Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

November 14th, 2012:

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.

Harris County redistricting lawsuit kicks off

Remember the lawsuit that was filed over the redistricting map for Harris County Commissioners Court? It’s been on hold since the beginning of the year, after an interim map was drawn to get us through this election and since the main point of contention in the new map was not an issue yet. Now that the 2012 election is in the rearview mirror, it’s time to get this lawsuit going. The hearing began yesterday, and as always it comes down to the numbers.

Commissioners Court interim map

The county’s map added a bloc of reliably conservative voters in the northeast to Precinct 2, and reduced the precinct’s concentration of Hispanic citizens of voting age from 34.9 percent to 33.8 percent, [plaintiffs’ attorney Chad] Dunn said. An interim map for use in this fall’s elections, drawn as part of the lawsuit by U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore last year, put that number at 40.4 percent.

County officials say the need to protect Precinct 1, a black-opportunity district under the Voting Rights Act, made it difficult to add Latinos to Precinct 2 because they share a long border. Dunn said he will show both precincts can be drawn as minority-opportunity districts.

Dunn said taxpayers, essentially, are footing the bill for [Commissioner Jack] Morman’s campaign, saying only “illegal redistricting” would allow Morman to retain the seat he earned in an “outlier” election.

“We’re happy with a map very similar to what the judge drew, but it appears Harris County is unwilling to come to a map along those lines,” Dunn said. “A majority of Harris County Commissioners Court has determined they’re willing to spend large amounts of taxpayer funds in order to drown out the voices of Latino voters.”

[…]

The U.S. Department of Justice “pre-cleared” Harris County’s redistricting map last year, saying it did not violate Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Dunn and Ray said that is because the Justice Department agreed Precinct 2 did not have protected status and could be altered. Dunn said he will argue, under Section 2 of the act, that the precinct should be declared a protected district.

Ray said going to trial could result in a rougher road to re-election for Morman than under the interim map the plaintiffs say they would accept.

“The map drawn by the judge, should the plaintiffs prevail, could be a lot more favorable for a Hispanic being elected in Precinct 2 than it is at present,” Ray said. “The real risky gamble of going forward is for Precinct 2.”

More on the preclearance of the map is here, and of course Greg has the numbers from the original map, the do-over map that Harris County is defending, and the interim map from whence the image embedded in the post comes. Now that I have a draft canvass for Harris County I’ll be looking at the relevant numbers for the Commissioners Court precincts. The nice thing about the special election in Precinct 4 is that I can easily suss out the numbers for all four CC precincts, since three of the Commissioners were on the ballot. Look for a post on that in the coming days, possibly after Thanksgiving.

Time for another Speaker’s race

It’s like a rite of spring, except it happens in alternate Januaries.

Joe Straus

House Speaker Joe Straus’ bid for a third term as leader of the 150-member state House may not come as quickly or as easily as he had anticipated.

The San Antonio Republican finds himself caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place: His re-election path is complicated by a challenge from the hard conservative wing of his own GOP, combined with growing unease among some Democratic legislators upset with how Straus handled last year’s redistricting and other issues affecting minorities.

Straus faces a challenge from Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, who is drawing support from tea party Republicans, FreedomWorks and some of the chamber’s more conservative members.

Straus, confident of prevailing, is content to let the process play out.

“I have a broad-based bipartisan coalition of supporters in the House that spans the ideological spectrum,” he said. “The members know that I have presided over the House in a way that is fair.”

We had one of these in 2011, and it fizzled out without anything serious transpiring. Maybe this time it will be different, maybe not. PDiddie is correct that if Straus can hang on to Democratic support – and he should, since it’s hard to imagine Hughes going after them; the whole point of this insurgency is that Straus sleeps with the enemy – then he ought to be able to survive. But who knows what the 93 Republicans who aren’t Hughes or Straus will do.