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Linda Chavez-Thompson

UT/Trib: Cruz 41, O’Rourke 36, part 2

We pick up where we left off.

Republican Ted Cruz leads Democrat Beto O’Rourke 41 percent to 36 percent in the general election race for a Texas seat in the U.S. Senate, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Neal Dikeman, the Libertarian Party nominee for U.S. Senate, garnered 2 percent, according to the survey. And 20 percent of registered voters said either that they would vote for someone else in an election held today (3 percent) or that they haven’t thought enough about the contest to have a preference (17 percent).

In the governor’s race, Republican incumbent Greg Abbott holds a comfortable 12-percentage-point lead over Democratic challenger Lupe Valdez — the exact same advantage he held over Democrat Wendy Davis in an early-summer poll in 2014. Abbott went on to win that race by 20 percentage points. In this survey, Abbott had the support of 44 percent to Valdez’s 32 percent. Libertarian Mark Tippetts had the support of 4 percent of registered voters, while 20 percent chose “someone else” or said they haven’t made a choice yet.

[…]

The June UT/TT Poll, conducted from June 8 to June 17, is an early look at the 2018 general election, a survey of registered voters — not of the “likely voters” whose intentions will become clearer in the weeks immediately preceding the election. If recent history is the guide, most registered voters won’t vote in November; according to the Texas Secretary of State, only 34 percent of registered voters turned out in 2014, the last gubernatorial election year.

The numbers also reflect, perhaps, the faint rumble of excitement from Democrats and wariness from Republicans who together are wondering what kind of midterm election President Donald Trump might inspire. The last gubernatorial election year in Texas, 2014, came at Barack Obama’s second midterm, and like his first midterm — the Tea Party explosion of 2010 — it was a rough year for Democrats in Texas and elsewhere. As the late social philosopher Yogi Berra once said, this year could be “Déjà vu all over again.”

Accordingly, voter uncertainty rises in down-ballot races where even previously elected officials are less well known. Republican incumbent Dan Patrick leads Democrat Mike Collier in the contest for lieutenant governor, 37 percent to 31 percent. Kerry McKennon, the Libertarian in that race, had the support of 4 percent of the registered voters surveyed, while the rest said they were undecided (23 percent) or would vote for someone other than the three named candidates (5 percent).

“As you move down to races that are just less well known, you see the numbers drop,” said Daron Shaw, a government professor at the University of Texas at Austin and co-director of the poll. “They drop more for the Republicans. Part of that reflects the visibility of those races, and of those candidates.”

Henson said Patrick and other down-ballot incumbents work in the shadow of the governor, especially when the Legislature is not in in session. “That said, he’s still solid with the Republican base, though he lags behind Abbott and Cruz in both prominence and popularity,” he said. “There’s nothing unusual about that.”

And indecision marks the race for Texas attorney general, where Republican incumbent Ken Paxton has 32 percent to Democrat Justin Nelson’s 31 percent and 6 percent for Libertarian Michael Ray Harris. Four percent of registered voters said they plan to vote for someone else in that race and a fourth — 26 percent — said they haven’t chosen a favorite.

Nelson and Harris are unknown to statewide general election voters. Paxton, first elected in 2014, is fighting felony indictments for securities fraud — allegations that arose from his work as a private attorney before he was AG. He has steadily maintained his innocence, but political adversaries are hoping his legal problems prompt the state’s persistently conservative electorate to consider turning out an incumbent Republican officeholder.

“If you’ve heard anything about Ken Paxton in the last four years, more than likely you’ve heard about his legal troubles,” said Josh Blank, manager of polling and research at UT’s Texas Politics Project. Henson added a note of caution to that: There’s also no erosion in Ken Paxton support by the Republican base. This reflects some stirrings amongst the Democrats and Paxton’s troubles. But it would premature to draw drastic conclusions for November based upon these numbers from June.”

Shaw noted that the support for the Democrats in the three state races is uniform: Each has 31 percent or 32 percent of the vote. “All the variability is on the Republican side, it seems to me,” he said. When those voters move away from the Republican side, Shaw said, “they move not to the Democrats but to the Libertarian or to undecided.”

Trump is still getting very strong job ratings from Republican voters — strong enough to make his overall numbers look balanced, according to the poll. Among all registered voters, 47 percent approve of the job the president is doing, while 44 percent disapprove. Only 8 percent had no opinion.

See here for yesterday’s discussion. Before we go any further, let me provide a bit of context here, since I seem to be the only person to have noticed that that Trib poll from June 2014 also inquired about other races. Here for your perusal is a comparison of then and now:


Year    Office  Republican  Democrat  R Pct  D Pct
==================================================
2014    Senate      Cornyn   Alameel     36     25
2018    Senate        Cruz  O'Rourke     41     36

2014  Governor      Abbott     Davis     44     32
2018  Governor      Abbott    Valdez     44     32

2014  Lite Guv     Patrick       VdP     41     26
2018  Lite Guv     Patrick   Collier     37     31

2014  Atty Gen      Paxton   Houston     40     27
2018  Atty Gen      Paxton    Nelson     32     31

So four years ago, Wendy Davis topped Dems with 32%, with the others ranging from 25 to 27. All Dems trailed by double digits (there were some closer races further down the ballot, but that was entirely due to lower scores for the Republicans in those mostly obscure contests). Republicans other than the oddly-underperforming John Cornyn were all at 40% or higher. The Governor’s race was the marquee event, with the largest share of respondents offering an opinion.

This year, Beto O’Rourke leads the way for Dems at 36%, with others at 31 or 32. Abbott and Ted Cruz top 40%, but Dan Patrick and Ken Paxton are both lower than they were in 2014, with Paxton barely ahead of Justin Nelson. Only Abbott has a double-digit lead, with the other three in front by six, five, and one (!) points.

And yet the one quote we get about the numbers suggests that 2018 could be like 2010 or 2014? I must be missing something. Hey, how about we add in some 2010 numbers from the May 2010 UT/Trib poll?


Year    Office  Republican  Democrat  R Pct  D Pct
==================================================
2014    Senate      Cornyn   Alameel     36     25
2018    Senate        Cruz  O'Rourke     41     36

2010  Governor       Perry     White     44     35
2014  Governor      Abbott     Davis     44     32
2018  Governor      Abbott    Valdez     44     32

2010  Lite Guv    Dewhurst       LCT     44     30
2014  Lite Guv     Patrick       VdP     41     26
2018  Lite Guv     Patrick   Collier     37     31

2010  Atty Gen      Abbott Radnofsky     47     28
2014  Atty Gen      Paxton   Houston     40     27
2018  Atty Gen      Paxton    Nelson     32     31

There was no Senate race in 2010. I dunno, maybe the fact that Republicans outside the Governor’s race are doing worse this year than they did in the last two cycles is worth noting? Especially since two of them were first-time statewide candidates in 2014 and are running for re-election this year? Or am I the only one who’s able to remember that we had polls back then?

Since this cycle began and everyone started talking about Democratic energy going into the midterms, I’ve been looking for evidence of said energy here in Texas. There are objective signs of it, from the vast number of candidates running, to the strong fundraising numbers at the Congressional level, to the higher primary turnout, and so on. I haven’t as yet seen much in the poll numbers to show a Democratic boost, though. As we’ve observed before, Beto O’Rourke’s numbers aren’t that different than Bill White or Wendy Davis’ were. A bit higher than Davis overall, but still mostly in that 35-42 range. However, I did find something in the poll data, which was not in the story, that does suggest more Dem enthusiasm. Again, a comparison to 2010 and 2014 is instructive. In each of these three polls, there’s at least one “generic ballot” question, relating to the US House and the Texas Legislature. Let’s take a look at them.

If the 2010 election for [Congress/Lege] in your district were held today, would you vote for the Democratic candidate, the Republican candidate, or haven’t you thought enough about it to have an opinion?

2010 Congress – GOP 46, Dem 34
2010 Lege – GOP 44, Dem 33

If the 2014 election for the Texas Legislature in your district were held today, would you vote for the Democratic candidate, the Republican candidate, or haven’t you thought about it enough to have an opinion?

2014 Lege – GOP 46, Dem 38

If the 2018 election for [Congress/Lege] in your district were held today, would you vote for [RANDOMIZE “the Democratic candidate” and “the Republican candidate”] the Democratic candidate, the Republican candidate, or haven’t you thought about it enough to have an opinion?

2018 Congress – GOP 43, Dem 41
2018 Lege – GOP 43, Dem 42

Annoyingly, in 2014 they only asked that question about the Lege, and not about Congress. Be that as it may, Dems are up in this measure as well. True, they were up in 2014 compared to 2010, and in the end that meant nothing. This may mean nothing too, but why not at least note it in passing? How is it that I often seem to know these poll numbers better than Jim Henson and Daron Shaw themselves do?

Now maybe the pollsters have changed their methodology since then. It’s been eight years, I’m sure there have been a few tweaks, and as such we may not be doing a true comparison across these years. Even if that were the case, I’d still find this particular number worthy of mention. Moe than two thirds of Texas’ Congressional delegation is Republican. Even accounting for unopposed incumbents, the Republican share of the Congressional vote ought to be well above fifty percent in a given year, yet this poll suggests a neck and neck comparison. If you can think of a better explanation for this than a higher level of engagement among Dems than we’re used to seeing, I’m open to hearing it. And if I hadn’t noticed that, I don’t know who else might have.

Abbott and the Latino vote

The Trib drops a number on us.

I guess I need to find a new Abbott avatar

Along with his 20-point margin of victory, Gov.-elect Greg Abbott accomplished something on Election Day that many naysayers doubted the Republican could: He took 44 percent of the Hispanic vote.

For Texas conservatives, Abbott’s performance indicated that Republicans are making headway among this increasingly crucial voting bloc, which tends to lean Democratic. But upon taking office, Abbott will find himself in turbulent political waters.

[…]

But election results show that despite Republican outreach efforts, Abbott does not have a strong hold on areas of the state where most of the population is Hispanic, particularly the border counties Abbott repeatedly visited during his campaign.

In Cameron County, which Abbott had set out to win, he garnered 42 percent of the vote while Davis took 55 percent. He fared worse in Hidalgo County, with only 35 percent of the vote to Davis’s 63 percent.

The results could prove troublesome for a party looking to hone its outreach efforts as the state’s Hispanic population swells. Although they make up less than a third of eligible voters in the state, Hispanics are expected to make up a plurality of Texas’ population by 2020.

Abbott outpaced his predecessors in winning support among Hispanics, but navigating the crosscurrents of appealing to a far-right base and conservative Hispanics continues to prove difficult for Republicans when it comes to immigration.

The article is about how Abbott is going to try to balance his madrina-friendly image with the ugly xenophobia of his party. I’m not going to prognosticate about that – lots of people have been opining about what the Abbott-Dan Patrick dynamic is going to be like – but I am going to focus on those numbers. I presume that 44% figure comes from the exit polls we were promised. I know they were done and I’m aware of some complaints about their methodology, but I’ve seen basically no reporting or other analysis on them. Be that as it may, I’m going to do three things: Check the actual results to see if they line up with the 44% figure given, compare Abbott to Rick Perry in 2010, and I’ll hold the third one back till I’m ready to show you the numbers.

Comparing Latino voting performances is always a bit dicey, since the best we can do at this level is use county and State Rep district data, which is a reasonable enough rough approximation, but which can be distorted by the presence of non-Latino voters, especially if Latino turnout is lower than expected. But it’s what we’ve got, and we can at least draw some broad conclusions. A full comparison to Rick Perry in 2010 won’t be possible until all the legislative district data is published by the TLC in early 2015, but we’ll use what we do have. Here’s a look at county comparisons:

County Perry Abbott White Davis ========================================== Cameron 40.82% 42.01% 57.30% 55.46% El Paso 36.76% 37.25% 61.29% 60.32% Hidalgo 31.75% 34.79% 66.82% 62.70% Maverick 26.83% 26.27% 71.86% 70.27% Webb 22.92% 28.86% 75.60% 68.03%

So yes, Abbott did improve on Rick Perry, but not by that much. In Cameron County, which as the Trib story notes Abbott was claiming he wanted to win, he beat Perry by a bit more than one point. He did do three points better in Hidalgo and six points better in Webb, but only a half point better in El Paso and a half point worse in Maverick. Again, this is incomplete data – the State Rep district data will tell a better story – but if Rick Perry was scoring in the low thirties in 2010, it’s hard for me to say that Abbott did any better than the mid-to-upper thirties. It’s an improvement, and he gets credit for it, but I don’t see how you get to 44% from there.

I do have State Rep district data for Harris County, so let’s take a look at that:

Dist Perry Abbott White Davis Dewhurst LCT ============================================================ HD140 27.9% 32.2% 70.7% 66.3% 31.6% 65.9% HD143 29.6% 35.0% 68.9% 63.7% 33.4% 63.9% HD144 45.2% 51.7% 52.7% 46.3% 50.8% 46.0% HD145 36.3% 40.8% 62.0% 57.2% 41.6% 54.8% HD148 36.3% 39.1% 61.6% 58.7% 45.0% 50.8%

The caveat here is that the Hispanic Citizen Voting Age Populations (Hispanic CVAPs) are lower in these districts than in many other Latino districts. HD140 is the most Latino, at 60.6%; by comparison, the lowest CVAP in the six El Paso districts is 59.4%, with the other five all being greater than 70% and three of the six topping 80%. Be that as it may, Abbott clearly beat Perry here, by four to six points. That also comes with an asterisk, however, since as we know Bill White outperformed the rest of the Democratic ticket on his home turf by about six points. I included the David Dewhurst/Linda Chavez-Thompson numbers as well here to serve as a further point of comparison. Add it all up, and Abbott got 39.6% of the vote in Latino State Rep districts in Harris County. That’s impressive and a number Democrats will have to reckon with, but it’s still a pretty good distance from 44%.

I’ll revisit this question later, once the TLC has put out its data. In the meantime, there’s one more dimension to consider: How well Greg Abbott did in 2010 versus how well he did in 2014:

County Abb 10 Abb 14 ========================== Cameron 48.21% 42.01% El Paso 42.43% 37.25% Hidalgo 37.72% 34.79% Maverick 26.31% 26.27% Webb 29.12% 28.86% Dist Abb 10 Abb 14 ========================== HD140 35.1% 32.2% HD143 37.2% 35.0% HD144 54.0% 51.7% HD145 46.4% 40.8% HD148 48.6% 39.1%

Now of course this isn’t a real apples-to-apples comparison. Abbott was running for Attorney General in 2010 against a candidate who had no money and a self-described “funny name”. That’s a formula for him to do better. Of course, one could say that voters in these places liked him more when he had a lower profile. The more they heard about him, the less likely they were to vote for him. Make of that what you will.

A look at how Democratic legislative challengers did against the spread

It’s been long enough since the election that I feel like I can go back and look at some numbers. Not a whole lot of good out there, but we’ll try to learn what we can. To start off, here are all of the Democratic non-incumbent candidates for the State House and a comparison of their vote total and percentage to those of Bill White and Linda Chavez-Thompson from 2010:

Dist Candidate Votes White LCT Cand% White% LCT% ============================================================ 014 Metscher 6,353 9,980 7,540 28.5 36.3 27.8 016 Hayles 4,744 8,490 5,995 13.6 22.5 15.9 017 Banks 12,437 17,249 12,852 35.4 43.3 32.8 020 Wyman 10,871 15,512 11,232 22.7 31.4 22.9 021 Bruney 9,736 13,174 10,499 25.6 31.3 25.3 023 Criss 14,716 19,224 15,866 45.4 50.1 41.8 026 Paaso 11,074 16,104 12,290 30.3 37.0 28.4 043 Gonzalez 10,847 14,049 12,635 38.6 45.8 41.7 044 Bohmfalk 9,796 13,369 9,847 24.3 32.1 23.7 052 Osborn 12,433 12,896 10,539 38.5 39.4 32.4 058 Kauffman 6,530 10,672 6,913 19.5 29.0 18.9 061 Britt 7,451 10,103 6,725 17.0 23.4 15.6 063 Moran 9,016 10,797 8,107 22.7 27.4 20.6 064 Lyons 12,578 12,238 9,722 33.8 38.0 30.3 065 Mendoza 10,419 10,926 8,921 35.7 37.3 30.5 083 Tarbox 6,218 9,664 6,250 18.7 25.9 16.8 084 Tishler 6,336 9,444 6,969 27.3 33.7 24.9 085 Drabek 9,628 14,460 10,758 33.4 44.8 33.6 087 Bosquez 3,656 6,945 4,736 15.6 25.4 17.4 089 Karmally 11,105 11,192 8,925 28.4 31.7 25.4 091 Ragan 9,346 10,214 8,039 28.2 32.2 25.4 092 Penney 12,553 12,374 10,020 36.4 35.7 29.0 094 Ballweg 16,461 14,852 12,247 40.5 37.1 30.7 102 Clayton 12,234 15,709 12,110 37.5 44.1 34.3 105 Motley 10,469 11,766 9,793 42.7 43.8 36.7 106 Osterholt 9,586 9,112 7,212 27.5 30.1 23.8 107 Donovan 13,803 14,878 11,936 45.0 46.3 37.5 108 Bailey 16,170 17,401 12,859 39.3 42.0 31.3 113 Whitley 12,044 13,483 11,575 40.6 44.8 38.7 115 Stafford 11,761 12,428 9,955 39.5 39.8 32.0 129 Gay 12,519 17,441 12,896 32.2 37.5 28.0 132 Lopez 10,504 12,016 9,677 33.8 37.9 30.8 133 Nicol 11,728 19,800 12,595 25.4 35.7 22.9 134 Ruff 20,312 31,553 21,380 38.8 51.0 35.1 135 Abbas 10,162 13,971 11,005 34.1 39.6 31.4 136 Bucy 15,800 14,742 12,031 41.1 39.7 32.6 138 Vernon 8,747 12,918 9,878 33.2 40.5 31.2 150 Perez 10,317 13,086 9,829 26.8 31.0 23.4

The most encouraging numbers come from Williamson and Tarrant Counties. I discussed the race in HD94 before the election, where the combination of Wendy Davis’ presence on the ballot plus the outsized wingnuttery of Republican candidate Tony Tinderholt helped boost the performance of Democratic challenger Cole Ballweg. Tina Penney, running in HD92 against freshman Jonathan Stickland, also benefited. We’ll want to see what the full comparisons for this year look like, but Tarrant Dems ought to look to those two districts for a place to try to make further gains in 2016.

Nearby in Denton County, Emy Lyons in HD64 and Lisa Osterholt in HD106 both exceeded Bill White’s vote total, though not his percentage. I don’t know offhand where those districts are relative to the city of Denton, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the fracking ban referendum helped them a bit. These results are a reminder of two things – the importance of local issues in engaging voters in off years, and that it’s not enough in places like Denton County to increase vote totals. You have to keep up with the overall population increase as well. Otherwise, you’re falling farther behind even as you move forward. I’ll give Sameena Karmally in Collin County’s HD89 a nod for a decent showing in that tough district as well, with the same caveat about keeping up with the overall growth.

In Williamson, John Bucy’s strong showing in HD136 against freshman Tony Dale should make it a top target for 2016. Bucy nearly equaled President Obama’s 41.2% in HD136 from 2012, so there’s plenty to build on there. Chris Osborn didn’t do too badly in HD52, either. Note that in each district, the Libertarian candidate scored around five points – 5.03% in HD52, and 4.70% in HD136 – so the win number in each of those districts could wind up being less than 48%.

Finally, in Dallas County, the Battleground-backed candidates all fell short, but generally didn’t do too badly, and they continue to offer the best pickup opportunities for continuously Republican-held seats in HDs 105, 107, and 113. An ambitious goal for the Presidential election year would be to win back HDs 117 and 144, and take over 105, 107, 113, and 136. With no statewide race above the level of Railroad Commissioner but Presidential year turnout – if we work at it – to make things more competitive, I see no reason not to view that as a starting point.

That’s not all we should focus on, of course – I agree with Campos that we should put a lot of effort into local race around the state, which in Harris County means finding and funding a challenger to County Commissioner Steve Radack. Frankly, we should be doing that in 2015 as well, in municipal and school board races. Maybe that will help some people understand that we hold elections in the other three years, too, and their participation in those elections is needed and would be appreciated. This is something we all can and should work on.

The Battleground effect in legislative races

So here’s a crazy idea. Rather than judge Battleground Texas by our own beliefs about how things should have gone, what say we take a look at the actual numbers of a few races and see what they tell us? In particular, let’s look at the numbers in the Blue Star Project races, which were legislative elections in which BGTX engaged directly. There was SD10 and eight State House races; I’m going to throw in CD23 as well even though BGTX did not specifically get involved there. I’m going to compare the performance of the Democratic candidates with those of Bill White, since everyone is obsessing about the White numbers even though about 15% of his vote total came from Republicans, and with Lt. Gov. candidate Linda Chavez-Thompson, since I believe her totals are a more accurate reflection of what the base Democratic turnout was in 2010. Here’s what I’ve got:

Dist Candidate Votes Pct White Pct LCT Pct Needed ================================================================== CD23 Gallego 55,436 47.7 55,762 45.6 47,950 40.2 57,902 SD10 Willis 80,806 44.7 76,920 44.6 66,783 38.8 95,485 023 Criss 14,716 45.4 19,224 50.1 15,866 41.8 17,703 043 Gonzalez 10,847 38.6 14,049 45.8 12,635 41.7 17,274 105 Motley 10,469 42.7 11,766 43.8 9,793 36.7 13,588 107 Donovan 13,803 45.0 14,878 46.3 11,936 37.5 16,880 108 Bailey 16,170 39.3 17,401 42.0 12,859 31.3 24,954 113 Whitley 12,044 40.6 13,483 44.8 11,575 38.7 17,639 117 Cortez 11,519 47.3 10,247 48.0 8,829 42.2 12,832 144 Perez 5,854 49.3 8,411 52.7 7,273 46.0 6,010

It’s a mixed bag. The best performances came from Libby Willis in SD10 and Phillip Cortez (one of two incumbents on BGTX’s list) in HD117. Both exceeded White’s totals and far surpassed Chavez-Thompson’s. This is partly a reflection of what happened in Tarrant and Bexar Counties, respectively. In Tarrant, not only did Wendy Davis beat Bill White’s numbers in her backyard, so too did Leticia Van de Putte and Sam Houston, with Mike Collier just behind. White and Van de Putte were the only ones to carry Bexar for the Dems, with VdP being the high scorer, but Davis came close to White’s number and downballot Dems improved by about 20,000 votes. Willis and Cortez both beat the spread, but not by enough.

Gallego, who again was not directly assisted by BGTX, and the four Dallas County candidates all fell short of White but exceeded, in some cases by a lot, Chavez-Thompson. As I said above, I think topping LCT’s totals represents an improvement in base turnout from 2010, and again that’s consistent with what we saw in Dallas overall, as White was the standard-bearer while the top four Dems all surpassed Chavez-Thompson. Gallego did about as well in Bexar as Ciro Rodriguez did in 2010, and there’s no one place where he did worse, though he could have used more turnout in Maverick County.

The other three results are just bad. Turncoat Dem Lozano carried Jim Wells and Kleberg counties even as all the statewide Dems won in Jim Wells and most of them carried Kleberg despite generally losing it in 2010. Davis didn’t win Kleberg, and she scored lower in Jim Wells than several other Dems. That may have been a contributing factor, but on the whole it was fairly marginal. Still, that needs to be understood more fully, and someone needs to come up with a strategy to keep Dems from crossing over for Lozano if we want to make that seat competitive again.

Criss had a tough assignment, as HD23 has been trending away as places like Friendswood have made Galveston County and that district more Republican. Unlike the other two Dem-held State Rep seats that were lost, HD23 isn’t going to flip to “lean Dem” in 2016. Turnout by both parties was down in HD23 from 2010, and it’s probably the case that White was a boost there four years ago. Better turnout could have gotten her closer, but Susan Criss was always going to have to persuade some Rs to support her to win. I will be very interested to see what the Legislative Council report on this one looks like when it comes out.

The loss by Mary Ann Perez was the worst of the bunch, partly because it looked like she was up in early voting and partly because Harris was alone among the five largest counties in not improving Dem turnout. You can ding BGTX or whoever you like as much as you want for the latter, but the candidate herself has to take some responsibility, too. Winning this seat back needs to be a priority in 2016, and making sure it stays won needs to be a bigger priority after that.

So like I said, a mixed bag. The 2010 numbers were pretty brutal overall in these districts, and where there were improvements it was encouraging, and offers hope for 2016. Where there wasn’t improvement was disappointing, and needs to be examined thoroughly to understand what happened. I’d give the project a final grade of C – there’s some promise going forward and some lessons to be learned, but while improvements are nice, results are necessary.

No love for Dan

Here’s one vote he won’t get.

“Oozing charm from every pore I oiled my way around the floor”

Whether incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst can make up for a big primary night loss to challenger Dan Patrick in a May runoff may depend on if he can successfully court the supporters of his two former opponents.

But in interviews on Tuesday, neither Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples nor Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who earned a combined 30 percent of the vote in the March GOP primary for lieutenant governor, were ready to come out in favor of Dewhurst.

Staples said outright that he had decided not to give a nod in the race.

Patterson said he was still making up his mind about whether to endorse Dewhurst, but forcefully attacked Patrick, saying the Houston state senator would take the state backward as lieutenant governor.

“He will wholly be bad for Texas, bad for the Republican Party,” Patterson said of Patrick. “We have two choices, and I will categorically tell you I’m not voting for Dan Patrick either in the primary or the general election. I’ll vote Libertarian in November if I have to.”

I’ve noted before how Democrats are rooting for Patrick to win the runoff since he is viewed as being more beatable in November. Some people have expressed skepticism of this, partly on the belief that there are no ticket-splitters any more. I get that, but there are plenty of such people left in Texas. We saw a great example of it in 2010. Bill White received over 387,000 more votes than Democratic Lt. Governor candidate Linda Chavez-Thompson, while Rick Perry collected over 311,000 fewer votes than David Dewhurst. That’s nearly a 700,000 vote swing towards White. People often don’t realize how big the swing was towards White because the Republican tidal wave of 2010 was too big for it to matter, but in a more normal year, 700,000 votes is more than enough to make a difference.

Consider this scenario: Turnout in November is 4.9 million voters – a bit less than 2010, but more than any other off year. The average statewide Republican wins with a 57-43 margin, which I think we can agree is healthy enough to invite plenty of post-electoral scoffing at Battleground Texas and any thought of a blue state in the foreseeable future. Well, in this scenario a Bill White-sized swing is just about what it would take to tip an election, since the average vote tally would be 2.8 million to 2.1 million. If there’s any Republican candidate capable of inspiring that kind of disloyalty among his fellow Republicans, it’s Dan Patrick.

Maybe you think my scenario is too optimistic, maybe you think Leticia Van de Putte won’t have the resources to compete the way White did (you know you have the power to help with that, right?), or maybe you have some other reason to be skeptical. I’m just saying we’ve seen the kind of crossover voting needed to make a VdP win happen in very recent memory, so don’t say it can’t happen because it already has.

The UT/TT poll’s track record in past Democratic primaries

The one result in that UT/TT poll from Monday that has people freaking out is the one that shows nutball LaRouchie Kesha Rogers leading the Senate race with 35%, followed by David Alameel with 27%. I expressed my skepticism of that result at the time, because among other things I have my doubts that their sample is truly representative of the Democratic primary electorate, but I thought it might be worthwhile to take a look at the Trib’s previous efforts at polling Democratic primaries and see how they’ve done in the past. There are two elections to study. First, let’s go back to 2010 when all of the statewide offices were up for grabs. Democrats had three contested primaries that the Trib polled: Governor, Lt. Governor, and Ag Commissioner. Here are the results.

In the Democratic primary race, former Houston Mayor Bill White has a huge lead over his next closest challenger, businessman Farouk Shami, pulling 50 percent to Shami’s 11 percent. Five other candidates are in the running for the Democratic nomination; the survey found that only 9 percent of those polled prefer someone other than the two frontrunners.

Undecided voters are still significant in both gubernatorial primaries. On the Republican side, 16 percent said they hadn’t made up their minds. Pressed for a preference, 51 percent chose Perry, 34 percent chose Hutchison, and 15 percent chose Medina — an indication that Perry could win without a runoff if he can attract those voters into his camp. Among Democratic voters, 30 percent were undecided, and of those, 48 percent, when pressed, said they lean toward White. With White already at 50 percent, that means Shami would have to strip votes away from him in order to force a runoff or to claim a win.

[…]

Democratic primary voters have a couple of other statewide races to decide. In the contest for lieutenant governor — the winner will face Republican incumbent David Dewhurst in November — labor leader Linda Chavez-Thompson took 18 percent of those polled, former Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle got 16 percent, and restaurateur Marc Katz had 3 percent. Five percent of voters said they wanted “somebody else,” and a whopping 58 percent remain undecided on the eve of early voting, which begins on Tuesday. Kinky Friedman and Hank Gilbert — two refugees from the governor’s race now running for agriculture commissioner — are locked in a tight race, 32 percent to 27 percent. While Friedman’s ahead, the difference is within the poll’s margin of error. And, as with the Lite Guv race, “undecided” is actually leading, at 41 percent. The winner will face incumbent Republican Todd Staples in November.

And here’s the reality:

Governor Alma Aguado 2.83% Felix Alvarado 4.95% Bill Dear 0.96% Clement Glenn 1.44% Star Locke 0.92% Farouk Shami 12.84% Bill White 76.03% Lieutenant Governor Linda C-T 53.13% Ronnie Earle 34.67% Marc Katz 12.18% Commissioner of Agriculture Kinky Friedman 47.69% Hank Gilbert 52.30%

So White did have a big lead on Shami, but it was much bigger than they indicated. Linda Chavez-Thompson was indeed leading Ronnie Earle, but by a significant amount, more than enough to avoid a runoff. And Hank Gilbert defeated Kinky Friedman, despite the UT/TT poll showing Friedman in the lead.

How about the 2012 Senate primary, which is a reasonably decent facsimile of this one, as it’s a large field of mostly unknown candidates? Here’s the poll:

The Democrats, too, could be building to a July finish, probably between former state Rep. Paul Sadler and Sean Hubbard, according to the poll.

Sadler led the Democrats with 29 percent, but was followed closely — and within the poll’s margin of error — by Hubbard. Two other candidates — Addie Dainell Allen and Grady Yarbrough — also registered double-digit support.

And the actual result:

U. S. Senator Addie Allen 22.90% Sean Hubbard 16.08% Paul Sadler 35.13% Grady Yarbrough 25.87%

Sadler did in fact lead the field, but Hubbard came in fourth, well behind eventual second-place finisher Grady Yarbrough, whom the Trib pegged for fourth.

So what conclusions can we draw from this? Mostly that we don’t have enough data to be able to evaluate the Trib’s ability to poll Democratic primaries. To be fair to them, they were quite accurate in the corresponding GOP races. They had Rick Perry winning in 2010, though not quite over 50%, with Debra Medina’s level nailed exactly, and they had David Dewhurst with a lead over Ted Cruz with Tom Leppert in third, but with the Dew falling short of a majority. As such, I’d put some faith in their GOP polling, at least until we see how they actually did. But I would not put much faith in their Dem results. They clearly pushed people to pick someone – anyone! – in the Senate race, they polled before David Alameel dropped a bunch of mail, which they themselves said (but didn’t acknowledge in their writeup) is exactly the sort of thing that could enable someone to win that race, and as I said I just don’t believe they’ve got a representative sample of the Dem primary electorate. I’ll be more than a little shocked if it turns out they got this one right.

One more thing: What if they are right about Rogers leading? Well, as long as she doesn’t crack 50%, I’d suggest we all remain calm. For all its constraints and limitations, the state Democratic Party has managed to get the nominees it has wanted in the last three Senate primaries. Rick Noriega cleared 50% in round one in 2008, and Sadler in 2012 and Barbara Radnofsky in 2006 both won their runoffs – Radnofsky has said that her overtime race against the now apparently dormant Gene Kelly was the best thing that happened to her, as it boosted her fundraising and made people actually pay attention to that race. I feel reasonably confident that if Rogers is in a runoff with anyone, everyone else in the party will fall as loudly and visibly as they can behind her opponent, whoever that winds up being. It’s already happening to a large degree – the TDP, the HCDP, and the Fort Bend Democratic Party have put out messages condemning Rogers and urging Democrats not to vote for her. I’d have preferred to see that happen earlier than this, and I’d much rather it not come to banding together to beat her in a runoff, but I’m not going to fall into a spiral of self-loathing over this one poll result. Do your part to help people make a good decision in this race, and be prepared to support someone other than Kesha in a runoff if it comes to that.

Where the votes were and weren’t in 2006 and 2010

When I was doing the electoral analysis for the new Congressional districts, I also had data about how many votes were cast in each district. And in looking through that data, I saw some interesting things. What I was looking for was the change in Democratic turnout from 2006 to 2010. We know 2010 was a huge Republican turnout year, but Democratic turnout is a bit harder to pin down. Most Democrats other than Bill White got about the same number of total votes in 2006 as in 2010, but the location of those votes changed a lot. Here’s a comparison of White, Lt. Gov. candidate Linda Chavez-Thompson, and Supreme Court candidate Bill Moody from 2006. White received 2,106,395 votes, LCT got 1,719,202, and Moody 1,877,909, so in general you’d expect the order to be White-Moody-LCT, but that wasn’t always the case. First, there were a few districts in which Moody led the way:

2010 2010 2006 Dist White LCT Moody =========================== 04 53,281 38,538 58,733 11 36,925 24,089 43,168 13 36,285 24,089 47,056 16 49,342 44,478 55,542 19 38,880 26,806 46,817 27 59,160 46,972 66,018 36 50,118 37,524 51,906

CD16 is in El Paso, which is Moody’s home county, so that result is understandable. The rest are puzzling to me. CDs 11, 13, and 19 are West Texas/Panhandle; CD 4 is northeast Texas; CD 36 is southeast Texas, including southeast Harris County; CD27 is Central Texas. All except CD16 are Republican, mostly strong Republican. Why Moody would do so much better in these places is rather a mystery to me. Clearly, he got some crossover Republican support – I can’t say how much right now because I don’t have any other statewide results for 2006 – but so did White. Simply put, the baseline Democratic vote had to decline in these locations. Was that because they didn’t vote, or because they’re voting Republican now? I can’t answer that question, but whoever runs for Governor in 2014 better get a handle on it.

Here are the districts where the vote totals followed the order you’d expect:

2010 2010 2006 Dist White LCT Moody =========================== 01 51,874 38,898 51,681 03 47,323 37,154 39,032 05 51,603 38,718 51,270 06 45,018 37,610 41,581 08 46,415 32,213 37,867 10 75,070 57,466 63,491 12 54,464 46,383 52,643 14 69,305 57,054 66,154 17 62,546 47,579 60,262 20 60,249 53,304 55,298 21 82,051 64,223 75,448 23 54,719 46,205 50,387 24 52,928 42,154 49,004 25 73,744 57,362 71,185 26 43,221 37,711 37,769 31 53,200 42,787 47,221 32 68,019 52,902 61,105 33 56,896 47,582 54,195 34 48,311 44,335 45,745 35 57,191 50,473 52,046

Much more of a mixed bag here. The districts are geographically all over, and run the gamut from strong D to strong R. What stands out to me is that for the most part, Moody’s total exceeded LCT’s by about what you’d expect given that he had about nine percent more votes overall. The exceptions to that are CDs 14, 17, 21, 24, 25, and 32. Similarly, White topped Moody by about 12%, and he clearly exceeded that in CDs 3, 8, 10, and 26. Note that two of those districts are either partially in Harris County (CD10) or next door to it (CD08). Keep that in mind as we look at the set of districts in which both White and LCT surpassed Moody.

2010 2010 2006 Dist White LCT Moody =========================== 02 60,693 45,546 39,874 07 70,874 50,083 48,140 09 81,595 76,783 52,345 15 45,220 40,713 33,443 18 104,617 96,130 72,057 22 64,834 50,287 46,626 28 55,686 49,419 42,744 29 48,781 44,524 33,244 30 96,105 92,385 78,602

Six of these nine districts are wholly or partially in Harris County; of the others, CDs 15 and 28 are South Texas, and CD30 is Dallas. The step up from 2006 is huge – fifty percent or more in some cases. Anyone who claims White had no coattails in his home turf needs to explain these numbers. Now of course the Republican surge wiped everyone out, but the point, which I’ve made before, is that base Democratic turnout improved quite a bit in Harris County over 2006, as 2006 had done over 2002, and that this bodes well for 2014 as 2008’s gains should bode well for 2012.

Anyway. I don’t know that I have any broad conclusions to draw here. As I said, anyone thinking about running statewide in 2014 needs to understand what happened in those West Texas districts, and what if anything could have been done to improve things in the big middle group of districts. I myself have not spent much time studying 2010 data because the Republican wave obscures much of what’s interesting about the data. It doesn’t obliterate it, however, and that’s something I need to keep in mind. There’s always something to learn if you look for it.

Congressional map gets final approval

On to the Governor.

The Republican-controlled Texas Senate approved a new congressional district map for the state Monday and sent it to Gov. Rick Perry for his approval.

[…]

The map was approved 19-12 along party lines and without debate. Democrats have complained the new map violates the federal Voting Rights Act by splitting Latino and black communities and diluting their voting power.

If Perry, a Republican, signs the map into law, it will go to the Department of Justice for review. The Voting Rights Act requires Texas to make sure the map does not diminish minority representation.

Far as I know, the map is the same as the one the House approved last week. Here’s a final look at the numbers, with districts sorted into those drawn to be Republican seats and those drawn to be Democratic. First, numbers we’re familiar with, from the 2008 elections:

Dist Obama Houston =================== 01 30.4 36.4 02 35.9 36.7 03 37.4 36.8 04 29.3 37.6 05 37.3 42.0 06 42.5 45.4 07 39.1 37.8 08 26.1 29.4 10 42.6 43.2 11 23.1 27.5 12 44.2 44.8 13 22.2 27.5 14 42.0 47.3 17 40.9 44.1 19 27.9 32.3 21 42.2 40.2 22 37.6 38.3 23 47.5 49.6 24 40.5 39.9 25 42.7 43.5 26 38.7 38.9 27 40.1 45.8 31 42.5 42.4 32 43.8 43.7 33 41.7 43.0 36 29.6 39.3 09 76.5 76.8 15 57.3 60.0 16 64.4 66.5 18 79.6 78.7 20 59.1 59.5 28 60.0 62.7 29 64.6 69.7 30 81.8 82.0 34 60.0 63.6 35 63.2 63.1

As observed before, all downballot Dems but one carried CD23 in 2008, with two of them getting a clear majority. This district is definitely winnable and should be a top target in 2012. Other districts bear watching and deserve willing challengers, but may not be ready to turn. Joe Barton’s millions will make CD06 a tough nut to crack even as it keeps getting bluer.

I’ve done most of my analysis on the 2008 elections, since the first election after redistricting will be a Presidential year election, and I wanted to compare apples to apples. But let’s take a look at some non-Presidential year numbers to see what they tell us as well:

2010 2010 2010 2006 Dist White LCT BAR Moody ============================= 01 31.5 23.8 23.2 37.1 02 36.3 27.5 26.4 35.5 03 33.6 26.6 27.5 34.2 04 32.9 24.1 23.3 43.2 05 38.3 28.9 28.8 43.5 06 41.9 35.2 34.4 45.4 07 40.5 28.9 28.3 37.4 08 27.1 19.0 18.0 32.7 10 41.2 31.8 30.7 46.3 11 23.9 16.8 15.7 33.1 12 41.7 35.6 34.6 46.7 13 24.7 16.5 15.6 34.0 14 41.8 34.7 33.6 50.6 17 41.2 31.6 30.3 47.3 19 28.1 19.5 18.2 36.5 21 38.8 30.7 29.3 43.7 22 37.3 29.1 27.6 38.3 23 43.8 37.8 34.8 51.1 24 36.2 29.0 29.5 38.4 25 41.4 32.4 31.3 47.9 26 34.6 27.8 27.6 39.3 27 40.0 32.2 29.4 49.9 31 36.6 29.5 27.8 41.9 32 42.1 33.0 35.3 43.3 33 39.5 33.1 31.9 43.0 36 32.8 24.8 23.4 44.4 09 76.6 72.8 71.2 73.9 15 53.7 49.4 45.7 55.5 16 60.0 54.8 53.1 69.8 18 79.6 73.8 72.8 78.6 20 57.1 51.4 46.8 62.1 28 59.0 53.5 50.3 61.5 29 69.1 63.9 61.3 69.0 30 81.1 78.4 77.1 79.2 34 55.7 52.2 46.8 62.2 35 59.9 53.6 50.1 65.5

White is Bill White, LCT is Linda Chavez-Thompson, the 2010 Democratic nominee for Lt. Gov., BAR is Barbara Radnofsky, the 2010 nominee for Attorney General, and Moody is Bill Moody, who ran for State Supreme Court in 2006 (and in 2002 and 2010, but never mind that for now). White was by far the top Democratic votegetter in 2010, earning about 400,000 more votes than most of the rest of the Dems, all of which came out of Rick Perry’s totals. Radnofsky was the Democratic low scorer, as Greg Abbott topped the GOP field – he had about 115,000 more votes than Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst – and won a few crossover votes of his own in doing so. Moody was the top Dem in 2006.

BAR’s numbers represent a worst case scenario. Three districts drawn for Democrats – Ruben Hinojosa’s CD15, Charlie Gonzalez’s CD20, and the “new” CD34 (which is really Solomon Ortiz’s old district with a different number) would fall under these conditions. The good news, if you want to look at it that way, is that BAR lost by over 30 points. LCT, who lost by “only” 27 points, won all 10 of these districts; she didn’t get a majority in CD15 but she did carry it by two points and about 2,000 votes. Barring a repeat of 2010 or unfavorable demographic changes, these districts should continue to lean Democratic even in bad years. That said, if I had absolute control over who ran for what, I’d give serious thought to finding a successor for the 71-year-old financially troubled Rep. Hinojosa, on the theory that it’s better to defend an open seat in a year where the wind will probably be at your back than in a year where maybe it won’t be.

I included Moody’s 2006 numbers because I wanted to show what things might look like in a year where Republican turnout isn’t crazy off-the-scale high. The comparison is a bit skewed because the 2008 and 2010 reports from the Texas Legislative Council include third-party candidate, but reports from before then do not. There was a Libertarian candidate in the Moody-Don Willett race in 2006, and that candidate got about 4%, so Moody’s numbers here are all a bit high. Still, you see that he won CD23, lost CD27 by a hair (less than 300 votes), and – surprise! – won CD14. I still believe that the underlying fundamentals of that district are going the wrong way, but who knows? The right candidate with the right message could make life interesting in 2014.

I will have one more thing to say about these numbers in a future post, but for now that about closes the books, at least until the Justice Department and eventually the courts have their say. Remember, if history is any guide, we’ll have some new districts to play with in 2016. You can see the 2010 report here, the 2008 report here, and the 2006 report here; my thanks to Greg for sharing them with me. The Lone Star Project has more.

Interview with Linda Chavez-Thompson

Linda Chavez-Thompson

Next up is Linda Chavez-Thompson, the dynamic Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor. Let me quote from her official bio, for those of you who have not heard her story:

Linda Chavez-Thompson knows the meaning of sacrifice and the importance of family. Born in Lorenzo, Texas, the third of eight children in a migrant family, Linda had to drop out of school after the ninth grade to work with her parents in the cotton fields to help provide for the family.

Leaving school was a difficult decision for Linda, who never lost her thirst for knowledge and interest in civic involvement. Teaching herself to read and write Spanish, she secured herself a job as bilingual secretary for the Construction Laborers’ Union in Lubbock. After moving to San Antonio, she worked her way up the ranks of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, eventually rising to the position of Texas State Director. In an election by her peers from across the country, Chavez-Thompson was chosen to serve as the Executive Vice President of the national AFL-CIO — the first woman and the first person of color to hold that position.

A nationally recognized speaker, Chavez-Thompson has traveled the globe sharing her ideas on the importance of everyday workers to our economic success. What was once a controversial approach, Chavez-Thompson’s views today are considered conventional wisdom — that when workers are able to provide for and look after their families, they become more productive economic contributors and all Americans benefit. In her personal life, Chavez Thompson is a reflection of the power of the American Dream — rising from the cotton fields of West Texas, to a career as a national labor leader and raising two children who now have families of their own.

Here’s the interview:

Download the MP3 file

I have interviewed Chavez-Thompson before, on the subject of Arizona’s unconstitutional anti-immigration law. You can also see her talk with the Texas Tribune, but you can’t see her debate two-term incumbent Lite Guv David Dewhurst, because like nearly all of his statewide colleagues, he wasn’t interested in engaging in any debates.

You can find a list of all interviews for this cycle on the 2010 Elections page.

UT/TT poll: Perry 39, White 33

Another poll result.

Republican Gov. Rick Perry leads his Democratic challenger, Bill White, by 6 percentage points — 39 percent to 33 percent — in the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll. Libertarian Kathie Glass has the support of 5 percent of the Texans in the survey; Green Party candidate Deb Shafto gets 1 percent. And 22 percent of respondents — more than one in five Texans — say they’re undecided about which candidate to support with only seven weeks to go in the fall campaign.

Clearly, the natives are restless: In addition to the high percentage of undecided voters up and down the ballot, the poll also found that third-party candidates are capturing enough of the vote to affect the outcomes of some statewide contests. And 31 percent of respondents — nearly one in three Texans — consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement.

“White has not yet faded and remains in striking distance of Perry,” says Daron Shaw, a government professor at the University of Texas who oversees the UT/Tribune poll with his colleague Jim Henson. “The downside for White is that Perry is up by 18 points among those who say they are extremely likely to vote. White needs a big turnout among young voters and minorities to be competitive.”

As for the undecided voters, Shaw and Henson say the high percentage isn’t that unusual when you consider that they weren’t pressed to say whom they’d support if the election were held today. The candidates have plenty of voters to fight for, they say — and there are enough unanchored votes to swing the election either way. The question to be answered between now and November is what those people will do when it comes time to vote.

“There are a lot of people out there who are not ready to respond to a poll about who they’re going to vote for,” Henson says. “If you look at the breakdown, there are a lot of moderates and a lot of independents.”

You can see more info here, though full crosstabs aren’t out yet. Color me a little skeptical of this one. I believe Rick Perry has a lot of soft support, but I don’t believe 22% of the electorate is actually undecided. Just hearing the words “Democrat” and “Republican” should get you a candidate selection over 80% of the time, as it did in their generic Congressional/legislative ballot question. Nor do I believe that the Libertarian candidates will collect over 5% of the vote in most of these races. No Libertarian candidate got as much as 5% in 2006 in a statewide race. Finally, if 14% of your sample is people who don’t know (6%) who they voted for President in 2008 or didn’t vote at all (8%), then I think you’re sampling a lot of people who will not be voting this November. Unless you were ineligible to participate in 2008, if you didn’t vote then you ain’t voting now.

Note that in their May poll, Perry was leading by 9, 44-35, meaning he lost five points and White two between the two polls. I didn’t see a “Who did you vote for in 2008?” question in their Day One toplines, so I can’t compare the two on that. Interestingly, every single candidate appears to have lost ground in this poll since May:

Candidate Race May Sept ================================ Perry Gov 44 39 White Gov 35 33 Dewhurst LtGov 44 41 Chavez-Thompson LtGov 30 26 Abbott AG 47 43 Radnofsky AG 28 26 Patterson LandCom 39 35 Uribe LandCom 27 25 Staples AgCom 39 33 Gilbert AgCom 28 26 Porter RRCom 39 33 Weems RRCom 27 25

All Republicans except Dewhurst, who went from +14 to +15, saw their leads shrink. That’s with the generic Congressional ballot going from 46-34 in the GOP’s favor in May to 48-33 in September. You’d think that might have been worthy of comment, but it went unnoted by the pollsters. Given my issues with the sample, I don’t think it means all that much, but it was striking nonetheless. I presume there will be more data coming, including the full crosstabs, so we’ll see what else there is soon enough. Burka has more.

LCT profile

With the passing of Labor Day comes the traditional Media Profiles Of Candidates You May Not Be Familiar With Yet period. The Express-News kicks theirs off with this story about Linda Chavez-Thompson, who is the Democratic candidate for Lite Guv. She’s a fascinating lady with a great personal story, and if she had anywhere near the financial resources of David Dewhurst, we’d be talking about this race at least as much as we are about the Governor’s race. I’ll be doing an interview with her soon, but in the meantime go read that story and give a listen to this interview I did with her back in May on the subject of immigration.

New PPP poll: Perry 48, White 42

A bigger spread than last time, but still another example of a poll showing a close race.

[Rick] Perry holds a 48-42 lead over [Bill] White with 8 weeks left to go until election day.

The race is confounding the major trends we’re seeing in most contests across the country. White is winning independents 53-34. Republicans have the lead with them most everywhere else. White’s winning 82% of Democrats while Perry’s getting 77% of Republicans. Republican voters are more unified than Democrats most everywhere else. But there are a lot more GOP voters than Dems in Texas so Perry’s still ahead anyway.

At 50% a majority of Texans disapprove of the job Perry’s doing with only 39% giving him good marks. Democrats dislike him (85%) a whole lot more than Republicans like him (63%) and independents split against him by a 25/64 margin.

The full crosstabs are here This poll is similar to the Hill Research Texas Watch poll in that it shows White doing better among Democrats than Perry is among Republicans, but it differs in how independents perceive the candidates. If White had this level of indy support in the other poll, he’d have been in the lead. He might have had the lead in the PPP poll with that, too, except they had a sample that was 47-30 Republican, while the Hill/TW poll was 37/33. The respondents in the PPP poll went for McCain over Obama by a 52-41 margin, though, so it’s not like this is way off base. (I’ll get to the Hill/TW partisan mix in a minute.)

The PPP poll gives Perry a higher level of support than the others from Tuesday, which may make you think that my “soft Republican support” thesis is looking shaky. But there’s this:

To get an idea of just how well White is doing compared to overall Democratic performance in the state we also polled the Lieutenant Governor’s race. There Republican incumbent David Dewhurst leads Democratic challenger Linda Chavez-Thompson 54-34, perhaps giving an indication of how lopsided the Governor’s race might be in this political climate if the GOP had someone stronger than Perry and the Democrats someone weaker than White.

Seems to me that’s another way of saying that there are a significant number of Republicans who aren’t particularly enamored with Rick Perry. Indeed, given the smaller number of undecideds in the PPP poll, you could claim that they’re also leaning towards White. I don’t want to make too much out of one result, but I do stand by my original hypothesis, at least for now.

Getting back to the Hill/TW sample, the following is from an email I received from David Benzion, who did the polling for Hill Research:

There is, of course, no universally accepted definition of what constitutes a “likely” voter or standard set of criteria for defining one… but at a minimum there is agreement that the mere act of being a “registered” voter isn’t enough. There has to be some reason to think the respondent can be expected to show up at the polls.

In this case, probably the most precise way to characterize our statewide sample of 600 is to say that they are “active” voters. By that I mean they are not merely “registered,” but have voted in at least one (often more, of course) of the last three cycles–2004, 2006 or 2008. In other words, it is unlikely that many of them are now dead or simply registered in the course of getting their drivers license, or used to vote long ago but are no-longer politically engaged. They are real, genuine voters–a realistic approximation of the Texas electorate as a whole.

This approach was utilized for a variety of reasons, including the desire to maintain methodological consistency with previous surveys conducted for this client. Also, this early in the Fall campaign (we were in the field pre-Labor Day), screener questions about self-perceived likelihood of voting do you some good, but hardly as much as asking those same questions one month or 10 days out from Election Day. When it’s all said and done, the best predictor of future voting behavior is past voting behavior. By that definition alone, our sample consists of likely voters.

For what it’s worth though, I had our statistician run the numbers for only those respondents who voted in the 2006 gubernatorial election. These are known, proven, off-year, Texas-gubernatorial voters. Among them (n=395, MOE +/-4.93%) the ballot comes out (as of 8/25-29) at:

Perry: 44%
White: 43%
Undecided: 11%

Additionally, rather than rely on self-reported measures of likelihood of voting (people flatter themselves and/or want to look like “responsible citizens” in the eyes of the interviewer), HRC has developed a proprietary likely-voter model based on nearly a dozen different demographic and attitudinal factors.

Running the data through our internal “most likely” voter model (n=441, MOE +/- 4.67%) puts the ballot currently at:

Perry: 45%
White: 43%
Undecided: 11%

Bottom Line: No matter how the numbers get diced, as of August 5-29,
we see Perry with an edge and White with an opening.

This survey was not designed to measure–and is therefore completely silent about–whether Perry can quickly build on and solidify his edge, or White can realistically and effectively exploit his opening.

For that God created blogs.

Can’t argue with that. Every poll is a snapshot, and no one poll is the whole story. I’m just glad we have more data points, especially more non-Rasmussen data points.

Fundraising: Other statewides

Bill White kicked butt in the fundraising department, but how did the other statewide candidates do? Not nearly as good, unfortunately. Here’s a look:

http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/php/summary.php?rn=458383&form=COH

Totals From Report For Linda Chavez-Thompson
Filed on: July 15 2010
Covering the Period February 21, 2010 Through June 30, 2010

Total Unitemized Contributions: $94.00
Total Political Contributions: $331,023.42
Total Unitemized Expenditures: $1,442.55
Total Expenditures: $162,904.34
Total Unitemized Pledges (Schedule B1 or B2) $0.00
Total Contributions Maintained As Of The Last Day Of The Reporting Period $136,421.09
Total Principal Amount Of All Outstanding Loans As Of The Last Day of the Reporting Period $0.00
Total Unitemized Loans: $0.00

http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/php/summary.php?rn=458315&form=SPAC

Totals From Report For David Dewhurst Committee
Filed on: July 15 2010
Covering the Period January 01, 2010 Through June 30, 2010

Total Unitemized Contributions: $0.00
Total Political Contributions: $3,172,765.68
Total Unitemized Expenditures: $987.03
Total Expenditures: $1,299,511.30
Total Unitemized Pledges (Schedule B1 or B2) $0.00
Total Contributions Maintained As Of The Last Day Of The Reporting Period $3,550,829.75
Total Principal Amount Of All Outstanding Loans As Of The Last Day of the Reporting Period $1,137,500.00
Total Unitemized Loans: $0.00

http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/php/summary.php?rn=458258&form=COH

Totals From Report For Barbara Ann Radnofsky
Filed on: July 15 2010
Covering the Period January 01, 2010 Through June 30, 2010

Total Unitemized Contributions: $11,790.00
Total Political Contributions: $233,941.91
Total Unitemized Expenditures: $1,424.84
Total Expenditures: $176,092.13
Total Unitemized Pledges (Schedule B1 or B2) $415.00
Total Contributions Maintained As Of The Last Day Of The Reporting Period $463,852.09
Total Principal Amount Of All Outstanding Loans As Of The Last Day of the Reporting Period $0.00
Total Unitemized Loans: $0.00

http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/php/summary.php?rn=458479&form=SPAC

Totals From Report For Texans for Greg Abbott
Filed on: July 15 2010
Covering the Period January 01, 2010 Through June 30, 2010

Total Unitemized Contributions: $30.00
Total Political Contributions: $1,717,734.99
Total Unitemized Expenditures: $2,861.64
Total Expenditures: $653,222.40
Total Unitemized Pledges (Schedule B1 or B2) $0.00
Total Contributions Maintained As Of The Last Day Of The Reporting Period $11,209,703.93
Total Principal Amount Of All Outstanding Loans As Of The Last Day of the Reporting Period $0.00
Total Unitemized Loans: $0.00

http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/php/summary.php?rn=458764&form=COH

Totals From Report For Henry E. Gilbert
Filed on: July 15 2010
Covering the Period February 21, 2010 Through June 30, 2010

Total Unitemized Contributions: $0.00
Total Political Contributions: $51,701.98
Total Unitemized Expenditures: $6,229.72
Total Expenditures: $32,684.16
Total Unitemized Pledges (Schedule B1 or B2) $0.00
Total Contributions Maintained As Of The Last Day Of The Reporting Period $90,710.73
Total Principal Amount Of All Outstanding Loans As Of The Last Day of the Reporting Period $0.00
Total Unitemized Loans: $0.00

http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/php/summary.php?rn=458472&form=SPAC

Totals From Report For Texans for Todd Staples
Filed on: July 15 2010
Covering the Period January 01, 2010 Through June 30, 2010

Total Unitemized Contributions: $1,455.00
Total Political Contributions: $387,462.34
Total Unitemized Expenditures: $3,616.61
Total Expenditures: $210,392.40
Total Unitemized Pledges (Schedule B1 or B2) $0.00
Total Contributions Maintained As Of The Last Day Of The Reporting Period $1,065,709.00
Total Principal Amount Of All Outstanding Loans As Of The Last Day of the Reporting Period $0.00
Total Unitemized Loans: $0.00

http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/php/summary.php?rn=458249&form=COH

Totals From Report For Jeffry D. Weems
Filed on: July 15 2010
Covering the Period January 01, 2010 Through June 30, 2010

Total Unitemized Contributions: $168.00
Total Political Contributions: $63,716.53
Total Unitemized Expenditures: $100.00
Total Expenditures: $88,389.86
Total Unitemized Pledges (Schedule B1 or B2) $0.00
Total Contributions Maintained As Of The Last Day Of The Reporting Period $17,448.60
Total Principal Amount Of All Outstanding Loans As Of The Last Day of the Reporting Period $0.00
Total Unitemized Loans: $0.00

http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/php/summary.php?rn=457583&form=COH

Totals From Report For David J. Porter
Filed on: July 14 2010
Covering the Period February 21, 2010 Through June 30, 2010

Total Unitemized Contributions: $782.00
Total Political Contributions: $128,482.00
Total Unitemized Expenditures: $0.00
Total Expenditures: $63,133.72
Total Unitemized Pledges (Schedule B1 or B2) $0.00
Total Contributions Maintained As Of The Last Day Of The Reporting Period $74,727.48
Total Principal Amount Of All Outstanding Loans As Of The Last Day of the Reporting Period $15,000.00
Total Unitemized Loans: $0.00

http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/php/summary.php?rn=458410&form=COH

Totals From Report For Hector Uribe
Filed on: July 15 2010
Covering the Period February 22, 2010 Through June 30, 2010

Total Unitemized Contributions: $1,295.00
Total Political Contributions: $44,703.85
Total Unitemized Expenditures: $0.00
Total Expenditures: $33,008.80
Total Unitemized Pledges (Schedule B1 or B2) $0.00
Total Contributions Maintained As Of The Last Day Of The Reporting Period $7,289.77
Total Principal Amount Of All Outstanding Loans As Of The Last Day of the Reporting Period $0.00
Total Unitemized Loans: $0.00

http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/php/summary.php?rn=458409&form=COH

Totals From Report For Jerry E. Patterson
Filed on: July 15 2010
Covering the Period January 01, 2010 Through June 30, 2010

Total Unitemized Contributions: $0.00
Total Political Contributions: $307,629.67
Total Unitemized Expenditures: $0.00
Total Expenditures: $205,441.21
Total Unitemized Pledges (Schedule B1 or B2) $0.00
Total Contributions Maintained As Of The Last Day Of The Reporting Period $822,401.18
Total Principal Amount Of All Outstanding Loans As Of The Last Day of the Reporting Period $0.00
Total Unitemized Loans: $0.00

The Republicans break down into three groups: Dewhurst and Abbott, who have the resources to run a bunch of TV ads statewide if they want to (though I suspect Abbott will save a few pennies for a 2012 Senate race); Staples and Patterson, who have a comfortable lead in finances but don’t have enough to do more than spot some ads in select markets; and David Porter, who has a token amount, though still more than his opponent, Jeff Weems. None of the Democrats are going to approach the top level, but getting to the second tier is a doable goal, especially for Chavez-Thompson and Radnofsky. If you’re a big Democratic donor and you’ve already given five figures or more to Bill White, you can get a pretty decent amount of bang for those bucks if you were to write a similar check to some or all of his ballotmates.

Richie re-elected as TDP Chair, Two-Step survives

The first, Boyd Ritchie’s re-election as TDP Chair, was expected. The second was more unexpected.

Texas Democrats this afternoon overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to scrap the Texas Two-Step system of awarding presidential delegates through both a primary and caucuses.

Those pushing for change lost a preliminary fight in a rules committee meeting earlier today. But they had enough support to bring the matter to debate on the convention floor.

Some background is here, the Trib has a detailed writeup, and Bob Moser has more.

Also of interest yesterday was the new media panel (aside to Abby Rapoport – it’s Martha Griffin, not Grimes) and the speeches by downballot candidates. Stace, among others, has the prepared remarks of Lite Guv candidate Linda Chavez-Thompson; I have the speech given by Rep. Senfronia Thompson on behalf of Hank Gilbert, whose mother passed away on Thursday, beneath the fold. Martha, PDiddie and PDiddie again, The Texas Blue, John Coby, and Texas Politics have more.

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Interview with Linda Chavez-Thompson

Linda Chavez-Thompson

Linda Chavez-Thompson

No, I haven’t started my slate of 2010 candidate interviews yet. It’s too early for that. But I did have the opportunity to ask Linda Chavez-Thompson, the Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor, a few questions about immigration reform and the odious Arizona law that has us all talking about it. Here’s what she had to say:

Download the MP3 file

I’ll be back to speak with Chavez-Thompson, and many other candidates, about a broader array of topics in a few months. In the meantime, as always your feedback is appreciated. Oh, and just FYI: This interview was done over the phone. At about 17:30, someone else called me, which made my phone beep as call waiting kicked in. Sorry about that.

The Lite Guv race by the counties

The Lite Guv primary was an interesting race. One candidate, Ronnie Earle, had a decent amount of name recognition, a base of support in a vote-rich area, with likely secondary support in other populous counties, and electoral experience. He didn’t have a lot of money or establishment backing, however. Another candidate, Linda Chavez-Thompson, was able to raise enough money to run some TV ads, most likely in South Texas, and she had a base of support with Labor. She was also a first-timer whose name wasn’t particularly well known; if she had anything resembling a campaign here in Harris County, I didn’t observe it. And there was Mark Katz, about whom there isn’t much to say. How did they do around Texas?

– Chavez-Thompson won a majority of the vote in 86 counties, and where she won, she won big – in 46 of those counties, she got 60% or more of the vote. In particular, she did well in some heavily Democratic counties like Webb, El Paso, Cameron, Hidalgo, and Bexar – in fact, those five counties alone provided nearly one third of LCT’s vote total. She won pluralities in Dallas and Tarrant Counties, falling just short of 45% in each.

– Earle, not surprisingly, had his best showing in his home county, Travis, where he got a bit more than 68%. He won a majority in 38 counties, including such Travis neighbors as Bastrop, Burnet, Williamson, and Hays. He won a plurality in Harris County, primarily on the strength of three State Rep districts, HDs 134, 146, and 147, which accounted for nearly all of his 5,000 vote margin. He actually won 14 of the 25 districts, but many of them were close; 11 districts were decided one way of the other by less than 100 votes. Curiously, one place where I thought Earle would have done strongly was Fort Bend, where he helped put Tom DeLay out of business, but that wasn’t the case, as LCT took a plurality. Anyone want to explain that?

– Katz came in second in Live Oak County, and tied for second in King County, in which all of 14 votes were cast. He did not top 29% in any county. Why was he running again?

I’ll have a look at the Ag Commish and Land Commish races next. As always, feedback is appreciated.

Election results: Other statewides

The big story in the other statewide primaries is the loss of Railroad Commission Chair Victor Carillo to a first-time candidate.

David Porter, who moved to Giddings after building a business in Midland, ousted Victor Carrillo, the highest-ranking nonjudge Latino in Texas government, in an election some said was determined by ethnicity.

Carrillo, who was appointed to the panel in 2003 before winning election a year later, had the support of top Republicans and vastly more money, according to campaign filings. Through Feb. 20, Carrillo had $322,601 on hand; Porter had $11,251.

Porter, who said he spent about $50,000 on his campaign, played up his lack of political credentials in his campaign, and he credited his outsider status for the victory. “People are tired with professional politicians, and looking for a change,” he said Tuesday night.

But Carrillo’s camp thought his biggest problem might have been his last name.

“We’ve got the problem of an Anglo surname versus an Hispanic,” said campaign consultant Susan Lilly, who said Carrillo’s campaign had spent at least $600,000. Candidates with any kind of unusual name are at a disadvantage, she said.

Hold that thought, because we’ll be coming back to it when we look at the Harris County results. I had the opportunity to finally meet Jeff Weems last night at the Bill White event. As you might imagine, he was happy with that result. The question is whether the industry support in this race will switch from Carillo to Porter or Weems. Their July finance reports will be a lot more interesting to look at now.

Democrat Linda Chavez-Thompson won without a runoff in the Lite Guv primary; the SOS shows her at 53.10% to Ronnie Earle’s 34.67%. You have to figure there might have been a runoff if Mark Katz had run an actual campaign. Hank Gilbert won what turned out to be a not-too-close race against Kinky Friedman, getting over 52%. Friedman is now a three-time loser, once as an R, once as an I, and now as a D. Turn out the lights, dude. Hector Uribe won a closer-than-I-expected race to be the candidate for Land Commish, winding up with 51.67% after early returns had him trailing. When I went to bed last night, Bill Burton was up on him by about 10,000 votes, but Uribe’s turf in South Texas had largely not reported yet. The Democrats got the slate their best slate.

Finally, there will be a runoff for the Republican nomination for Harriet O’Neill’s open Supreme Court slot, with four candidates finishing within 2000 votes of each other. The leader, former State Rep. Rick Green, is the worst of them.

Green, who represented the Dripping Springs area in the Texas House from 1999 to 2003, said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the night’s returns and “real thrilled” about the prospect of a runoff, and that he thought his campaign had “good ground game and a good Internet presence.” The former lawmaker made headlines in 2006 for a public row with his Democratic successor, state Rep. Patrick Rose, whom he allegedly punched and shoved on Election Day. While in the Legislature, Green attracted criticism for using his Capitol office as the setting for a health supplement infomercial for a company and arguing successfully for the parole of a man who had lent $400,000 to his father’s company. He also made Texas Monthly’s list of the 10 worst legislators.

The libertarian-style candidate has earned the endorsements of rightwing celebs Chuck “Walker, Texas Ranger” Norris and the prolific Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar of TLC’s 18 Kids & Counting!, as well conservative lawmakers like state Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, and state Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center. Green is also cozy with the Aledo-based organization WallBuilders, a group that wants to close the gap between church and state, and advocates for other causes that preserve America’s “moral, religious and constitutional heritage.”

Yecch. Barring anything strange, Green will apparently face off against Fort Worth District Court Judge Debra Lehrmann, with the winner going up against Jim Sharp in November. In the other Supreme Court primary, the newly-appointed Justice Eva Guzman won easily against Rose Vela.

Eight days out reports

The 8 days out reports aren’t available on the TEC website yet for the Governor’s races, so I can’t show you the details. The Trib did it the old-fashioned way, by viewing the actual paper forms, so go look at their numbers. Bill White raised another ton of money, and we can see that Rick Perry and KBH have spent down their kitties considerably. No surprise – you cannot escape their ads, no matter how you try, if you turn your TV on. The end result is that all of a sudden, the playing field is a lot more level than it’s ever been. And that’s a mighty good thing.

Beneath the fold are the reports from the other Democratic statewide races, with my comments. Click on to read them.

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Chavez-Thompson on the air

Nice to see someone who isn’t a candidate for Governor on the air:

That’s a bit on the dry side for someone as fiery as Linda Chavez-Thompson, but it is her introduction to a lot of voters, so that’s not surprising. According to the Trib, the ad will be appearing in “selected Texas TV markets”, starting this past Friday. I’m just excited to see this kind of activity. According to her 8 days out report, LCT raised $175K over the three week period, which is not too shabby given how late she got into the game. Her full report shows $100K in “media buys”. I don’t know how much airtime that actually translates to – obviously, that depends to a large extent on the market she bought in – but it at least means this ad will get some viewing. What do you think about it?

Endorsement watch: Statesman for LCT

The Statesman endorses Linda Chavez-Thompson for Lite Gov.

We believe longtime labor leader Linda Chavez-Thompson can do the most for the Democratic ticket, perhaps especially for Bill White, the party’s probable gubernatorial nominee.

Through her inspiring life story — as well as her potential to draw women, Hispanics and labor voters crucial to any Democratic victory — Chavez-Thompson, 65, can be a compelling candidate.

[…]

And nobody in the race — perhaps on the entire ballot — offers a more admirable life story than Chavez-Thompson. At 10, she worked for 30 cents an hour in the West Texas cotton fields. She dropped out of school in the ninth grade — never to return — to help support her family.

In 1967, she became a secretary for a Lubbock laborers union, a post that put her on course to a 40-year career that ended with her service as the first female executive vice president of the national AFL-CIO. She retired from the labor organization in 2007.

Chavez-Thompson also served as vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

So in the end, that’s three for Linda Chavez-Thompson and two for Ronnie Earle. This was the toughest decision in the statewide races, and you really couldn’t go wrong with either candidate. LCT is my choice, but Ronnie Earle would make a fine candidate as well.

Endorsement watch: Another split for the Lite Guvs

In the Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor, the Chron goes with Ronnie Earle.

As lieutenant governor, Earle says, he would be able to work across party lines to reach consensus and avoid paralyzing the legislative process.

“I have a long history of working with anybody who is willing to sit down at the table and work things out,” Earle told the Chronicle editorial board. He says he would relish the collegial give and take in the Senate in shaping policy.

At the same time, Earle makes it clear he would not support controversial voter ID legislation, saying voter fraud is not a problem in Texas and the bill “reeks of oppression” of certain demographic groups.

If elected, he promises to open the Senate process to public input and greater transparency, just as he sought as district attorney to get community members more involved in the criminal justice process.

And the Star Telegram recommends Linda Chavez-Thompson.

Known as a tough but reasonable negotiator, Chavez-Thompson says she wants to be a consensus builder in the state Senate, tackling the issues of education funding and the projected budget shortfall. She favors passing a local-option funding bill for transportation.

Chavez-Thompson said the Republican’s leadership in gerrymandering congressional districts in 2003 bordered on “stupidness — if that’s a word.”

Because she would bring a fresh perspective, a commitment to work with both sides of the aisle and an emphasis on the state’s public schools and higher education, the Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends Linda Chavez-Thompson for lieutenant governor in the Democratic primary.

Chavez-Thompson also picked up the BOR endorsement.

Linda Chavez-Thompson got her first job in Texas at the age of ten, working for thirty-cents an hour hoeing cotton with her family. She picked cotton, cleaned homes, and learned English when she should have been finishing high school — all so she could support her family. In her youth, she learned the values of protecting Texas families and ensuring every Texas child has the best education possible. It is amazing to hear Linda Chavez-Thompson talk about how her days growing up in Texas instilled in her the strength, intelligence, and passion she has carried with her throughout her life.

The rest of her lifetime of public service is well documented. From a ten-year old picking cotton in West Texas, she became the first woman and first person of color to serve as Executive Vice-President of the National AFL-CIO. And in that time, she — unlike her wealthy billionaire opponent, incumbent David Dewhurst — always put the best interests of Texas families first. One fellow blogger wrote passionately about why she is supporting Linda Chavez-Thompson:

Until we elect somebody like Linda, who understands what the rest of Texas goes through, our state won’t develop policies designed for everybody to succeed. Linda Chavez-Thompson has been working for those less fortunate not just her entire career, but her entire life.

We agree. We endorse Linda Chavez-Thompson for Lieutenant Governor, and hope you get to hear her story directly very soon.

Keeping the “split” theme going, Ronnie Earle had won the BOR readers poll, but their editorial board went the other way.

Endorsement watch: A split for the Lite Guvs

The two major Democratic candidates for Lieutenant Governor split a pair of endorsements yesterday. The Dallas Morning News went with Ronnie Earle.

Given the choice facing Democrats in the March 2 primary, the better candidate is Earle, who served 31 years as Travis County district attorney before retiring in 2008. He also draws on two terms in the Texas House from the 1970s.

Neither candidate details a clear vision of how to deal with such issues as the state budget crunch, under-funded highways and challenges for public education.

Chavez-Johnson, 65, of San Antonio, has an inspiring personal story of leaving school in the ninth grade to help support her family in the Panhandle. Self-schooled, she rose through labor leadership in Texas, ultimately spending 12 years as a top AFL-CIO executive in Washington before retiring.

[…]

Earle has the better insight into the levers of power in government. To make a creditable run against Republican incumbent David Dewhurst in the fall, he would have to sharpen his message beyond his current call for a big study of state finances.

I can’t say I’m surprised by the DMN’s distaste for a labor-oriented candidate, but neither can I dispute their final sentence, mostly because at this point I have little idea what either of these candidates are saying. (Here’s a video of Chavez-Thompson, so at least we have that much.) I really really really hope whoever wins that race can raise the money to hire some staff and get his or her message out there.

On the flip side, the Express News goes with Chavez-Thompson.

Chavez-Thompson is undoubtedly the best Democratic candidate in the race. She has a long record of working for Democratic causes and candidates. She also serves as vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

A native of the Texas Panhandle who grew up working in cotton fields, the former labor leader earned a reputation as a tough but reasonable advocate for her causes when she represented San Antonio’s chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Chavez-Thompson, currently a member of the VIA Metropolitan Transit Board, is a straight-shooter who would function well managing a legislative body such as the Senate.

She would be an effective advocate for the state’s public schools and higher education, which are a key focus of her platform.

In the same piece, they also recommend Hank Gilbert for Ag Commish, though in a rather lukewarm fashion, and Hector Uribe for Land Commish.

Two more polls

We are suddenly awash in hot polling goodness. First up, a new result from the University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll:

Gov. Rick Perry is well ahead of U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and former Wharton County GOP chair Debra Medina, who are locked in a statistical tie for second place in a GOP gubernatorial primary that could go to a runoff, according to a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Perry had the support of 45 percent of self-identified Republican primary voters — short of the majority required for an outright win. Hutchison had 21 percent and Medina had 19 percent, a two-percentage-point divide that’s smaller than the poll’s margin of error.

In the Democratic primary race, former Houston Mayor Bill White has a huge lead over his next closest challenger, businessman Farouk Shami, pulling 50 percent to Shami’s 11 percent. Five other candidates are in the running for the Democratic nomination; the survey found that only 9 percent of those polled prefer someone other than the two frontrunners.

Not much to see here, as this result is well in line with the others, including the fact that the remaining Democratic candidates are non-factors. One wonders if Medina’s recent 9/11 trutherism gaffe will cost her. Perry rounds up some evidence to say that it will. One never knows with the Republican base, that’s all I can say.

In general election matchups, the Republicans trump the Democrats. Perry would beat White, according to the new poll, 44-35. Hutchison would, too, and by the same margin: 43-34 (in our earlier poll, she outperformed Perry in hypothetical general election matchups). Medina and White would tie, 36-36. Shami would lose a hypothetical race to Perry, 48-25; to Hutchison, 49-23; and to Medina, 40-24.

That’s the first general election matchup featuring Farouk Shami I’ve seen. After the latest Rasmussen poll came out, Team Shami circulated a press release claiming that those results meant Bill White couldn’t win in November. I’m thinking they may need to try a different tack now.

Democratic primary voters have a couple of other statewide races to decide. In the contest for lieutenant governor — the winner will face Republican incumbent David Dewhurst in November — labor leader Linda Chavez-Thompson took 18 percent of those polled, former Travis County District Attorney Earle got 16 percent, and restaurateur Marc Katz had 3 percent. Five percent of voters said they wanted “somebody else,” and a whopping 58 percent remain undecided on the eve of early voting, which begins on Tuesday.

Friedman and Gilbert — two refugees from the governor’s race now running for agriculture commissioner — are locked in a tight race, 32 percent to 27 percent. While Friedman’s ahead, the difference is within the poll’s margin of error. And, as with the Lite Guv race, “undecided” is actually leading, at 41 percent. The winner will face incumbent Republican Todd Staples in November.

Now we have two Lite Guv results, and one for Ag Commish. I think Team Hank needs to be a little concerned about these numbers.

More from the Trib is here, with full crosstabs available at either link. And before I could finish posting about this poll, we get a Research 2000 result, which BOR summarized:

Question: If the election for Governor were held today, for whom would you vote for if the choices were between Bill White, the Democrat, and Rick Perry, the Republican?

All voters: White 42, Perry 46
Independents: White 45, Perry 42

The poll was taken from Feb 8 – Feb 10, and has a 4% MOE. A total of 600 likely voters who vote regularly in state elections were interviewed statewide by telephone.

Needless to say, that’s a fine result, and given that Perry is well known and White isn’t yet, it suggests a lot more room for growth for the Democrat. Even in the results where White has trailed by more, he’s generally been around “generic Dem” numbers, while Perry and now KBH have consistently been below 50%. Usually, the conventional wisdom in those cases is that means trouble for the incumbent. Make no mistake, Perry’s strategy will be to try to bury White under all kinds of negative attacks, since after nine years in office he’s got nothing else to say to convince people to stick with him. All these results have shown that he will have his work cut out for him, too.

Still more polling

Via the Trib, there’s another gubernatorial primary poll out there.

The Texas Credit Union League Poll of Texas Primary Voters, released today, shows incumbent Rick Perry close to a majority, holding a 22 point lead over Kay Bailey Hutchison in the Republican primary race for Governor. According to the poll of likely primary voters, Rick Perry leads with 49%, Hutchison holds 27% and Debra Medina rose to 19%.

In the Democratic primary race for Governor, Bill White reached 51%, with Farouk Shami holding a distant 19%. Held a little more than a week before the start of early voting, pollsters questioned likely primary voters about top national and state issues, favorability rankings of state elected officials, and more, all broken out in terms of demographics including area of the state, income, ethnicity, and party affiliation.

Full crosstabs are available for the Democrats and the Republicans. Warning: they are each 181-page, mostly Courier-font, PDF files. Of greatest interest to me, from the Democratic side:

– As noted, White leads Shami 51-19. This is consistent with the PPP poll that had White up 49-19. I’m not fully clear how they screened for likely voters, however. They did ask if the respondent was likely to vote, with 80% saying they were very likely and 20% saying somewhat likely, but what I don’t know is if they pre-screened for a history of primary voting. As with all relatively low-turnout affairs, if you’re not in the habit of voting in them, you’re not really a likely voter in my book. Maybe they did this, maybe they didn’t, I couldn’t tell. Seems like they might have, since the TCUL folks used a pollster affiliated with the party in question for each poll, but I can’t say for certain.

– As with the other poll, the lesser-known candidates were basically non-factors. Felix Alvarado got 7%, Alma Aguado got 4%, and “other” got 3%. If those numbers hold up, I believe Bill White has an excellent shot at avoiding a runoff.

– The poll asked about favorability for White, Shami, and Alvarado. White was rated favorably by 51% of respondents, with only 5% having a negative view. An astonishing 93% of Houston-area respondents gave him positive marks. Shami’s numbers were 32/12, and nobody knew who the hell Felix Alvarado was.

– Despite having all kinds of data subsets, I couldn’t tell how the vote preference broke down along regional or ethnic lines. It may be in there, but I gave up trying to find it.

– Interestingly, basically the same number of people (90) claimed to have seen a White ad as a Shami ad (93). For all the money Shami has spent on ads, that’s gotta sting.

– This poll also asked about the Lite Guv race. Linda Chavez-Thompson was in the lead there, with 25%, followed by Ronnie Earle at 18%, and Marc Katz at 8%. Needless to say, that leaves a lot of room for “Undecided”.

– I did not delve into the GOP crosstabs, because life is too short. The one point of interest was there on the summary page, where it said Perry would defeat KBH in a runoff by a 58-34 margin. Poor Kay.

Finally, Burka reports that we’ll have a UT/Texas Trib poll soon, which means there will be three results to compare and contrast, plus Rasmussen’s GOP numbers. It’s so nice to have this much data, isn’t it?

The Lite Guv primary

We’re two weeks out from the start of early voting, and I don’t feel like I know any more about the prospective candidates for Lieutenant Governor than I did when they first announced their candidacies.

[T]he odds remain long that a Democrat will knock off [Lt. Gov. David] Dewhurst in the fall, said Cal Jillson, a Southern Methodist University political science professor who studies state and national politics.

[Marc] Katz still will be selling sandwiches next year, Jillson predicted.

“Ronnie Earle and Linda Chavez-Thompson have visible strengths,” he said. “Earle is a Texas populist in the (Ralph) Yarborough/(Jim) Hightower tradition, and Chavez-Thompson is a national Hispanic activist. Neither is terribly well-known. Hard to tell who wins the primary, but neither is likely to have the money to stand in against Dewhurst.”

I can’t argue with any of that. Not only do none of them have any money, at least as of the January finance reports, but as far as I can tell none of them has a real campaign, either. I have not gotten as much as a press release from any of them, which is not the case for any other candidate that has a realistic shot at being on the ballot in November. For all of the excitement and apparent establishment-backing of the Chavez-Thompson candidacy, I expected more. There’s time for November, and I don’t think she or Earle would have to match Dewhurst in fundraising, but more than this is certainly needed.

More on Chavez-Thompson

The Express News does a nice profile of Democratic Lite Guv candidate Linda Chavez-Thompson. The most important bits are right here:

Party leaders gathered in Austin last month to brainstorm on promising candidates for the lieutenant governor’s race. They had initially approached state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, but she said she declined.

Someone suggested Chavez-Thompson, and before long, her friends and associates began a full-court press to persuade her.

Strategists dropped by her home and made their case. Pollsters broke down the numbers for her. Prominent politicians such as former state Comptroller John Sharp and state Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin, urged her to run.

“There’d be one day when I thought it was doable,” Chavez-Thompson said. “And the next day I’d think, ‘Am I crazy or what?’”

[…]

Four years ago, Texas Democrats nominated Maria Luisa Alvarado, a little-known, underfunded San Antonian with no election experience, for lieutenant governor. She lost to Republican incumbent David Dewhurst by nearly a million votes.

Dewhurst has a personal fortune estimated to be close to $200 million, and Alvarado said she found it particularly hard to compete with “the millions of dollars Dewhurst had available.”

The main difference between Chavez-Thompson and Alvarado is that Chavez-Thompson starts out with a base and the promise of support from establishment Democrats. If she is the nominee, she won’t need to match Dewhurst dollar for dollar, but she will need enough money to get her name and basic message out. If these party leaders who urged her to run were sincere, then they will be there to help her raise some of that money. It will be hard to win, for all of the reasons we’re familiar with, but if Chavez-Thompson has the resources she can certainly be competitive. If that doesn’t happen, then her fate will be like Alvarado’s. She – indeed, all of the Lite Guv hopefuls – deserves better than that. I just hope whoever the nominee is, he or she gets it.

A brief intro to Linda Chavez-Thompson

Video of Linda Chavez-Thompson’s filing day remarks, from The Trib.

They have more on Chavez-Thompson here. As I said, I’m really looking forward to Chavez-Thompson and Ronnie Earle making the case for themselves. And as expected, Chavez-Thompson’s candidacy has generated some excitement in South Texas.

“I am excited about the fact that Linda Chavez-Thompson is going to file for lieutenant governor. Along with Bill White, she will energize the statewide base of Democratic voters,” said Nelva Sosa-Slagle, co-founder of South Texas Democrats for Obama.

[…]

There was widespread concern that the statewide Democratic ticket would not reflect the changing demographics of the state of Texas because it would lack a high profile Latino candidate. [Ester Salinas, co-founder of the Justice Advocacy Group] said that all changes with Chavez-Thompson’s candidacy. She said the border region would be particularly excited.

“With the current recession, so many Texans are going without. Linda understands that. Her candidacy is a real spark that can have a big impact down here. People are sick of the same old politics. I am looking forward to Linda’s next visit to the Valley and helping her campaign.”

Sosa-Slagle said Chavez-Thompson would “energize” the Democratic base for a number of reasons.

“On a personal level, she can relate to the concerns of working-class Texans due to her humble beginnings which have served as an inspiration to many Latinas. On a professional level, she derives the expertise and vision for resolving these concerns from being a successful executive of the AFL-CIO and Democratic Party,” Sosa-Slagle said. “And, on a political level, she serves as a major contrast to the wealthy Republican incumbent David Dewhurst and the Austin restaurant owner Marc Katz.”

And speaking of the AFL-CIO, this is from Ed Sills’ email newsletter:

Needless to say, this is an extraordinary development for the labor movement in Texas. Chavez-Thompson will build a campaign over the next few days, and it’s only about eight weeks to the March 2 primary, so this thing will run fast and furious over the coming weeks. Other Democrats who have filed for the post include former Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle and Austin delicatessen owner Marc Katz. Chavez-Thompson made it clear during media questioning that she is running to make changes in Texas, not against the Democratic opponents. This is a good place to note as well that the Texas AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education won’t issue an endorsement in this contest until the COPE Convention on Feb. 6 and 7 and that only the delegates to that convention can finalize such an endorsement. That said, there is no question that Chavez-Thompson has the closest possible ties to the labor movement and there’s no point in pretending otherwise, so this newsletter will be watching the lieutenant governor’s race in detail.

She hasn’t won anything yet, and she has one strong and appealing opponent in Earle, and one with a lot of resources in Katz, so nobody should take anything for granted. But her potential is obvious, and it’s cool and amazing to see a race that three months ago was on no one’s radar generate so much buzz. Stace has more.

Chavez-Thompson to file for Lite Guv

Excellent.

Linda Chavez-Thompson, a national leader within the AFL-CIO and the Democratic Party, plans to enter the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor on Monday, according to a source familiar with her plans.

She is expected to file Monday afternoon at state Democratic Party headquarters.

This may be the most interesting primary of them all. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what she has to say, and to see how she and Ronnie Earle make the case for themselves. (Sorry, Marc, but these are my top two choices for this race.) Thanks to BOR for the tip.

Katz files

As expected, Austin restauranteur Marc Katz has filed for Lite Guv on the Democratic side, saying his family will contribute “millions” to his effort.

Austin deli owner Marc Katz, filing papers to run for lieutenant governor at Texas Democratic Party headquarters [Wednesday], said his relatives will make a “huge, milestone contribution” to his campaign that will allow him to buy TV and travel the state spreading his progressive-populist message.

“It’s in the millions,” Katz said of the family donation. He promised more details Friday.

Katz, who has run unsuccessfully for Austin mayor, is making his first statewide race. He faces former Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle and possibly national labor leader Linda Chavez-Thompson in the March 2 Democratic primary. Barring a resignation by U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, they would be vying for the right to take on incumbent GOP Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst next fall.

Katz said the relatives making the contributions to his campaign mainly live in New York, California and Florida.

Not sure how good an idea that will be in a Texas election, but we’ll see. At least he’ll provide a bit of entertainment, and if the message he says he’s going to bring resonates, who knows? As I said before, I’m just glad to have another potentially high profile primary on our side. And if Linda Chavez-Thompson gets in as well, so much the better. The Trib has more.

Katz to file for Lite Guv

Looks like we’re in for another contested primary for Democrats in statewide races.

Two weeks after former Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle surprised many by filing to seek the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, Austin deli owner Marc Katz plans to add his name to the primary race on Wednesday.

I’ve heard it said that Katz was only going to run if no other viable candidates stepped forward. If that’s the case, then either he doesn’t think much of Earle, or he never really meant that and always intended to run. In any event, that’s three contested primaries at the statewide level for Democrats, with this one possibly becoming a multi-candidate race. Considering where we were as recently as six weeks ago, that’s a pretty remarkable achievement. In any event, Earle has written about why he’s running for Lite Guv, which is worth your time to read. I look forward to hearing more about Katz’s reasons for running.

Earle files for Lite Guv

Well, this was unexpected.

Former Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle is running for lieutenant governor of Texas.

Earle, who retired last year after more than three decades as district attorney, filed paperwork with the Texas Democratic Party late Friday to seek the party’s nomination for the statewide office. The winner of the Democratic primary in March will probably face the Republican incumbent David Dewhurst next fall.

At this point, Earle is the sole filer for the party’s nomination, but Austin deli owner Marc Katz is also planning to run, a campaign spokeswoman said Friday.

Labor leader Linda Chavez-Thompson is also considering a bid. She was out of the country on Friday and not available for comment.

I’m more puzzled than anything else, partly because I’d already started thinking about Linda Chavez-Thompson for Lite Guv, and partly because after however much time of being in radio silence, I’d figured Earle had decided to enjoy his retirement. Guess you never know. Anyway, whatever his reasoning is, I’m happy to have as many contested primaries between quality candidates as we can get. It sure beats the alternative. Welcome to the race, Ronnie, now make your case to be the nominee.

Linda Chavez-Thompson

We Democrats may have ourselves a real candidate for Lite Guv.

Linda Chavez-Thompson, a former executive vice president of the AFL-CIO, is leaning toward running for lieutenant governor as a Democrat, according to multiple sources familiar with her plans.

The San Antonio resident, born and raised in the Lubbock area, is now executive vice president emerita of the labor organization and is also a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee. She was also a super-delegate during the 2008 presidential primary.

From her bio on the national Democratic Party Web site: “A native of Lubbock, Texas, Chavez-Thompson is a second-generation American of Mexican descent. Upon her retirement, she celebrated 40 years of experience in the labor movement, beginning in 1967 with her first work for the Laborers’ local union in Lubbock. She went on to serve in a variety of posts with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) in San Antonio, Texas, and became an international vice president in 1988, a post she held until 1996. She also served from 1986 to 1996 as a national vice president of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, AFL-CIO. In 1993, Chavez-Thompson was elected and served a two-year term as one of 31 vice presidents on the Executive Council of the national AFL-CIO.”

Among Democrats who know about her plans, there is already considerable excitement about a Chavez-Thompson bid. The thinking goes that her personal story — she quit school in the ninth grade so she could start working and earn money for her family — creates a contrast with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, the wealthy Republican incumbent. (Of course, it’s worth pointing out that Dewhurst wasn’t born into wealth). And as someone who has risen to the top of the national labor movement and the top of the national Democratic Party, Chavez-Thompson has a myriad of contacts within the party from whom she can raise money. Plus, she is well-known in the San Antonio area.

Sounds great to me. The question, as always, is whether or not she can raise some money. You can be sure David Dewhurst will be on the air, where he’ll be busy misleading about the solution to the budget woes, so it will be vital for anyone who opposes him, especially a first time candidate, to get her message out. From what I hear and from what others are saying, she should have the capability of getting the resources she needs. And clearly, she’s a hard worker, so if given the chance she should be able to run with it. But first we need her to run, so for whatever my opinion is worth here, I say Run, Linda, Run!