Where the votes were and weren’t in 2006 and 2010

When I was doing the electoral analysis for the new Congressional districts, I also had data about how many votes were cast in each district. And in looking through that data, I saw some interesting things. What I was looking for was the change in Democratic turnout from 2006 to 2010. We know 2010 was a huge Republican turnout year, but Democratic turnout is a bit harder to pin down. Most Democrats other than Bill White got about the same number of total votes in 2006 as in 2010, but the location of those votes changed a lot. Here’s a comparison of White, Lt. Gov. candidate Linda Chavez-Thompson, and Supreme Court candidate Bill Moody from 2006. White received 2,106,395 votes, LCT got 1,719,202, and Moody 1,877,909, so in general you’d expect the order to be White-Moody-LCT, but that wasn’t always the case. First, there were a few districts in which Moody led the way:

2010 2010 2006 Dist White LCT Moody =========================== 04 53,281 38,538 58,733 11 36,925 24,089 43,168 13 36,285 24,089 47,056 16 49,342 44,478 55,542 19 38,880 26,806 46,817 27 59,160 46,972 66,018 36 50,118 37,524 51,906

CD16 is in El Paso, which is Moody’s home county, so that result is understandable. The rest are puzzling to me. CDs 11, 13, and 19 are West Texas/Panhandle; CD 4 is northeast Texas; CD 36 is southeast Texas, including southeast Harris County; CD27 is Central Texas. All except CD16 are Republican, mostly strong Republican. Why Moody would do so much better in these places is rather a mystery to me. Clearly, he got some crossover Republican support – I can’t say how much right now because I don’t have any other statewide results for 2006 – but so did White. Simply put, the baseline Democratic vote had to decline in these locations. Was that because they didn’t vote, or because they’re voting Republican now? I can’t answer that question, but whoever runs for Governor in 2014 better get a handle on it.

Here are the districts where the vote totals followed the order you’d expect:

2010 2010 2006 Dist White LCT Moody =========================== 01 51,874 38,898 51,681 03 47,323 37,154 39,032 05 51,603 38,718 51,270 06 45,018 37,610 41,581 08 46,415 32,213 37,867 10 75,070 57,466 63,491 12 54,464 46,383 52,643 14 69,305 57,054 66,154 17 62,546 47,579 60,262 20 60,249 53,304 55,298 21 82,051 64,223 75,448 23 54,719 46,205 50,387 24 52,928 42,154 49,004 25 73,744 57,362 71,185 26 43,221 37,711 37,769 31 53,200 42,787 47,221 32 68,019 52,902 61,105 33 56,896 47,582 54,195 34 48,311 44,335 45,745 35 57,191 50,473 52,046

Much more of a mixed bag here. The districts are geographically all over, and run the gamut from strong D to strong R. What stands out to me is that for the most part, Moody’s total exceeded LCT’s by about what you’d expect given that he had about nine percent more votes overall. The exceptions to that are CDs 14, 17, 21, 24, 25, and 32. Similarly, White topped Moody by about 12%, and he clearly exceeded that in CDs 3, 8, 10, and 26. Note that two of those districts are either partially in Harris County (CD10) or next door to it (CD08). Keep that in mind as we look at the set of districts in which both White and LCT surpassed Moody.

2010 2010 2006 Dist White LCT Moody =========================== 02 60,693 45,546 39,874 07 70,874 50,083 48,140 09 81,595 76,783 52,345 15 45,220 40,713 33,443 18 104,617 96,130 72,057 22 64,834 50,287 46,626 28 55,686 49,419 42,744 29 48,781 44,524 33,244 30 96,105 92,385 78,602

Six of these nine districts are wholly or partially in Harris County; of the others, CDs 15 and 28 are South Texas, and CD30 is Dallas. The step up from 2006 is huge – fifty percent or more in some cases. Anyone who claims White had no coattails in his home turf needs to explain these numbers. Now of course the Republican surge wiped everyone out, but the point, which I’ve made before, is that base Democratic turnout improved quite a bit in Harris County over 2006, as 2006 had done over 2002, and that this bodes well for 2014 as 2008’s gains should bode well for 2012.

Anyway. I don’t know that I have any broad conclusions to draw here. As I said, anyone thinking about running statewide in 2014 needs to understand what happened in those West Texas districts, and what if anything could have been done to improve things in the big middle group of districts. I myself have not spent much time studying 2010 data because the Republican wave obscures much of what’s interesting about the data. It doesn’t obliterate it, however, and that’s something I need to keep in mind. There’s always something to learn if you look for it.

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8 Responses to Where the votes were and weren’t in 2006 and 2010

  1. blank says:

    36 is clearly the anomaly here with every other Harris district in that last category. It almost looks like something might have happened at the local level to turn this district away from White. I also suspect that White’s popularity in Galveston might have prevented 14 from ending up in the first category.

  2. Mainstream says:

    “Why Moody would do so much better in these places is rather a mystery to me.”

    Could it be that the relative straight ticket voting varies in these areas? These districts may have older more conscientious voters who lean GOP but pride themselves in not voting a straight ticket, and who dropped off before getting to the judicial contests, or skipped contests in which they lacked information.

    Of course the Moody name may be linked in some voters minds with insurance or the charitable foundation, but I would not expect variations except close to Galveston for that reason.

  3. It might explain why he got a higher percentage of the vote, but not why he got more actual votes. Perhaps base Democratic turnout was better in these districts in 2006. Perhaps Moody got more crossovers than White did. Perhaps more people in these districts than anywhere else decided they weren’t Democrats any more after 2006. Any of these reasons, or some others I’m not thinking of, could be the cause. I just can’t make a convincing case for any of them.

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