The Mayor’s race in three numbers

1. Turnout

In the 2009 runoff, there were 155,670 votes cast for Mayor. Annise Parker got 82,175 and Gene Locke got 73,495. In the 2011 general election, there were 118,414 votes cast for Mayor. Annise Parker got 60,135 and the other candidates combined for 58,279.

To put this another way, there were 37,256 fewer votes in November 2011 than there were in December 2009. Of those 37,256 fewer votes, 22,040 did not go to Mayor Parker, and 15,216 did not go to somebody else.

There were certainly some people who voted for Mayor Parker in the 2009 runoff, then voted for someone else in the 2011 general election. It is highly likely, however, that the vast majority of those non-votes were people who would have voted for Mayor Parker in 2011 if they had bothered to vote. Job #1 for Team Annise is to identify those non-voters and persuade them to show up this time around.

2. The Gene Locke voters

In the 2009 runoff, Gene Locke won the two predominantly African-American Council districts (B and D) with 72% of the vote. He collected 26,618 votes in those two districts, compared to 10,400 votes for Mayor Parker.

In the 2011 runoff, Mayor Parker carried the now-three predominantly African-American Council districts (B, D, and K) with 50.7% of the vote, taking 16,792 votes out of 33,134. Her percentage in these districts almost exactly matched her overall citywide percentage of 50.8%.

Because of redistricting in 2011, these are not the same districts from one election to the next, and as such this is at best a rough comparison. The point I’m making is that there was some number of people who voted for Gene Locke in December 2009 and for Annise Parker in November 2011. Job #1 for Ben Hall is to identify those voters and convert them to Ben Hall voters. That may be enough to force a runoff, and it will be a necessary component to a Hall victory in December, but it’s not a sufficient condition to win. Mayor Parker, as noted in point 1, doesn’t need to get too many votes in these districts to win – she could have gotten less than 20% of the vote in the old B and D in 2009 and still won – but the smaller her deficit here, the better off she’ll be overall.

3. Latino voters

In the 2009 runoff, Mayor Parker carried the two predominantly Latino Council districts (H and I) with 12,354 to 8,989 votes for Gene Locke. She won easily in H with 63.9% of the vote, but lost I narrowly with 48.4%, a deficit of 256 votes in the latter.

In the 2011 runoff, Mayor Parker lost both H and I. She got 3,282 of 6,984 votes in H (47.3%) and 2,988 of 6,688 votes in I (44.7%), for a total of 6,270 votes out of 13,622, or 46.0%. Fernando Herrera, the runnerup in 2011 who had 14.24% of the vote overall, collected 4,049 votes in H and I for 29.7%.

Again, this is an inexact comparison. A chunk of Parker base voters in the Heights were cut from H and placed into District C in 2011, which no doubt skewed the results. Herrera didn’t have much of a campaign in 2011, but he had some presence including a campaign headquarters on the outskirts of District H, and he had run for State Rep in HD148, which overlaps both Council districts, in 2010. It’s likely his presence on the ballot, combined with Parker’s lack of a vigorous campaign in 2011, cost her some votes. There’s no Latino candidate for Mayor this year. Both campaigns would be wise to pay more attention to the voters in these districts.

Conclusion

I’m not simplistic enough to think that the entire race boils down to these three factors I’ve identified. Campaigns are more complex than that, and I’ve no doubt there are plenty of other things that each campaign is focusing on and that will have an effect on the outcome. But I’m a numbers guy, and these are the numbers that I have been thinking about. See Robert Miller if you need more numbers than these.

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3 Responses to The Mayor’s race in three numbers

1. Greg Wythe says:

I could probably stand to add some neighborhoods to my own “‘Hood by ‘Hood” analysis, but the three Latino neighborhoods I did measure failed to give the Mayor a majority in either 2009 or 2011. From Parker’s vantagepoint, that strikes me as a possibility to shore up some weakness, as much as it may also be an opportunity for Hall to find the Locke-09/Parker-11 voters to peel off.

But the biggest constituency that I think is worth mentioning is GOP-leaning voters. Neighborhood defined politically by those voters were a mixed bag, with Parker getting mostly either slim majorities or healthy pluralities (>45%) outside of Spring Branch and Kingwood. The lack of voting uniformity among those neighborhoods suggests that there is room for both camps to work, and possibly for some of the “rest of the field” to peel off enough votes for a runoff.

I know that Robert Miller is suggesting the possibility of a settled election in November. But I have a hard time thinking that 90% or more of the GOP vote splits between Parker and Hall. Just to pick a number, I’d suggest that as much as 60% or 70% might. That leaves at least 30% of the GOP vote to go elsewhere. Wherever it goes isn’t enough to make for a surprising Election Night. But it should be enough to see one or more candidates with double-digits, while the “1-percenters” dust up on the margins. Along with the votes you mention, I’d argue that that could be enough to put it into a runoff.

2. Mainstream says:

I don’t see a strong vote for Eric Dick or other candidates from GOP voters, and I don’t really see Republican enthusiasm for Ben Hall. I predict most with stick with Parker, either because they view her as fiscally responsible and a decent manager, or because strategically they see little value in replacing one Democrat with a different one who could continue to rule the city for the next 6 years. If Parker is re-elected, the 2015 contest for mayor is wide open, and a more conservative candidate might have a shot.

On the other hand, I have long argued that the most significant impact on citywide results comes from which of the district council positions are in play. This year the big fights are in D and I and A, which could balance out, but the absence of a contest in C, which has much of Parker’s base, could hurt her.

(Also, I think you mean to refer to the 2011 election rather than runoff above)

3. joshua bullard says:

lol-with 12 active candidates in district d pushing heavy,i see easy district d hitting 20,000 voters this go, and they wont be parker votes my friends.parker is bracing for runoff ,just on hold to see the numbers she rolls in at,i suspect 35 to 36% on watch night.

joshau ben bullard