In no particular order…
- Republicans gain 22 seats in the State House, for a 99-51 advantage. That’s with Pete Gallego, Hubert Vo, and Donna Howard, all of whom had been trailing early, coming back to win. Howard’s margin of victory is a microscopic 15 votes, so she’ll have to survive a recount. No Republican seats flipped.
- Among many other things, I strongly suspect that’s a death blow for expanded gambling this session. Which is ironic, since polls pretty consistently showed that people prefer expanded gambling to nearly any other choice for bridging the budget gap. With this partisan margin in the House, you’ll need a majority of GOP legislators to favor a joint resolution for expanded gambling, and I don’t see that happening; if there had been as much as one third of the GOP caucus in favor of it in 2009, it would have passed then. Sam Houston Race Park may have a new, deep-pocketed investor with a record of getting other states to allow slot machines at racetracks, but I don’t think that will do them any good here.
- The good news, I suppose, from a Democratic perspective is that even with another Republican-drawn legislative map for 2012, there will be no shortage of takeover targets and quite a few Republicans who likely can’t win outside of such an extremely favorable environment. The bad news, part of it anyway, is that the ceiling is now much lower due to the wipeout in rural districts. If Democrats net 10 seats in 2012, they’re still short of where they were in 2002.
- Speaking of redistricting, the Republicans are now in the position of having to draw at least one of their members out of a seat next year, as West Texas will lose a district. The West Texas delegation comprises one former Speaker (Craddick), one potential future Speaker (Chisum), and a bunch of freshmen, all of whom are Republicans, so options like “target the Democrat” and “convince one of the old coots to retire” aren’t on the table. They may face a similar dilemma in East Texas, it’s too early to say.
- Dems may have targets a-plenty in two years, but where will the money for those races come from? The Mostyns spent a gazillion dollars and have less than nothing to show for it. Annie’s List saw nearly its entire slate erased. Losing a bunch of incumbents means losing a lot of fundraising capability.
- I don’t mean to be indelicate, but party chairs usually don’t survive results like these. I hope whoever succeeds Boyd Ritchie has a strategy in mind.
- Despite losing four State House members, Dallas County remained blue.
- In Harris County, Democrats did in fact do better on Election Day than in early voting, by about six points. Outside of Bill White, who ultimately did carry the county, and Loren Jackson, that wasn’t enough for a majority of the Election Day votes, let alone a winning total.
- Final turnout in Harris was over 779,000, which will likely stand as the high-water mark for several cycles. I think it’s safe to say Republicans got a significant number of people who don’t normally vote outside of Presidential years to come out this time. Two thirds of all votes cast in Harris were straight ticket votes, with Republicans reversing a two-cycle trend and taking a 50,000 vote advantage there. Democratic turnout overall wasn’t terrible – vote totals in the 310,000 to 340,000 range would have meant big wins in 2006, and would have won most races in 2002. Not this year.
- Among other things, Sheriff Adrian Garcia’s job just got a lot harder now that he’s lost his strongest ally on Commissioners Court. I don’t see a whole lot more progress being made on reducing jail overcrowding at this point.
- Despite trailing in early voting, Prop 1 (Renew Houston) squeaked through, for one of the very few good results of the day. Prop 3, to keep red light cameras, lost in a fairly close vote. If you had told me on Monday that only one of these two would pass, I’d have bet a lot of money on it being the other way around. Prop 2, which would have allowed for a six-month residency requirement for Council in the 2011 election only, lost big. That will make City Council redistricting more challenging.
- Red light cameras also lost in Baytown.
- Judith Cruz and Juliet Stipeche will face each other in a runoff for the open HISD Trustee seat. The lone Republican in that race, Dorothy Olmos, finished fourth. All things considered, you have to wonder if that represents a missed opportunity for the local GOP.
- The city of Dallas got wet. Good for them.
- Harry Reid won re-election. In some ways, that may be the weirdest result of all. By all rights, Republicans should have taken the Senate, but Democrats held on there and in West Virginia and apparently Colorado, while being gifted Delaware after basically writing it off when Mike Castle jumped in.
- Finally, in regard to polling, Rasmussen Reports had a bad cycle, which included producing the single worst result, by a large margin. Polling in Texas understated Rick Perry’s margin by a bit, and overstated, in some cases by a lot, the performance of third-party candidates.
I’m sure I’ll have more later.