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Precinct analysis: That mysterious Democratic DA primary

We return to Democratic primary results and to the Harris County canvass as we take a look at the race everyone is trying to understand, the Democratic DA primary. Here’s what the numbers look like:

Dist Oliver Fertitta Oliver % =============================== 126 623 571 52.18% 127 693 624 52.62% 128 772 651 54.25% 129 885 1135 43.81% 130 452 449 50.17% 131 3500 1874 65.13% 132 576 416 58.06% 133 577 1127 33.86% 134 903 3126 22.41% 135 610 522 53.89% 137 682 676 50.22% 138 512 646 44.21% 139 2721 1852 59.50% 140 768 571 57.36% 141 2014 1197 62.72% 142 2485 1593 60.94% 143 1732 1249 58.10% 144 861 761 53.08% 145 750 954 44.01% 146 3661 2668 57.84% 147 3339 3130 51.62% 148 795 1568 33.64% 149 779 541 59.02% 150 529 517 50.57%

The initial theory that was put forth as this result came in was that African-American voters helped put perennial candidate Lloyd Oliver over the top. There wasn’t enough information about the candidates available for them to make an informed decision, the theory goes, and “Lloyd Oliver” sounds like an African-American name. Oliver clearly did well in the African-American districts, but it’s not like they were his only strongholds. He won 18 of the 24 State Rep districts overall. For whatever the reason, people voted for Lloyd Oliver. For whatever the reason, Zack Fertitta’s campaign message did not work. We can either try to understand what happened or risk having it happen again.

The way I see it, there are only two possibilities. One is that people knew nothing about the candidates and voted based on the sound of the name, or ballot order (Oliver was of course first on the ballot, yet another example why I believe ballot order needs to be randomized on these electronic voting machines), or some other inscrutable reason. If that’s the case, then the question is why didn’t Fertitta’s campaign work? We know he did mail, we know he did calls, we know he did radio. Why didn’t it work? Alternately, perhaps people did know of Fertitta and for whatever the reason decided not to support him. Was his name a negative, as some of my commenters have suggested? Was there something about his campaign materials that turned voters off?

Ideally, someone will go back to the voters and ask them these questions. Go through the roster, pick a few hundred people in the precincts that went heavily for Oliver, and ask them what they knew about the candidates and why they voted the way they did. It may take some digging and some carefully worded questions to get at the reasons, but what choice do we have? We learn or we’re left to guess. Who’s going to want to run against Lloyd Oliver the next time he decides to pay a filing fee if we can’t say how to beat him?

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4 Comments

  1. Mainstream says:

    My analysis is that uninformed voters, especially black Democrats, voted against the “foreign” sounding name. If there were voters upset with the Fertitta family and their development boondoggles, I would have expected that to show up in districts 134, 133, 148, and all of those supported Fertitta handily.

    Worth noting is that a popular African-American officeholder, Chris Oliver on the community college board, may have been confused by some voters with Lloyd Oliver.

  2. joshua bullard says:

    charles kuffner is more wrong in this than he has been in a long time-“this is why”-kuffner is suggesting that democrat voters need hand holding,as if he is implying that the dem/voter needs to be assisted in there vote-the charles kuffner ads insult to injury by stating again-that the ballot selection should not be a one time intial pick yet “computer” randomized per each voter-this stament contradicts whats kuffner says initially-my question is-whicg game is kuffner playing,football,basketball or baseball,i am just asking so i can know the rules.
    Here is what really happended-the same democrat voter be white or black or gay or straight have been seeing oliver for ever and finally said “damn it ,lets give the kid a shot”,thats it,plain and simple,the voters are not as naive as kuffner would lead you to believe-fetitta was know match for oliver-it took twenty years but like they say b”every dog has its day”…………

    charles, for the love of god will you stop trying to get the ballot placement changed and allow a little fun to be had in drawing night………

    joshua ben bullard

  3. JJ says:

    Democrats had such a no-doubt-about-it answer to why Leo Vasquez lost the Republican primary for Tax Assessor last time. Racism against Latino name. Why won’t that work here? Racism/xenophobia against weird foreigner sounding name?

  4. Mainstream says:

    I don’t buy Joshua’s suggestion that the voters wanted to give Oliver a chance. He has run at least a half dozen times, and I see no indication his numbers have continually increased over time. The only constant in his campaigns is that he chooses to run against candidates with ethnic, Hispanic or non-Anglo names such as Guzman or Alcala or Fertitta. And in contrast to past campaigns, I did not see his signs plastered all over the highways this election as has he has done in the past.

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