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New map, new opportunities: The Metroplex

Dallas and Tarrant Counties will each have eight districts drawn to elect Republicans in them. For this entry, I’m going to look at each of these districts.

Dallas and Tarrant Counties

First up is Tarrant County, which gains a district (HD101) for a total of eleven. HD101 was drawn to elect a Democrat – Barack Obama received 61.59% of the vote, and no Democrat received less than 60%. The interesting question is what kind of Democrat it will elect. According to the district information, HD101 has a voting age population of 29.5% Anglo, 27.0% African-American, 32.5% Hispanic, and 11.6% Other. (Yes, I know that doesn’t add to 100%. I’m just telling you what it says.) VAP is not the same as Citizen Voting Age Population, however, and in general the Hispanic number will drop a lot more for that than other demographic groups. As such, if I were a betting man, I’d wager on African-American. But don’t be surprised if he or she gets a primary challenge from a Hispanic candidate before the decade is over.

So chalk up one sure gain for the Dems. For the eight Republican districts in Tarrant County, here’s the tale of the tape:

Dist Incumbent Elected 08 Dem High Score ============================================ 091 K Hancock 2006 Houston, 35.10 092 T Smith 1996 Houston, 39.76 093 B Nash 2010 Obama, 41.60 094 D Patrick 2006 Houston, 39.63 096 B Zedler 2010 Houston, 42.35 097 M Shelton 2008 Obama, 41.41 098 V Truitt 1998 Obama, 28.12 099 C Geren 2000 Houston, 38.38

None of these stand out as obvious pickup opportunities. Both HDs 93, which had been won by a Democrat in 2006, and 96, won be a Dem in 2008, were made redder to protect their new and recycled incumbents. I suspect that what looks safe now may not be in a couple of cycles. As Tarrant County got less white over the past decade, it also got less red. I don’t think either of those trends are likely to reverse themselves. It’ll be very interesting to see what the landscape looks like for the 2016 election.

Along those lines, I thought it would be worthwhile to compare the new districts to the old ones, to see who got what kind of protection. Here’s a look at the 2004 numbers in the old district for JR Molina, who was generally the high scoring Democrat that year, with the 2008 Sam Houston numbers in the new district:

Dist 04 Molina 08 Houston ============================== 091 34.1 35.1 092 33.2 39.8 093 46.0 41.5 094 34.1 39.6 096 40.0 42.3 097 36.9 41.3 098 36.9 26.7 099 23.9 38.4

I’m not sure what the deal is with the Truitt and Geren districts, but those numbers sure do stand out. Both districts 93 and 96 were made redder, though the latter only in comparison to what it would have been with no changes. Basically, the creation of a 60%+ Dem district in the county gave mapmakers a lot of room to spread the Republican population around enough to make sure no one was in any imminent danger. You can’t fight demography, but you can delay it a bit.

That will become more clear as we look over in Dallas County. First, the numbers for the eight remaining Republican-drawn districts:

Dist Incumbent Elected 08 Dem High Score ============================================ 102 S Carter 2010 Houston, 46.75 105 * L H-Brown 2002 Houston, 48.18 107 K Sheets 2010 Houston, 48.46 108 D Branch 2002 Obama, 44.88 112 A Button 2008 Houston, 45.68 113 * J Driver 1992 Houston, 47.87 114 W Hartnett 1990 Houston, 45.66 115 J Jackson 2004 Houston, 43.24

Driver was paired with freshman Cindy Burkett (HD101), and Harper-Brown with freshman Rodney Anderson (HD106). Here in a county that’s ten to fifteen points bluer to begin with, the most Republican district is bluer than the swingiest district in Tarrant. It ain’t easy making 57% of the legislative seats Republican in a county that’s 57% Democratic. Here the question isn’t if some of these seats will be ripe for the taking but when. Anywhere from two to six seats could be vulnerable right away, and for sure all of them need to be strongly challenged. While we have seen individual districts that are bluer, there’s no one place that has as many opportunities for gain as Dallas.

Here’s the same Molina/Houston comparison for Dallas:

Dist 04 Molina 08 Houston ============================== 102 43.3 46.7 105 42.8 48.2 107 43.0 48.5 108 39.8 42.2 112 36.0 45.7 113 37.4 47.9 114 38.1 45.7 115 32.7 43.2

Every district is bluer than it once was, some by ten points. Some day Dallas County will look like Travis. It’s already most of the way there. Next up, Harris County.

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4 Comments

  1. blank says:

    I have been eagerly waiting for this post for some time, because Dallas is dummymandered. While Harris Democrats have been outspoken against the House map, I think that there are quite a few Dallas Democrats who feel like the GOP just shot themselves in the foot. I drew the Dallas map with Dave’s App, and not a single seat had McCain over 55%. While we really shouldn’t be talking about sweeping Dallas, it could happen with this map. Of the group, I think Branch is probably safest, because I think Highland Park and University Park would like to elect a perceived moderate Republican, which is Branch. It also helps Branch chairs Higher Ed, and SMU is in the District. I could easily see the rest in Democratic hands by 2020.

    As for Tarrant, I think Paula Pierson wins 101. (Full disclosure: Paula’s son is my precinct chair, and I consider him a friend.) She has represented parts of that district both in the State House and the City Council. I can think of some African Americans, who might make good candidates, but I doubt any of them would run against Paula. The highest profile Hispanic in 101 is Arlington Councilman Robert Rivera. However, he’s a Republican, so I don’t see him running unless he switches sides. This could happen since Municipal races are non-partisan, and I doubt many know that he is a Republican.

    Other than 101, 96 is the most likely to flip. Zedler is a remarkably flawed candidate, and his district is one of three super fast growing districts. The growth in his district is largely due to Democrats too. The other two high-growth districts are Geren’s and Truit’s districts. Those had to contract and to the North where Republicans reside. That’s why they got more Republican. It’s more about geography and growth than really trying to make the two of them safe.

  2. Precinct1233 says:

    If the Republicans hadn’t redistricted, only 108 would be “safe” this time, as, extrapolating the 04-08 changes, you get:
    102 50.1D
    105 53.6D
    107 53.0D
    108 44.2D
    112 55.4D
    113 58.4D
    114 53.3D
    115 52.7D.

    Now, the R’s had to basically spread the Republicans from the two eliminated districts over the whole county (mostly in the North, since that’s where the relative growth wasn’t), but they can’t really affect the fact that the eliminated districts were themselves only marginally Republican to begin with. Thus, everybody except 108 is doomed by 2016 (when 108 might finally become competitive, and The Dallas Country Club sinks into the tarpits with the rest of the dinosaurs as the Park Cities elect a Democrat to the Leg).

    In 2012, assuming funding, every one of the races will see a competitive Democratic race (maybe even including 108 just for sport), and we’ll win 6 of the 8 (102 probably will barely hang R). Snowballs rolling downhill pick up speed, and this will be the first election when Democrats control countywide government.

  3. vbtexan says:

    The smart Republicans will admit that 2010 was a aberration. Even Paul Burka has said that the war for Dallas County is over and the GOP has lost. Look at what the new Dallas County Commissioner map looks like. The GOP is now packed into one commissioner precinct!

    In the Solomons map the GOP did a great job of spreading Republicans around and either packing Democratic districts like (HD103 or 100), or moving lean Dem precincts into veteran Republican districts (108, and 114), or Republican districts that could absorb them (112).

    I’m hoping Former Rep. Robert Miklos runs in the new 107 against Sheets and Former Rep Kirk England runs against Haper Brown in 105. I think we have a shot at those two districts now. 107 is a collection of lean Republican precincts with a few low turnout Dem precincts.

    I think 102, 108, 113, and 114 are the next tier. Of these Carter in 102 and Driver in 113 can be beaten by mid decade with the right candidates. 113 is probably moving further to the Dems than 102 because Mesquite is pretty much purple now and Garland is moving that way, while Richardson is still a GOP stronghold along with Far North Dallas which are most of 102.

    If either Branch or Hartnett run for AG in 2014, we’ve got a shot at either district. These will be the toughest veteran Republicans to beat because Branch has a strong base in Park Cities/M-Streets, and Hartnett is strong in Preston Hollow and Lake Highlands which are still Republican areas but are changing with the under 50 crowd.

    I think HD112, and HD115 are safely Republican but we ought to run candidates in these seats as well.

    The map is 8R-6D now, but by 2018 it may be 11D-3R.

  4. vbtexan says:

    Precinct 1233, I hope you’re right about winning 6 of the 8 seats but I don’t see how the Dems do it in 2012 though we should try. I could add HD113 to the list so I could see a shot at 3 seats in 2012, but I can’t get to 6.

    I live in HD114 and Hartnett could have a strong challenge from someone but even with Hamilton Park and a ton of the heavily minoritiy apartments in Lake Highlands and progressive voters along white rock lake, I don’t think that’s enought to overcome his strengths within the single family homes in Preston Hollow and Lake Highlands. I don’t think Branch can be beaten unless you can talk Fmr Rep. Allen Vaught into running which would be an interesting race.

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