Precinct analysis: 2023 Controller’s runoff


Mayoral runoff

The City Controller runoff also wasn’t particularly close, as Chris Hollins bested many (many, many, many) time candidate Orlando Sanchez by 17 points. There are some interesting things to point out here though, so let’s get to it.

Dist   Hollins  Sanchez
A        7,417    7,865
B       11,000    2,242
C       21,019   13,523
D       15,204    3,084
E       10,019   12,544
F        3,900    3,022
G       12,531   18,012
H        8,361    5,740
I        5,929    3,977
J        3,250    2,578
K       10,928    4,466
Dist   Hollins  Sanchez
A       48.53%   51.47%
B       83.07%   16.93%
C       60.85%   39.15%
D       83.14%   16.86%
E       44.40%   55.60%
F       56.34%   43.66%
G       41.03%   58.97%
H       59.29%   40.71%
I       59.85%   40.15%
J       55.77%   44.23%
K       70.99%   29.01%

Hollins did better than Sheila Jackson Lee in the Black districts, though that’s primarily seen in D and K; the two ran more or less equal in B. I’d have to do some map study to be sure, but I know B intersects pretty well with CD18, more so than D and K do, so that may be the bulk of it.

Hollins had the advantage of running against a Republican. All three post-redistricting Controller races have come down to a D versus R battle, so it’s instructive to look at the 2015 and 2019 contests. In December 2015, Chris Brown won his first term as Controller over Bill Frazer (who had lost a close race in 2013 to then-incumbent Ronald Green) by a much more modest four and a half points, about 8K votes total in Harris County. Brown also ran strongly in B, D, and K – as strong in B, less so in D and K – and outperformed Hollins in districts H and I, but did far worse in the Republican districts and also trailed in District C. This was pre-Trump and there’s probably a PhD thesis in how District C/HD134/the old CD07 completely transformed from moderate Republican to dark blue since then, but suffice it to say that the conditions weren’t identical and leave it at that.

More fascinating is the comparison to November 2019, which also featured Orlando Sanchez running against Brown for his re-election. I’m using the November race because it was just those two candidates, so there was no runoff. Brown, despite being an incumbent with a decent fundraising base, did not build on his 2015 success at all, winning by a bit less than four and a half points in his second go-round. Brown won C this time and improved on his performance in the Republican districts, but lagged in the Black districts and had all of F, H, I, and J flip on him. It’s honestly kind of stunning to look at now, because with that level of performance in Democratic areas, Sanchez was in a strong position to pull off the win. With the post-2016 partisan dynamic now in place the improvement for Brown in C makes sense, but one wonders how he managed to do better in A, E, and G while falling back in those other places. After all this time, Orlando Sanchez is still able to surprise us.

But the joke’s on him this time, because whatever magic he had against Brown in 2019 disappeared against Hollins. A point I noticed as I wrote this up is that Hollins and Brown received about the same number of votes in 2023 and 2019 – 108K for Brown in the November race, 107K for Hollins in December – but Sanchez’s total fell off a cliff, from 99K in 2019 to 75K this time. Runoffs are very different environments and one should be hesitant to draw inferences when comparing to a November race, especially from another year, but that really stood out to me.

Another way of looking at it is this: In both the Mayoral runoff and the Controller runoff from this year, there were about 15K votes cast in District A. There were 2K fewer votes cast in E, and 4K fewer in G. There’s always some dropoff in voting from Mayor to any other race, that’s totally normal. There were 198K total votes for Mayor and 182K for Controller, so another 10K in undervotes outside those two Republican districts. But the narrative this year was in part about Republicans who really wanted to vote against Sheila Jackson Lee. In Districts E and G specifically, how much of that dropoff was the usual disinterest in the downballot and how much was the people motivated to vote for Whitmire over SJL but having no interest in Orlando Sanchez is a mystery we all get to ponder now.

Related Posts:

This entry was posted in Election 2023 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Precinct analysis: 2023 Controller’s runoff

  1. Julian Deleon says:

    I think more people are concerned with trash pick up under Whitmire. He trashed (no pun intended) them so bad during the election, so lots of folks are wondering if he made the City workers mad as a result.

    Whitmire ran a very negative campaign and that was to criticize the previous administration and insult Houston city workers.

Comments are closed.