August 08, 2005
DeLay's dilemma

Like Greg, I'm interested in this WaPo blurb on the CD22 race for next year.

Democrats are pushing donors big and small to help former representative Nick Lampson (D-Tex.) raise $1 million before the end of the year to fund his long-shot bid to oust Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), the House majority leader. Lampson, a victim of DeLay's redistricting effort in the 2004 races, is on target to pocket $750,000 by the end of September, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) said.

But there DeLay has access to some kinds of money that his opponents can't match. He stuffed hundreds of millions of dollars into the energy and transportation bills passed last month to benefit projects in his suburban Houston district. He'll spend much of this month making sure the largess -- including $50 million to improve an interstate that cuts through his district and $324 million for Houston Metro -- does not go unappreciated. On Monday, DeLay will show a softer side, speaking at the opening of the foster care foundation he and his wife started.

In 2004, DeLay spent nearly $3 million to defeat attorney Richard Morrison (D), 55 to 41 percent. Emanuel sees DeLay as one of the top targets in the Democratic strategy to paint Republicans as ethically compromised and abusive of Washington power.

I have a pet theory about what DeLay is up to, since we've seen several out-of-character things from him lately, ranging from his ballot access petition to his sudden proclivity for pork. I think DeLay wants to do more than just win his race against Nick Lampson. I think he wants to get back above 60% of the vote. In doing so, he'll get the last laugh on everyone who ever wrote about him as being "endangered" electorally - he took the Democrats' best shot of a well-known, well-financed former incumbent and won handily. Having done that, he can go back to doing what he really wants to do, which is get other Republicans elected and keep the K Street money flowing.

Obviously, I have no connection to the man himself, and even if I did this kind of streetcorner psychologizing should always be taken with an appropriate measure of salt. But it's what I think, anyway.

I believe he'll have a very hard time meeting that goal (if it exists for him), and not because of who he's running against or the "culture of corruption" of which he is an integral part. I think he'll find that his district is becoming less hospitable to him over time, and if he wins in 2006 he'll still be endangered in 2008.

I've noted before that according to the Secretary of State report on CD22 had it going from a 33.0/67.0 Dem/GOP split in 2002 to a 34.1/65.9 ratio in 2004. That was based on 2002 results extrapolated to the new 2004 boundaries. Well, we have the actual 2004 results now, and I've finally started to do a full analysis of the new CD22. Here's what I've got so far.

First, here are vote totals and percentages for the non-judicial statewide Republican candidates from 2002 in CD22, along with DeLay.

Candidate Votes Pct
Rylander 116,592 74.29
Combs 107,018 69.27
Perry 107,586 67.73
Abbott 106,009 67.52
Patterson 100,465 66.87
Williams 101,535 66.65
Cornyn 103,239 64.73
DeLay 100,500 64.43
Dewhurst 98,739 62.38

Total 841,183 67.42

Notice anything interesting? Here's the same thing for the statewide Republican judicial candidates, plus DeLay:

Candidate Votes Pct
Price 102,387 68.18
Cochrane 102,871 67.85
Phillips 104,753 67.70
Wainwright 101,848 66.72
Womack 102,187 66.68
Jefferson 101,836 66.19
Schneider 101,261 66.04
DeLay 100,500 64.43
Smith 96,452 62.59

Total 831,595 66.49

That total excludes DeLay's numbers. The grand total of each, also not including DeLay's numbers, gives us the 67.0% total advertised.

The bottom line here is that in 2002, well before the TRMPAC and Abramoff scandals and the Ethics Committee admonishments, Tom DeLay lagged the statewide RPI in his district by two and a half points. He did better percentagewise against only David Dewhurst, who had the closest win of all GOP statewides, and Steven Wayne Smith, who drew establishment GOP ire for knocking off Perry appointee Xavier Rodriguez in the primary. He drew fewer votes than everyone but those two and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson. All that against an underfunded and essentially unknown Democrat.

Fast forward to 2004. Only four statewide races last year:

Bush 177,378 64.37
Brister 165,392 63.16
Carrillo 159,309 62.04
Keasler 160,876 61.64
DeLay 150,386 55.16

Total 662,955 62.83

Again, the Total does not include DeLay. Note two things: One, the SOS overestimated the RPI in CD22 by three points. Two, DeLay's underperformance is now almost eight points. Neither of these bodes well for DeLay. How much bigger will his performance gap be next year, after another cycle of pounding on him for the corrupt climate he enables? Will the pork he brings be seen as genuine constituent service, or a crass attempt to buy favor from the voters?

CD22 is still a Republican district - despite attempts to spin it as being more competitive due to DeLay's generosity to other Republicans, it lost only about four points of Republican-ness. But we've already seen that Fort Bend is trending Democratic, and that's a big chunk of CD22. Another two or three point drop in the overall RPI in CD22, as well as in DeLay's performance gap, and he won't have to worry about being considered an endangered incumbent any more.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 08, 2005 to Election 2006 | TrackBack

One thing is for sure, Kuff, that %60 and much more is there, and if the dems push this one too hard they will find it. This is definitely a district for the **marginal gains** strategy I have mentioned to you before. If Lampson starts a **genuine** turnout war in the 22nd, he'll burn every dem left in the district, as well as every dem with a piece of the district.

Posted by: ttyler5 on August 8, 2005 7:45 PM