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SurveyUSA says: Bonilla leads by seven

We have a poll for the runoff.

In a runoff election today, 12/4/06, in Texas’s 23rd Congressional District, incumbent Republican Henry Bonilla appears to edge Democrat Ciro Rodriguez, 53% to 46%, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for WOAI-TV San Antonio. The runoff is in 8 days, on 12/12/06. Bonilla gets 70% of White votes. Rodriguez gets 72% of Hispanic votes. In SurveyUSA’s turnout model, 59% of likely runoff voters are white, 36% are Hispanic. If Hispanics, who are 55% of the population in TX 23, make up more than 36% of those who vote in the Runoff, the contest will be closer than SurveyUSA’s numbers here show. Bonilla gets 94% of Republican votes. Rodriguez gets 89% of Democratic votes. Independents split. Bonilla wins by 25 points among higher-income voters, and by 15 points among middle-income voters. Rodriguez wins by 25 points among lower-income voters. Texas’s Congressional map was redrawn after a Supreme Court case in August 2006. Since there was no time for party primaries, there was a special election on November 7th in the affected districts, in which more than one candidate per party could run. In the 23rd Congressional District, Bonilla defeated Rodriguez and several other Democrats, but received only 48% of the vote, triggering the runoff. Those who voted for other candidates on 11/7/06 now prefer Rodriguez by 3:1. Bonilla was first elected to Congress in 1992. Rodriguez represented Texas’s 28th Congressional District from 1997 to 2005.

Two points: One, as Carlos Guerra reminds us, 27 percent support among Hispanic voters would be high for Bonilla.

Now seeking his eighth term in a runoff against former Congressman Ciro Rodriguez, Bonilla’s first victory came by ousting scandal-plagued Albert Bustamante. Later, he was quick to hop on Newt Gingrich’s bandwagon, becoming an avid supporter of 12-year term limits for House and Senate members.

Bonilla also became a trusted and loyal soldier for DeLay, and in 1999 was made head of American Dream PAC, whose mission, he said, was “to give significant, direct financial assistance to first-rate minority GOP candidates.”

But with each re-election, Bonilla’s Mexican American support slipped, and in 2002, only 8 percent of those voters cast ballots for him.

To keep Bonilla in office, DeLay’s 2003 redistricting plan shifted 100,000 voters from heavily Mexican American areas out of his district, and in 2004, the more heavily Anglo district re-elected Bonilla by a margin of more than 2 to 1.

And two, according to the crosstabs, Rodriguez wins the people who voted for one of the non-runoff candidates, all of whom have endorsed him, by a not-as-good-as-it-could-be 74-23 margin.

The point I’m making here is that there will be more factors at play than just Anglo versus Hispanic turnout levels. In a race like this any poll is going to be an educated guess at best. Having said that, this isn’t all that bad a result for Ciro Rodriguez. A win is definitely within reach.

If you want to help with that, you can get involved with blockwalking, online phonebanking, or just volunteer or contribute.

Otherwise, as BOR notes, there’s still some pending action by the Justice Department that may wind up pushing Election Day back a week, though it seems unlikely at this time. And finally, South Texas Chisme and The Stakeholder remind us that way back when nanny problems were all the rage, Henry Bonilla was in on the action.

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One Comment

  1. blank says:

    If Hispanics, who are 55% of the population in TX 23, make up more than 36% of those who vote in the Runoff, the contest will be closer than SurveyUSA’s numbers here show.

    They have modified this statement, since Hispanics are really 65% of TX-23.