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November 16th, 2015:

Precinct analysis: At Large #1

This week I’m going to look at the five At Large Council races, beginning with At Large #1. Before I get into the district breakdown, here’s a number to consider: In Harris County, there were 76,675 undervotes in this race. The combined vote total for top two finishers Mike Knox (47,456) and Georgia Provost (28,402) was 75,858. In a very real sense, “none of the above” was the winner in At Large #1.

So with that out of the way, here’s what the vote looked like:

Dist  Griff   McCas    Pool  Provost  Oliver    Knox   Lewis  PGalv
A     2,465   1,415   1,138    1,303   1,113   5,560   1,300     575
B     1,314     927   1,799    5,861   3,183     919   1,817     568
C     5,201   7,154   2,530    1,758   1,863   7,375   6,170     799
D     1,509   1,395   1,623    8,152   4,425   1,657   1,867     606
E     3,040   2,346   1,770    1,395   1,774  10,861   1,247     868
F     1,144     959   1,194    1,093   1,114   2,051     699     472
G     5,242   4,910   1,610    1,287   2,002  12,040   1,748     400
H     1,287   1,463   1,414    1,606   1,472   1,451   1,654   1,739
I     1,250     889   1,113    1,619   1,476   1,258   1,176   1,644
J       719     797     682      750     717   1,601     613     318
K     1,555   1,922   1,536    3,573   2,775   2,678   1,773     553
A    16.58%   9.52%   7.65%    8.76%   7.49%  37.39%   8.74%   3.87%
B     8.02%   5.66%  10.98%   35.76%  19.42%   5.61%  11.09%   3.47%
C    15.83%  21.78%   7.70%    5.35%   5.67%  22.45%  18.78%   2.43%
D     7.11%   6.57%   7.64%   38.39%  20.84%   7.80%   8.79%   2.85%
E    13.05%  10.07%   7.60%    5.99%   7.61%  46.61%   5.35%   3.73%
F    13.11%  10.99%  13.68%   12.53%  12.77%  23.50%   8.01%   5.41%
G    17.93%  16.79%   5.51%    4.40%   6.85%  41.18%   5.98%   1.37%
H    10.65%  12.10%  11.70%   13.29%  12.18%  12.01%  13.69%  14.39%
I    11.99%   8.53%  10.68%   15.53%  14.16%  12.07%  11.28%  15.77%
J    11.60%  12.86%  11.01%   12.10%  11.57%  25.84%   9.89%   5.13%
K     9.50%  11.74%   9.39%   21.83%  16.96%  16.36%  10.83%   3.38%
Georgia Provost

Georgia Provost

I’ve previously discussed how if Lane Lewis, Tom McCasland, and Jenifer Pool had been a single candidate instead of three candidates splitting a subset of voters evenly, that candidate would have led the pack. In a slightly different universe, we could be saying the same thing about Georgia Provost and Chris Oliver. In this universe, Provost did sufficiently better than Oliver among their African-American base of voters to break free from the pack and make it to the December election. That gives her a path to build on for the runoff, and with the formal endorsement of the HCDP (sent out on Friday), she stands to inherit the Lewis/McCasland/Pool voters as well. She will need them to win – her base isn’t big enough if Anglo Dems skip this race next month. I didn’t do an interview with Provost for At Large #1 because it never looked like she was running much of a campaign – you can find the interview I did with her in 2013 for District D here – but since Election Day I’ve seen numerous people rallying around her candidacy on Facebook. I’ll be interested to see what her eight day runoff finance report looks like.

It should be noted that if Georgia Provost had split the vote more evenly with Chris Oliver in places like B and D, the immediate beneficiary would have been Griff Griffin. I know a lot of people who were disillusioned by some of the runoff choices they would be facing immediately after the election. Imagine how much worse that would be if the race here were between Griffin and Mike Knox. I have no idea why anyone would vote for Griff, but in a city this size where only a small minority of voters have any idea who the At Large candidates are, let alone have a chance to meet them and get to know them, it’s not surprising that a name the voters have seen every two years since Bill Clinton was President would draw some support. Along those same lines, note that James Partsch-Galvan was the leading vote-getter in Districts H and I. If you don’t know who you’re voting for, vote for a name that sounds familiar. There was a bit of chatter awhile back about eliminating the at large Council seats in favor of an all-district Council. I like the idea of having Council members that represent the whole city, but the data in At Large #1 is as strong an argument in favor of scrapping the at large system that you’ll see.

As for Mike Knox (whose 2013 interview for District A is here), his task is basically that of Bill King, Bill Frazer, and Jack Christie: Run up the score in the Republican boxes, and not do too badly everywhere else. He collected the most endorsements among the late-entry anti-HERO candidates, he had the best overall performance, and he’s run a Council campaign before. I doubt he’ll have much crossover appeal, but his floor is high enough to win if Provost can’t put it together.

UT/TT primary poll: Hillary leads the Dems, Trump and Cruz lead the GOP

For those who care about this sort of thing.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and businessman Donald Trump are in a dead heat for the Republican presidential nomination in Texas, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

With four months to go before the March 1 primary, each had the support of 27 percent of likely Republican voters. Surgeon Ben Carson and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida were well back of the leaders at 13 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the first choice of 61 percent of Texas Democrats, building on her earlier support in the state and remaining well ahead of her rivals, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. Sanders, running second, has been unable to change the fundamental dynamics of a primary where Clinton has the political advantage, as Barack Obama did in 2008.

“I just don’t see any signs of weakness,” said Daron Shaw, co-director of the poll and a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin.


The numbers have shifted some since the previous UT/TT survey in June — a poll conducted when a number of official and unofficial exploratory campaigns were still underway.

Clinton led the Democratic field in the June UT/TT Poll with 53 percent support. Sanders’ numbers increased in the current poll, too, in part because two prospective candidates included in that survey — Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — decided not to run.

The two leading Republican candidates in the latest survey — especially Trump — scooped up support that in June was going to two candidates who have since left the race: former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Cruz had 20 percent in that June poll; Trump was back in the dust at 2 percent.

“The summer of Trump had not started when we did the last poll,” Henson said. “He was not really in the race.”

The poll summary is here. Take it for whatever you think it’s worth. I’ve ragged on this poll many times – they wound up being pretty accurate last November, but they sucked rocks in the March primary. I think their Dem sample is likely to be reasonably on target, though there’s still some time for Bernie Sanders to move the needle with his in-state campaign. The GOP side, I have to believe that will continue to be volatile and unpredictable. Who knows if Trump and/or Carson will even still be in the race by the time the primary happens? I suppose for that reason it made no sense to try out any potential November matchups, but it still would have been fun to see Hillary/Trump and Sanders/Carson and whatever else you might want to try. For entertainment purposes only, of course, but it would be entertaining.

Will someone sue over the term limits referendum?



Pre-election polling showed voters slightly favored the change, but not if they were told that it benefits sitting council members.

Rice University political scientist Bob Stein conducted the News 88.7/KHOU 11 News election poll.

“When we informed voters that the adoption of the two four-year (terms) would take place immediately in 2016 and advantage incumbent council members, support swung the other way and it was a deficit of 17 points against,” Stein said.

But that information was not in the ballot language.

In fact, it didn’t even mention that it would actually extend term limits.

Even Houston Mayor Annise Parker acknowledged that this week.

“I don’t know that they realized that they were giving council members more time in office,” she said.

Considering that a judge only a week ago ruled that Houston has to hold a new election on its drainage fund because of misleading ballot language, Stein said theoretically, the same could happen with this vote.

“I wouldn’t be shocked to see somebody complain about it and say, let’s go back and petition and have another referendum, which clearly explains what’s happening,” he said.

We’ve been over this a couple of times already. I honestly don’t remember the exact wording of the proposition, but I knew it meant two four year terms (even if I’d forgotten that it would be enacted immediately), and I knew I was voting against it. I think people likely didn’t fully understand what they were voting on, but that’s almost certainly because they had paid no attention to it. No one ran a campaign for it or against it, and Lord knows only a few of us read the news about what happens at City Hall. For better or worse, people need to do a little homework before they enter the polling place, and if they come out of there not knowing what they did, is that a litigation-worthy offense? If someone could convince the Supreme Court that the voters were too dumb to understand the Renew Houston referendum, who am I to say that they couldn’t do the same with this?

Metro wants to know what you think of bus system reimagining

This ought to be interesting.


Starting Monday, Metro workers will be at bus stops and transit centers surveying riders about the changes, which took effect Aug. 16. The new system altered practically every bus trip in the Houston area, as Metropolitan Transit Authority officials shifted to more frequent service along some lines.

Though some riders have expressed serious concerns about the new system and said Metro made their transit trips unbearable, many said the routes seem quicker and easier to navigate.

The survey focuses on whether wait times for buses and overall travel time has improved with the new network. Respondents are also asked if their trips require a transfer to light rail, how often they ride and whether they have ever attended a Metro public meeting to comment or learn about the transit agency.

“We want accurate, good feedback,” Metro chairman Gilbert Garcia said. “Whether it is tough love or accolades.”

I figure they’ll get it. As I’ve said before, my experience has been positive, though I am not a typical rider and I live in a part of town that is heavily populated and thus well served. The Press has taken on the role of finding people who don’t like the new map. Part of the intent of the new map was to shift resources to where there are more people and businesses, and that means that people in places like the northeast part of town have seen their service decline. I don’t know what can be done about that without throwing a lot more money at the system. We’ll see what the feedback from the riders tells us.