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Runoff precinct analysis, HISD I

To wrap up my series of precinct analyses from the 2009 Houston runoffs, we turn now to the HISD Trustee race in District I. I’ve added a sheet to the Google spreadsheet I put together for the District Council analysis with the precincts from this race, again minus the trivial ones. The first thing you notice when you compare the precincts that Alma Lara won to the precincts that Anna Eastman won is that they were dealing with two different electorates.

Precincts won by Alma Lara Ballots Voters Turnout Lara Eastman Lara% East% HISD% ============================================================= 4,298 33,442 12.85% 2,669 1,284 67.5 32.5 92.0 Precincts won by Anna Eastman Ballots Voters Turnout Lara Eastman Lara% East% HISD% ============================================================= 6,527 26,159 24.95% 2,048 3,627 36.1 63.9 86.7

I skipped two relatively small precincts in which Lara and Eastman tied. It rather goes without saying that it’s hard to win when your voters aren’t showing up at the polls. This comparison reminds me strongly of the analysis I did a year ago in the HD133 race won by State Rep. Kristi Thibaut. In 2006, when turnout in Democratic precincts was lousy, Thibaut lost and it wasn’t particularly close. In 2008 when those precincts were closer to parity with the Republican boxes, she won. Lara didn’t need to be even near parity to defeat Eastman – holding all other percentages equal, a turnout level of 15% would have been enough for her to eke out a win – but she couldn’t afford to be doubled up like this.

Note that in the table above, “ballots” refers to the total number of ballots cast in those precincts, not the total number of votes the candidates got. “HISD%” represents the number of ballots cast that included a vote in this race. As you can see, fewer people in Lara’s precincts skipped this race, which along with her higher margin in those precincts is why she could have won with a lower lever of overall turnout. I bring that up because it had occurred to me that Eastman might have benefited from a wave of Parker supporters coming to the polls. Indeed, while Parker did well in Lara’s precincts, winning 2773 of 4198 votes there, or 66.0%, she really killed in Eastman’s precincts, going 5078 for 6456, or 78.7%. That may have helped drive some of the higher turnout in those precincts, but more of those folks didn’t stick around to register an opinion in the HISD race, so whatever the effect there, it was tempered somewhat.

The other thing that struck me about these numbers is how the two citywide Republican-versus-Democrat runoffs went. (I’ve not been considering Costello versus Derr for these purposes, as Costello did not run on a Republican persona.)

Candidate Votes Pct ======================== Khan 5,206 53.0 Green 4,613 47.0 Christie 4,861 52.3 Jones 4,439 47.7

I’m amazed by this. There’s nothing about this district that says “Republican-favoring” to me. Indeed, it’s almost entirely contained within City Council District H, which both Green and Jones won, with three precincts in A and two more in B. Obviously, it was the rest of H that was friendly to them. I looked at these boxes to see if Eastman, who received the endorsement of Linda Toyota, the Republican candidate who finished third in November, plus incumbent Republican Trustees Harvin Moore and Greg Meyers, performed more strongly in areas won by the Republican Council candidates. The answer is Yes:

Precincts won by Christie Christie Jones Chris% Jones% Lara Eastman Lara% East% =========================================================== 3,162 2,280 58.1 41.9 2,586 3,243 44.4 55.6 Precincts won by Jones Christie Jones Chris% Jones% Lara Eastman Lara% East% =========================================================== 1,684 2,108 44.4 55.6 2,087 1,673 55.5 44.5 Precincts won by Khan Khan Green Khan% Green% Lara Eastman Lara% East% ======================================================== 3,956 3,017 56.7 43.3 2,966 4,091 42.0 58.0 Precincts won by Green Khan Green Khan% Green% Lara Eastman Lara% East% ======================================================== 1,250 1,596 43.9 56.1 1,788 857 67.6 32.4

Yes, the disparity between the Christie precincts and the Khan precincts is really that sharp. For what it’s worth, the correlation only goes one way, as both Christie and Khan won the precincts that Lara carried, though by a small margin in each case. I consider this to be further evidence of the strength of Christie and Khan’s advertising efforts, even as they fell short.

So that about wraps it up for me. I don’t think I have anything more to say about the 2009 elections. I’ll be going full steam ahead on the 2010 contests – I already am, really – and I hope you enjoyed these analyses. There will be plenty more to do in the coming months.

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