In the 2009 runoff, there were 155,670 votes cast for Mayor. Annise Parker got 82,175 and Gene Locke got 73,495. In the 2011 general election, there were 118,414 votes cast for Mayor. Annise Parker got 60,135 and the other candidates combined for 58,279.
To put this another way, there were 37,256 fewer votes in November 2011 than there were in December 2009. Of those 37,256 fewer votes, 22,040 did not go to Mayor Parker, and 15,216 did not go to somebody else.
There were certainly some people who voted for Mayor Parker in the 2009 runoff, then voted for someone else in the 2011 general election. It is highly likely, however, that the vast majority of those non-votes were people who would have voted for Mayor Parker in 2011 if they had bothered to vote. Job #1 for Team Annise is to identify those non-voters and persuade them to show up this time around.
2. The Gene Locke voters
In the 2009 runoff, Gene Locke won the two predominantly African-American Council districts (B and D) with 72% of the vote. He collected 26,618 votes in those two districts, compared to 10,400 votes for Mayor Parker.
In the 2011 runoff, Mayor Parker carried the now-three predominantly African-American Council districts (B, D, and K) with 50.7% of the vote, taking 16,792 votes out of 33,134. Her percentage in these districts almost exactly matched her overall citywide percentage of 50.8%.
Because of redistricting in 2011, these are not the same districts from one election to the next, and as such this is at best a rough comparison. The point I’m making is that there was some number of people who voted for Gene Locke in December 2009 and for Annise Parker in November 2011. Job #1 for Ben Hall is to identify those voters and convert them to Ben Hall voters. That may be enough to force a runoff, and it will be a necessary component to a Hall victory in December, but it’s not a sufficient condition to win. Mayor Parker, as noted in point 1, doesn’t need to get too many votes in these districts to win – she could have gotten less than 20% of the vote in the old B and D in 2009 and still won – but the smaller her deficit here, the better off she’ll be overall.
3. Latino voters
In the 2009 runoff, Mayor Parker carried the two predominantly Latino Council districts (H and I) with 12,354 to 8,989 votes for Gene Locke. She won easily in H with 63.9% of the vote, but lost I narrowly with 48.4%, a deficit of 256 votes in the latter.
In the 2011 runoff, Mayor Parker lost both H and I. She got 3,282 of 6,984 votes in H (47.3%) and 2,988 of 6,688 votes in I (44.7%), for a total of 6,270 votes out of 13,622, or 46.0%. Fernando Herrera, the runnerup in 2011 who had 14.24% of the vote overall, collected 4,049 votes in H and I for 29.7%.
Again, this is an inexact comparison. A chunk of Parker base voters in the Heights were cut from H and placed into District C in 2011, which no doubt skewed the results. Herrera didn’t have much of a campaign in 2011, but he had some presence including a campaign headquarters on the outskirts of District H, and he had run for State Rep in HD148, which overlaps both Council districts, in 2010. It’s likely his presence on the ballot, combined with Parker’s lack of a vigorous campaign in 2011, cost her some votes. There’s no Latino candidate for Mayor this year. Both campaigns would be wise to pay more attention to the voters in these districts.
I’m not simplistic enough to think that the entire race boils down to these three factors I’ve identified. Campaigns are more complex than that, and I’ve no doubt there are plenty of other things that each campaign is focusing on and that will have an effect on the outcome. But I’m a numbers guy, and these are the numbers that I have been thinking about. See Robert Miller if you need more numbers than these.