I had some time to spare, so I spent it with the canvass reports from Brazoria County. You know, like you do. Here’s what I was able to learn.
Trump Clinton R Avg D Avg Weber Cole ======================================================= Votes 36,572 15,127 37,036 14,996 37,917 14,678 Pct 68.58% 28.23% 71.18% 28.82% 72.09% 27.91% Trump Clinton R Avg D Avg Olson Gibson ======================================================= Votes 36,219 28,073 39,026 26,713 40,179 26,178 Pct 54.08% 41.92% 59.37% 40.63% 60.55% 39.45% Trump Clinton R Avg D Avg Thomp Floyd ======================================================= Votes 40,666 30,564 43,599 29,181 44,713 28,505 Pct 54.83% 41.21% 59.95% 40.05% 61.07% 38.93% Votes 32,125 12,636 32,462 12,528 Pct 69.23% 27.23% 72.15% 27.85%
Brazoria County is part of two Congressional districts, CDs 14 and 22, and two State Rep districts, HDs 25 and 29. The latter two are entirely within Brazoria, so the numbers you see for them are for the whole districts, while the CDs include parts of other counties as well. The first table splits Brazoria by its two CDs, while the second table is for the two HDs. Incumbent Republican Randy Weber was challenged by Democrat Michael Cole in CD14, while Republican Pete Olsen was unopposed in CD22. The second group of numbers in the first table are the relevant ones for CD22; I didn’t include Olsen because there was no point (*). There were no contested District or County Court races, so the “R Avg” and “D Avg” above are for the four contested district Appeals Court races; these are the 1st and 14th Courts of Appeals, which as you know includes Harris County.
The second table is for the State Rep districts. In HD29, incumbent Republican Ed Thompson faced Democrat John Floyd, while Republican Dennis Bonnen was unchallenged in HD25. You can sort of tell from the tables and I can confirm from the raw data that HD29 mostly overlapped CD22, and HD25 mostly overlapped CD14. As I have done before, the percentages for the Presidential races are calculated including the vote totals for Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, which is why they don’t add to 100%. The other contested races all had only two candidates.
Still with me? If so, you can see that HD29 was much more interesting than HD25, and was where basically all of the crossover Presidential votes were. Trump lagged the Republican baseline in HD25, but those voters mostly either skipped the race or voted third party. Viewed through the Presidential race, HD29 looks like a potentially competitive district, but if you pull the lens back a bit you can see that it is less so outside that, and that Thompson exceeded the Republican baseline on top of that. It would be nice to point to this district as a clear opportunity, but we’re not quite there. There is another dimension to consider here, however, and that is a comparison with the 2012 results:
Romney Obama Cruz Sadler R Avg D Avg Weber Lampson ======================================================================= Votes 35,571 13,940 34,618 13,865 33,931 14,444 33,116 14,398 Pct 70.82% 27.75% 69.34% 27.77% 70.14% 29.86% 69.70% 30.30% Romney Obama Cruz Sadler R Avg D Avg Olsen Rogers ======================================================================= Votes 35,291 20,481 34,879 19,879 34,466 20,164 35,997 17,842 Pct 62.49% 36.27% 62.14% 35.42% 63.09% 36.91% 66.86% 33.14% Romney Obama Cruz Sadler R Avg D Avg Thomp Blatt ======================================================================= Votes 40,170 22,480 39,657 21,866 39,203 22,204 40,642 21,388 Pct 63.32% 35.44% 62.86% 34.66% 63.84% 36.16% 65.52% 34.48% Votes 30,692 11,941 29,840 11,878 29,194 12,404 Pct 70.95% 27.60% 69.45% 27.64% 70.18% 29.82%
In 2012, Randy Weber was running to succeed Ron Paul in the redrawn CD14, which had a nontrivial amount of resemblance to the old CD02 of the 90s, which is how former Congressman Nick Lampson came to be running there. He ran ahead of the pack, but the district was too red for him to overcome. Pete Olsen was challenged by LaRouchie wacko Keisha Rogers, Ed Thompson faced Doug Blatt, and Dennis Bonnen was again unopposed. I threw in the numbers from the Ted Cruz-Paul Sadler Senate race in these tables for the heck of it.
The main thing to note here is that HD29 was a lot more Republican in 2012 than it was in 2016. Ed Thompson went from winning by 31 points in 2012 to winning by 22 in 2016, with the judicial average going from nearly a 28 point advantage for Republicans to just under a 20 point advantage. Total turnout in the district was up by about 11,000 votes, with 7K going to the Dems and 4K going to the Republicans. That still leaves a wide gap – 14K in the judicial races, 16K for Ed Thompson – but it’s progress, and it happened as far as I know without any big organized effort.
And that’s the thing. If Democrats are ever going to really close the gap in Texas, they’re going to have to do it by making places like HD29, and HD26 in Fort Bend and the districts we’ve talked about in Harris County and other districts in the suburbs, more competitive. If you look at the map Greg Wythe kindly provided, you can see that some of the blue in Brazoria is adjacent to blue precincts in Fort Bend and Harris Counties, but not all of it. Some of it is in Pearland, but some of it is out along the border with Fort Bend. I’m not an expert on the geography here so I can’t really say why some of these precincts are blue or why they flipped from red to blue in the four years since 2012, but I can say that they represent an opportunity and a starting point. This is what we need to figure out and build on.
(Since I initially drafted this, Greg provided me two more maps, with a closer view to the blue areas, to get a better feel for what’s in and around them. Here’s the North Brazoria map and the South Brazoria map. Thanks, Greg!)
(*) – As noted in the comments, I missed that Pete Olsen did have an opponent in 2016, Mark Gibson. I have added the numbers for that race. My apologies for the oversight.)