 123 Villarreal 9,927 13,325 42.7 57.3 58.2 124 Menendez 9,052 12,551 41.9 58.1 57.0 125 Castro 11,861 13,973 45.9 54.1 58.0 143 Moreno 3,890 9,294 29.5 70.5 58.3 145 Noriega 4,500 9,921 31.2 68.8 60.4 Total 232,177 392,577 37.2 62.8

There are many caveats to keep in mind. Not everybody who has a Spanish surname is actually Latino, and not everyone who is Latino has a Spanish surname. The percentage of Spanish surname voter registration may or may not have any relation to the percentage of people with Spanish surnames who voted. And even if you assume that the share of Latino voters is more or less constant from county to county and district to district, there will still be fluctuations. Basically, we’re using a yardstick to measure molecules.

Having said all that, I don’t see anything in these numbers to contradict what Johnson said. I do want to note, however, that the more heavily Latino a district was, the worse Perry tended to perform. To put it another way, I added up the vote totals in all the districts where the SSRVs were in the 50’s, in the 60’s, in the 70’s, and 80 or above. Here’s what that looks like:

SSVR Pct Perry Sanchez Perry% Sanchez% ==================================================== 50-60 146,455 184,130 44.3 55.7 60-70 42,730 81,000 34.5 65.5 70-80 23,151 49,139 32.0 68.0 80+ 19,841 78,308 20.2 79.8

Again, this metric is too crude to make any strong conclusions, but the trend is clear enough. If I were Nate Silver I’d draw you a graph and throw some correlation coefficients at you, but let’s just pretend I did that for now.

I did not do the same analysis for the other statewide candidates, because there are only so many hours in the day. My eyeballing of the data suggests that in most places Perry did better than some of his ballotmates, like David Dewhurst, and worse than others, like Carole Keeton Rylander. In other words, with the exception of HD42, which is in Tony Sanchez’s home county (Webb), Perry’s relative position was about where it was overall. I did not see anything that suggested to me that he did better than you might expect. Maybe I’ll tackle that another day.

The conclusions I will draw are that Perry is certainly capable of getting a third or better of the vote in heavily Latino areas, and that if his efforts aren’t matched by something at least as strong, he will do well enough to make a Democratic victory all but unattainable. You’ll see more evidence of that in Part 2.

First poll of TX-GOV

And we have our first general election gubernatorial poll of Texas that has Bill White in it, courtesy of Rasmussen.

Incumbent GOP Governor Rick Perry leads White 50% to 40% among likely Texas voters. Four percent (4%) prefer some other candidate, given that match-up, and six percent (6%) are undecided.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who runs second to Perry among GOP Primary voters, runs better against White than the incumbent. Hutchison leads the Democrat by 15 points, 52% to 37%. Four percent (4%) like another candidate, and eight percent (8%) aren’t sure whom they’ll vote for.

White leads Debra Medina 44-38, not that it really matters. No crosstabs for non-premium customers, so I can’t give you a critique of their sample. What I can tell you is that the first poll I could find from my 2002 archives had Perry leading Tony Sanchez by a 42-32 margin. That was in July, after Sanchez had spent millions on TV ads. The story referenced a poll from June that had Perry up by 20. All things considered, this early on and with White not having been on TV at all, it’s not too bad. I’d prefer to see Perry under 50, but as this is the first poll out there – I believe R2K will be surveying Texas soon as well – it’s what we’ve got. I have a feeling we’ll see plenty more of these before all is said and done.

Note also that White does better against Perry than he does against Hutchison. I wonder if we’ll start to hear more from the Rick Hardcastle contingent.

A Rick ‘n’ Kay threefer

1. I wouldn’t make such a big deal yet about the latest Rasmussen poll that shows KBH with a slight lead over Rick Perry, reversing a months-long decline for her. Without any other polls to compare this to, it could just be noise. I don’t really disagree with any of the points Burka raises, I’d just like to see at least one other result before I’m ready to initiate the “Kay’s Comeback” sequence.

2. Apparently, KBH’s “I’ll quit sometime in October or November” has morphed into “I’ll send the Governor a letter next month saying I’m quitting as of New Year’s”. Any more questions why some of us have never believed a word she’s had to say on this subject?

3. I don’t know if Rick Perry’s “What recession?” gaffe is a dirty trick or not, nor do I particularly care. If it turns out that the guy who once accused Tony Sanchez of being a drug dealer gets sunk by a bit of dishonesty, I for one would call that a little rough justice.

UPDATE: Glenn Smith comments on the Rasmussen poll.

Another Democratic gubernatorial hopeful

Well, you can’t say that the Democratic cast of characters for Governor lacks characters.

Rick Perry might not be the only candidate in the 2010 race for Texas governor who is known for great hair.

As the Republican governor with famously spiffy locks seeks re-election, the head of a Houston hair products company that Perry recently touted says he might be running for governor — as a Democrat.

Farouk Shami, 66 , founder and board chairman of Faorouk Systems Inc., hosted Perry at his company’s headquarters in July for a news conference announcing the company’s decision to move manufacturing facilities from South Korea and China to Texas, bringing 1,200 jobs to Houston. Perry called Shami, who was born in what was then Palestine, someone “who pretty much embodies the American dream.”

“Inspired by the freedoms we enjoy, he was drawn to this state,” Perry said at the news conference, a video of which is posted on the governor’s Web site. “He’s built a life of significance and an organization that is respected around the world. His is the story of Texas.”

Now, Shami, who has never run for office, is pondering a run to replace Perry, though their philosophies sound similar. Shami says he wants to bring jobs to Texas and avoid raising taxes. He said Perry “is a wonderful person” but lacks business experience.

“I have the capability to run the state as a business,” said Shami, whose shampoos, hair dryers and flat irons are sold around the world under the BioSilk and CHI brands. “People are tired of politicians.”

Yeah, the name “Tony Sanchez” is popping into my head, too. Given what Perry said about Sanchez during that campaign, one can only wonder what he might say about Farouk Shami in this one.

Shami donated more than $24,000 to [Kinky] Friedman’s independent campaign for governor in 2006, when Friedman referred to Shami as his Palestinian barber. Now, Shami said Friedman doesn’t seem serious.

Well, I can’t argue with that last part. At least he’s able to learn from his mistakes.

On a much less colorful note, Burka touts former Speaker Pete Laney as the Democrats’ best hope in the Governor’s race. I have a lot of respect for Pete Laney, and if he got into the race I’d certainly consider him. It’s not clear to me why Burka thinks Laney’s support for George W. Bush in the 2000 election would be any less a problem for him than Tom Schieffer’s Bush connection, but I suppose Burka was addressing the general election and not the primary. I’m far from sold on the need or the wisdom of having a rural candidate as the nominee – I think the marginal gains in rural counties may not be enough to overcome a lack of enthusiasm for a rural white guy in the urban, heavily non-Anglo Democratic base, and I tend to agree with Greg that the place to be looking for persuadable voters is the suburbs. I also take issue with Burka’s assertion that Laney isn’t just the Dems’ best hope, he’s the only hope. Among other things, I’m hearing from more and more people who think KBH may back out of the Governor’s race, in which case you’d have Bill White and John Sharp in a non-existent Senate campaign; surely White would represent a stronger hope than Laney, or anyone else for that matter, and I’d rank Sharp above Laney as well. Be that as it may, if this is more than wishcasting, I’m certainly open to hearing more. But get back to me after I’ve heard it.

Kay finally announces

To paraphrase The Observer, this was the least unexpected announcement in Texas politics history. Obviously, her message isn’t supposed to appeal to people like me, but I’ve read this story twice now and I’m still not exactly sure what her message actually is. This is the bit that encapsulates it for me:

Hutchison said she will to do more with less from taxpayers: “I will spend less, tax less and borrow less.”

Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson said Hutchison is correctly assuming Texans are willing to look at alternatives to Perry, but he said a broad “shotgun” approach to policy might not work and said she needs to tell them “what she is offering and how credible it is.”

I guess there are people who will like the sound of that “spend less, tax less and borrow less” stuff, but how exactly is that different from Tony Sanchez’s “scrub the budget” message from 2002? Putting it another way, what does Kay plan to spend less on, and what taxes does she plan to cut? Saying you’ll do these things is the easy part; saying how you’ll do them is where it gets tricky.

KBH is also criticizing Perry for turning down the stimulus funds for unemployment insurance. Naturally, I agree with that, but as the story notes, she voted against the stimulus package in the first place. Sure, you can say, and I’m sure she will, that she disagreed with the idea of the stimulus but once it was approved Texas should have gotten its fair share. That’s the standard logic that all of the self-styled anti-pork crusaders use when they get criticized for their own earmarks. I understand that logic, and if you can get past the hypocrisy it’s perfectly sensible, but does anyone think this won’t be turned into a John Kerry-esque “she was for it before she was against it” flip-flop by Team Perry? I at least don’t have much faith in her campaign’s ability to respond to attacks like that. Ken Herman provides some evidence of her campaign’s maladroitness.

The first time he said it, you weren’t sure you had heard what you thought you heard. The second time, there was no doubt.

The disembodied announcer voice at Kay Bailey Hutchison’s gubernatorial campaign kickoff event was mispronouncing the name of her high school.

La Marque (la mark) High School had been fancified to La Marquis (la mar-kee) High School.

“They keep saying it,” a La Marque cheerleader said to a fellow cheerleader in the school gym where Hutchison announced her candidacy.


On education, Hutchison committed what’s become a common sin among candidates of her generation.

“I want to help to create an education system like I had,” said Hutchison, La Marque High School, class of 1961.

No thanks. I’ll pass on that.

Yes, 1961 was a great time to be in Texas public schools — if you were white and didn’t face learning disabilities. La Marque High School was segregated when Hutchison attended.

Oops. Anyway, what I expect out of this campaign, if you can call it that, is a lot of hot air and name-calling from both candidates, and very little about the problems Texas faces and how they can best be solved. That’s just not what Perry and KBH are about. EoW, the DMN, BOR (and again), and Greg, who goes after the KBH needs Democratic votes meme, have more.