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Election 2012

Yet another wacky poll about Latino voting in Texas

Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in.

Not Ted Cruz

Not Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz lost the Hispanic vote in Texas by about 20 percentage points, but out-performed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, according to post-2012 election polling shared with the Washington Examiner.

Cruz defeated Democrat Paul Sadler last November by nearly 16 percentage points on his way to garnering 56.5 percent of the vote. Romney bested Obama by nearly 17 percentage points while garnering 57.2 percent of the vote. But a survey taken about six weeks after the election and made available by the Republican senator’s political team, shows Hispanics favored Sadler over Cruz 60 percent to 40 percent and Obama over Romney 59 percent to 33 percent.

The survey offers a unique window into voting patterns of Hispanics, the nation’s fastest growing voting bloc, in conservative-leaning Texas, where exit polling is hard to come by given its reliable Republican voting record in statewide races and the high cost of gathering data in such a large state. With Cruz, son of a Cuban immigrant, exploring a 2016 presidential run, the poll could shed light on how the senator compares with other Republicans when it comes to winning Hispanic votes.

[…]

The poll, conducted by Cruz pollster Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research, surveyed 601 Texas Hispanics who voted in the 2012 general election, and has an margin of error of 4 percentage points.

I don’t know if this horse is dead yet, but if it isn’t it’s definitely in the ICU. A few basic observations, which I will try to keep fresh, since even I’m getting tired of this:

– There’s no polling data available for inspection, so it’s that much harder to do any intelligent analysis of this. Wilson Perkins did a Presidential poll in September and released all their data for it, so it’s not like they have a track record of secrecy. Yes, I know, polls commissioned by candidates/officeholders often have proprietary information in them, but they’re also often released in this manner to advance an argument. Mike Baselice does this a lot. I’m not saying this makes a poll automatically suspect, but you are ultimately taking the pollster’s word for it, and when a pollster has been hired by a partisan, that partisan has an interest in what is taken away from the information provided. Caveat emptor, is what I’m saying.

– That claim that the Latino vote divided 60-40 between Cruz and Sadler is suspicious for several reasons. For one, I’ve never seen a poll result where the totals for two candidates added up to 100%. Even in a runoff situation, there will be some “don’t know” and “refused/no answer” type responses. In addition, as we have seen many times before, the percentage of people who have expressed a preference in the Cruz/Sadler race was considerably less than the percentage that expressed a preference in Romney/Obama. It beggars belief that literally everyone picked either Cruz or Sadler. This number alone makes me want to disregard the entire poll.

– As I have pointed out before, claims about Latino voting in Texas can be checked against actual results, and deviations from the Latino Decisions poll last November can generally be shown to be suspect based on that. It’s also worth noting that claims about a certain level of preference for Latino voters affects what the numbers would have to be for Anglo voters as well. For example, if you assume that the racial/ethnic breakdown in Texas was 70% Anglo, 20% Latino, and 10% African-American, then to say Ted Cruz got 40% of the Latino vote implies he must have gotten about 68% of the Anglo vote in order to get 56.5% of the vote overall. Note that back in September, Wilson Perkins claimed that Mitt Romney was polling at 77% among Anglo voters in Texas. How do they explain that disparity? Everyone agrees that Cruz did a little better than Romney did among Latino voters in Texas, which therefore implies that Romney did a little better than Cruz among Anglo voters – you can see that in the data if you compare the county by county results for each – but not nine points better. Which one of their polls would Wilson Perkins say was inaccurate?

– It’s not quite as easy to draw conclusions about the Anglo vote in Texas from precinct or county results, but a look at the most Anglo State Rep districts in Texas suggests that Cruz did better than 68% overall among that demographic:

Dist Anglo% Cruz Sadler Cruz% Sadler% ================================================ 2 81.4 43,359 13,782 73.9% 23.5% 19 80.7 48,200 15,964 73.4% 24.3% 21 80.0 46,050 17,057 71.5% 26.5% 58 80.4 41,720 12,225 75.0% 22.2% 60 84.7 51,821 11,081 80.1% 17.1% 61 85.8 54,602 11,591 80.2% 17.0% 62 82.2 38,182 14,041 70.8% 26.1% 98 80.9 56,907 17,802 73.9% 23.1%

You get into fuzzy math very quickly, so I don’t want to spend much time on this. The Anglo% is Voting Age Population, which is likely to be less than Citizen Voting Age Population, and is also likely to be less than the share of the actual electorate. Unlike Latinos, who voted fairly consistently for Democrats, there are a couple of places in the state that are heavily Anglo but not very Republican – specifically, much of Austin and some place in Houston like Montrose and The Heights. HD48, for example, is 69.5% Anglo VAP, but voted only 37.9% for Cruz. (See the election numbers here and population figures here.) There’s also a lot more Anglo voters than there are Latino voters, so you can’t get nearly as big a total by looking at the most heavily Anglo districts. All that said, there’s nothing here to suggest Cruz got only 68% of the Anglo vote, and as such there’s nothing here to suggest he got as much as 40% of the Latino vote.

– Along the same lines as above, the cited figure of 32% Latino support for Romney is reasonably in line with other data, and implies a level of Anglo support in the 71-72% range, which strikes me as being plausible. I could buy 35% for Cruz – bearing in mind that some number of people thought Cruz was the Democrat in the race – but 40% is just a stretch. I’ll say it again: Show me the math if you want me to believe. Link via Burka.

PAC Plus polls Latinos in Texas

BOR reported last week on a poll of Texas Latinos conducted by PAC Plus. They zeroed in on the questions that had to do with Latinos’ impressions of Republicans and Democrats.

For the survey PAC+ interviewed 2,685 randomly selected registered Hispanic voters in Texas counties with the highest number of Latino eligible voters: Bexar, Dallas, Tarrant, El Paso and Harris. The findings give support to a major part of Democrats plan to take back Texas — register and turnout Latino voters. According to pollster Dr. Julie Martinez Ortega, “Latino voters make up 43% of the ‘Texas Blue’ vote,”.

Republicans most straightforward pitch to Hispanics has been to try and co-identify as “conservative” and play up shared family values. It appears that whatever assumptions about shared values Republicans made were incorrect. When asked, “When it comes to social issues — such as religion, abortion and same-sex marriage — which party do you generally think does the best job of representing your views? Democrats or Republicans?”, 58% said Democrats and only 24% identified with Republicans. This backs up other recent polls that show Hispanics by large margins support a woman’s right to end her pregnancy. Adriana Maestas, of the National Latina Institute of Reproductive Health, gave an early warning to Republicans over their “conventional wisdom” on Hispanics and social issues prior to the 2012 election when she said, “…if the GOP continues to reach out to Latino voters based on the perceived social agenda. These kinds of messages may not be well received this election year.” She was correct as 58% of those survey by PAC+ supported Obama and only 24% supported Romney.

On economic issues, “like jobs, the economy, and immigration”, Hispanics still identified most with Democrats at 57%. One of the most successful tools Republicans have used is recruiting Hispanic candidates. A majority of respondents said they were more likely to vote for a candidate because they were “Hispanic”, with 44% saying they would be much more likely. Senator Ted Cruz accordingly got 32% of the Hispanic vote, but 21% of those surveyed actually thought he was a Democrat.

Emphasis in the original. I want to dig into that last data point a bit. The question about how much Latino support Cruz has received – specifically, how much of a boost he got in heavily Democratic Latino areas – has been a frequent topic of discussion since his election last November. I’ve written several posts on the subject. Here are the relevant numbers from the PAC Plus poll:

What did you do in the 2012 contest for President?


Obama      58%
Romney     24%
Neither    19%

What did you do in the contest for Senate?


Sadler     27%
Cruz       32%
Neither    41%

To the best of your knowledge, is Senator Ted Cruz a Democrat or a Republican? If you’re not sure, just make your best guess.


Democrat   21%
Republican 61%
Not sure   18%

Would you be more likely to support a candidate who is Hispanic than one who is not?


Much       25%
Somewhat   20%
Not        22%
Not sure   33%

Full toplines are here. If you take the “Neither”s at their word in the Presidential question, Obama got about 70% of the Latinos who did vote, which is entirely in agreement with the Latino Decisions exit poll of Texas. The Sadler/Cruz numbers, needless to say, stick out like a sore thumb. My explanation for the huge disparity is that the 2012 Senate race was basically indistinguishable from any other statewide downballot race, at least once the GOP primary was over. I can’t honestly say I ever saw a Ted Cruz ad on TV, and as we know Paul Sadler didn’t have two dimes to rub together. I strongly suspect a large number of people polled simply didn’t recognize Sadler’s name and thus said they didn’t vote, while some other said they voted for Cruz because of their mistaken belief that he’s a Democrat or because if all else were equal they preferred a Latino to a non-Latino. We know that while there was some dropoff in voting in the Sadler/Cruz race, it wasn’t that much – both candidates got over 97% of the total vote as their party’s Presidential candidate, a figure that holds consistent through each of the State Rep districts, so the much larger “Neither” answer here is unlikely to be accurate. If you go to the House members’ page and click on an individual Member, you can now see the election data for each of the State Rep districts. A check of the most heavily Latino State Rep districts shows clearly the disparity between the poll result and the actual election numbers:

Dist SSRV Obama Sadler Diff Romney Cruz Diff ==================================================== 35 76.7 66.3 61.4 -4.9 32.7 36.0 +3.3 36 85.4 74.6 70.8 -3.8 24.4 27.0 +2.6 37 80.0 69.2 60.8 -8.4 29.7 35.0 +5.3 38 79.9 66.1 58.4 -7.7 32.9 38.1 +5.2 39 83.9 73.9 69.6 -4.3 25.1 28.1 +3.0 40 87.5 75.2 70.9 -4.3 23.7 26.6 +2.9 42 88.4 75.5 63.3 -12.2 23.4 32.5 +8.9 75 82.8 72.2 66.9 -5.3 26.6 29.7 +3.1 76 82.9 76.8 71.5 -5.3 21.8 25.7 +3.8 79 71.3 64.6 60.1 -4.5 34.1 36.9 +2.8 80 80.4 68.4 60.5 -7.9 30.7 35.6 +4.9

SSVR = Spanish Surname Registered Voters; the number given is a percentage. In most districts, Sadler had a modest decrease in vote percentage compared to President Obama, while Cruz gained a smaller number of points on Mitt Romney. Only in four of the 11 districts is the dropoff from Obama to Sadler significant. Cruz benefited from being a Latino candidate running against a non-Latino candidate in a race where neither candidate was well known. As I’ve shown before, this was true for other Latino candidates – Democratic, Republican, and Libertarian – in similar contests. Democrats get the bulk of Latino votes, but in the absence of information about the candidates they will lose a few votes to Latino candidates from other parties. When you get right down to it, this is yet another commercial for Battleground Texas and their neighbor-to-neighbor model for getting out the vote. Latinos vastly prefer the Democratic position on the issues. Like all voters, they need to have accurate information about the candidates to ensure they make the choice that best reflects their values, and they need a reason to go to the polls to express those values. No matter how we study this issue, or how much evidence we amass on it, the same conclusions remain valid.

Precinct analysis: Congressional overs and unders

To wrap up my look at 2012 versus 2008 results for all the new districts, here’s how the 36 Congressional districts compared.

Dist McCain Pct Obama08 Pct Romney Pct Obama12 Pct RIdx DIdx ============================================================================== 01 178,520 68.85% 78,918 30.44% 181,833 71.49% 69,857 27.47% 1.04 0.90 02 150,665 61.78% 91,087 37.35% 157,094 62.93% 88,751 35.55% 1.02 0.95 03 165,158 61.46% 100,440 37.37% 175,383 64.16% 93,290 34.13% 1.04 0.91 04 180,772 69.71% 75,910 29.27% 189,455 73.95% 63,521 24.79% 1.06 0.85 05 137,698 61.79% 83,216 37.34% 137,239 64.49% 73,085 34.35% 1.04 0.92 06 148,503 57.03% 109,854 42.19% 146,985 57.87% 103,444 40.72% 1.01 0.97 07 140,692 58.73% 96,866 40.44% 143,631 59.89% 92,499 38.57% 1.02 0.95 08 171,408 73.02% 61,357 26.14% 195,735 76.97% 55,271 21.74% 1.05 0.83 09 44,520 23.42% 144,707 76.12% 39,392 21.15% 145,332 78.01% 0.90 1.02 10 148,867 56.17% 112,866 42.59% 159,714 59.06% 104,839 38.77% 1.05 0.91 11 184,238 75.90% 56,145 23.13% 182,403 79.10% 45,081 19.55% 1.04 0.85 12 161,030 63.61% 89,718 35.44% 166,992 66.77% 79,147 31.65% 1.05 0.89 13 189,600 76.88% 54,855 22.24% 184,090 80.16% 42,518 18.51% 1.04 0.83 14 139,304 57.03% 102,902 42.12% 147,151 59.32% 97,824 39.44% 1.04 0.94 15 61,282 41.84% 83,924 57.3% 62,883 41.48% 86,940 57.35% 0.99 1.00 16 58,764 34.59% 109,387 64.39% 54,315 34.44% 100,993 64.03% 1.00 0.99 17 135,738 57.95% 95,884 40.94% 134,521 60.29% 84,243 37.76% 1.04 0.92 18 45,069 22.89% 150,733 76.57% 44,991 22.81% 150,129 76.11% 1.00 0.99 19 168,553 71.22% 66,122 27.94% 160,060 73.55% 54,451 25.02% 1.03 0.90 20 80,667 40.64% 115,579 58.23% 74,540 39.59% 110,663 58.77% 0.97 1.01 21 178,531 56.42% 133,581 42.21% 188,240 59.76% 119,220 37.85% 1.06 0.90 22 142,073 60.45% 91,137 38.78% 158,452 62.11% 93,582 36.68% 1.03 0.95 23 95,679 49.27% 96,871 49.88% 99,654 50.67% 94,386 47.99% 1.03 0.96 24 152,453 58.41% 105,822 40.54% 150,547 60.42% 94,634 37.98% 1.03 0.94 25 153,998 56.05% 117,402 42.73% 162,278 59.89% 102,433 37.80% 1.07 0.88 26 166,877 64.18% 90,791 34.92% 177,941 67.59% 80,828 30.70% 1.05 0.88 27 133,839 58.95% 91,083 40.12% 131,800 60.46% 83,156 38.15% 1.03 0.95 28 65,066 40.97% 92,557 58.28% 65,372 38.65% 101,843 60.21% 0.94 1.03 29 41,843 37.04% 70,286 62.22% 37,909 32.99% 75,720 65.89% 0.89 1.06 30 47,144 21.07% 175,237 78.33% 43,333 19.64% 175,637 79.61% 0.93 1.02 31 135,601 55.80% 103,359 42.54% 144,634 59.36% 92,842 38.11% 1.06 0.90 32 147,226 55.05% 117,231 43.83% 146,420 56.97% 106,563 41.46% 1.03 0.95 33 40,290 30.64% 90,180 68.57% 32,641 27.09% 86,686 71.93% 0.88 1.05 34 58,707 39.06% 90,178 60.00% 57,303 38.28% 90,885 60.71% 0.98 1.01 35 62,764 35.47% 111,790 63.18% 58,007 34.59% 105,550 62.94% 0.98 1.00 36 165,899 69.45% 70,543 29.53% 175,850 73.05% 61,766 25.66% 1.05 0.87

The main thing that stands out is CD23, which went from plurality Obama in 2008 to a slight majority for Romney in 2012. That means that Rep. Pete Gallego joins State Rep. Craig Eiland and State Sen. Wendy Davis in the exclusive club of candidates who won in a district that their Presidential candidate lost. Not surprisingly, Rep. Gallego is a marked man for 2014. CD23 was one of the more strongly contested districts in the litigation as well as in the election, and it is likely to be modified further no matter what happens to the Voting Rights Act, so Rep. Gallego’s challenge next year may be different than it was this year. He’s clearly up to it, whatever it winds up being. Beyond that, the pattern witnessed elsewhere held here, as blue districts were generally bluer than before, while red districts were redder. Dems can still hope for (eventually) competitive races in CDs 06, 10, and 32, but the task is harder now than it would have been in 2008. As for CD14, you can see that the hurdle was just too high for Nick Lampson. Barring anything improbable, that district is unlikely to repeat as one featuring a race to watch.

One other thing I did in these races was compare the performances of the Congressional candidates with the Presidential candidates in their districts. Here are some of the more interesting results I found:

Dist Romney Pct Obama12 Pct R Cong Pct% D Cong Pct Winner ============================================================================== 02 157,094 62.93% 88,751 35.55% 159,664 64.81% 80,512 32.68% Poe 06 146,985 57.87% 103,444 40.72% 145,019 58.02% 98,053 39.23% Barton 07 143,631 59.89% 92,499 38.57% 142,793 60.80% 85,553 36.43% Culberson 10 159,714 59.06% 104,839 38.77% 159,783 60.51% 95,710 36.25% McCaul 14 147,151 59.32% 97,824 39.44% 131,460 53.47% 109,697 44.62% Weber 20 74,540 39.59% 110,663 58.77% 62,376 33.50% 119,032 63.93% Castro 21 188,240 59.76% 119,220 37.85% 187,015 60.54% 109,326 35.39% L Smith 22 158,452 62.11% 93,582 36.68% 160,668 64.03% 80,203 31.96% Olson 23 99,654 50.67% 94,386 47.99% 87,547 45.55% 96,676 50.30% Gallego 25 162,278 59.89% 102,433 37.80% 154,245 58.44% 98,827 37.44% R Williams 27 131,800 60.46% 83,156 38.15% 120,684 56.75% 83,395 39.21% Farenthold 28 65,372 38.65% 101,843 60.21% 49,309 29.76% 112,456 67.88% Cuellar 31 144,634 59.36% 92,842 38.11% 145,348 61.27% 82,977 34.98% Carter 32 146,420 56.97% 106,563 41.46% 146,653 58.27% 99,288 39.45% Sessions 35 58,007 34.59% 105,550 62.94% 52,894 32.02% 105,626 63.94% Doggett 36 175,850 73.05% 61,766 25.66% 165,405 70.73% 62,143 26.57% Stockman

You can mostly break this down into three groups. The first is the Overacheivers, the Congressional candidates that clearly drew at least some crossover votes. On that list are Reps. Ted Poe, Joaquin Castro, Pete Olson, Pete Gallego, and Henry Cuellar. Olson, one presumes, benefited from being opposed by LaRouchie nutcase Keisha Rogers. We’ll have to wait to see how he’ll do against a normal opponent, which one hopes will be this time around. Castro and Cuellas can point to their numbers as evidence for statewide viability someday, if and when they choose to make such a run. Gallego obviously had to be on this list, or he wouldn’t be Rep. Gallego. I guess the Republicans knew what their were doing when they tried to pull all those shenanigans to protect Quico Canseco, because he really did need the help. As for Ted Poe, I got nothing. He’s not a “moderate”, and he’s not a heavyweight on policy or in bringing home the bacon as far as I know, so I don’t have a ready explanation for his success here. Feel free to share your opinion in the comments.

The second group is what I’d call Tougher Than They Look. Notice how Republican incumbents in the least-red districts suffered no dropoff in support from Romney, while their Democratic opponents did? I’m talking about Reps. Joe Barton, John Culberson, Mike McCaul, Lamar Smith, John Carter, and Pete Sessions; you can also throw Democrat Lloyd Doggett onto the list. Whether by accident or design, these Republicans may be harder to knock off down the line if and when their districts get bluer. Culberson is the oddball in this group, because he greatly underperformed in 2006 and 2008. I suspect he benefited from redistricting, in particular from losing some inner Loop precincts, as well as the general trend away from crossover voting, but we’ll see if this was a one-time thing or not.

Finally, there’s the Underachievers, who lost crossover votes to their opponents. Ex-Rep Quico Canseco is the poster child, but Reps. Randy Weber, Blake Farenthold, and Steve Stockman keep him company. Weber may get a mulligan, since he’s unlikely to face an opponent like Lampson again. Farenthold’s presence is intriguing. He’s a ridiculous person, who won in a fluke year and who needed a lot of help in redistricting, but a look at this result suggests that he just might be vulnerable to the right opponent. If the Battlegound Texas folks want to try some things out on a smaller scale, let me suggest CD27 as a proving ground. Finally, Stockman shows that even in a deep red district, nuttiness has some limits. Too bad it’s not enough to affect a November election, but maybe there’s a chance that a slightly less mortifying Republican could win next March.

On Latinos not winning Latino Congressional districts

I have a problem with this analysis by Nathan Gonzales, at least as it pertains to the three Texas districts included.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett

Even though a record number of Latinos are serving in the 113th Congress, Hispanic candidates are significantly underperforming in heavily Hispanic districts, particularly compared to other minority groups.

Nationwide, just 41 percent of congressional districts (24 of 58) with a Hispanic voting age population (VAP) of at least 30 percent are represented by a Hispanic member of Congress. In comparison, 72 percent of districts (32 of 44) with a black VAP of at least 30 percent are represented by a black member.

Why can’t Latinos get elected to Latino congressional districts?

[…]

In Texas’ 33rd, party leaders supported African-American state Rep. Marc Veasey over former state Rep. Domingo Garcia in a Dallas-area district that is 61 Hispanic and just 17 percent black. It helped that black voters outnumbered Latino voters in the primary, runoff, and general elections, according to analysis by the Lone Star Project. In Texas’ 34th, party leaders supported longtime Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D), even though his newly-drawn district is 59 percent Hispanic.

Another challenge is turnout. As the race in Texas 33 showed, the Hispanic percentage of a district’s population can overstate the strength of the Latino electorate, because Latinos don’t vote in the same numbers as other minority groups. In some cases, savvy Latino candidates don’t even run because they know the opportunity isn’t as good as it looks on paper.

[…]

But even when Hispanics dominate a district, sometimes it isn’t enough to secure a Latino victory. Nine districts with over 50 percent Latino VAP are represented by non-Latinos. Just two districts with a black VAP of at least 50 percent are represented by non-black Members.

For example, Texas’ 16th District is now represented by Beto O’Rourke after he defeated longtime Rep. Silvestre Reyes in the Democratic primary last year, even though the seat is 78 Hispanic.

Until Latino voters get more organized and start voting with more frequency, simply citing the population figures of a district can lead to misleading analysis.

Yes it can, and that leads to a second problem I have with this article, but first things first. The problem that I said I have with this is that nowhere does Gonzales take the individual candidates into account when discussing the outcomes in Texas. I’ve discussed two of these races before, so I’m going to quote myself. Here’s what I said about Rep. Doggett’s victory, which by the way was in CD35, not CD34.

The main reason for [Sylvia] Romo’s defeat is that she was up against a very strong opponent. It wasn’t just that Rep. Doggett had name ID and a ton of money, it was also that he had a long record of doing things that Democratic voters tend to like. Though he had to move to run in CD35, he was generally perceived – or at least generally portrayed – as the incumbent, and the first rule of beating an incumbent is that there has to be a good reason to fire that incumbent. Doggett’s voting record has no obvious black marks on it – none that Romo articulated, anyway – and there were no issues of personal behavior to exploit. Having interviewed Romo, I agree that she’s a perfectly well qualified candidate and I think she’d have made a perfectly fine member of Congress, but I don’t think she ever adequately answered the question why voters should choose to replace a perfectly fine sitting Congressperson with seniority, a good record, and a history of making Republicans mad enough to try twice to kill him off via redistricting.

Doggett faced the same challenge in 2004 when Republicans drew him into a district that contained large swaths of South Texas. As was the case last year, he faced off against an established Latina elected official from the new district turf, and he won easily. You’re not going to beat Lloyd Doggett without a good reason to beat Lloyd Doggett.

And here is what I said about O’Rourke versus Reyes in CD16:

I’m pretty sure none of the people involved in redistricting, including the litigants, foresaw [the possibility of Reyes losing to O’Rourke] though at least one blogger did. But Rep. Reyes didn’t lose because the new map made CD16 more hostile to Latinos and more amenable to Anglos. Rep. Reyes had some baggage, O’Rourke ran a strong campaign, and he had some help from a third party. These things happen. Perhaps from here O’Rourke does a good job and becomes an entrenched incumbent, or he sees his star rise and takes a crack at statewide office in a few years, or he himself gets challenged by an ambitious pol in 2014, presumably a Latino, and loses. Point being, Latino voters made the choice here, and they will continue to be able to do so.

I think Rep. Reyes’ baggage was a big factor here, but you have to give credit to Rep. O’Rourke for running a strong race and giving the voters a reason to fire the incumbent and install him instead. I won’t be surprised if Rep. O’Rourke is challenged by a Latino in the 2014 primary, just as Rep. Gene Green was challenged in 1994 and 1996 in the heavily Latino CD29 after winning it in 1992. CD16 is still a district drawn for a Latino, after all. If Rep. O’Rourke does a good job he might be able to have a career like Rep. Green, who hasn’t faced a primary challenge since 1996. If not, he’ll be one and done if a better Latino candidate comes around to run against him.

As for CD33, it’s a similar story to CD16. Rep. Marc Veasey was a compelling candidate whose time in the Texas Legislature was marked by strong advocacy for progressive causes. Former State Rep. Domingo Garcia had a decent record in the Lege when he was there, but it had been awhile and he had his share of baggage as well. He had a reputation for divisiveness and was far from universally beloved among Latino politicos – just look at the large number of Latino State Reps that endorsed Veasey. If African-American turnout in the primary runoff was higher than Latino turnout despite the numerical advantage for Latinos, that didn’t happen by magic.

The other problem I had with Gonzales’ article comes from this paragraph:

Five out of six congressional districts that have both Hispanic and black populations of at least 30 percent each are represented by black Members, including Florida’s 24th and Texas’ 9th, 18th, and 30th districts.

The fallacy of that statement, which Gonzales himself alludes to in his concluding statement, which I quoted above, can be summed up by this document. Here are the Citizen Voting Age Populations (CVAPs) for the three Texas districts, estimated from the 2007-2011 American Community Survey:

CD09 – 50.6% African-American, 19.5% white, 19.2% Hispanic
CD18 – 49.2% African-American, 25.0% white, 20.7% Hispanic
CD30 – 53.5% African-American, 25.5% white, 18.1% Hispanic

You tell me what kind of person you’d expect to win in these districts. Total population is far less relevant than CVAP is. Gonzales knows this, and he should have known better. Via NewsTaco.

Precinct analysis: Comparing 2012 and 2008, Senate and SBOE edition

To follow up on my previous examination of how the 2012 election returns looked in State House districts compared to the 2008 returns, I now have the data to look at other types of districts as well. You can find it as well on the Texas Legislative Council’s webpage – here are the reports for the State Senate and the SBOE. Those are the Excel report directories, but if you want something else – CSV or PDF – just click the Parent Directory link and find the report you want. Let’s first look at the Senate:

Dist McCain Pct Obama08 Pct Romney Pct Obama12 Pct RIdx DIdx ============================================================================== 01 214,365 69.50% 91,835 29.77% 220,140 72.14% 81,936 26.85% 1.04 0.90 02 159,810 60.79% 100,445 38.21% 161,348 63.22% 90,500 35.46% 1.04 0.93 03 213,045 71.13% 83,554 27.90% 225,526 75.47% 69,915 23.40% 1.06 0.84 04 195,512 67.01% 93,968 32.21% 216,087 70.03% 88,832 28.79% 1.05 0.89 05 170,905 59.67% 111,063 38.78% 181,385 63.06% 99,176 34.48% 1.06 0.89 06 48,222 35.81% 85,445 63.45% 43,931 32.46% 89,849 66.39% 0.91 1.05 07 184,620 66.24% 92,106 33.04% 196,383 66.76% 94,057 31.97% 1.01 0.97 08 180,746 59.48% 119,559 39.34% 186,753 61.67% 110,824 36.60% 1.04 0.93 09 145,020 57.76% 103,614 41.27% 142,499 59.28% 94,117 39.15% 1.03 0.95 10 158,677 52.13% 143,351 47.10% 155,936 53.31% 132,707 45.37% 1.02 0.96 11 173,843 62.64% 101,218 36.47% 184,101 65.06% 94,893 33.53% 1.04 0.92 12 186,268 63.00% 106,834 36.14% 197,333 66.23% 95,905 32.19% 1.05 0.89 13 35,820 16.44% 181,104 83.13% 32,917 15.44% 178,404 83.70% 0.94 1.01 14 114,865 34.49% 212,317 63.76% 116,001 36.14% 193,112 60.16% 1.05 0.94 15 85,552 39.37% 130,042 59.85% 89,030 39.68% 132,125 58.89% 1.01 0.98 16 161,779 54.99% 129,105 43.89% 159,759 56.96% 116,603 41.58% 1.04 0.95 17 174,371 57.76% 124,939 41.38% 178,241 59.36% 117,562 39.15% 1.03 0.95 18 181,472 64.51% 97,598 34.69% 198,175 67.34% 92,809 31.54% 1.04 0.91 19 92,299 43.57% 117,658 55.54% 94,159 44.11% 116,477 54.56% 1.01 0.98 20 81,772 43.32% 105,412 55.84% 78,474 41.65% 107,629 57.12% 0.96 1.02 21 81,054 40.85% 115,445 58.18% 79,167 39.83% 116,117 58.42% 0.98 1.00 22 184,967 65.29% 96,063 33.91% 186,950 67.97% 84,413 30.69% 1.04 0.91 23 46,236 19.46% 189,896 79.91% 42,408 18.09% 190,103 81.10% 0.93 1.01 24 190,823 66.60% 92,555 32.30% 195,593 70.71% 76,766 27.75% 1.06 0.86 25 218,093 61.41% 132,809 37.39% 233,884 64.15% 123,739 33.94% 1.04 0.91 26 84,889 38.24% 134,470 60.58% 74,472 36.30% 127,237 62.01% 0.95 1.02 27 47,197 32.24% 97,746 66.77% 45,768 30.58% 102,319 68.37% 0.95 1.02 28 189,851 71.07% 75,007 28.08% 182,982 73.59% 62,163 25.00% 1.04 0.89 29 63,736 33.50% 124,663 65.52% 59,137 33.33% 115,612 65.16% 0.99 0.99 30 216,383 71.14% 84,565 27.80% 223,487 75.74% 66,674 22.60% 1.06 0.81 31 196,846 77.75% 54,132 21.38% 186,762 79.51% 45,034 19.17% 1.02 0.90

As you can see, Sen. Wendy Davis not only won a district that was carried by Mitt Romney, she won a district that was more Republican in 2012 than it was in 2008. As far as I know, her district is no longer being contested in the redistricting lawsuit, so barring anything strange what we see is what we’ll get going forward. It’s not clear to me that she would have more to fear in 2014 than she did last year or would in 2016, but I presume someone is calculating her odds of re-election versus the odds of being elected statewide, and advising her accordingly. I’m glad that’s not my job. Three other Democratic Senators saw a drop in Democratic performance in their districts – Sens. Kirk Watson, John Whitmire, and Carlos Uresti. Watson’s SD14 was affected by the overall decline in Travis County turnout, which I suspect is a blip and not a trend; Whitmire saw modest increases in both D and R turnout; and Uresti had a small bump in R turnout and a tiny decline in D turnout. I don’t think any of it matters, but Uresti has the smallest margin of error after Davis. Pre-redistricting, SD09 was almost as purple a district as SD10 was in 2008, but that ain’t the case now. Democrats really don’t have any obvious targets to expand their delegation, though SDs 16, 17, and maybe 09 will trend their way somewhat over the decade. But don’t expect much turnover in the Senate that isn’t caused by primaries or voluntary departures.

Here’s the SBOE:

Dist McCain Pct Obama08 Pct Romney Pct Obama12 Pct RIdx DIdx ============================================================================== 01 168,833 42.84% 221,865 56.30% 161,807 42.58% 213,132 56.08% 0.99 1.00 02 191,754 47.11% 211,625 52.00% 187,147 46.69% 209,020 52.15% 0.99 1.00 03 157,233 38.29% 249,268 60.70% 149,659 37.20% 247,020 61.40% 0.97 1.01 04 89,884 22.61% 305,638 76.89% 84,036 21.07% 311,236 78.04% 0.93 1.01 05 358,691 52.16% 319,808 46.50% 375,942 54.67% 294,887 42.89% 1.05 0.92 06 320,914 58.39% 224,088 40.77% 332,415 59.70% 215,839 38.76% 1.02 0.95 07 358,380 61.22% 221,939 37.91% 390,808 63.64% 215,952 35.16% 1.04 0.93 08 370,712 67.66% 172,373 31.46% 398,664 70.32% 160,372 28.29% 1.04 0.90 09 436,392 69.69% 184,583 29.48% 449,301 73.29% 156,833 25.58% 1.05 0.87 10 313,379 53.54% 263,033 44.94% 331,022 56.97% 235,591 40.55% 1.06 0.90 11 391,597 61.92% 234,922 37.14% 396,329 64.27% 210,974 34.21% 1.04 0.92 12 365,314 57.49% 262,939 41.38% 373,920 59.71% 242,306 38.69% 1.04 0.94 13 123,380 27.66% 319,557 71.63% 110,615 25.75% 314,630 73.26% 0.93 1.02 14 401,810 66.98% 192,696 32.12% 413,181 70.62% 163,020 27.86% 1.05 0.87 15 430,765 74.27% 144,184 24.86% 413,942 76.91% 116,797 21.70% 1.04 0.87

No surprises here. Democratic districts were slightly more Democratic, Republican districts were more Republican. Sure is a good thing Martha Dominguez didn’t withdraw, because District 1 was way too easy a pickup to throw away. Keep an eye on freshman Democrat Ruben Cortez in District 2, who will be on the ballot in 2014, as that could go Republican in a bad year. The Dems’ best shot at pickups are in districts 5 and 10. Both will next be on the ballot in 2016.

I have one more post in this series to come, a look at the Congressional districts. Hope you find this useful.

Precinct analysis: Comparing 2012 and 2008

Though the data isn’t yet posted on individual members’ webpages, I have gotten a copy of the 2012 election results by State Rep district, for which there was much rejoicing. The first question of interest is how much the 2008 results resembled the 2012 results in each district. I went by vote percentages as reported – that is, including third-party candidates – and compared Mitt Romney’s 2012 percentage in each district to John McCain’s 2008 percentage, and Obama 2012 to Obama 2008. I did this by taking the ratio of the 2012 percentage to the 2008 percentage. Statewide, Romney was three percent better than McCain – i.e., the ratio of Romney’s percentage (57.16) to McCain’s (55.45) is 1.03 – and 2012 Obama (41.38) was five percent worse than 2008 Obama (43.68), for a ratio of 0.95. If the difference were uniformly distributed around the state, you would expect Romney to have a 1.03 ratio in every district, and 2012 Obama to have a 0.95 ratio. Obviously, that didn’t happen, so I was interested in the places where each candidate did the best compared to 2008. Here’s a look at them:

Dist McCain Obama Romney Obama R ratio D ratio ==================================================== 108 53.86 44.88 58.97 39.30 1.09 0.88 047 53.85 44.75 58.03 39.31 1.08 0.88 055 60.67 38.13 65.29 32.99 1.08 0.87 134 52.46 46.48 56.37 41.72 1.07 0.90 017 56.54 41.93 60.56 37.15 1.07 0.89 045 51.66 46.72 55.17 41.82 1.07 0.90 136 51.81 45.92 55.06 41.22 1.06 0.90 023 51.35 47.77 54.56 44.24 1.06 0.93 064 56.98 41.84 60.28 37.32 1.06 0.89 114 52.36 46.57 55.21 43.47 1.05 0.93 048 37.53 60.77 39.55 56.84 1.05 0.94 052 51.93 46.18 54.69 42.40 1.05 0.92 012 59.77 39.38 62.59 36.18 1.05 0.92 093 57.57 41.60 60.19 38.25 1.05 0.92

There were a number of other districts in which Romney ran at least five percent better than McCain – remember, that’s 5%, not five percentage points – but I’m really only interested in the reasonably competitive ones. Rep. Craig Eiland is the only member of the House to win a district that was not carried by his party’s Presidential candidate; I’m pretty sure Sen. Wendy Davis can say the same thing for her chamber, but I don’t have those numbers just yet. The only other Democratic district represented above is Rep. Donna Howard’s HD48, though it wasn’t enough of a difference to be worrisome to her. That chart has a lot of good news for the Republicans, since it contains a number of their least-safe seats. Many of these seats will still be hotly contested in 2014 – where else are Democrats going to go to add to their delegation? – but the GOP starts out with a bigger cushion than they might have expected.

And here are the districts of interest that were more Democratic in 2012:

Dist McCain Obama Romney Obama R ratio D ratio ==================================================== 145 41.99 57.13 38.27 60.25 0.91 1.05 144 51.04 47.95 47.86 50.76 0.94 1.06 034 46.63 52.58 44.23 54.62 0.95 1.04 149 43.84 55.52 41.79 57.08 0.95 1.03 119 40.30 58.59 38.51 60.15 0.96 1.03 125 40.69 58.14 39.51 58.99 0.97 1.03 135 60.56 38.71 58.82 39.85 0.97 1.03 132 59.68 39.59 58.90 39.75 0.99 1.00 118 43.86 55.10 43.33 55.22 0.99 1.00 105 52.69 46.14 52.11 46.46 0.99 1.01 113 53.00 46.05 52.51 46.30 0.99 1.01 107 52.25 46.71 51.81 46.87 0.99 1.00

Again, I excluded the non-competitive seats. As above, mostly good news for Dems and their least-safe members, Eiland excluded. In two HDs where Democratic challengers ousted Republican incumbents (HDs 34 and 117), plus the open HD144, Dems had an easier time of it than you would have thought. There’s also some hope for pickups in 2014 or beyond, mostly with the three Dallas County seats.

Looking ahead to 2014, here are your “swing” districts, for some value of the term “swing”.

Dist McCain Obama Romney Obama Hecht Petty ===================================================== 017 56.54 41.93 60.56 37.15 53.13 40.61 064 56.98 41.84 60.28 37.32 57.23 36.38 094 59.62 39.45 60.27 38.09 57.45 37.73 093 57.57 41.60 60.19 38.25 57.17 37.98 097 57.62 41.41 59.55 38.91 57.30 38.25 138 59.30 39.82 59.16 39.29 57.48 39.00 108 53.86 44.88 58.97 39.30 58.66 36.49 132 59.68 39.59 58.90 39.75 57.32 39.41 135 60.56 38.71 58.82 39.85 57.09 39.77 096 57.97 41.39 58.58 40.20 55.68 40.73 047 53.85 44.75 58.03 39.31 55.30 37.87 065 56.11 43.04 57.51 40.83 55.62 39.89 032 56.40 42.57 56.91 41.43 52.98 42.12 134 52.46 46.48 56.37 41.72 56.41 39.30 115 54.91 43.86 55.37 43.08 53.74 41.67 114 52.36 46.57 55.21 43.47 54.98 41.33 045 51.66 46.72 55.17 41.82 51.11 41.39 136 51.81 45.92 55.06 41.22 51.07 40.33 112 54.89 44.03 55.01 43.48 53.01 42.79 052 51.93 46.18 54.69 42.40 50.70 42.05 023 51.35 47.77 54.56 44.24 49.41 46.77 102 52.18 46.64 53.01 45.31 52.01 43.53 054 51.20 47.93 52.90 45.73 49.92 45.71 113 53.00 46.05 52.51 46.30 50.34 46.10 105 52.69 46.14 52.11 46.46 49.18 46.28 043 51.45 47.94 52.05 46.92 46.72 49.10 107 52.25 46.71 51.81 46.87 49.73 46.29 144 51.04 47.95 47.86 50.76 44.08 52.33 117 46.49 52.52 46.71 51.84 43.46 52.79 034 46.63 52.58 44.23 54.62 40.11 56.07 078 43.64 55.31 44.05 54.29 40.84 53.47 118 43.86 55.10 43.33 55.22 38.76 57.79 041 42.16 57.05 42.28 56.54 38.86 57.22 149 43.84 55.52 41.79 57.08 40.46 56.95 074 41.15 57.91 41.51 56.93 36.18 57.25 148 41.43 57.49 41.07 56.58 38.79 55.59 048 37.53 60.77 39.55 56.84 37.43 54.95 125 40.69 58.14 39.51 58.99 36.03 60.35 050 38.01 60.27 38.78 57.75 36.33 56.25

Again, note that no one but Eiland won in a hostile district. Turncoat Republican JM Lozano gets partial credit for Michelle Petty’s plurality vote in HD43, but that’s at least partly a function of the unusually high Libertarian vote in that race, which generally suppressed Nathan Hecht’s percentages. Note how much more Hecht diverges from Romney than Petty does from Obama to see what I mean. Without factoring possible turnout differences into account, Dems have maybe six viable flip opportunities – Lozano, four Dallas seats, and HD54 – while the GOP has one clear shot and two other good ones. That’s assuming no further changes to the map, which may or may not be a good bet. Beyond that, we’ll have to see what the march of demographic change looks like and whether there’s anything to all this talk about investing in Texas Democratic infrastructure.

Precinct analysis: Third parties revisited

Politico has a question.

Is Austin’s Travis County the nation’s Libertarian Party stronghold?

The co-founders of a Libertarian political action committee based there make that case, arguing that the Texas locale is the “most Libertarian large county in America.”

Wes Benedict and Arthur DiBianca of Libertarian Booster PAC note that 31 Libertarian candidates were on the Travis County ballot this year, more than any other county in America. Among the other stats they cite:

  • Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson won 2.7% there, his highest percentage nationwide for large counties outside his home state of New Mexico.
  • Four Libertarians got over 40% of the vote for the portion of their district within Travis County
  • The current chairman of the national party, Geoffrey Neale, lives in Travis County, and 2004 Libertarian presidential nominee Michael Badnarik had previously run for office as a Libertarian in Travis County, and his presidential campaign headquarters were located in Travis County.

Their argument makes some sense – certainly there’s a strong libertarian bent in tech-heavy communities like Travis County.

We reviewed this before, and indeed Travis was the best county in the state for Johnson. It was also the second-Greenest county in the state, so I think it’s more a matter of iconoclasm than Libertarianism. For the record, those four Libertarians with over 40% of the vote were the candidate in CD17, plus three statewide judicial candidates. All were the sole opponents to Republicans, and I say that’s more about anti-Republicanism than pro-Libertarianism. Besides, as we’ve also seen, Libertarian Railroad Commissioner candidate Jaime Perez did better than that in several Latino-heavy counties, winning a majority of the vote in Maverick and Webb even though he also had a Green opponent. The simple fact is that in areas that are dominated by one party, Ls and Gs serve as the default option in races where that party isn’t represented. This doesn’t detract from the claim that Travis County has a large number of people willing to push the L button – relatively speaking, anyway – just that one needs to be aware of the qualifications.

Reading that story made me decide to go back to the Harris County precinct data to see where the Lib and Green friendly areas were. I broke this down into three sets of races, since obviously not every race featured an L and/or a G. The first set is the top of the ticket, the Presidential race and the Senate race. Here’s how the L and G candidates did in those races in each State Rep district:

Dist Johnson Stein J Pct S Pct Myers Collins M Pct C Pct ================================================================ 126 531 160 0.92% 0.28% 903 424 1.58% 0.74% 127 587 208 0.88% 0.31% 977 491 1.48% 0.74% 128 450 129 0.80% 0.23% 791 325 1.43% 0.59% 129 781 284 1.21% 0.44% 1,216 582 1.90% 0.91% 130 693 199 0.99% 0.29% 1,143 480 1.65% 0.69% 131 196 93 0.45% 0.21% 384 297 0.89% 0.69% 132 549 151 1.03% 0.28% 908 405 1.72% 0.77% 133 815 241 1.12% 0.33% 1,187 561 1.65% 0.78% 134 1,114 436 1.34% 0.53% 1,697 898 2.08% 1.10% 135 548 162 1.01% 0.30% 881 447 1.63% 0.83% 137 289 113 1.17% 0.46% 486 322 2.01% 1.33% 138 540 161 1.17% 0.35% 795 403 1.73% 0.88% 139 260 132 0.51% 0.26% 513 392 1.01% 0.77% 140 152 66 0.64% 0.28% 223 215 0.96% 0.92% 141 142 56 0.37% 0.15% 282 169 0.74% 0.45% 142 166 93 0.40% 0.22% 352 271 0.85% 0.66% 143 189 104 0.62% 0.34% 336 304 1.11% 1.01% 144 238 90 0.98% 0.37% 371 241 1.55% 1.01% 145 273 161 0.92% 0.54% 481 342 1.65% 1.17% 146 376 190 0.74% 0.38% 624 438 1.25% 0.88% 147 583 304 1.06% 0.56% 944 685 1.75% 1.27% 148 640 282 1.62% 0.71% 947 553 2.43% 1.42% 149 347 131 0.80% 0.30% 594 358 1.40% 0.84% 150 598 157 0.92% 0.24% 976 478 1.51% 0.74%

The percentages here are calculated from the four-candidate totals. For comparison purposes, Libertarian Gary Johnson had 0.93% overall in Harris County, and Green Jill Stein had 0.35%; in the Senate races, John Jay Myers had 1.54% and David Collins had 0.86%. Everyone who had HD148 as the most third-party-friendly district in Harris County, come forward and collect your winnings. You would have guessed HD134, am I right? That district isn’t as Montrose-y as it used to be, which I suspect is the reason for its runnerup status. At the other end of the scale, note how third-party-resistant the African-American districts were – all but HD147 were well below the countywide levels of L and G support. Republican districts in general were also third-party-averse, with only HDs 134 and 129 overperforming for them. This is what you should expect for Presidential and Senate races – as the highest-profile races, and the ones that tend to have the fewest undervotes, people are going to stick with their home teams unless they’re crossing over for a specific reason. Once we get past these races, however, it’s a different story. There were two other statewide races that had an R, a D, an L, and a G – the Railroad Commissioner race that featured Christi Craddick, Dale Henry, Vivekananda (Vik) Wall, and Chris Kennedy; and the Supreme Court race between Nathan Hecht, Michele Petty, Mark Ash, and Jim Chisholm. Here’s how that played out for the L and G candidates.

Dist Wall Kennedy W Pct K Pct Ash Chisholm A Pct C Pct ================================================================ 126 951 758 1.69% 1.35% 1,240 530 2.22% 0.95% 127 1,060 922 1.63% 1.42% 1,438 620 2.22% 0.96% 128 785 757 1.44% 1.39% 1,117 512 2.05% 0.94% 129 1,387 1,174 2.21% 1.87% 1,677 727 2.69% 1.17% 130 1,183 861 1.74% 1.26% 1,668 607 2.46% 0.89% 131 354 550 0.83% 1.28% 452 298 1.06% 0.70% 132 906 751 1.73% 1.44% 1,207 495 2.32% 0.95% 133 1,307 1,036 1.85% 1.47% 1,674 676 2.40% 0.97% 134 1,937 1,784 2.46% 2.27% 2,373 973 3.04% 1.24% 135 964 724 1.81% 1.36% 1,187 473 2.25% 0.90% 137 494 525 2.07% 2.20% 578 317 2.44% 1.34% 138 884 748 1.96% 1.66% 1,082 490 2.42% 1.09% 139 518 744 1.03% 1.47% 676 527 1.34% 1.05% 140 213 447 0.92% 1.94% 318 307 1.38% 1.34% 141 250 362 0.66% 0.96% 332 253 0.88% 0.67% 142 347 405 0.85% 0.99% 442 297 1.08% 0.73% 143 287 611 0.96% 2.05% 448 419 1.51% 1.42% 144 361 556 1.53% 2.35% 502 345 2.13% 1.46% 145 501 795 1.74% 2.77% 690 515 2.41% 1.80% 146 626 810 1.27% 1.65% 748 433 1.53% 0.88% 147 1,022 1,197 1.92% 2.25% 1,229 719 2.32% 1.36% 148 941 1,319 2.47% 3.47% 1,319 798 3.49% 2.11% 149 607 637 1.44% 1.51% 725 353 1.74% 0.85% 150 1,093 904 1.71% 1.42% 1,475 613 2.32% 0.97%

These results just fascinate me. The total number of L and G votes in each race was nearly the same – 38,476 in the RRC race, 36,993 in the Supreme Court race – but the distribution was completely different. Wall (19,036 for 1.65%) and Kennedy (19,440 for 1.68%) basically tied, while Ash (24,665 for 2.14%) doubled up Chisholm (12.328 for 1.07%). Look in each district, and you can basically see some number of people who voted for Kennedy in one race voting for Ash in the other? You may wonder why this is. It’s possible that Christi Craddick was more acceptable, and Dale Henry less so, to the “swing” third-party voters that otherwise vote R and D, with the reverse being true for Nathan Hecht and Michele Petty. There is something to that – Henry is on the verge of morphing into Gene Kelly, while Nathan Hecht has ethical baggage and nearly foisted Harriet Miers onto an unsuspecting US Supreme Court. The total number of voters involved here is tiny enough to include the possibility that they’re sophisticated enough to make such judgments. Personally, I think it’s more likely that we’re looking at roughly the same voters in each race, and that people picked Chris Kennedy over Vik Wall as their “none of the above” choice because Wall had a funny-sounding name. What do you think?

At the county level there were no four-way races, but there was a Green candidate running for Sheriff (Remington Alessi) and a Libertarian candidate running for Tax Assessor (Jesse Hopson). Here’s how they did in their respective races.

Dist Alessi A Pct Hopson H Pct =================================== 126 866 1.54% 1,291 2.30% 127 1,180 1.82% 1,632 2.51% 128 851 1.55% 1,156 2.12% 129 1,428 2.27% 1,866 2.98% 130 1,027 1.50% 1,695 2.50% 131 603 1.41% 534 1.25% 132 903 1.73% 1,294 2.49% 133 1,317 1.88% 1,804 2.58% 134 1,952 2.49% 2,458 3.15% 135 894 1.68% 1,279 2.42% 137 622 2.61% 695 2.93% 138 868 1.92% 1,225 2.73% 139 801 1.58% 844 1.68% 140 300 1.28% 357 1.55% 141 373 0.99% 366 0.97% 142 478 1.16% 497 1.21% 143 450 1.49% 488 1.64% 144 435 1.83% 524 2.22% 145 697 2.40% 777 2.71% 146 927 1.89% 895 1.83% 147 1,383 2.60% 1,369 2.58% 148 1,226 3.19% 1,437 3.79% 149 671 1.60% 834 1.99% 150 1,070 1.68% 1,547 2.44%

These are two different races, so Alessi and Hopson’s numbers aren’t directly comparable, but it’s still interesting to see them side by side. I take this as a data point in favor of the hypothesis that Libertarian candidates tend to draw support from Republicans; based on these numbers, they do so in somewhat greater quantity than Greens do from Dems. I wouldn’t draw too broad a conclusion from this sample – there was a lot of money in the Sheriff’s race, and that tends to minimize third party support. Then again, Alessi did actually campaign – if Hopson did, it was invisible to me – and there was some criticism of Sheriff Garcia from the left, so one might expect him to do better than a generic “none of the above” candidate. Make of it what you will.

I think that about runs me out of ideas for precinct analyses. One never knows where inspiration may strike, though, so don’t quote me on that. And there’s always next year, which is to say this year now. Until then, or until I come up with another angle at which to examine the data, we’ll call it a wrap on 2012.

Precinct analysis: A closer look at the Latino districts

Here’s a more in-depth look at the Latino districts in Harris County. I’m particularly interested in the question of how President Obama did in comparison to the other Dems on the ballot, since as we know he lagged behind them in 2008, but we’ll see what else the data tells us.

CD29 Votes Pct ======================== Green 85,920 73.40 Garcia 81,353 73.29 Ryan 76,188 69.01 Trautman 75,904 68.97 Obama 75,464 66.60 Bennett 74,691 68.48 Petty 74,275 69.19 Hampton 73,917 67.97 Oliver 72,971 66.19 Henry 72,581 67.46 Sadler 71,382 64.73 08Obama 70,286 62.20 08Noriega 75,881 68.30 08Houston 73,493 67.70 SD06 Votes Pct ======================== Garcia 95,602 73.28 Gallegos 93,136 70.94 Ryan 90,047 69.29 Trautman 89,853 69.31 Obama 89,584 67.14 Bennett 88,289 68.78 Petty 87,920 69.55 Hampton 87,456 68.37 Oliver 86,390 66.56 Henry 85,891 67.84 Sadler 84,671 65.26 08Obama 85,445 63.50 08Noriega 91,173 68.80 08Houston 88,565 68.30 HD140 Votes Pct ======================== Garcia 17,674 76.57 Walle 18,297 75.67 Ryan 16,719 70.92 Trautman 16,653 72.89 Obama 16,548 70.74 Bennett 16,481 72.57 Petty 16,341 73.07 Hampton 16,225 71.63 Oliver 16,184 70.75 Henry 16,131 71.96 Sadler 15,668 68.64 08Obama 15,399 66.20 08Noriega 16,209 71.00 08Houston 15,967 71.00 HD143 Votes Pct ======================== Garcia 22,258 74.89 Luna 21,844 72.94 Ryan 20,902 70.92 Trautman 20,731 70.57 Obama 20,597 67.82 Bennett 20,580 70.51 Petty 20,377 70.97 Hampton 20,335 69.97 Oliver 20,077 68.19 Henry 19,971 69.18 Sadler 19,597 66.40 08Obama 20,070 64.10 08Noriega 21,525 70.10 08Houston 21,130 70.20 HD144 Votes Pct ======================== Garcia 13,555 57.96 Ryan 12,668 53.96 Trautman 12,663 54.18 Perez 12,425 53.35 Bennett 12,382 53.63 Petty 12,328 54.27 Obama 12,281 51.47 Hampton 12,226 53.24 Oliver 11,966 51.07 Henry 11,919 52.49 Sadler 11,761 50.50 08Obama 11,983 48.00 08Noriega 13,197 53.60 08Houston 13,129 54.50 HD145 Votes Pct ======================== Alvarado 20,829 68.86 Garcia 19,180 67.67 Ryan 17,860 63.04 Trautman 17,886 63.30 Petty 17,254 63.03 Bennett 17,252 61.90 Hampton 17,154 61.85 Obama 17,890 61.13 Henry 16,624 60.63 Oliver 16,778 59.22 Sadler 16,655 58.79 08Obama 16,749 57.10 08Noriega 18,427 63.70 08Houston 17,315 61.70 HD148 Votes Pct ======================== Farrar 25,921 64.56 Garcia 23,776 63.87 Ryan 22,413 59.91 Trautman 22,199 59.77 Petty 21,013 58.89 Hampton 21,219 58.49 Obama 22,393 57.92 Bennett 21,061 57.80 Sadler 21,210 56.51 Henry 19,888 55.55 Oliver 19,848 53.34 08Obama 22,338 57.50 08Noriega 22,949 60.10 08Houston 21,887 59.20

My thoughts:

– First, a point of clarification: Reps. Armando Walle and Carol Alvarado were unopposed, while Rep. Jessica Farrar had only a Green Party opponent. In those cases, I used their percentage of the total vote. Also the 2008 vote percentages on the Texas Legislative Council site are only given to one decimal place, so I added the extra zero at the end to make everything line up.

– In 2008, there was a noticeable difference between the performance of Barack Obama and the rest of the Democratic ticket in Latino districts. Obama underperformed the Democratic average by several points, as you can see from the above totals. This year, in addition to the overall improvement that I’ve noted before, President Obama’s performance is more or less in line with his overall standing at the countywide level. Generally speaking, those who did better than he did overall also did better in these districts. Obama’s vote percentage is still a notch lower in general, but this is mostly a function of undervoting or third-party voting downballot. What all this suggests to me is that whatever issues Obama had with Latino voters in 2008, he did not have them in 2012. This is consistent with everything else we’d seen and been told up till now, but it’s still nice to have hard numbers to back it up.

– Paul Sadler’s issues, on the other hand, come into sharper relief here. We know that Ted Cruz got some crossover votes in Latino areas, though the total number of such votes was fairly small. I continue to believe that this has as much to do with Sadler’s lack of resources as anything, but if you want an even more in-depth look at the question, go read Greg.

It’s still Gene Green’s world. That’s all that needs to be said about that.

– I have to think that Mike Anderson left some votes on the table here. Some targeted mailers into these areas that highlighted some of Lloyd Oliver’s, ah, eccentricities, would likely have paid dividends. Didn’t matter in the end, but if it had you’d have to look at this as a missed opportunity.

Getting out the vote in Bexar County

Stace pointed me to this Express News story about the Bexar County Democratic Party’s ground game for the November election.

Many factors influence the outcome of an election, and precise analysis is not always available.

But putting $600,000 into a get-out-the-vote effort can’t hurt.

Bexar County Democrats’ big victories in this month’s election surprised many political junkies. On election night, local observers were caught off guard when Democratic candidates fared well in the early vote, which previously has been dominated by Republicans. Democrats usually lose the early vote and gain ground on Election Day.

[…]

Trial lawyer and über Democrat Mikal Watts financed the effort this year, making it the most lavishly funded GOTV campaign ever mounted through [the Vote Texas PAC]. Watts had contributed $500,000 by the time the final pre-election campaign report was filed, and [Democratic operative Tom] Daniels said Watts gave another $100,000 in the final days of the campaign.

The operation circumvented the Bexar County Democratic Party headquarters and chairman, an approach pioneered by Daniels and Lukin Gilliland Jr. in the 1990s.

Adelante Strategy Group partners Christian Archer and Cuauhtémoc “Temo” Figueroa organized the effort on the ground. Notably, Figueroa was the National Latino Vote Director for the 2008 Obama Presidential Campaign. And he ran a 2010 grass-roots effort in Nevada for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, which became the model for the Bexar County program.

Voter contact began late last summer. The targets were 125,000 “soft Democrats” who voted in the 2008 Democratic primary but aren’t consistent Democratic voters.

Figueroa directed a team of 50 workers that went door-to-door for months. Phone banks also were used to push voters to cast early ballots.

Archer said more than 60,000 of the targeted voters cast ballots early.

“The idea is that now we’ve got a plan of attack, a way to win across the entire county,” Archer said.

I’m always interested in hearing stories like these, and I’m always interested in doing objective comparisons where I can. So here’s what the 2012 vote in Bexar County looked like versus the 2008 vote.

2008 2012 ===================================== Obama votes 275,023 264,856 Obama Pct 52.22% 51.46% Senate votes 264,969 256,629 Senate Pct 51.61% 50.46% RRC votes 259,698 244,016 RRC Pct 52.01% 48.74% Straight D 155,389 175,652 Supreme 1 246,637 261,297 Supreme 2 259,888 Supreme 3 271,228 CCA 1 267,182 250,486 CCA 2 261,312

The “Senate” numbers refer to Rick Noriega for 2008 and Paul Sadler for 2012; the “RRC” numbers refer to Mark Thompson in 2008 and Dale Henry in 2012; and the “Supreme” and “CCA” numbers refer to the contested Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals races for each year. So I suppose when I read this that I expected vote totals and percentages to improve over 2008, but as you can see that didn’t happen. However, perhaps that’s too tough a standard to apply here. The Democratic vote totals in the Presidential and Senate races declined between 6 and 7 percent from 2008 statewide, but only declined between 3 and 4 percent in Bexar County. (Mitt Romney got about 4000 fewer votes than John McCain, too, for what it’s worth.) In addition, Democratic candidates won 10 of 11 District Court races versus 8 of 11 in 2008 (two Republicans ran unopposed in 2008), five out of six Democratic candidates for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals carried Bexar County, and Dems held onto the office of Tax Assessor, which was open due to Sylvia Romo’s decision to run for Congress. They did lose the Sheriff’s race, but the incumbent Sheriff had some baggage and had to win a primary runoff, so I think they get a pass on that one.

In any event, the question to ask is what would have happened in the absence of this particular effort, and that’s a question I can’t answer. Of interest is the bit about how they bypassed the BCDP, which just goes to how dysfunctional things have been in Bexar recently. So I’d like to hear from folks in San Antonio about this. What’s your take on this story?

Precinct analysis: The range of possibility

Here’s a look at selected districts in Harris County that shows the range of votes and vote percentages achieved by Democratic candidates. I’ve thrown in the Obama and Sam Houston results from 2008 for each to provide a comparison between how the district was predicted to perform and how it actually did perform. Without further ado:

HD132 Votes Pct ======================== Garcia 22,336 43.52 Ryan 20,945 40.63 Bennett 20,454 40.35 Obama 21,116 40.29 Oliver 19,873 38.52 08Obama 18,886 39.60 08Houston 18,653 40.60

HD132, which runs out to the western edge of Harris County, incorporating parts of Katy, is a fascinating district. For one thing, as Greg showed, there are these fairly large blue patches out that way, surrounded otherwise by a sea of red. Much of that blue is in HD132, which is why this district wound up overperforming its 2008 numbers by about a point. As Greg said in reply to my comment on that post, you could build a pretty reasonable Democratic district out that way if you were in control of the mapmaking process. In fact, the non-MALDEF intervenors in the San Antonio lawsuit did propose a map that drew HD132 as a lean-Dem district. It wasn’t addressed by the DC court in its ruling denying preclearance on the maps, so we won’t see any such district this decade, but just as the old 132 came on the radar in 2008, the new HD132 should be viewed as an attainable goal, perhaps in 2016. Take the continued population dynamics of Harris County, add in a good candidate and a concerted voter registration/GOTV effort, and I think you could have something.

HD134 Votes Pct ======================== Garcia 36,781 48.07 Ryan 35,431 45.96 Johnson 36,366 45.35 Obama 34,561 42.49 Bennett 29,843 39.47 Oliver 25,886 33.79 08Obama 39,153 46.50 08Houston 33,667 42.60

I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find a district with a wider vote spread than HD134. A couple things stand out to me. One is that four years ago in the old 134, President Obama ran five points ahead of Democratic judicial candidates. I haven’t done the math on the judicials this time around – even in Excel/Calc, it gets mighty tedious after awhile – but I’d bet money that’s not the case this year. I’d call this evidence of Obama losing ground with Anglo voters in Texas, as he did nationwide. Note also that Adrian Garcia did not carry HD134 this time around, unlike in 2008 when he was the only Democrat besides then-Rep. Ellen Cohen to win it. (Michael Skelly, running in CD07, carried the portion of HD134 that was in CD07, which was most but not quite all of it.) Garcia’s overall performance was a couple of points lower this year, but this shows how tough HD134 really was, something which I think wasn’t fully appreciated by most observers. Ann Johnson ran hard and did a good job, but the hill was too steep. I’m sure HD134 will remain a tempting target, but the name of the game here is persuasion, not turnout, and that’s a harder task.

HD135 Votes Pct ======================== Garcia 23,507 44.91 Ryan 21,620 41.26 Obama 21,679 40.37 Bennett 20,786 40.26 Morgan 20,997 39.63 Oliver 20,119 38.42 08Obama 20,430 38.70 08Houston 19,912 39.50

Another not-on-the-radar district that wound up being better for Dems than you would have expected. As with HD132, this would be a good place to focus registration and turnout energies going forward.

HD137 Votes Pct ======================== Garcia 15,682 67.58 Ryan 15,498 65.88 Wu 15,789 65.72 Obama 15,899 65.25 Bennett 14,875 64.63 Oliver 14,700 62.62 08Obama 16,755 62.30 08Houston 16,008 62.40

I haven’t looked this deeply at all of the Democratic districts, but the early indicators are that Democratic candidates generally outperformed the 2008 numbers in the districts that were considered to be competitive. Even by the 2008 numbers, HD137 wasn’t particularly competitive, but with a first-time candidate in an open seat against someone who’d won elections in the same general vicinity before and who could write his own check, who knew what could happen. Rep.-elect Gene Wu had a strong showing in a district where all Dems did well. I mean, if Lloyd Oliver outperformed Obama 08, you know Democrats kicked butt in this district.

HD144 Votes Pct ======================== Garcia 13,555 57.96 Ryan 12,668 53.96 Bennett 12,382 53.63 Perez 12,425 53.35 Obama 12,281 51.47 Oliver 11,966 51.07 08Obama 11,983 48.00 08Houston 13,129 54.50

The disparity between Obama and Sam Houston in 08 makes it a little hard to pin this district down as overperforming or underperforming. It’s fair to say that Rep.-elect Mary Ann Perez won by a more comfortable margin than most people, myself included, might have expected, and it appears that Obama closed the gap a bit this year. This will surely be a race to watch in 2014, whether or not the district gets tweaked by the courts or the Lege. (The DC court rejected the intervenors’ claims about retrogression in HD144, in case you were curious.) Oh, and I hadn’t thought about this before now, but Perez’s win means that there will need to be a special election for her HCC Trustee position in 2013. I have no idea off the top of my head what the procedures are for that.

HD145 Votes Pct ======================== Alvarado 20,829 68.86 Garcia 19,180 67.67 Ryan 17,860 63.04 Obama 17,890 61.13 Bennett 17,252 61.90 Oliver 16,778 59.22 08Obama 16,749 57.10 08Houston 17,315 61.70

Rep. Alvarado was unopposed, so the percentage shown for her is her share of all ballots cast in HD145. I was a little concerned about the possibility of Republicans maybe stealing this seat in a special election if Rep. Alvarado wins in SD06 – one possible incentive for Rick Perry to shake a leg on calling that special election is that he could then call the special election for HD145 in May if that seat gets vacated, as surely that would guarantee the lowest turnout – but I’m less concerned about it looking at these numbers. Yes, I know, the electoral conditions would be totally different, but still. By my count there were 7,013 straight-ticket Republican votes in this district and 12,293 straight-ticket D votes. I think even in a low-turnout context, that would be a tall order for a Republican candidate.

HD148 Votes Pct ======================== Farrar 25,921 64.56 Garcia 23,776 63.87 Ryan 22,413 59.91 Obama 22,393 57.92 Bennett 21,061 57.80 Oliver 19,848 53.34 08Obama 22,338 57.50 08Houston 21,887 59.20

Rep. Farrar had a Green opponent but no R opponent, so as with Rep. Alvarado her percentage is that of the total number of ballots cast. Again, one’s perception of this district as slightly overperforming or slightly underperforming for Dems depends on whether one thinks the Obama or Houston number from 2008 is the more accurate measure of the district from that year. Given the re-honkification of the Heights, I feel like this district needs to be watched in the same way that HD132 needs to be watched, only in the other direction. I feel certain that if there is to be any change in the makeup of HD148, it will happen a lot more slowly than in HD132, but nonetheless it bears watching. I’ll reassess in 2016 as needed. Oh, and there were 9,672 straight-ticket Republican votes to 13,259 straight-ticket D votes here, in case you were wondering.

HD149 Votes Pct ======================== Vo 25,967 61.12 Garcia 25,056 60.64 Ryan 24,325 58.61 Obama 24,770 57.72 Bennett 23,659 57.64 Oliver 23,337 56.27 08Obama 24,426 55.50 08Houston 23,544 56.30

If you wanted to know why I tend to worry less about Rep. Hubert Vo than I do about some other Dems and districts, this would be why. Anyone who can outdo Adrian Garcia is someone with strong crossover appeal. Note again the general overperformance of Dems here compared to 2008. Consider this some evidence of Asian-American voters trending even more blue this cycle.

SBOE6 Votes Pct ======================== Garcia 229,058 43.48 Ryan 216,249 40.88 Jensen 207,697 40.58 Obama 215,053 39.33 Bennett 199,169 38.27 Oliver 188,555 35.69 08Obama 224,088 40.80 08Houston 210,965 40.20

I was hopeful that Dems could build on 2008 in this district, but it wasn’t to be. I think the potential is there going forward, but it will take time and resources. Traci Jensen was a great candidate, who ran hard as the first Democrat in SBOE6 in over 20 years, but there’s only so much you can do in a district twice the size of a Congressional district without a Congressional-size campaign budget.

CD07 Votes Pct ======================== Garcia 99,355 43.93 Ryan 93,819 41.30 Obama 92,128 39.13 Bennett 84,451 37.73 Cargas 85,253 37.44 Oliver 79,037 34.83 08Obama 96,866 40.40 08Houston 88,957 39.10

As with SBOE6, a small step back in performance instead of the step forward I had hoped for. Not sure if it was something John Culberson did to enable him to run ahead of the pack instead of lagging behind it as he did in 2006 and 2008, or if James Cargas’ weak performance had something to do with the ridiculously bitter primary runoff he was in. Be that as it may, I don’t expect much if anything to be different in this district in the near future.

Precinct analysis: City propositions

And we come to the city of Houston bond referenda, of which there were five on the ballot. Here’s the usual breakdown of them:

Dist A Yes A No B Yes B No C Yes C No D Yes D No E Yes E No ========================================================================== 126 720 231 725 239 711 228 671 275 604 342 127 10,728 13,251 10,015 14,121 9,564 14,299 9,464 14,517 6,752 17,158 129 12,592 8,536 12,244 8,976 11,924 9,074 11,978 9,188 9,169 11,926 131 19,375 8,878 20,694 7,808 19,547 8,223 19,495 8,404 19,192 8,770 132 276 132 281 136 269 144 259 156 217 197 133 31,386 19,808 32,668 19,184 29,304 21,291 27,775 23,065 21,907 28,628 134 37,134 18,433 40,946 15,768 36,140 18,775 33,942 21,283 27,591 27,116 137 12,712 5,596 13,374 5,154 12,719 5,404 12,303 5,939 11,205 6,968 138 9,992 6,797 9,915 7,032 9,427 7,274 9,210 7,585 7,370 9,361 139 15,034 8,819 16,117 8,048 14,893 8,702 14,848 8,822 13,931 9,847 140 5,010 2,437 5,234 2,242 4,922 2,396 4,851 2,485 4,545 2,844 141 8,627 4,459 9,419 3,833 8,935 3,912 8,976 3,912 9,478 3,547 142 8,460 3,908 9,168 3,372 8,631 3,533 8,659 3,573 8,979 3,310 143 5,961 2,659 6,237 2,404 5,914 2,540 5,854 2,612 5,506 3,032 144 1,441 744 1,468 716 1,430 732 1,382 780 1,219 941 145 12,561 5,897 13,434 5,163 12,483 5,757 12,235 6,066 10,936 7,380 146 25,928 11,707 27,810 10,225 26,063 10,913 25,585 11,518 24,641 12,598 147 28,731 12,830 31,836 10,453 29,314 11,721 28,501 12,736 27,160 14,174 148 21,916 10,805 23,752 9,472 21,140 11,140 20,626 11,872 17,233 15,126 149 10,212 4,831 10,605 4,590 10,045 4,840 9,766 5,166 8,863 6,077

Greg has a map for Prop B, for those of you who like pictures to go with the numbers. All five bond issues passed, with Harris County percentages ranging from 68.06 for Prop B to 55.55% for Prop E. The city does of course extend into Fort Bend and Montgomery Counties, but I’m not including those precincts in my analysis. For what it’s worth, the Fort Bend precincts voted overwhelmingly for the bond issues, and the Montgomery County precincts also supported all five bonds. Of interest is the fact that the bond issues generally did well in the Republican State Rep districts in Houston. This is of interest because the Harris County GOP passed resolutions opposing all bonds on the ballot. To whatever extent they publicized that opposition, it had little effect. Only Kingwood (HD127) opposed the bonds, which isn’t really a surprise given that Kingwood would oppose a resolution declaring that puppies are adorable if it was a city of Houston resolution. OK, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration – Kingwood did support the two Houston charter amendments – but still. HDs 129 (Clear Lake), 133 (Memorial/Westchase), and 138 (Spring Branch) supported all but Prop E, while HD134 supported all five. Note that HD138 largely overlaps Council District A, home turf of CM Helena Brown. If Helena Brown’s constituents were voting for the bonds, that should tell you how seriously the Harris County GOP’s resolutions were taken.

More broadly, there was a whole lot of ink spilled during the election season about ballot fatigue and conservative anti-government surges and fragile economies and what have you, and in the end none of it mattered. All the bonds, including the HISD and HCC bonds that will lead to tax increases, passed easily. All of them did well in Republican areas despite the official opposition of the Harris County GOP. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to rethink that narrative about people being tired of government spending and demanding cutbacks. Maybe, just maybe, that’s a load of hooey.

We should expect boring Congressional races for the foreseeable future

That’s my takeaway after reading this.

CD32

For Pete Sessions, election night ended with yet another resounding send-off to Washington.

He won a ninth term, with 58 percent of the vote. But an analysis by The Dallas Morning News raises questions about how long the swath of Dallas and Collin counties that makes up Sessions’ 32nd Congressional District will remain safely Republican.

And more broadly, the 32nd is a microcosm of the challenges Republicans face maintaining control in congressional and legislative districts as the Hispanic population, which favors Democrats, continues to grow.

The district’s Hispanic-origin population will grow from 25.6 percent to 29.7 percent by 2016 and will only continue in years to come, according to population projections from Esri, a leading provider of demographic software and data. The percentage of registered voters in the district with Spanish surnames grew from 7.3 percent of eligible voters in 2002 to 8.8 percent in 2010.

Experts said that while changes are coming, Sessions should be safe for the next few elections.

“The big takeaway, looking at the last couple of elections in Texas, is that things are changing demographically — and that certainly has political implications,” SMU political scientist Matthew Wilson said. “But the partisan levels of those implications aren’t rising as quickly as the Democrats had hoped for.

“Change is slow, and looking at 2014 or 2016 as a tipping point might be getting ahead of the game a little bit.”

There were two competitive Congressional races this year, CD23 in which Rep.-elect Pete Gallego ousted freshman Rep. Quico Canseco, and CD14, in which Nick Lampson fell short in a race to succeed Ron Paul. The latter was basically only competitive because of Lampson, who represented a chunk of the new CD14 in his first years of service in Congress. Barring anything unusual, Rep.-elect Randy Weber will likely have a smooth ride in 2014. Only CD23 is likely to be seriously contested again.

I base this on a review of the 2008 results for the current districts and the actual results from this election. To put it mildly, there were no surprises.

Dist Obama Houston Dem Candidate Pct ========================================= 05 37.3 42.0 Mrosko 33.2 06 42.2 43.7 Sanders 39.2 07 40.4 39.1 Cargas 36.4 10 42.6 43.2 Cadien 36.2 14 42.1 47.5 Lampson 44.6 17 40.9 44.1 None 0.0 21 42.2 40.2 Duval 35.4 24 40.5 39.9 Rusk 36.0 25 42.7 43.5 Henderson 37.4 27 40.1 45.8 Harrison 39.2 31 42.5 42.4 Wyman 35.0 32 43.8 43.8 McGovern 39.4 Dist McCain W'wright GOP Candidate Pct ========================================= 15 41.8 37.3 Brueggemann 36.8 20 40.6 37.7 Rosa 33.4 23 49.3 45.0 Canseco 45.5 28 41.0 35.3 Hayward 29.7

These are all of the districts in which you could squint and see something potentially competitive based on either the Presidential number or the Sam Houston/Dale Wainwright number. Needless to say, that isn’t how it played out. Some of this is likely due to Obama’s reduced national margin from 2008, which is to say his decline among Anglo voters, some of it is likely due to the absence of resources at the state level, and some of it is likely due to the candidates themselves having little to no resources. Be that as it may, there’s nothing here to suggest there were any missed opportunities or any emerging hotspots. It’s CD23 all the way down.

There are two caveats to this. One is that we will not have the same Congressional districts in 2014. These were interim districts, to be used until the San Antonio court acts on the DC court’s denial of preclearance to fix the issues that the DC court identified. What the next map may look like and how this all may be affected by the upcoming SCOTUS review of Section 5 remains to be seen.

The other is that just because there won’t be competitive elections in November doesn’t mean there won’t be any in March. We saw one incumbent Congressman get bounced, thanks in part to some big external donors, but even if that group doesn’t play in 2014, the following members of Congress are, shall we say, less likely than some of their colleagues to make it to the next round of redistricting:

Sam Johnson, 82 years old.
Ralph Hall, 89 years old.
Kay Granger, 69 years old.
Rubén Hinojosa, 72 years old.
Eddie Bernice Johnson, 77 years old.
John Carter, 71 years old.

If nothing else, we’re likely to see a few spirited primaries in the coming years. Whether we get more than that or not remains to be seen.

Precinct analysis: HISD and HCC

I was reasonably confident that the HISD bond referendum would be successful, mostly because there wasn’t any real opposition from officials or constituencies that would normally be expected to support it. It had a much smoother path than the 2007 referendum, which still managed to pass, so it wasn’t hard to see this one making it. I was still a little surprised at how easily it passed, but not that much. Here’s the breakdown by State Rep district:

Dist Yes No =================== 131 21,902 7,238 133 19,766 13,904 134 46,367 24,987 137 9,044 4,189 139 9,001 4,505 140 4,765 1,928 141 950 290 142 8,580 2,434 143 6,030 2,053 144 1,358 590 145 10,489 4,065 146 28,756 10,212 147 28,879 10,192 148 19,889 10,252 149 1,044 764

There are many school districts within Harris County, so there are a lot of State Rep districts that do not overlap HISD’s turf. Still, as you can see support was broad and across the board. One thing to note is that there were more Yes votes cast in just the six African-American State Rep districts (98,068) than there were No votes cast all together (97,604). You can see why the specter of people like Dave Wilson and his cohort opposing the referendum wasn’t a credible threat. There aren’t enough people like him within HISD’s boundaries to make a difference.

The HCC referendum naturally got much less attention, but it passed just as easily.

Dist Yes No =================== 131 24,797 8,582 133 18,409 14,514 134 41,702 27,900 137 13,029 5,695 139 7,984 5,016 140 4,631 1,972 141 7,724 2,695 142 9,550 2,813 143 5,715 2,119 144 1,280 611 145 9,837 4,393 146 27,998 10,756 147 27,070 10,895 148 17,825 11,498 149 17,911 7,302

HCC’s turf is HISD plus Alief and North Forest ISDs, which is why there are more votes in this election in HDs 137, 141, and 149 than the HISD referendum. Again, it passed easily everywhere, though with some slightly smaller margins than the HISD referendum. It also passed easily in Alief despite some early grumbling on the part of Alief ISD’s Board of Trustees. Anyway, not much to see here, just another easy day at the office for the people whose job it was to get these bonds passed.

Precinct analysis: Metro

The first rule of precinct analysis, at least as I do it, is that you really can’t learn much by doing it on lopsided elections. The Metro referendum, which passed with 78% of the vote, is Exhibit A of this phenomenon. Here’s how the vote went in the State Rep districts for the Metro issue:

Dist Yes No =================== 126 34,957 8,158 127 31,750 9,040 128 20 16 129 19,439 5,282 130 41,183 9,568 131 25,236 6,641 132 35,052 7,901 133 50,285 12,438 134 56,041 17,463 135 32,347 6,943 137 15,754 3,743 138 30,159 7,607 139 29,604 9,391 140 13,908 3,685 141 19,494 5,368 142 10,900 3,128 143 6,965 2,159 144 1,684 531 145 14,668 4,689 146 31,446 8,524 147 32,900 11,061 148 25,130 9,061 149 27,060 5,999 150 39,138 9,333

HD128 is Baytown, and HD144 is mostly Pasadena, so that’s why those vote totals are as low as they are. If you prefer pictures to numbers, go look at Greg’s map, or at Max Beauregard‘s reports for a visual representation. No matter how you look at it, though, there’s not much to see. No hidden pockets of opposition, just across the board support.

As for what the election means, you can argue that the issue was complex and that people wouldn’t have voted for the referendum if they had really understood it. I agree there’s something to that, but I don’t believe it will get you anywhere to pursue that line of thinking. Instead, I offer two thoughts. One is that for all the grassroots energy that fed the anti-referendum movement, there was basically no opposition to the referendum among candidates or elected officials. I did get one press release a few days before the election about Rep. Sylvester Turner speaking at a pro-transit rally, but I never got anything after the event saying what had happened, and though I looked I never saw any press coverage of the event. Beyond that, as far as I could tell, there weren’t any other elected officials or candidates speaking out on this. Given that both supporters and opponents of the referendum were casting it as the end of light rail construction in Houston, this ought to be a wake-up call to transit advocates. Metro Board Chair Gilbert Garcia has said that he hopes to build broader support for Metro and its rail plans by boosting system ridership via the expanded bus service this referendum will bring, and other Board members are talking along similar lines. One good way to hold them to these promises down the line is to generate pressure from public officials, and the first step in that process is to engage them to get them on your side, and where needed support candidates for office who already support your position. It’s time to get back to basics and make rail transit and the reasons why it’s needed a regular part of the conversation. It can’t just be the same people talking about this – we need our elected officials out there talking up rail, and the more the better. This needs to be a top priority for transit advocates.

Two, David Crossley of Houston Tomorrow has on more than one occasion expressed the concern that the comparable rates of growth in Houston and Harris County will cause the Metro board to shift from one with a Houston-appointed majority to one with a non-Houston-appointed majority by 2018 or so. I would just simply note that there’s no reason why the Commissioners Court of today needs to be the same as the Commissioners Court of 2018, when it might get the chance to reshape the Metro board. Commissioner Jack Morman will have a tough fight for re-election in 2014. That same growth in the outlying areas of Harris County ought to make Commissioner Steve Radack at least somewhat more vulnerable in 2016. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Commissioners Court that believed in something other than just building more roads as a solution to transportation problems? It could happen if enough people work to make it happen. Just something to think about.

Precinct data: County Commissioner precincts

I wish they called County Commissioner precincts by some other name, because it’s confusing to refer to them as such when one is discussing canvass data, which is data from the thousand-plus voting precincts in Harris County. But that’s the name we’re stuck with, so make sure the clutch on your context-shifter is in good shape. Before I get to the data, I’ve been looking for a formal story on the end of the county redistricting trial, but this Houston Politics post from Friday appears to be all I’m going to get.

Commissioners Court interim map

The court’s first Hispanic member, Democrat Sylvia Garcia, represented Precinct 2 for two terms before losing to Republican Jack Morman in 2010. She took the stand Thursday and testified about discrimination against Latinos. The plaintiffs have to prove that point (and several others) in order to get Precinct 2 declared a protected minority-opportunity district under the Voting Rights Act, which likely would produce a more favorable Precinct 2 for a Hispanic candidate than the map the county adopted.

“I think discrimination still exists. It just may be more subtle, it’s more creative, more clever, but it’s there,” Garcia said, adding that deficits Latinos face in education, housing and health care, and that local and state governments dissuade Latinos from participating in the political process.

[…]

The plaintiffs’ attorney Chad Dunn pressed [Morman’s chief of staff Dave] Walden on why, during the redistricting process, he had requested information about the politics, prevalence of straight-ticket voting, ethnic makeup and voter turnout in various voting precincts being considered for inclusion in Precinct 2. The data showed the precinct would have a higher share of white voters, and a higher share of Republican votes.

Dunn asked Walden if removing Latinos from a close district makes it harder for Latinos to elect a “candidate of their choice” (language from the Voting Rights Act).

“I really believe this: It depends on factors in addition to their ethnicity before I could give you a hard and fast judgment,” Walden said. “But going by ethnicity alone, you could probably say that.”

Dunn asked whether Walden knew that by making those changes Morman’s electoral advantage would increase. “True,” Walden said. Dunn asked whether Walden had an interest in making the district more Republican. “Absolutely,” he said.

The defendants have stressed that these gripes are about politics (a permissible factor in redistricting), not discrimination. They say the plaintiffs must “negate partisanship” to prove their claims.

The trial, or at least the testimony, wrapped on Friday. No clue when a ruling may come. Be that as it may, let’s take a look at the data. With three of the four Commissioners on the ballot, it was easy to sort out the data from all four precincts. I’ve divided the presentation below into two groups, one for the five statewide candidates, and one for the five non-judicial countywide candidates.

CCP Obama Sadler Henry Petty Hampton Tot votes ====================================================== 1 76.74% 75.90% 75.79% 77.57% 77.24% 293,101 2 48.63% 47.59% 48.40% 50.62% 49.78% 210,222 3 40.62% 39.93% 37.97% 40.66% 40.92% 317,331 4 36.99% 36.21% 35.15% 37.58% 37.20% 349,526 CCP Garcia Ryan Trautman Bennett Oliver ============================================== 1 79.05% 77.66% 77.62% 76.68% 74.35% 2 54.21% 50.75% 50.83% 49.21% 47.43% 3 44.83% 42.21% 41.70% 39.71% 37.37% 4 40.99% 38.22% 38.21% 36.59% 34.70%

The “Total votes” figure is simply the Romney plus Obama total for each precinct. I put that in for some perspective. Adrian Garcia had the largest margin of victory in Morman’s Precinct 2, defeating Louis Guthrie there by over 17,000 votes. Keith Hampton missed carrying Precinct 2 by 868 votes. It’s fair to say that in a Presidential year, the map used for this election makes Precinct 2 highly competitive. How things may play out in a non-Presidential year under a possibly different map is anyone’s guess at this time. For what it’s worth, I did the computations for all 34 District, County, and Circuit Court of Appeals races as well, and found that Democrats won 13 and lost 21. Of possible interest is the list of the top five vote-getters in Precinct 2 among the judicial candidates:

Candidate Votes Pct ======================================= David Mendoza 104,404 51.28% Julia Maldonado 104,389 51.08% Ruben Guerrero 103,474 50.80% Alexandra Smoots-Hogan 103,378 51.01% Michael Gomez 103,240 50.64%

I’m going to step out on a limb here and suggest that maybe it would be wise for the Democrats to run a Latino/Latina candidate here in two years. Just a thought, you know? Oh, hell, I’ll quit being coy: There’s no doubt in my mind that Sylvia Garcia would be the strongest candidate against Morman, if she chose to run. That would require her to lose in the special election in SD06, then want to get right back in the saddle again (likely with a depleted campaign treasury) and have a crack at a rematch with Morman. I have absolutely no idea how probable that scenario is.

Anyway, the other point of interest is Precinct 3, which as I recall was made slightly more Republican after swapping some turf with Precinct 1 in order to boost the latter’s overall population. That plus the decline in Democratic turnout from 2008 meant that Adrian Garcia lost about two and a half points from that year. On the plus side, this is the beginning of the decade, not the end of it, so if demographic change continues as it has been, I’d think there’s a decent chance of Precinct 3 being competitive in 2016. As always, this assumes a Democrat who can raise a few bucks steps up to run. It’s never too early to start recruiting.

Precinct analysis: City and county

If you know a little something about Excel (or in my case, OpenOffice Calc, which has the same basic functionality), it’s fairly straightforward to calculate the vote totals and percentages for various candidates in various county, state, or federal districts. These districts are well-defined, and by that I mean they contain a certain number of precincts in their entirity, and two districts of the same classification (i.e., two State Rep districts) have no overlap between them. (That actually isn’t exactly right, but it’s close enough to not worry about.) It’s not the same for determining the vote in the city of Houston versus the rest of Harris County. City boundaries do not conform to precinct boundaries. There are numerous precincts that are part Houston and part not-Houston. When I first tried to do this, after the 2008 election, I wound up counting a number of non-Houston votes as being from the city, which had the effect of underestimating the Democratic percentage by two or three points. After getting some feedback on this, I refined my methodology and got a result that I thought was more accurate. It’s definitely an estimate, but I’m confident it’s in the ballpark.

This year, I have the benefit of the city of Houston bonds and charter amendments on the ballot, which identify all of the precincts that contain city of Houston voters. Obviously, I don’t want to count all of the votes in each of those precincts as being city of Houston, for the reasons given above. You can look at the individual precincts and see a handful of bond votes but hundreds or thousands of Presidential votes, so you know you can’t count the whole precincts. What I wound up doing was counting the votes in any precinct that had at least ten Yes votes for Proposition B, the parks bond that was the biggest winner among the bonds, as Houston precincts. It’s not exact, but it’s close enough. Here’s what I got from doing that:

Candidate Votes R Votes Pct ===================================== Garcia 381,103 211,886 64.3% Obama 371,755 242,953 60.7% Ryan 370,181 225,952 62.1% Trautman 367,587 226,185 61.9% Hampton 359,110 227,134 61.2% Sadler 356,630 242,658 59.5% Petty 356,110 225,061 61.3% Bennett 353,317 234,256 60.5% Henry 342,986 240,103 58.8% Oliver 342,701 252,168 57.6%

By this calculation, which remember is as much approximation as anything else, Obama lost 0.3 percentage points from 2008, while Adrian Garcia lost about a point and a half. This is consistent with the amount they lost overall from 2008, so again I feel pretty confident. You can see that Garcia, Vince Ryan, and Diane Trautman all attracted some Republican support, while Mike Anderson, Christi Craddick, and Mike Sullivan all drew Democratic support.

Here’s the flipside, non-Houston Harris County, which is simply the totals above subtracted from the overalls:

Candidate Votes R Votes Pct ===================================== Garcia 230,860 310,551 42.6% Ryan 215,781 326,609 39.8% Trautman 214,896 326,012 39.7% Obama 213,696 341,913 38.5% Petty 208,702 321,146 39.4% Hampton 207,229 326,415 38.1% Bennett 206,689 328,248 38.6% Sadler 206,325 338,539 37.9% Oliver 199,443 343,351 36.7% Henry 198,206 334,588 37.2%

Pretty much what you’d expect based on the first set of results, with the exception of Paul Sadler sliding down a few spots, for which I’d blame – again – his lack of resources. I read these amazing stories about the turnout effort in Ohio, and I ask myself again what that might look like if it were ever tried here. I don’t really have anything more to add to this, so I’ll leave it here and we’ll continue with more analysis later.

Precinct analysis: Sadler v Noriega and Sadler v Obama

Day Two of precinct analysis, in which we take a look at the Senate results. As I did with the Presidential results, I’m going to compare the candidates from this year to the candidates from 2008.

Dist Cruz Sadler Cornyn Noriega ======================================== HD126 63.86% 36.14% 62.26% 37.74% HD127 70.57% 29.43% 67.93% 32.07% HD128 72.95% 27.05% 66.87% 33.13% HD129 65.92% 34.08% 61.64% 38.36% HD130 77.23% 22.77% 74.54% 26.46% HD131 16.84% 83.16% 17.37% 82.63% HD132 60.83% 39.17% 60.02% 39.98% HD133 68.91% 31.09% 67.19% 32.81% HD134 57.28% 42.72% 55.21% 44.79% HD135 60.51% 39.49% 61.04% 38.99% HD137 36.31% 63.69% 36.85% 63.15% HD138 61.32% 38.68% 59.72% 40.28% HD139 24.74% 75.26% 23.36% 76.64% HD140 31.36% 68.64% 28.00% 72.00% HD141 13.22% 86.78% 14.11% 85.89% HD142 23.00% 77.00% 20.27% 79.73% HD143 33.60% 66.40% 28.89% 71.11% HD144 49.50% 50.50% 45.22% 54.78% HD145 41.21% 58.79% 34.99% 65.01% HD146 21.07% 78.93% 21.56% 78.44% HD147 21.64% 78.36% 18.50% 81.50% HD148 43.49% 56.51% 38.34% 61.66% HD149 43.47% 56.53% 43.88% 56.12% HD150 69.92% 30.08% 67.33% 32.67%

As before, I’m omitting the third party candidates and just giving the two-party percentages. Even with that, this isn’t a perfect comparison, since the candidates are different. Rick Noriega, running in a year with maximal Democratic turnout, scored a majority of the vote in the county, while Paul Sadler trailed Ted Cruz. Also, while Noriega wasn’t exactly swimming in campaign cash, he did raise over $4 million in his race, or about ten times what Sadler collected. Noriega had actual staffers on his campaign, Sadler was basically a one-man show. As such, one should expect better performance from Noriega overall; among other things, Noriega only lost about 7000 votes from Obama’s total, while the lesser-known Sadler dropped 23,000 votes from Obama. Still, it’s interesting to see the range of percentages in the Latino districts, to compare the two Latino candidates, one from each party. All things considered, Cruz didn’t do that much better than John Cornyn. His name may have given him a boost in the Latino areas, but the overall decline in Latino support for Republicans was a drag on that.

But how much of a boost did Cruz get? The number we’ve heard tossed around is six percent, so let’s compare Sadler’s share of the Obama vote to Cruz’s share of the Romney vote:

Dist Sadler Obama Ratio ================================ CD29 64.73% 66.60% 0.97 SD06 65.26% 67.14% 0.97 HD140 68.64% 70.74% 0.97 HD143 66.40% 67.82% 0.98 HD144 50.50% 51.47% 0.98 HD145 58.79% 61.13% 0.96 HD148 56.51% 57.92% 0.98 Dist Cruz Romney Ratio ================================ CD29 35.27% 33.40% 1.06 SD06 34.74% 32.86% 1.06 HD140 31.36% 29.26% 1.07 HD143 33.60% 32.18% 1.04 HD144 49.50% 48.53% 1.02 HD145 41.21% 38.87% 1.06 HD148 43.49% 42.08% 1.03

So Sadler got between 96 and 98 percent of Obama’s vote, while Cruz improved on Romney by two to seven percent. A six percent boost is therefore plausible, but notice what I’ve done here: I’ve compared percentages, not raw vote totals. This actually makes it look better for Cruz, for two reasons. One is that the sheer number of votes is fairly small. Add up all the votes in the five State Rep districts above (CD29 and SD06 largely overlap those districts, so including them would double- and triple-count a lot of votes) and you get the following:

Romney 55,839 votes, Obama 89,709 votes, meaning Romney got 38.36% of the vote overall.
Cruz 56,605 votes, Sadler 84,891 voters, which is 40.00% for Cruz.

Putting it another way, Cruz’s percentage was 4.29% better than Romney’s, but his vote total was only 1.37% better. While Cruz clearly picked up some Obama voters, what largely drove his improvement over Romney in percentage of the vote was undervoting on the Democratic side. It’s fair to blame some of this on Sadler’s lack of finances, though how much is hard to say. Still, my point is that depending on how you look at it, Cruz’s improvement on Romney is pretty modest, at least in Harris County.

You may be looking at those percentages above and thinking “Hey, these guys did pretty well in Latino areas. I thought Republicans were supposed to have sucked wind this cycle with Latinos.” Remember that this kind of analysis is a very blunt instrument. There’s still a lot of non-Latino voters in these districts, and for what it’s worth the most heavily Latino district (HD140) is the one where Cruz and Romney did the worst. You can see population and voting age population (VAP) totals for each district here, but even that only tells you so much since it doesn’t say what the citizen voting age population (CVAP) is, and of course we don’t know what the Latino versus non-Latino turnout in each district was. This is what I’ve got to work with, so this is what I can tell you.

One last point to make is that Cruz actually got more votes than Romney in nearly all of the Democratic state rep districts:

Dist Cruz Romney Ratio ================================ HD131 7,144 6,851 1.04 HD137 8,488 8,468 1.00 HD139 12,382 12,138 1.02 HD140 7,160 6,846 1.05 HD141 4,949 4,617 1.07 HD142 9,366 9,194 1.02 HD143 9,916 9,771 1.01 HD145 11,674 11,374 1.03 HD146 10,261 10,112 1.01 HD147 11,340 11,107 1.02 HD148 16,325 16,268 1.00 Total 109,005 106,746 1.02

Cruz trailed Romney in vote totals in HDs 144 and 149. Overall, Cruz got 2.11% more votes than Romney in these Democratic districts. He did not lead Romney in any Republican district. It should be noted that while the others listed here aren’t officially “Latino” districts, Latinos comprise a majority of the VAP in HD137 and a significant minority in all the others, at least 27% in each case. Again, though, we’re talking VAP and not CVAP, so tread carefully. We can only guess about who the Obama/Cruz voters were and why they chose to split the ticket in that fashion.

That’s all for today. More on these and other races next week and after Thanksgiving.

Precinct analysis: Obama v Obama

So as mentioned before I now have a draft canvass for Harris County. There’s a lot of data to go through, and I’ll probably publish most of what I find after the holiday. One thing I’d like to share for now is a comparison of how President Obama did in the various redrawn districts versus how he was predicted to do based on 2008 results in the precincts that make up these districts. In the table below, reading from left to right, “Romney” and “Obama” give the two-party percentage of each candidate’s vote from 2012, while “McCain” and “Obama” do the same for 2008. Third party votes and undervotes are ignored, this is just a straight up comparison of the ratio of GOP votes to Obama votes.

Dist Romney Obama McCain Obama ======================================== CD02 63.93% 36.07% 62.32% 37.68% CD07 60.87% 39.13% 59.22% 40.78% CD18 23.06% 76.94% 23.02% 76.98% CD29 33.40% 66.60% 37.32% 62.68% SBOE6 60.67% 39.33% 58.88% 41.12% SD06 32.86% 67.14% 36.08% 63.92% SD07 67.64% 32.36% 65.32% 34.68% SD15 40.26% 59.74% 39.68% 60.32% HD126 62.85% 37.15% 62.32% 37.68% HD127 70.07% 29.93% 68.32% 31.68% HD128 73.15% 26.85% 70.42% 29.58% HD129 65.59% 34.41% 62.88% 37.12% HD130 76.92% 23.08% 74.50% 26.50% HD131 15.80% 84.20% 18.00% 82.00% HD132 59.71% 40.29% 60.12% 39.88% HD133 68.58% 31.42% 65.37% 34.63% HD134 57.51% 42.49% 53.02% 46.98% HD135 59.63% 40.37% 61.01% 38.99% HD137 34.75% 65.25% 37.14% 62.86% HD138 60.13% 39.87% 59.82% 40.18% HD139 23.79% 76.21% 24.10% 75.90% HD140 29.26% 70.74% 33.36% 66.64% HD141 12.13% 87.87% 14.40% 85.60% HD142 22.12% 77.88% 21.41% 78.59% HD143 32.18% 67.82% 35.45% 64.55% HD144 48.53% 51.47% 51.56% 48.44% HD145 38.87% 61.13% 42.36% 57.64% HD146 20.26% 79.74% 21.43% 78.57% HD147 20.62% 79.38% 19.07% 80.93% HD148 42.08% 57.92% 41.88% 58.12% HD149 42.28% 57.72% 44.12% 55.88% HD150 69.39% 30.61% 68.09% 31.91%

In case you’re wondering, the 2008 data comes from the FTP directory of the Texas Legislative Council – click on the plan in question (note: C = Congress; E = Education, as in State Board Of; H = House; S = Senate), then Reports, then your preferred format, then finally on the link that has “RED206_2008G_Statewide” in it. The districts I analyzed are ones that are entirely contained within Harris County. There’s no point in comparing, say, the results in SD17 or HD36 to the TLC reports, since these districts run into other counties and thus would render such a comparison moot.

The first thing that should strike you is that the map-drawers knew what they were doing. There’s not a lot of variation between what was predicted based on 2008 results and what actually happened in 2012. Romney generally did a little better than McCain in Republican districts. The exceptions are HDs 132 and 135 where he underperformed by a little, and HD134 where he had his biggest gain over McCain. Obama generally did a little better in the Democratic districts, with his biggest gains in the Latino districts. I have not gotten far enough in the analysis to determine how Obama did compared to other countywide Democrats in these districts – as we know, he lagged behind other Dems in Latino districts in 2008, but what we see here is consistent with what we saw in heavily Latino counties around the state. I’ll come back to this issue later after I’ve filled in more of the blanks.

While I haven’t yet completed filling in the relevant numbers for other candidates on the countywide ballot, I can compare Obama to the relevant Democratic candidate for each of these districts. Here’s how that looks, omitting candidates such as Rep. Gene Green who were not challenged by a Republican:

Dist Candidate Votes Pct ================================= CD02 Daugherty 80,262 33.49% CD02 Obama 88,451 36.07% CD07 Cargas 85,253 37.44% CD07 Obama 92,128 39.13% CD18 Lee 145,893 77.11% CD18 Obama 149,775 76.94% SBOE6 Jensen 207,697 40.58% SBOE6 Obama 215,053 39.33% SD06 Gallegos 93,136 70.94% SD06 Obama 89,584 67.14% SD07 Texas 90,606 31.59% SD07 Obama 93,774 32.36% SD15 Whitmire 135,595 62.34% SD15 Obama 131,838 59.74% HD127 Pogue 19,389 29.77% HD127 Obama 19,660 29.93% HD134 Johnson 36,366 45.66% HD134 Obama 34,561 42.49% HD137 Wu 15,789 65.72% HD137 Obama 15,899 65.25% HD144 Perez 12,425 53.47% HD144 Obama 12,281 51.47% HD149 Vo 25,967 61.12% HD149 Obama 24,770 57.72% HD150 Neal 19,308 30.30% HD150 Obama 19,668 30.61%

It shouldn’t be a surprise to see longtime officials such as Sens. John Whitmire and the late Mario Gallegos overperform. Voters tend to be happier with their own representatives than with whatever legislative body those representatives belong to. I figure good constituent service accounts for a lot of that. In fairness, I note that Republicans Dan Patrick, Ted Poe, and John Culberson also appear to have beaten the spread, something Culberson decidedly did not do in 2006 and 2008.

I noted Traci Jensen’s challenge before the election, and unfortunately she was not able to eat into that 100,000 vote deficit that she faced. I think a 2008 level of turnout on the Democratic side would have added a couple thousand more votes to her total and pushed her into the “overperformer” group. Her two-party percentage was a bit higher than Obama’s despite her lower raw vote number due to larger influence of third party candidates in her race and probably more undervoting on the Republican side. The SBOE, like the Senate, has everyone run in the first post-redistricting election, then they draw lots to see who goes again in two years and who gets to wait for four. I hope the latter is the case for SBOE6, and I hope that 20+ years of unopposed Republicans someone continues Jensen’s work in the next election.

Ann Johnson in HD134 also faced an uphill climb, which turned out to be steeper than we thought. She did do what she needed to do – she collected some 2000 crossover votes in outperforming Obama by three points – it just wasn’t enough. Unlike many legislative districts, HD134 does not get noticeably bluer in presidential years – if anything, based on what we saw from 2006 and 2008, it gets a little redder – so it’s likely the case that 2014 at least won’t be any harder than this year was. It’s all about working to change people’s minds, which may be easier after another legislative session. We’ll see about that. Johnson ran a strong race, the wall was just too high for her. Mary Ann Perez also did very well running in a district that turned out to be a little more friendly than we originally expected. The boost Obama got from Latino voters likely helped, but she went above and beyond that. If the district isn’t redrawn by the San Antonio court, Perez will surely face a strong challenge in 2014, but she’s already proven she can swim against the tide. As for Gene Wu in HD137, there’s nothing I can say that Greg hasn’t already said, so go read him.

I do have data about the County Commissioner precincts, but this post is long enough. I’ll get to that and to other matters in subsequent entries. Let me know what you think about this.

The third parties

While I work my way through the precinct data in Harris County, we can keep looking at the county data for Texas from last week’s election. Here are the top and bottom ten counties by percentage of the vote for Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson:

County Johnson % County Johnson % ============================================== Travis 2.72% Throckmorton 0.00% Hays 2.46% Brooks 0.25% Brewster 2.35% Kimble 0.32% Williamson 2.22% Lipscomb 0.34% Jeff Davis 2.02% Parmer 0.35% Bastrop 1.90% Refugio 0.37% Brazos 1.87% Bailey 0.39% Caldwell 1.84% Zapata 0.40% Terrell 1.80% Dimmit 0.41% Blanco 1.71% Deaf Smith 0.42%

Travis County is a hotbed for third-party voting, and apparently that fever has spread to some of its neighbors. My guess is that more people there consider their Presidential vote to be meaningless, so they feel freer to use it for personal expression. I will add that the #12 county on the “most Libertarian” list is Loving County, where Johnson collected 1.56% of the vote. Of course, there were only 64 total votes cast in Loving County (2010 population: 82 residents), so that 1.56% represents exactly one voter. How would you like to say that you’re the only voter of your kind in your entire county? For what it’s worth, Travis was the only blue county in the top ten, while Brooks, Zapata, and Dimmit are all deep-blue Rio Grande counties. Only Blanco County was more than 70% red, while five of the top ten counties were between 50% and 60% Republican; of the bottom ten counties, all but Refugio among the Republican counties were at least 70% so.

By the way, Johnson did something that no other Libertarian Presidential candidate had ever done in Texas: He got more than 1% of the vote, 1.10% to be exact.

Here are the same lists for Green Party candidate Jill Stein:

County Stein % County Stein % ============================================== Brewster 0.91% Loving 0.00% Travis 0.87% Hudspeth 0.00% Borden 0.83% Hemphill 0.00% Foard 0.81% McMullen 0.00% Presidio 0.66% Oldham 0.00% Dallam 0.65% Sherman 0.00% Kinney 0.63% King 0.00% Delta 0.59% Kenedy 0.00% Jeff Davis 0.59% Floyd 0.00% Blanco 0.58% Martin 0.00%

Note: that’s “Dallam” County in Stein’s top ten list, not “Dallas”. There is Travis again, giving Stein not just a relatively high percentage but also a huge share of her total vote: The 3,360 Greenies in Travis County represented nearly one-seventh of Stein’s final total of 24,450 votes. Only three other counties appeared on both Stein and Johnson’s lists, and outside of Travis they’re all small to tiny; besides Brewster (35 votes for Stein) and Blanco (29 votes), none provided more than 12 Green votes. Serendipitously, there were exactly ten counties that pitched a Green shutout. Hays (0.57%, #11 on the list) and Jefferson (0.13%) were the high and low Green scorers among counties with at least 100,000 registered voters, while El Paso (0.37%) and Fort Bend (0.21%) were at the top and bottom of counties where at least 100,000 votes were cast.

And finally, the same lists for John Jay Myers and David Collins, the Libertarian and Green candidates for Senate, respectively.

County Myers % County Myers % ============================================== Cottle 4.67% Glasscock 0.55% Brewster 4.62% Brooks 0.64% Travis 4.30% Sutton 0.70% Hays 4.21% Martin 0.71% Williamson 4.09% Jim Hogg 0.81% Hudspeth 3.96% King 0.82% Terrell 3.75% Dickens 0.83% Bastrop 3.53% Wheeler 0.83% Culberson 3.42% Rusk 0.85% Kenedy 3.29% Jefferson 0.96% County Collins % County Collins % ============================================== Maverick 2.34% Glasscock 0.00% Johnson 2.27% King 0.00% Presidio 2.09% Floyd 0.24% Jeff Davis 1.95% Borden 0.29% Brewster 1.87% Hartley 0.32% Culberson 1.85% Madison 0.32% Webb 1.84% Garza 0.34% Willacy 1.71% Hemphill 0.34% Loving 1.67% Lamb 0.35% Zapata 1.65% Camp 0.37%

There’s a lot of overlap between Johnson and Myers’ top lists – Hudspeth was #11 for Johnson, and Culberson was #26. Cottle and Kenedy are both tiny counties, and the differences are small but pronounced given the minimal number of voters. 31 people in Cottle votes Myers, but only 5 for Johnson, while in Kenedy it was 5 for Myers and 1 for Johnson. As for Collins, just as there was one Libertarian in Loving County, so is there one Green there. I wonder if they know each other.

Garcia and Alvarado and everyone they know

It’s not just Sylvia Garcia versus Carol Alvarado to succeed the late Sen. Mario Gallegos in SD06. It’s also everyone else that’s getting involved in the race.

In this corner…

Alvarado’s chief rival for the Senate seat is expected to be former Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia, who announced her candidacy last week. Garcia, 62, the first Hispanic woman elected to the court, served for eight years and was defeated for a third term in 2010. She and Alvarado are roughly equal in terms of name identification in the district and financial resources.

The contest has local officials already taking sides. Backing Garcia, an attorney and former social worker, are Alvarado’s fellow House members, state Reps. Armando Walle, Jessica Farrar and Ana Hernandez Luna.

And in this corner…

“Sylvia has never stopped working for us,” said Farrar, the House Democratic Caucus leader, in a statement.

A lifelong resident of the East End, Alvarado boasts endorsements from former Houston mayors Lee Brown and Bill White, state senators Rodney Ellis, of Houston, and Leticia Van de Putte, of San Antonio, and former Congressman Chris Bell, among others.

“Carol has lived in the district her entire life and never forgotten where she came from,” White said. “She is a tough, effective lawmaker who will represent her district and work to improve public education.”

At this point, it may already be easier to keep track of who has not taken a side than who has. Add in the fact that former State Rep. and 2008 candidate for US Senate Rick Noriega is also considering this race and it may become impossible to find a local Democratic official who isn’t on someone’s endorsement list. I’m thinking there may be a few awkward moments at holiday parties this year. The best thing that can happen is for this race to be held as quickly as possible, which of course means it won’t be since the timing is up to Rick Perry. Be that as it may, Robert Miller helpfully lays out the process and potential calendar for this event. Ready or not, here it comes.

Did Ted Cruz do better in Latino areas than other Republicans?

Lisa Falkenberg drops the following tidbit in her post-election column on why the GOP in general and in Texas needs to figure out how to appeal to Latino voters.

In Texas, the best data so far show a 70-30 split for Obama among Hispanic voters, according to Rice University political science chairman Mark Jones. Romney performed several points worse than Sen. John McCain did in 2008. At the same time, Jones points out, Hispanics became a larger share of the vote in Texas, going from 20 percent in 2008 to 25 percent in 2012.

Republican Ted Cruz, who will become the first Hispanic U.S. senator from Texas, may have received a boost linked to his surname. Exit polling showed he outperformed Romney and Republican congressional candidates by 6 percent.

In the long run, Republicans can’t rely on surnames to appeal to Hispanics, although a few more on the ballot wouldn’t hurt.

“They’re going to have to reach out and do more than say that ‘Hispanics have values that are similar to ours.’ That’s an old refrain, which apparently is not bearing any fruit with the Hispanic population,” says Tatcho Mindiola, associate sociology professor and director of the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Houston.

Falkenberg doesn’t say what exit polls she was looking at. The Latino Decisions poll of Texas only asked about the Presidential race and Democrats in general, so it’s of no help here. Be that as it may, we can approach this question by comparing how Cruz did in heavily Latino counties to how Romney did. Here’s how he fared in the five counties I looked at last week.

County Obama Romney Sadler Cruz ========================================== Cameron 49,159 24,955 41,930 27,881 El Paso 112,273 56,517 101,467 59,237 Hidalgo 97,879 39,786 88,316 41,591 Maverick 8,302 2,171 6,550 2,674 Webb 37,592 11,074 30,431 14,943

Some of Paul Sadler’s dropoff in votes from President Obama can be attributed to the usual downballot effect, but clearly Cruz outperformed Romney, and given his higher vote totals there had to be some Obama/Cruz voters in each of these counties. In fact, if you look at all of the counties in Texas where Cruz received more votes than Romney, you get the following list: Webb, Cameron, Ellis, Hidalgo, Maverick, Willacy, Starr, Zapata, Zavala, Dimmit, Kleberg, Jim Hogg, Brooks, Jim Wells, Frio, Culberson. So yes, he did do better in heavily Latino areas, and I’m sure I’ll find the same effect in Harris County when I get precinct data.

There’s a bit more to this, however. It wasn’t just Cruz who benefited from being Latino and having a non-Latino opponent in these counties. For example, the Libertarian candidate running against Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman was a Latino. Take a look at how he did versus how other non-Latino Libertarians did in statewide races where the Republican had no Democratic opponent. Here’s Cameron County, for example.

Railroad Commissioner - Unexpired Term Barry Smitherman REP 25,866 48.72% Jaime O. Perez LIB 23,875 44.97% Josh Wendel GRN 3,347 6.30% Justice, Supreme Court, Place 2 Don Willett REP 32,963 62.76% Roberto Koelsch LIB 19,555 37.23% Justice, Supreme Court, Place 4 John Devine REP 30,797 58.42% Tom Oxford LIB 17,212 32.65% Charles Waterbury GRN 4,707 8.92% Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals Place 7 Barbara Hervey REP 32,107 61.09% Mark W. Bennett LIB 20,448 38.90% Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals Place 8 Elsa Alcala REP 36,619 68.72% William Strange LIB 16,664 31.27%

The same pattern holds for El Paso, Hidalgo, Maverick, and Webb counties. In the latter two, Libertarian candidate Perez scored a majority of the vote against Smitherman, which just blows my mind, and you will see the same effect for Latino Democratic candidates for the Fourth Court of Appeals, all of whom wound up winning. These were all low-profile, low-information races – even the Senate race was mostly below the radar, with Cruz avoiding debates and not running many ads, while Sadler barely had the money to do any advertising – so it’s not too shocking. Because of all this, I’d be careful about drawing any firm conclusions regarding Cruz and Latino voters. Latino voters have a stronger belief in the role of government and by a sizable majority support the Affordable Care Act and believe that the federal government should ensure that all people have access to health insurance. Needless to say, these views are incompatible with those of Ted Cruz. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait till 2018 to see how these voters will behave when they have a fuller understanding of what Ted Cruz is about.

UPDATE: Latino Decisions did ask about the Senate race specifically, and you can see the result here, which shows Sadler leading Cruz 65-35. I didn’t see that at the time I wrote this post.

And now a word from the HCDP

Note: The following is a guest post written by Michael Kolenc

A week has come and gone since the election, and while we still wait for the provisional ballots to be counted, we can say that the 2012 elections gave Harris County Democrats a reason for celebration. We won elections from the top to the bottom of the ticket; we expanded the capacity of the HCDP; and we moved out of our comfort zone to change the organizing culture of our local party.

HCDP Chair Lane Lewis has been making the case to everyone that will listen: Investing in the HCDP, so that it is a stronger and sustaining operation, will help us all achieve our goals. This past year demonstrates that commitment.

With the election now a week behind us, it is important for us to take a careful inventory of our work and how it contributed to electing Democrats. No one at the HCDP Campaign will claim to have re-created the rubric for how to run campaigns, but they will claim to having been focused on the goal of talking to a universe of targeted voters. It was this – with the help of some amazing candidates, elected officials, donors, staff and nearly 1,000 unique volunteers – that enabled the HCDP Campaign to be effective and deliver results.

Through the HCDP’s program over 36,000 doors were knocked, some 890,000 calls made from nine offices county-wide, and, for the first time, a vote by mail program was instituted making us competitive with the Republican’s program. These are not things that happen by accident or in a vacuum. Programs like these require planning, resources, and a commitment from stakeholders that this is the new way to operate. It requires a belief that organizing does not end on Election Day, but rather is a year-long process despite even or odd numbered years.

The work of the party has just started. 2013 municipal elections and the 2014 contests are here and require planning. In order to build upon the success we had this year – VMB program, voter contact numbers, and vastly increasing straight party ticket voting – we need to invest in our party.

Candidates, elected officials, donors, and party activists should want to see a HCDP that is focused the entire year on electing Democrats and not just in the six months before the election. As we approach the end to our first year with Chair Lewis at the helm, know that he will make the case once again about the importance of us all having a little skin in the game.

Michael Kolenc is a political advisor to Chair Lewis.

===============================================================

This is me speaking again. I now have my hands on a draft canvass and am happily crunching away to see what I can learn from it. I hope to get some empirical idea of how turnout, Latino voting, and other things went. I am encouraged by talk of involvement in the city elections, and we definitely need to be thinking about 2014 already. My thanks to Michael for his report on the HCDP’s activities for this past election.

How Latinos voted in Texas

Latino Decisions publishes its poll of Latino voters on the eve of Election Day.

Gary Segura and Matt Barreto of Latino Decisions webinar presentation today focused on the key insights generated from the ImpreMedia-Latino Decisions Election Eve Poll. The survey included a national sample of 5,600 Latino voters, as well as 11 state specific samples of Latino voters, including several key battleground states. This post summarizes some of the highlights from that webinar presentation, with the full slide deck and toplines for the full national and state results available below.

WEBINAR PRESENTATION

NATIONAL/STATE SURVEY TOPLINES

NATIONAL/STATE SURVEY BREAKOUTS

Latino support for President Obama was huge, with a record-breaking 75% of Latino voters nationwide (see below) casting their ballot for the President- the previous high for Latino voters was the 72% for Bill Clinton in 1996. Romney’s share of 23% was nowhere near the 38% his team identified as his “magic number” for Latinos nationally.

Here’s their methodology:

The national sample carries an overall margin of error of 1.8%. This margin-of-error is adjusted to account for the design effect resulting from 12 unique sample strata of varying size and post-stratification weighting used to derive the national estimate. California and Florida each had 800 completed interviews and carry a margin of error of 3.5%. The remaining 9 individual states sampled — Arizona, Colorado, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia — all had 400 completed interviews and carry a margin of error of 4.9%.

So there we have an answer to my question about Texas Latinos and Latinos elsewhere, which is that Texas Latinos are indeed basically like Latinos elsewhere when it comes to how they vote. It’s not definitive – one poll can only tell you so much – but until someone else does a similar poll in Texas, it’s what we know. On a side note, I’ll point out Mike Baselice’s claim, as seen in the Trib, that Romney did 12 to 15 percentage points better with Hispanics in Texas than in California. Latino Decisions showed Obama winning California 78-20 among Latinos, and 70-29 among Texas Latinos, but as I have no data from Baselice to examine, it may just be that he’s reporting on a small sample. Even if you take him at his word, that would put Obama at as much as 68% in Texas, which is close enough to the Latino Decisions number to be not worth quibbling about. And for what it’s worth, Baselice also claimed that David Dewhurst was going to beat Ted Cruz. In other words, caveat emptor and all that.

It’s official: Sylvia vs Carol for SD06

It’s on.

Sylvia Garcia

Houston community advocate and longtime public servant Sylvia Garcia announced today she will run in the coming special election to represent Texas Senate District 6.

“I’ve been fighting for our community and our families for years in Houston and Southeast Harris County,” said Garcia, “and now I am ready to take our fight to Austin.” “Our neighborhoods need a State Senator who understands our priorities and our values,” Garcia continued.

“Rick Perry and his Tea Party allies have already cut nearly six billion dollars from public schools and fired thousands of teachers. Now Perry’s opposition to the new health care law means four hundred thousand people in Harris County could continue to be without health insurance. That is why I am running for Senate — to protect our schools, our jobs, and our families,” concluded Garcia.

“I have worked with Sylvia to improve the availability of health care in East Harris County,” said Representative Ana Hernandez Luna (Dist. 143). “She understands the issues, has the ability to work with others to achieve the goal, and the passion and energy to stay in the fight until the battle is won.”

“Sylvia has never stopped working for us,” said House Democratic Caucus Leader Jessica Farrar. “Serving as a social worker, attorney, city controller and county commissioner has provided her broad experience and solid relationships at all levels of governent. She is well equipped to fight against the special interests in Austin putting people first. Sylvia’s priorities of education, healthcare, and jobs are what strengthen families most.”

“You can trust Sylvia Garcia to say what she’ll do and do what she says,” said State Representative Armando Walle (Dist. 140). “Throughout her years of public service you have always been able to count on Sylvia’s word. She has the intellect, honesty, maturity professionalism and integrity we want in our representative in the Texas Senate. Someone our children can be proud of”.

“Make no mistake, Rick Perry and his cronies are not going to give up their disrespectful opposition to our President,” said Representative Garnet Coleman (Dist. 147). “They may have lost the election, but our community knows Perry will keep fighting our President’s efforts to improve our schools and health care. We need Sylvia Garcia to stand with us.”

The Republican who got 29% in November is also running, not that it matters. Note all the testimonials from State Reps, which among other things shows how big a family fight this is going to be. Let me say up front that I like, admire, and respect both Sylvia Garcia and Rep. Carol Alvarado, and that I think either of them would do an outstanding job as Senator. I’m also very glad that I was redistricted into SD15 so that I don’t have to choose one or the other in the voting booth. Best of luck to them both, and may the best woman win.

Not a surprise that the bonds passed

All of the bond issues on the ballot this year had favorable conditions working for them, so their ultimate passage should not be a surprise.

The dire warnings of crippling debt, the long presidential campaign conversation about the limits of government and the potential for sticker shock over local governments’ asking to borrow $2.7 billion all failed to make much of an impact Tuesday. Houstonians said yes to everything, in most cases by a margin of 2-to-1, even when it meant a tax increase.

Observers and participants offering a postmortem on Election 2012 in some cases ascribed the across-the-board sweep to the Houston character: optimistic, pragmatic, cognizant of the need for the right tools to get the job done, satisfied that the Bayou City is faring better economically than its fellow metropolises across the nation.

Others, though, said it is basic politics. Bond promoters used an astute strategy of placing the measures on a presidential election ballot that promised to inspire an urban, Democratic turnout in jurisdictions that already skew blue.

That combination contributed to victory after victory for local government at the ballot box: $1.9 billion to rebuild and repair Houston Independent School District campuses, $425 million for the Houston Community College system to build and upgrade its classrooms and job training centers, $410 million for city parks, libraries, public safety and public health facilities, and the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s plan to continue to use a chunk of its sales tax money on roads.

[…]

“Other bonds have had loud opposition,” said Gayle Fallon, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, which took no position on the propositions. “This one had a lot of whining, but no real organized opposition. It wasn’t a huge tax increase, and I think people who voted for it looked at it is as they were doing something for the kids.”

Other than the usual cranks and some robocalls from the Harris County GOP, there really wasn’t any opposition to these issues. Especially for the school bond, where no one who usually supports public education spoke out against it, this was very helpful. A Presidential year turnout and a mostly Democratic electorate in the city of Houston and the HISD and HCC juristictions didn’t hurt, either. I’ll be sure to take a close look at where the support was highest and lowest for all these issues once I get my hands on the precinct data.

First pass at analyzing the 2012 results

This is kind of a brain dump, based on the information available now. I’ll have plenty more to say once precinct data has been released.

– The current tally in the Presidential race on the Secretary of State webpage, with comparison to 2008, is as follows:

2008 Votes Pct =========================== McCain 4,479,328 55.45% Obama 3,528,633 43.68% 2012 Votes Pct =========================== Romney 4,542,012 57.19% Obama 3,285,200 41.36%

Slight uptick for Romney over McCain, slightly larger downtick for Obama. My sense is that this is mostly a turnout issue, that Obama’s coalition was mostly intact but not quite as fired up as in 2008, much like what we saw nationally. I think that’s fixable, but it’s going to take the same thing to fix it (money money money) as it has always been. I mean, Team Obama invested millions in a turnout operation in various parts of the country, and by all accounts it was successful. What effect might that have had here? I hope someday to find out.

– For all my skepticism of the polling in Texas, the pollsters were fairly in the ballpark on Romney’s margin of victory. I have to say, had you told me on Monday that Romney was going to win here by 16 points, I would never have believed that Wendy Davis and Pete Gallego would have won, and I would have doubted Dems’ ability to win the four contested seats in the Lege that they did. But they did, which is both a tip to the skill of the redistricters and a reminder that things could have been better. Overall, I’d grade it as a B- for Texas Dems – the Davis, Gallego, and Craig Eiland wins were huge, but there were missed opportunities, especially in Harris and Dallas Counties, where too many judges lost in the former and two Democratic legislative challengers fell just short in the latter.

– I don’t want to dwell too much on the legislative races, since we’re going to get a new map once the San Antonio court incorporates the DC Court’s ruling into their lawsuit, but there will clearly be more opportunities in 2014. Still, it should be apparent by now just how steep the hill is. Dems came close to parity in the Lege last decade in large part to a sizable rural contingent and an ability to win seats in otherwise-Republican districts. Well, the rural Dems are virtually extinct, and outside of Davis and maybe Eiland I doubt there were any crossover stars this time around; I’ll know for sure when I see precinct data. I still think there will be opportunities for both based on the forthcoming school finance ruling and 2013 legislative session, but we’re a long way from each and candidates still need to be found.

– One question I had going into this race was how well Obama would do in predominantly Latino areas. In 2008, Obama lagged behind the rest of the Democratic ticket in these areas, possibly due to lingering resentment over Hillary Clinton’s loss to him in the primary, but as we know Democrats nationally and Obama specifically have seen Latino support go up since then. Here’s a quick and dirty comparison to 2008 in some heavily Latino counties that will have to do until I get precinct data:

County 08 Obama 12 Obama 08 turnout 12 turnout ======================================================== Cameron 64.08% 65.72% 43.37% 41.46% El Paso 65.87% 65.63% 47.67% 44.58% Hidalgo 69.01% 70.42% 42.83% 45.59% Maverick 78.20% 78.60% 40.43% 37.84% Webb 71.44% 76.56% 44.40% 44.28%

Nice gain in Webb, modest gains in Cameron and Hidalgo. It’s a start.

– Congressional loser Quico Canseco is whining about fraud.

Gallego finished 13,534 votes ahead of Canseco early Wednesday morning.

“The race is not over, and it won’t be until all votes are properly and legally counted,” Canseco said in a statement the morning after the election.

Gallego campaign spokeswoman Rebecca Acuna said there is “no way” voter fraud occurred. “This just shows a lot about [Canseco’s] character, because he chose to go this route” rather than concede and congratulate Gallego, she said.

Canseco’s campaign alleges that officials in Maverick County double- or triple-counted some of the early vote sheets. A complaint to the Secretary of State indicates that Canseco’s campaign found a minimum of 57 duplicate votes when reviewing a list provided by the Maverick County Elections Office. The campaign also alleges that another county used photocopied ballots, a criminal offense, and that an extended delay in counting votes from other counties left “other questions unanswered.”

“There are too many disturbing incidents to declare this race over,” Scott Yeldell, Canseco’s campaign manager, said in a statement. “During the next several days we will be looking into these reports to assure only legal votes have been counted in this election.”

But Acuna said even if all the votes from Maverick County — where Gallego received 6,291 more votes than Canseco — were excluded, Gallego still would have come out ahead. “His argument — it’s not at all valid,” she said. “We won this race; it’s simple math.”

I don’t expect this to go anywhere.

– In Harris County, those last nine precincts were finally counted. Obama’s margin of victory in the county inched up to 585 votes, but as far as I can tell none of the downballot races were affected. Obama’s total was down about 6000 votes from 2008, while Romney improved on McCain by about 13,000 votes. Still, as noted in the comments yesterday, provisional ballots have not yet been counted, and overseas ballots are still arriving, Judges Kyle Carter (1,499) and Tad Halbach (2,786) had the smallest margins in those races, while Mike Sullivan also had a close shave, winning by 2,498 votes and a 48.94% plurality thanks to the presence of a Libertarian candidate that received 2.34%. I still don’t think any races are likely to change, but I daresay all three of these gentlemen will not rest easy until the counting has truly ceased.

– I have to mention a couple of national stories. First, Tuesday was a great day for marriage equality.

Voters in Maryland and Maine legalized same-sex marriage by popular vote Tuesday, the first time in U.S. history that gay marriage has been approved at the ballot box.

In Maryland, voters approved marriage equality 52 percent to 48 percent with 93 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Associated Press. The state government passed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage, but opponents succeeded in putting the issue on the ballot in November.

“Over these past few weeks, Marylanders joined together to affirm that for a free and diverse people of many faiths — a people committed to religious freedom — the way forward is always found through greater respect for the equal rights and human dignity of all,” Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), a champion of marriage equality in the state, said in a statement late Tuesday.

The AP also declared Maine voters had approved same-sex marriage Tuesday after defeating a referendum on it just three years ago, a sign of how quickly Americans’ views on the issue are evolving. With 57 percent of precincts reporting, the ballot measure led 54 percent to 46 percent.

In a third victory for gay rights advocates, Minnesota voters defeated a state constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage, according to CNN and the AP. Thirty other states have gay marriage bans on the books, including North Carolina’s, approved as recently as May 2012.

Proponents of marriage equality were still hoping Wednesday for a fourth victory in Washington, where a measure to approve gay marriage was still too close to call as of Wednesday morning.

Remember when this was an issue used to bludgeon Democrats? Never again, and thank goodness for it.

Poor John Cornyn. At the beginning of this year, you could have gotten lower odds on the Astros winning the World Series than the Democrats not only holding the Senate but making gains. Yet that’s exactly what happened.

“It’s clear that with our losses in the presidential race, and a number of key Senate races, we have a period of reflection and recalibration ahead for the Republican Party,” the Texas Republican said in a statement released by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which he directs. “While some will want to blame one wing of the party over the other, the reality is candidates from all corners of our GOP lost tonight. Clearly we have work to do in the weeks and months ahead.”

As of early Wednesday morning, Democrats (with an assist by an Independent in Maine) had picked up four Republican seats while losing just one of their own. Not a single Democratic incumbent was defeated.

Cornyn, who hopes to win a party leadership position in the new Congress, is now explaining the reasons for the 2012 failure.

“We know that our conservative vision is the right one to secure a stronger America for future generations,” Cornyn said in his statement. “We know that we are the party of big, bold ideas with the courage to fight for what’s right even if it’s not politically expedient. It was that courage and that vision that led to important gains for our party in 2010. But all of us should continue to learn from both our victories and our defeats, and work together to build an even stronger Republican Party.”

Basically, the Republicans had first and goal at the one yard line. Then, after a false start, two quarterback sacks, and an intentional-grounding penalty, their 50-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Elizabeth Warren, and returned for a touchdown by Joe Donnelly. The Democrats then added insult to injury by going for two and converting successfully. You just cannot overstate the degree and the stunningness of the turnaround in fortune. And if Big John thinks that the Republicans should just keep doing what they’ve been doing, well, I won’t try to persuade him otherwise.

– Other results of interest: The city of Austin will adopt City Council districts, while League City banned red light cameras. At least some things never change.

That’s all for now. PDiddie, Mark Bennett, Murray Newman, Harold Cook, and TM Daily Post have more, while Texas Parent PAC takes a victory lap.

Succeeding Sen. Gallegos

With the posthumous victory by Sen. Mario Gallegos, there is still one unsettled matter for 2012 in Texas.

Sen. Mario Gallegos

Mario Gallegos, one of the Texas Senate’s most reliable liberals until his death last month, scored a final win Tuesday, easily defeating his Republican challenger after his name remained on the ballot.

Beleaguered Texas Democrats also withstood a spirited, well-funded challenge to Sen. Wendy Davis in the Fort Worth area. Nevertheless, Republicans will retain control of the Senate with a 19-12 advantage when it convenes in January.

The GOP targeted the Davis seat in an attempt to pull within a single vote of an unbreakable two-thirds majority. The Senate operates under a rule that requires the agreement of at least 21 senators for any bill to be brought up for debate during a regular session.

[…]

Gallegos, the first Hispanic elected to the state Senate from Harris County, died last month from complications of liver disease. Under Texas law, his name remained on the ballot because he died less than 74 days before the election.

Voters rallied around his candidacy, handing the longtime lawmaker a victory over Republican R.W. Bray in the heavily Democratic District 6, which covers east Harris County. The win by a dead incumbent was not unprecedented – in 2006, state Rep. Glenda Dawson, R-Pearland, was re-elected two months after dying from a brief illness.

Cynthia Gallegos, his youngest sister, said she had worked at polls all day and repeatedly answered the big question from people: Why vote for the late senator?

“Every person who came up to me was like, ‘Didn’t he die?’ ” she said. “I would bite my lip and explain the process. We want to keep the district Democratic.”

With the posthumous win by Gallegos, Gov. Rick Perry will declare the seat vacant and call for a special election to be held within 45 days, on a Tuesday or Saturday.

Possible Democratic candidates include state Rep. Carol Alvarado and former Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia. At a victory party for Gallegos on Tuesday, Alvarado said she would wait a few days to discuss her plans.

“Tonight is about Mario, to savor his victory,” she said of the former firefighter who served 22 years in the state Legislature.

The win by Sen. Davis removes any incentive Rick Perry may have had to drag his feet on calling a special election to fill the vacancy in SD06. Which doesn’t mean he’ll snap to it, just that the practical effect in the Senate is minimized. If Rep. Alvarado runs and wins, there would then need to be another special election in HD145. I was going to say we’re getting way ahead of ourselves, but then this happened.

The morning after his posthumous victory party, the late state Sen. Mario Gallegos, D-Houston, got his dying wish when his choice to succeed him announced her intention to seek the seat he held since 1994.

State Rep. Carol Alvarado, who was re-elected to her House seat without opposition Tuesday, announced her candidacy for the Senate seat in an email Wednesday.

[…]

Alvarado is expected to formally announce her candidacy at an event with members of Gallegos’ family on Monday.

Here’s the email. All I know is that I like both Rep. Alvarado and Sylvia Garcia, and I’m glad I was redistricted out of SD06 so I don’t have to choose between them. In the meantime, I salute Sen. Gallegos and his family for his life and his service, and once Perry gives the go-ahead I look forward to a worthy successor being elected to fill his seat in Austin.

2012 election results

As I type this there are still a number of unsettled races in Texas, so things may change between now and tomorrow morning after we’ve all had an insufficient night’s sleep. But here’s how they stand at this time, and I will use my what I’ll be looking for post as a jumping off point.

Sen. Wendy Davis

First and foremost, State Sen. Wendy Davis was re-elected in SD10. I can’t begin to tell you how big that is. She was by far the Republicans’ biggest target this year, and she was again running in a district draw to favor a Republican candidate, this time without a Libertarian in the race to potentially draw votes away from her opponent. Yet she prevailed, riding an Election Day majority to a come-from-behind win, and thrusting herself squarely into the conversation for a statewide run at some point. Now the Democrats are assured of at least 11 Senate seats no matter how long it takes Rick Perry to call the special election to succeed the late Sen. Mario Gallegos, who also won, albeit much more easily. Again, this is huge.

As of this writing, Nick Lampson is trailing in CD14 by about 19,000 votes, with most of Galveston County still to report. I don’t know if he can win based on that. He fell short of the 60% he needed in Jefferson County that he supposedly needed, pulling 58.3% there. However, the Texas Tribune has called CD23 for Pete Gallego, who is leading by 6000 votes with only a handful of what are likely to be mostly friendly precincts still outstanding. Congrats to Rep.-Elect Pete Gallego!

It looks like Dems will exactly hit the target of +7 seats in the House for a total of 55. In addition to the three they won by default, they are leading in or have won HDs 34 (Abel Herrero), 78 (Joe Moody), 117 (Phillip Cortez), and 144 (Mary Ann Perez), while Rep. Craig Eiland has 53% with most of Galveston still out. Basically, Dems won four of the five districts in which they were the majority votegetters in most races in 2008, the exception being HD43, where turncoat Rep. JM Lozano appears to have held on. Sadly, Ann Johnson lost, but Gene Wu and Hubert Vo won easily.

Dems have picked up a seat on the SBOE as well, as Martha Dominguez has ousted Charlie Garza in SBOE1, while Marisa Perez won easily in SBOE3 and Ruben Cortez has held Mary Helen Berlanga’s seat in SBOE2. Considering what a massive clusterfsck this looked like after the Democratic primary, it’s a damn miracle.

With all but nine precincts reporting in Harris County, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. First, here’s the Presidential vote for Harris County as of this time:

Romney – 579,068
Obama – 579,070

Yes, Obama is leading Romney in Harris County by TWO VOTES. Good thing no one will call for a recount of that. The good news is that downballot Vince Ryan, Adrian Garcia, and Diane Trautman are all winning, while Mike Anderson has bested Lloyd Oliver. Sadly, Ann Harris Bennett appears to have fallen short by about 2400 votes. Fourteen of 20 Democratic judges won, while all five sitting Republican judges won, making the score 14-11 Dems overall.

Fort Bend County remained Republican. Obama will lose by a larger margin this time than in 2008 – he’s below 41% as I write this, but there are still 2000 precincts statewide to report. Given that, Keith Hampton never had a chance against Sharon Keller, but what is really disappointing is that he didn’t finish any closer to her than Obama did to Romney. However much newspaper endorsements meant in 2006, they meant squat to Keith Hampton. All of the Harris County-based appeals court candidates lost by about 10 points each. Incumbent Dem Diane Hanson lost on the Third Court, thanks in part to a peculiarly miniscule turnout in Travis County, but Dems knocked off three incumbent judges on the Fourth Court of Appeals.

Finally, all of the bond measures passed easily, as did the two Houston charter amendments and the Metro referendum. Dave Martin was elected to replace Mike Sullivan in Council District E with no runoff needed. Julian Castro’s pre-k referendum won. Marriage equality was victorious in Maine and Maryland, with Washington still out, and an anti-marriage equality referendum was narrowly losing in Minnesota. And Colorado legalized pot. Smoke ’em if you got ’em.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll have more later, including a bonanza of precinct analyses once I get the data. Thank you and good night.

UPDATE: Rep. Eiland did win, as did the other Democratic legislative candidates I mentioned, so it’s +7 in the House. Nick Lampson did lose, so it’s +1 for the Dems in Congress.

What I’ll be looking for tonight

Just a reminder that I’ll be on KPFT tonight starting at 7 PM to talk about the elections. Here’s a preview of the things I’ll be looking for:

1. SD10 – Sen. Wendy Davis vs Mark Shelton: Easily the most important race on the ballot in Texas. Davis has been a progressive champion and a pain in Dan Patrick’s rear end, and will make for a strong statewide candidate when she’s ready. She also ensures that the Dems maintain enough votes in the Senate to invoke the two-thirds rule until whenever Rick Perry calls the special election to succeed the late Sen. Mario Gallegos. I am heartened that Robert Miller thinks Davis is leading, though he subsequently amended that, but I won’t rest easy until I see that lead on the Secretary of State’s election results webpage.

2. Legislative races – While Dems start out with only 48 seats in the Lege, they will automatically pick up three today – HDs 35, 40, and 101 – because there are no Republicans running in them. Beyond that, the over/under line for Dems is 55 seats total. Three in particular to watch: HD23, in which Rep. Craig Eiland is one of the only, if not the only, threatened Democratic incumbents; HD134, in which Ann Johnson’s challenge to freshman Rep. Sarah Davis will be a good test of how well a message attacking the Rs for cutting $5.4 billion from public education will work; and HD136, the open seat in Williamson County, which will be a test of whether 2008 was a fluke or a trend for Democrats in places like that.

3. Adrian Garcia and Mike Anderson – Everyone expects both candidates to win, as both have become poster children for not voting a straight ticket this year. As such, they will both likely represent the high-water mark for each party this year, as Garcia and Ed Emmett were in 2008. I’ll be paying particular attention to how they did in various legislative and other districts once the precinct data is out, because that may provide an early roadmap for future electoral targets.

4. Fort Bend County – Fort Bend came very close to going Democratic in 2008. President Obama received 48.49% of the vote there, and no Republican won the county by as much as 10,000 votes out of 200,000 cast. Is this the year Democrats break through? Also worth keeping an eye on is freshman County Commissioner Richard Morrison in his race against double voter Bruce Fleming.

5. CCA – Hampton vs Keller – I think we’re all familiar with this one by now. Whether Hampton has a chance to win depends largely, though not entirely, on how well Obama does in Texas. The presence of a Libertarian candidate in this race means that Hampton can win with less than 50% of the vote. Most of the statewide judicial races in 2008 had Libertarians in them, and they got about 3% of the vote on average. I suspect the ceiling for that may be higher in this case, as some Republicans may prefer to not vote for Keller but not vote for a Dem, either. I will not be surprised if 48% is enough to win. If Obama can improve on 2008, even a little, it makes it that much easier for Hampton to get over the hump. If not, we may be stuck with Keller for another six years or until she finally has the grace to resign.

6. 1st and 14th Courts of Appeals – Jim Sharp broke through for Democrats in 2008, and there’s a nearly full slate of them running for seats on these courts, whose jurisdictions cover multiple counties, this year. As was the case in 2008, a sufficiently strong showing in Harris County may be enough to make it across the finish line, though if Fort Bend is blue as well, that would be a big help. This is where future Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals candidates can emerge.

7. Bonds, Metro, and SA Pre-K – I expect the Houston bonds to pass. Keep an eye on the charter amendments, since if they pass as well there can be no further charter amendments on the ballot till May of 2015. I think the Metro referendum will pass, but I would not bet my own money on it. The San Antonio Pre-K initiative is expected to be close. Given the recent love affair in the national media and from the national party for Mayor Julian Castro, a loss here will undoubtedly be portrayed as a setback for him.

I think that’s plenty to think about. What races are you watching?

Today’s the day

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

At long last, the death march known as Election 2012 will come to an end today, at which time we can begin gearing up for the next elections in 2013, 2014, and 2016, as well as dreading what the Legislature has in store for us. If you haven’t already voted, you can find your Harris County Election Day polling place here, or if you know your precinct number you can look up your location in this spreadsheet sent out by the County Clerk’s office. If all else fails, call the County Clerk’s office at 713 795 6965 for assistance.

Want more? You can get a free ride from Metro if you show your voter registration card. If you don’t have your voter registration card you can’t ride free on Metro but you can still vote as long as you have one of these other forms of identification. (Note: May not work in Williamson County.) As I expect that something like 60 to 70% of the votes have already been cast in the county for this election, I figure the lines won’t be too bad, but I still wouldn’t advise waiting till the last minute if you can help it. Remember, state law entitles you to at least two consecutive hours off on Election Day to vote, so take advantage of it as needed.

The best thing that can happen while people are voting is for nothing remarkable to happen. There will be Justice Department election monitors in Harris County to keep an eye on things in the event there is anything hinky going on. The less news there is to report about that, the better.

If you can’t bear the thought of having to wait till tomorrow morning to know what I think about what’s happened, you can tune into KPFT radio tonight from 7 to 10 to hear me blather on about it. I’ll be a guest on Mike Honig’s ThinkWing Radio show, which can be found at 90.1 FM on your dial or by going to KPFT.org and clicking on “Listen Live”, which naturally can be done from anywhere there’s an Internet connection. I may if I get ambitious dust off my badly neglected Twitter account (@kuff) and use that for quickie updates while waiting for my turn to speak. Don’t ask me about hashtags, I’m not that organized.

I will also be taping not one but two episodes of “Red, White, and Blue” on Houston PBS this week, one on national election results to run on the 9th and one on local election results to run on the 16th. By the time all this is done even I will be sick of me talking about the election. I’ll have more details on that later, in case you’ve ever wondered what I look like in a suit and tie.

Finally, an amusing tidbit to send you off to your polling or poll-watching place. Remember that story about campaign contributions made by people connected to the strip club Treasures to Republican candidates like Robert Talton? You can see all that on Talton’s eight day campaign finance report. If you look a little farther down on that report, however, you will also see a $15,000 expenditure made to the Texas Conservative Review for an advertisement. The TCR is of course owned by Talton’s law partner, Gary Polland. Guess who is also a lobbyist for Treasures? That would be Gary Polland. It’s like the circle of life, you know? I’m going to miss having these guys involved in the election.

We know the potential, but what’s the plan?

I trust we’re all familiar with the basic points that Eva Longoria and Gilberto Hinojosa make in Politico about Texas’ potential to become a swing state, perhaps by 2016. There’s nothing that Nate Silver didn’t address, and I could just refer to my response to that and leave it be, but there is one more thing to add. Everyone agrees that there are a lot of potential Democratic voters in Texas. But what is the plan to turn them into actual voters? Let me throw a number out at you: 2,832,704. That’s the number of votes John Kerry received in Texas in 2004. It’s also enough votes to have won every statewide election in Texas in 2002 save for Comptroller, and every statewide election in 2006. It even would have been enough to beat Rick Perry in 2010, and while it wouldn’t have been enough to win other races that year, it would have been within 100,000 votes of the Railroad Commissioner and contested judicial races. In 2010, for crying out loud.

So yeah, the votes are there. President Obama won 3,528,633 votes in 2008, so we wouldn’t even need all of those Kerry voters to come out in 2014 to make it a good year. I understand that Team Obama has a pretty good ground game going around the country. They did particularly well among Latino voters nationally in 2008, and appear poised to do at least as well this year. What do we need to do to convince them to bring that to Texas? That’s what I want to know. TM Daily Post has more.

Endorsement watch: Various miscellaneous

Just a brief roundup of various endorsements that have come to my attention lately. No particular theme to them, just what I’ve seen in the past few days.

– The Environmental Defense Fund has endorsed the HISD bond referendum.

The $1.89 billion proposition will be use to build, replace and renovate schools in adherence to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards, created by the USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council) to establish a common standard of measurement for green buildings. These facilities will be energy efficient and environmentally responsible, resulting in lower operating costs for the district. The bond proposition has also been endorsed by the USGBC Texas Chapter.

“EDF applauds the Houston Independent School District’s proposal to build all new schools under the HISD Bond Proposal 2012 according to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED standards for schools,” said Kate Zerrenner, energy efficiency specialist at the EDF Austin office. “In addition to creating a healthier environment for children, LEED-certified buildings increase overall energy efficiency and cut electricity bills for school districts. We hope other school districts in the Greater Houston region will follow HISD’s leadership.”

I don’t recall the EDF getting involved in an election like this before. I don’t think this is the sort of endorsement that’s likely to change anyone’s mind, but it ought to serve as a reminder to people who would probably be inclined to support this but may not have been paying attention to it.

– Two Democratic candidates announced Republican endorsements: State Sen. Wendy Davis touted the support of former State Sen. and Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff.

“In my fifteen years in the Texas Senate and two years as Lieutenant Governor, I have witnessed many political candidates talk about their support for public education,” Governor Ratliff said. “ Far too many of those same people, once elected, turn out to be too timid in their advocacy for our schools and for adequate public education funding. I believe all partisanship should be left at the schoolhouse door.”

“Although we belong to different political parties, I support Senator Wendy Davis because she has been unwavering in her advocacy for our public schools,” Ratliff said in endorsing Davis for re-election.

Ratliff was a moderate and remains a strong advocate for public education. Given the differences between Sen. Davis and her opponent, this had to be a pretty easy call for Ratliff.

– Along similar lines, Mary Ann Perez received the support of Gilbert Pena, who lost to her opponent David Pineda in the GOP primary for HD144:

“I am a Republican who will not vote for David Pineda. I have spoken to David and asked him about his views on protecting our borders and runaway testing in our schools. David doesn’t have an answer, he has special interests handlers calling the shots from some fancy office in Austin.

Our representative shouldn’t be the lap dog of lobbyists whether they’re a Democrat or Republican!

Mary Ann is a small business owner we can be proud of. She has a track record of bringing local industry and educators together to create jobs right here in Southeast Harris County.”

That’s from a campaign email Perez sent. Unlike Davis, she can win on Democratic votes alone, assuming sufficient turnout of course, but a little crossover support never hurt.

– Finally, some endorsements are exactly what you’d expect them to be:

Seriously, what else did you expect?

Final EV totals

Early voting was up from 2008, but not quite as much as the initial hype might have led to you think.

By the time early voting in Texas ended Friday night, an estimated two-thirds of those expected to cast a ballot in Harris County had already done so.

That trend is mirrored around the country and across the state. In 2008’s record-setting general election, almost half the ballots in Texas were cast early. Fort Bend County saw three-quarters of its 200,000 votes come in before Election Day. Harris and Montgomery counties were around 65 percent. If politics are changing, elections are following suit – virtually all states are reporting spiraling early balloting.

“I think it will continue to be a higher and higher number,” said Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart, whose office oversees most local elections. “The convenience of early voting brings people out. And we’ve been pushing hard on early voting this time so people can avoid the confusion of going to the wrong polling place on Election Day.”

[…]

Daily in-person voting totals in Harris County have topped 50,000 in nine of the last 12 days. The number of votes cast Friday at the county’s 37 voting locations was not available at deadline. At least two polling places were still reporting voters in line as late as 10 p.m.

Du-Ha Kim Nguyen, voter outreach coordinator at the county clerk’s office, said that as of 10 p.m., 700,019 ballots had been cast in the two weeks of early voting.

“We had people backing up traffic in some locations,” Stanart said. “Those people were determined to vote early.”

Here’s the final spreadsheet. I have the in person total at 700,216, the total that was on the daily record of early voting that Kim sends out. In 2008, the in person total was 678,312, so the in person early vote total was 3.2% higher this year. There were also 66,310 mail ballots returned out of 92,290 sent (71.8% return rate) versus 52,502 ballots returned out of 76,187 mailed in 2008 (68.9% return rate). Note that these totals are as of the end of early voting; final totals are higher because more mail ballots arrive between Friday and Tuesday.

What does this mean for final turnout? In 2008, a bit less than 62% of all ballots were cast as of the end of early voting. If the exact same percentage of ballots were cast early or via mail this year, final turnout will be over 1.24 million – 1,246,819, to be ridiculously precise. That’s pretty close to the 1.222 million Stan Stanart predicted after Day One of early voting. I could see it going either way, so let’s just call this the over/under line and leave it at that.

There are several questions to ponder as we await Tuesday. Republicans clearly drove the gain in early voting – they swarmed the polls on the first couple of days, with Democrats slowly catching up after that. There were more early ballots cast in Republican locations this year, while totals were down a notch in some Democratic locations. Straight comparisons are a bit dicey to make because there are different locations this year, but that’s the basic size of it. So the questions are:

– How much of the Republican gain in early voting was driven by behavioral change, and how much is them finding new voters? I’ve no doubt that behavioral change is a significant portion of it, but is it 50% of it or 90% of it? Putting it another way, will Republicans run out of voters on Tuesday as Democrats did in 2008?

– The same question applies to Democrats. How much of that dip in early voting is people deciding to wait till Election Day – there were some pretty ferocious lines at many EV locations in 2008, which may have convinced some people it’s no more convenient than Election Day – and how much of it is people not bothering to vote?

– President Obama won almost 53% of the vote nationally in 2008, but 51% is likely his ceiling this year. If the Harris County electorate were identical to 2008, you’d expect him to finish below 50% here, which would needless to say be bad news for other countywide Dems. But the electorate is not going to be the same, and if changes to the electorate roughly mirror the changes in demographics in Harris County, then the two effects could cancel out. This is basically another way of stating the first two questions.

– In 2008 in Harris County, President Obama underperformed the Democratic slate in certain parts of town, specifically the Latino State Rep districts and what I called the “Bubba” districts, HDs 128 and 144. He overperformed the slate in HD134. (The same dynamic was largely true at the state level – Obama underperformed in Latino and rural – mostly East Texas – areas, and overperformed in some affluent suburban areas.) What will his performance relative to the rest of the ticket look like this year? If the national polling numbers for Latinos are indicative, I’d expect Obama to do better in those areas, and I’d also expect him to do worse in the overperformance areas.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Here’s Greg‘s take. What questions do you have in mind for Tuesday based on what we’ve seen so far?

Closing arguments for the Metro referendum

One way or another, this argument will be settled on Tuesday. What happens after that is still anyone’s guess.

The referendum on Tuesday’s ballot asks whether to continue spending some public transit sales tax money on streets and bridges. Opponents have campaigned against it by recasting the question: Should transit money be spent on roads or rail?

“You cannot do rail expansion if this thing passes,” said David Crossley, president of Houston Tomorrow, a nonprofit organization that studies urban issues to inform discussions of growth and the leading voice against the Metro proposition. “We’re not going to do rail expansion ever again.”

Mayor Annise Parker and the chairman she appointed to the Metro board, Gilbert Garcia, insist that passage of the proposition makes rail expansion more likely. One of the stated purposes of the referendum is to allow Metro to pay down debt, freeing up borrowing capacity that could be used on future rail lines. Referendum opponents are wrong when they say its passage will delay rail, Parker said Wednesday.

“Either they believe that the magic tooth fairy in Washington will shower us with federal transit dollars in the midst of a still very difficult budget cycle, or we’re going to have to pay for that next line that we build ourselves,” she said. “If we want to pay for that line ourselves, once again, we’re not creditworthy unless we pay down our debt. So, how is this going to slow down rail?”

Crossley’s answer to that, which you can hear in the interview I did with him, would be that with the full penny of Metro’s sales tax going to the agency it would be able to afford to do a lot more of the work on the University Line by itself. It’s still not enough for all of it, however, and part of Crossley’s solution depends on the city doing some of the road and utility work. The city’s plan for transit corridors already includes whatever preparations are needed for transit in those corridors, but there’s always a question of timing and priority, as well as how constrained the city might be financially if it lost GMP funds. It’s really not clear to me how this would play out under either scenario.

In the final weeks of the campaign, Crossley and other rail supporters have stepped up their campaign, raising what Crossley estimated is $16,000. He has spent it on 280,000 robocalls and on yard signs, bumper stickers and T-shirts.

In a KUHF/KHOU poll late last month, 43 percent of respondents said they favored the referendum to 28 percent against. The question read to respondents stated that the additional money Metro picks up if the proposition passes will go toward buses, shelters and paying off debt “and not on rail,” though the referendum does not specifically state that. Further clouding the results was that 27 percent were undecided.

“The voters are confused,” said Rice University political science professor Robert Stein, who helped administer the poll. “What’s on the ballot doesn’t tell voters enough to figure out what to do.”

One single poll can only tell you so much. I’ve had a pretty good feeling about the bond issues from the beginning, before that KHOU poll suggested they were winning. With the Metro referendum, regardless of what the poll says, I feel it could go either way. From what I’ve seen in email and on Facebook, the Crossley message has been getting through. I just don’t know whether it’s too little, too late, or not.