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Precinct analysis: 2018 SBOE

There are 15 State Board of Education positions, currently divided 10 GOP to 5 Dem. They’re bigger than State Senate and Congressional districts but no one raises any money for them so they’re basically decided by partisan turnout. As with State Senate districts they were not for the most part drawn to be competitive – more like “these are yours and these are mine”. And yet, here we are:


Dist  18 Dem    Beto    Lupe Collier  Nelson   Olson McAllen
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SB2    53.6%   51.9%   45.3%   50.4%   51.2%   51.1%   49.8%
SB5       NA   54.8%   48.0%   51.8%   53.0%   52.2%   48.9%
SB6       NA   51.5%   44.7%   49.5%   50.3%   49.5%   45.0%
SB10      NA   50.0%   43.7%   47.8%   48.4%   47.5%   45.0%
SB12   47.9%   51.5%   43.7%   48.5%   49.6%   48.1%   44.9%

SBOE2 is the one Democrat-held district in the table above. We’ll need to keep an eye on it during the 2021 redistricting process. SBOE districts were not part of any redistricting litigation in past cycles, but with three competitive seats up for grabs in 2020, which would swing control of the SBOE if Dems sweep them, I have to assume this will get a bit more focus next time around.

SBOE5 was on my radar before the 2016 election. It was carried by Hillary Clinton and is currently held by true believer wingnut Ken Mercer, so flipping it is both well within reach and a nice prize to have. SBOE6 shifted quite a bit from 2012 to 2016, and even more from 2016 to 2018. It’s all within Harris County and overlaps a lot of the turf that moved in a blue direction. As we’ve discussed before, this is coming from people who used to vote Republican turning away from the Trump Party at least as much as it is from new and newly-activated Democrats. That will be key to taking it over in 2020, as the gap in absolute numbers is just too big to overcome on turnout alone. Dems have an announced candidate for SBOE6 in Michelle Palmer; I’m not aware of candidates for other SBOE slots yet.

SBOE10 will be the toughest nut to crack. It gets about two-thirds of its vote from Travis and Williamson Counties, with about half of the remainder in Bell County. Running up the score in Travis, and continuing the red-to-blue transformation of Williamson will be key to putting this district in play, but all those small rural districts combine to give the Republicans an advantage that won’t be easily overcome. I feel like we can win districts 2 and 5 with Trump still winning statewide, but we’ll need a Democratic majority statewide for 10 to truly be in play. I’ll be happy to be proven wrong about that.

UPDATE Former HCDE Trustee Debra Kerner has informed me that she also plans to seek this seat.

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One Comment

  1. Christopher Busby says:

    Kuff I think your analysis is spot on. I’d rate SBOE 05 as lean D, SBOE 06 as tossup, and SBOE 10 as lean to likely R. Of course each of these ratings depends on the viability of the individual candidates. The X factor is whether Dems will fund these races. The state board of education doesn’t grab quite as many headlines as it used to and has been substantially more low key than it was in the days of Rick Perry. With straight ticket going away and these races being relatively low profile they will be able to rely less on riding a wave then they might have in the past. I have a suspicion though that in 2020 down ballot fatigue will hit Rs slightly more as you might have a bunch of Trump voters who come, punch Trump for president, then don’t care enough to finish out the ballot. That’s just pure speculation at this point though.

    In SBOE 06 specifically you’ll have the factor of Lizzie Fletcher running for reelection which brings substantial resources to the table in the area but we saw last time a huge part of Lizzie’s margin were voters that split their tickets. The other major congressional district with large overlap is CD 02 (Dan Crenshaw) which Dems have shown no serious indication of targeting as of yet. You also likely have tight races in the over lapping HD134(Sarah Davis) and HD138(Dwayne Bohac) as well as the reelection races for freshmen in HD 125(Sam Harless) and HD 135(Jon Rosethal) who are both modestly favored at this time but potentially competitive. Countywide Dems have the advantage that they have a full slate of incumbents running for county positions (minus the HCDE holdouts), which brings substantial down ballot strength, as well as Diane Trautmen’s move to expand voting accessibility across the county. Both factors should marginally help the Democratic nominee in the district. In the end I think SBOE 06 and the overlapping districts are going to be ground zero for where Harris County Rs either find a resurgence or continue their decline.