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October 30th, 2010:

Saturday video break: This is Halloween

And this is how you celebrate it:

Happy Halloween!

Last round of polls

The newspapers have another poll, and I have a question about it.

The survey of 673 likely voters found Perry leading Democratic nominee and former Houston Mayor Bill White 49 percent to 37 percent. They are followed by Green Party candidate Deb Shafto at 3 percent and Libertarian Kathie Glass at 2 percent, with 10 percent undecided or unsure. The survey, conducted Oct. 22-27, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

White essentially is mired at the same level of support he had when the race began last March, but Perry has moved up in the past month.

In September, Perry led White 46 percent to 39 percent. At that point, White had been advertising on television for several months, but Perry had just begun. Since then, Perry has spent millions of dollars on TV ads promoting himself and attacking White.

“The big story really here is just that Perry finally seems to have sealed the deal,” said pollster Micheline Blum, of Blum & Weprin Associates in New York. “I don’t think he feels terribly worried anymore.”

The survey was conducted for the Houston Chronicle, along with the San Antonio Express-News, Austin American-Statesman, the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The Express News version of this story says the poll was of “1,073 registered voters, including 673 likely to vote”. The question I have, given that this poll was conducted between Days 5 and 9 of early voting, is why wouldn’t you ask people if they have already voted? Seems to me those are a decent chunk of your truly likely voters by now. At the very least, you can see how things differ between those who have voted and those who have not (yet) voted. I have no idea why the pollster didn’t take this approach. You can add that to the problems I had with their previous poll.

Oh, and Shafto at three points? I don’t think so. I’ll put the over/under for that at one, and at the risk of repeating myself, I’ll take the under.

I should note that Public Policy Polling did take ask their respondents if they had voted, and their numbers aren’t encouraging.

Rick Perry’s in a solid position for reelection as Governor of Texas, leading Bill White 53-44 on PPP’s final poll of the race.

For White it may be a classic case of the right candidate running in the wrong cycle. He has strong favorability numbers at a 46/39 spread while Perry can only break even on his approval rating at 45% giving him good marks and 45% bad ones. White leads with independent voters 50-44. That makes him one of very few Democratic candidates anywhere in the country leading with that group this year and it’s all the more impressive given that Barack Obama’s approval rating with that same ground of independents is a 33/55 spread.

Ultimately though to win as a Democrat in Texas you’re going to have to win a fair amount of crossover support from Republican voters and in the end White just wasn’t able to do it. Just 11% of GOP voters are planning to support him, a number equivalent to the 11% of Democrats who plan to vote for Perry. In this highly polarized political climate Republicans just aren’t particularly inclined to vote for any Democrat, even an unusually appealing one like White.

You can see their data here. Forty-four percent of their sample reported having already voted, and Perry’s lead with them was 56-44. That is a pretty small sample (44% of their 568 respondents is 250), making its margin of error 6.2%, but that’s a mighty thin reed on which to hang hopes. PPP did report, as it had before, that there was no enthusiasm gap in Texas, which it defines by comparing the partisan makeup of the 2010 electorate to that of 2008. They just didn’t see White getting enough crossover support to win. My gut says that the level of White’s Republican support is understated by PPP, but the only recent poll with a sufficient level of detail to compare it to is that UT/Trib poll, which I don’t trust at all. We’ll have to see what the precinct data ultimately tells us.

“The cul-de-sac battleground”

The Observer has an interesting look at three State House races in suburban areas that were once Republican strongholds but have now become battlegrounds. Two of them are Democratic-held – HDs 52 and 133 – and one (HD105) is still Republican, with all of them having photo finishes in 2008 and all of them being key to the makeup of the 2011 Legislature. To give some idea of how these three districts have changed over time, here’s the average percentage of the two-party vote received by Republicans in each:

Year HD52 HD105 HD133 ========================= 2002 63.9 63.1 63.3 2004 60.2 57.9 56.4 2006 54.5 56.9 57.6 2008 51.9 47.8 48.2

There were eight contested judicial races in 2002, two each in 2004 and 2006, and five in 2008. That year, every Democratic judicial candidate won at least a plurality in HDs 105 and 133; in HD52, thanks to Libertarian candidates getting upwards of five percent, only two of the five Republicans got majorities, with the others carrying the district with pluralities.

You look at these numbers and you realize two things: One, what a huge missed opportunity HD105 was last time around. And two, even without the Obama surge of 2008, there was a lot of Republican erosion in those districts. In 2006, the Democratic judicial candidates ran ahead of their statewide numbers in HD52, as the WilCo Democratic Party was starting to get its act together. Both HDs 105 and 133 showed the effect of non-Presidential year turnout – remember, even as Dallas Democrats were sweeping the county that year, it was almost entirely about a huge decline in Republican votes. It’s all about changing demographics. I have no idea what things might look like this year, but I know you can’t overlook that effect. Combine four more years of such change with better organization and the Democrats in these districts have a fighting chance.

Sign of the times: Prop 3

Spotted this the other day on Old Spanish Trail just east of SH288:

A sign from the anti-Prop 3 campaign

Far as I can tell, the nearest red light camera to this sign is at Wayside and I-45. It’s all I’ve seen of the campaign against Prop 3 till now. You can contrast that with the pro-Prop 3 ad that’s now running on cable. You’re likely to see this ad if you haven’t already, as the Prop 3 supporters are well-funded. The opponents, not so much. Which means you’ll probably see more of these signs, too. And that’s why the experts think Prop 3 will likely pass.