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October 30th, 2004:

Predictions

Burnt Orange, Greg Wythe, and George Strong all have some Election Day predictions. I’m not going to go there, for the simple reason that it’s never a good idea to bet with your heart and not your head. Anything I wrote down here would be a reflection of what I’m hoping for, not what I really and objectively think will happen. Since you already more or less know what I want to happen, I won’t bother repeating myself.

That said, there are a few things that I’ll go out on a limb for:

1. The race that I think will surprise everyone is CD07. I’m not saying that John Martinez is going to win, or even come particularly close, because he won’t. What I do think, though, is that he’ll outperform the Democratic index of the district, which is 30% according to the Populations and Elections report for PlanC01374 (go here, click on PlanC01374, then click the Population and Elections button to see the report in PDF format). I’m basing this on the large number of Martinez signs that I see in the parts of CD07 I tend to frequent, which is to say Montrose and the Rice/Medical Center areas. For a candidate with no funds, no media coverage, and no name recognition, there are a lot of signs touting his campaign. I think the people in this part of the district, who used to be in CD18 and CD25, will vote heavily for him, and that by doing so, he’ll get somewhere between 35 and 40% of the total vote. This is as much wishful thinking as anything else I could write here, since I want very much for a good result by Martinez to spur a bigger and better candidate into challenging John Culberson in 2006, but I’ll go on the record with it anyway.

2. I believe at least one Harris County Democrat will win a countywide race. I’m not sure who it will be – maybe Reggie McKamie, maybe Kathy Stone, maybe Bruce Mosier – but I think at least one of them will. This will hopefully prod more Democrats to challenge Republican judicial incumbents in 2006.

3. Travis County will go for Kerry by a wide margin, something like 57-42. (In 2000, Gore+Nader was about 52%, with Bush getting just under 47%.) I believe there will be no more than a four point difference between Bush and Kerry in all three of Harris, Dallas, and Bexar Counties, and I believe Kerry will carry at least one of them by a smidgen. (This is not such a big stretch. The 2000 totals: In Bexar, Bush 52.24%, Gore+Nader 47.23%; in Dallas, Bush 52.58%, Gore+Nader 46.80%; in Harris, Bush 54.28%, Gore+Nader 45.25%.) I believe Kerry will get at least 42% of the vote statewide (2000 total: Bush 59.39%, Gore+Nader 40.13%).

Feel free to make whatever predictions you want to make here.

Early voting ends

Thursday was the fourth straight day in Harris County that the number of people voting early exceeded the day before. Over 54,000 ballots were cast here on the penultimate day, bringing turnout to nearly 19%. We’re still pikers compared to Travis County, though. According to Karl-T, who has final totals, Travis County saw over 217,000 votes cast in the twelve-day period, which represents 37% turnout, all before Election Day itself. To put that into some perspective, total turnout in Travis County for the 2002 elections, which included the Governor’s race and a hotly contested Senate race, was just under 40%. Karl-T thinks that in the end, over 70% of registered voters will turn out there. Given the generally Democratic tilt of the capital county (Ron Kirk had 55% in 2002, John Sharr and Kirk Watson over 58% each; even Tony Sanchez carried Travis, if only by 200 votes), that’s got to be good news for Patrick Rose, Kelly White, and Mark Strama.

UPDATE: Final totals are in. An amazing 67,000 people voted in Harris County yesterday, bringing the total vote to over 436,000 and turnout to over 22%. Even more amazingly, that 22% represented the low water mark for the Top 15 counties, where the overall turnout was 29.66%. Sixty percent turnout now would not surprise me.

Before anyone gets too giddy about that, note what Greg says.

CW is that higher turnout helps Dems. I’ll buy that … but only up to a point, and an unknown point at that. Just a formative bit of speculation here, but I think that once you see one side driven to get out to the polls, that starts to seep over to the other side. Higher turnout may help Dems given the current calculus. But hyper-higher turnout, I argue, tends to make the new voters look more and more like everyone else. We shall see soon enough, I suppose.

Consider the top five of the Big 15:

County Reg Voters Voters Percent =================================================== Collin 369,412 153,566 41.57% Williamson 200,344 77,142 38.50% Travis 584,949 217,428 37.17% Denton 321,700 116,632 36.25% Galveston 185,911 64,714 34.81%

Collin, Williamson, and Denton are three of the most Republican counties in Texas (Bush 2000 numbers: Collin 73.06%, Williamson 67.79%, Denton 69.60%). Galveston is more of a swing county (Bush 2000: 54.20%), though it still leans Republican (top Dem showing in 2002: John Sharp with 48.32%; Nick Lampson carried it with 54.21%, which may bode well for Richard Morrison). My point is, Democrats are not the only ones getting out the vote.

Embarrassing music

Pete and Ginger hash out this article on bad cover songs. I’ve never heard any of them, so I just have two comments. One, I’m not as reflexively anti-“Danny Boy” as Ginger is, so I have to agree with Pete. Johnny Cash is exactly the kind of artist you want covering that old standard, since he’ll resist the urge to get all puffy and faux-emotional, which is what causes most normal people to grind their teeth when they hear it.

Secondly, this is enough to make me question the wisdom of the whole endeavor:

9. Candy Flip ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’

Ric Peet and Danny Spencer believed that one of the most sublime pieces of music ever made could be improved by a semi-simian scally whining over a cheap cymbal-and-snare racket.

“Strawberry Fields Forever” is on my short list of Worst Beatles Songs Ever, so the author of this article and I are clearly coming at the concept with differing ideas of what constitutes racket. The Asylum Street Spankers‘ parody of “Strawberry”, in the epilogue to their hilarious “Whatever”, almost justifies the existence of this song. Almost. On the other hand, I suppose since I dislike the original so much, it makes sense that the cover sucks, too. So it probably belongs.

I have to say, though, I can’t believe anyone could come up with a list of worst covers and not at least mention Michael Bolton, who could generate a Ten Worst list all by himself. Someone explain this one to me, please.

Elsewhere in the Embarrassing Music files, John Nova Lomax gets a bunch of hip musicians to confess to their dark, guilty musical pleasures. Personally, it’s hard for me to identify the music that I like that I ought to be ashamed of because I’m not actually ashamed of any of it. I’ll freely admit that I own every Billy Joel album ever made (in one format or another), even if admitting it risks getting me delinked by Norbizness. I’m nowhere near Pete’s level of expertise, but I had a fondness for hair metal back in the day – really, what self-respecting child of the 80s didn’t have a soft spot for Ratt or Twisted Sister? – and I still regret that I never stole my former roommate Stephen’s copy of the Chess soundtrack. And I don’t feel the least bit guilty about any of it.

Now that I’ve admitted my fondness for Tim Rice, I’ll note with some pleasure how many of Lomax’s artists also share a taste for musicals.

Zamora, Julie. (Singer in the band Modulator.) Atop Zamora’s list is the Xanadu soundtrack. “Olivia Newton-John and ELO make this one my favorite guilty pleasure. She must have been ‘Magic,’ or at least used helium to hit those high notes.” Still on the ONJ tip, Grease is another of Zamora’s faves. “I’m glad you asked: Why, yes, I am an Olivia Newton-John fan. ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’ tells the sad story of my life, while ‘Greased Lightnin” makes me want to pimp my ride.” Zamora also likes to mine ABBA‘s Gold (“Swedish melodrama rules!”) and trip the light fantastic to The Bee Gees Greatest Hits. “I had a huge crush on Barry Gibb — it must have been that high, effeminate voice juxtaposed with all of that facial hair. ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ makes me want to get into a fight just so we can make up.” And finally, there’s The Sound of Music. “What can I say? I was named after Julie Andrews. I absolutely love singing the title track (especially the high, lilting backing vocals) whilst twirling about in my apartment. Anytime I’m feeling down, I listen to this gem and go to that calm, happy place where everyone sings in harmony, is Austrian and is built like body builders.”

I’m right there with you, Julie, though maybe without the twirling. My buddy Syd once joked about forming a group called Straight Guys Who Like Show Tunes. I’d sign up as a charter member. You may begin mocking me at your convenience.

Lou and Leon

There are a number of good articles in the AusChron this last week before the election. I highlighted some others in this Congress post, but there are two others you should catch. This one is about Crawforf and Leon Smith, the publishers of the Iconoclast, which has had some hard times since it endorsed John Kerry. There’s also this interview with Lou Dubose, coauthor of “The Hammer”, the book about Tom DeLay’s rise and (one hopes, anyway) eventual fall. Check them out.