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precinct data

Precinct analysis: City and county

If you know a little something about Excel (or in my case, OpenOffice Calc, which has the same basic functionality), it’s fairly straightforward to calculate the vote totals and percentages for various candidates in various county, state, or federal districts. These districts are well-defined, and by that I mean they contain a certain number of precincts in their entirity, and two districts of the same classification (i.e., two State Rep districts) have no overlap between them. (That actually isn’t exactly right, but it’s close enough to not worry about.) It’s not the same for determining the vote in the city of Houston versus the rest of Harris County. City boundaries do not conform to precinct boundaries. There are numerous precincts that are part Houston and part not-Houston. When I first tried to do this, after the 2008 election, I wound up counting a number of non-Houston votes as being from the city, which had the effect of underestimating the Democratic percentage by two or three points. After getting some feedback on this, I refined my methodology and got a result that I thought was more accurate. It’s definitely an estimate, but I’m confident it’s in the ballpark.

This year, I have the benefit of the city of Houston bonds and charter amendments on the ballot, which identify all of the precincts that contain city of Houston voters. Obviously, I don’t want to count all of the votes in each of those precincts as being city of Houston, for the reasons given above. You can look at the individual precincts and see a handful of bond votes but hundreds or thousands of Presidential votes, so you know you can’t count the whole precincts. What I wound up doing was counting the votes in any precinct that had at least ten Yes votes for Proposition B, the parks bond that was the biggest winner among the bonds, as Houston precincts. It’s not exact, but it’s close enough. Here’s what I got from doing that:

Candidate Votes R Votes Pct ===================================== Garcia 381,103 211,886 64.3% Obama 371,755 242,953 60.7% Ryan 370,181 225,952 62.1% Trautman 367,587 226,185 61.9% Hampton 359,110 227,134 61.2% Sadler 356,630 242,658 59.5% Petty 356,110 225,061 61.3% Bennett 353,317 234,256 60.5% Henry 342,986 240,103 58.8% Oliver 342,701 252,168 57.6%

By this calculation, which remember is as much approximation as anything else, Obama lost 0.3 percentage points from 2008, while Adrian Garcia lost about a point and a half. This is consistent with the amount they lost overall from 2008, so again I feel pretty confident. You can see that Garcia, Vince Ryan, and Diane Trautman all attracted some Republican support, while Mike Anderson, Christi Craddick, and Mike Sullivan all drew Democratic support.

Here’s the flipside, non-Houston Harris County, which is simply the totals above subtracted from the overalls:

Candidate Votes R Votes Pct ===================================== Garcia 230,860 310,551 42.6% Ryan 215,781 326,609 39.8% Trautman 214,896 326,012 39.7% Obama 213,696 341,913 38.5% Petty 208,702 321,146 39.4% Hampton 207,229 326,415 38.1% Bennett 206,689 328,248 38.6% Sadler 206,325 338,539 37.9% Oliver 199,443 343,351 36.7% Henry 198,206 334,588 37.2%

Pretty much what you’d expect based on the first set of results, with the exception of Paul Sadler sliding down a few spots, for which I’d blame – again – his lack of resources. I read these amazing stories about the turnout effort in Ohio, and I ask myself again what that might look like if it were ever tried here. I don’t really have anything more to add to this, so I’ll leave it here and we’ll continue with more analysis later.

Precinct analysis: GOP Senate

I’m just going to give highlights from this one. I only have the Democratic canvass for Harris County, so this is county by county data only. You can see the spreadsheet here.

– David Dewhurst had a majority of the vote in 148 counties. Unfortunately for him, the largest one was McLennan, with 20,947 total votes, where he got 50.05%. His worst performances were in some of the biggest counties in the state – Tarrant (33.65%), Dallas (33.06%), Denton (31.44%), and Collin (30.65%). The good news for him is that it was due to Tom Leppert, who not surprisingly was strong in his back yard. If he can get those Leppert supporters into his column, he’ll be much better placed in July.

– Ted Cruz only carried five counties with a grand total of 257 votes in them, but he ran best in the Houston area – Montgomery (46.81%), Harris (43.62%), Fort Bend (43.30%), Galveston (39.67%), Brazoria (39.16%). He also was strong in Bexar, with 39.20%.

– Tom Leppet did not get a majority or a plurality anywhere. He was easily at his best in his back yard – all 18 of the counties in which he got at least 20% of the vote are no more than an hour or so away from the Metroplex. Against that, there were 173 counties in which he failed to exceed ten percent. The Houston area was especially unkind to him – he got 5.91% in Montgomery, 5.83% in Harris, 5.80% in Fort Bend and 5.76% in Galveston. However much of his own money he spent in this race, it didn’t do a whole lot for him.

– As for Craig James…Why was he in this race again? Seriously, James’ best performance percentagewise was Young County, where he got 317 of 2,560 votes for 12.38%; his highest vote tally was 3,335 in Harris, worth all of 2.10%. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an attention-to-performance ratio more out of whack than that of Craig James, at least for this year.

– Putting it another way, there were five additional candidates in this race, none of whom you’re likely to have heard of or would want to have heard of. These five high-hopers combined for 4.24% of the vote, which is .65 percentage points better than Craig James’ 3.59%. For those of you who bang your head against the nearest hard surface at Democratic outreach efforts in heavily Latino parts of the state, you will be amused to hear that the None Of The Above crowd had some of its best showings in Webb (15.24%), El Paso (11.87%), Cameron (10.33%), and Hidalgo (9.97%) Counties. In all but Cameron, the five fringies combined to do better than Leppert and James put together.

– Finally, a question I was curious about going into this was whether Cruz would derive any benefit from being Latino in the south and along the border. Looking at the Trib’s interactive map, the answer is somewhat, but not that much. It’s an open question to me if Cruz might outperform the rest of the GOP ticket in the Valley and South Texas in November, as Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman did in 2010. On the one hand, Guzman was mostly below the radar, and is not known for far-right positions that would be out of step with most Latino voters. On the other hand, well-funded statewide Republicans tend to do better than less well-funded Republicans against underfunded Democrats, and that’s how this race may end up, and whatever Cruz’s politics are, as the first Latino Senate candidate since Victor Morales and the first who would be a clear favorite to win, he’d likely get a fair amount of positive notice. It could go either way, and I wouldn’t bet on either outcome.

More precinct analysis, from Harris County races, next week.

Precinct analysis: The “not Obama” vote, such as it was

I now have my hands on a draft canvass for the Democratic primary in Harris County, and you know what that means: Precinct data! I’ll be doing various analyses over the week so we can get a better idea of just what happened in this election. Let’s start with the Presidential race, such as it was. We’ve established that Texas is not Appalachia, and as you might expect President Obama did very well in the urban areas like Harris, where he collected over 95% of the ballots that were cast. There’s always some variation in the numbers, so let’s look and see how he did in the 24 State Rep districts in Harris County:

Dist NO 1 NO 2 NO 3 Obama Obama % ========================================== 126 18 9 12 1333 97.16% 127 31 16 32 1424 94.74% 128 150 61 75 1396 83.00% 129 70 16 49 2174 94.15% 130 18 5 18 991 96.03% 131 59 28 37 6441 98.11% 132 22 6 14 1085 96.27% 133 31 12 24 1873 96.55% 134 74 39 43 4498 96.65% 135 23 4 18 1252 96.53% 137 48 16 30 1614 94.50% 138 19 17 12 1256 96.32% 139 46 18 40 5423 98.12% 140 52 28 64 1473 91.09% 141 29 16 18 4256 98.54% 142 76 21 54 5055 97.10% 143 321 106 233 3179 82.81% 144 133 49 118 1692 84.94% 145 113 45 81 1867 88.65% 146 58 26 47 7743 98.34% 147 74 36 55 7751 97.92% 148 106 47 73 2538 91.82% 149 21 9 17 1521 97.00% 150 29 6 19 1145 95.50%

“NO” = “Not Obama”. It doesn’t really matter who the other three candidates are, what matters is how many people voted for someone other than the President. If you had asked me beforehand which districts would be the laggards, I would have predicted HDs 128 and 144, as these two “Bubba districts” were where Obama performed the worst relative to other Democrats in November of 2008. It’s a similar story in the Latino districts, with HD143 having a decent dose of Bubba in it as well. Note that in only those three districts did Obama do worse than he did overall, at 88.19%. No real surprises to me in these numbers.

Statewide, there was a broader range to the numbers, but still nothing that raised my eyebrows. There were 23 counties in which Obama did not get a majority of the vote:

County Obama Total Obama % ================================== King 1 7 14.29% Borden 14 51 27.45% Loving 5 16 31.25% Sherman 1 3 33.33% Newton 633 1,758 36.01% Stephens 101 263 38.40% Lynn 2 5 40.00% Kent 27 66 40.91% Knox 21 49 42.86% McMullen 15 34 44.12% Terrell 74 167 44.31% San Augustine 648 1,455 44.54% Hardeman 70 157 44.59% Dallam 16 35 45.71% Crockett 339 741 45.75% Hall 53 113 46.90% Swisher 175 373 46.92% Fisher 156 332 46.99% Upton 191 406 47.04% Foard 68 138 49.28% Cass 701 1,421 49.33% Childress 10 20 50.00% Stonewall 27 54 50.00%

I’ve uploaded a spreadsheet of the results, taken from the SOS Election Night Returns county-by-county page. Only in King, Borden, Loving, and Sherman did Obama not get a plurality. I confess, I don’t think I know where most of those counties are. A total of 7.664 votes were cast in these counties, which is to say a bit more than one percent of the overall total of 587,465. By contrast, the 42 counties in which Obama received at least 90% accounted for 308,888 votes.

There were also a couple of counties where Obama’s percentage was sort of middling where I suspect there may have been some crossover votes. For instance, in Zapata County, where Obama received 78.09% of the 2,519 votes cast, there was a grand total of 21 GOP primary ballots. Frio County, which went 74.21% for Obama, had 1,842 Democratic votes and 185 GOP. Reeves County, in which Obama got 67.68% of 1,828 votes, apparently did not have a GOP primary. A few others I’d attribute to the Bubba effect – San Jacinto (52.29%), Jasper (52.34%), Orange (74.95%). Still no real surprises.

No real surprises on the GOP side, either. In only three counties did Mitt Romney fail to get a majority. Oddly, there were exactly 20 votes cast in each of them – Hudspeth (Romney received 7), Culberson (9 for Mitt), and Starr (10). Only 17 counties fell outside the 60 to 80% range for Romney, whose overall percentage was 68.98%, and one of them was Ron Paul’s back yard of Brazoria, where Romney got 59.92%. (Paul got 25.10%, his best showing.) I was going to say that Romney’s performance struck me as the less impressive, but John Kerry got 67.11% of the vote in the same situation in 2004 as the Mittster, so I guess that’s just how we roll here. I’ll have more precinct results over the next week or so.

Runoff precinct analysis, At Large #2

One of Santa’s election elves came by on Friday with a delivery of Harris County precinct data for the 2011 runoff elections. You can guess how I spent some of my weekend. Before I launch into the numbers, here are a few caveats about them. First and foremost, this is the first election under the new Council districts, so comparisons to prior elections are dicey propositions. That won’t stop me from making them, of course, just remember that the districts in question are different now, so be even more careful about the inferences you draw. Unlike the 2009 runoffs, the spreadsheet I got did not indicate what district the precincts were in. I had to figure that out as best I could by fitting that sheet next to the regular election data, for which I must first filter out the non-Houston precincts. I got it maybe 98 or 99 percent lined up, but I know it’s off a little because the numbers derived from the districts don’t total up exactly. And of course, this is all draft data, meaning it hasn’t been officially canvassed and may not include provisional ballots that will count later. Oh, and it’s Harris County only, too. In short, take all this as an approximation of the truth, as best I can put it together.

With all that said, here’s how the numbers look for the At Large #2 race between CM-elect Andrew Burks and Kristi Thibaut. Thibaut won the Harris County portion of the city by a small margin, but lost the Fort Bend portion by a slightly larger margin, making Burks the winner. Since Burks was also in a runoff in 2009 for this seat against outgoing incumbent CM Sue Lovell, I thought I’d put those numbers in as well.

Dist Thibaut Burks Thib% Burks% Lovell Burks Lovell% Burks% ================================================================== A 2,535 2,180 53.8 46.2 8,953 5,571 61.6 38.4 B 1,703 4,042 29.4 70.4 3,128 7,773 28.7 71.3 C 5,834 2,922 66.6 33.4 12,427 5,962 67.6 32.4 D 2,183 4,802 32.2 68.8 8,015 11,974 40.1 59.9 E 2,478 2,370 51.1 48.9 7,659 6,834 52.9 47.1 F 851 655 56.5 43.5 3,967 2,966 57.2 42.8 G 4,441 3,696 54.6 45.4 12,963 8,770 59.7 40.3 H 1,385 1,214 53.3 46.7 7,235 3,721 66.0 34.0 I 981 775 55.9 44.1 3,625 3,036 54.4 45.6 J 957 617 60.8 39.2 K 2,192 2,248 49.4 50.6

Bearing in mind that these districts are different, the results aren’t all that different. The main exception is District H, where Lovell nearly doubled up Burks while Thibaut squeaked past him. I wish I had an easy way of knowing which precincts were in the old districts, but not only are the districts different, there are differences in the individual precincts as well. Nonetheless, that one comparison stands out like a sore thumb.

Looking at these numbers, there’s not much there to change my mind about how this election played out. Burks did just well enough in the African-American districts to outweigh Thibaut’s advantage everywhere else. Alternately, you could say Thibaut did not do well enough outside the African-American districts to overcome Burks’ lead there, even though she did reasonably well in them; you’ll get a clearer picture of that when I show you the At Large #5 data. Robert Miller wrote on Friday about how Burks was finally able to win on a coalition of African-Americans and westside Republicans, which was visible to him at a fundraiser held for Burks at the home of Republican Fred Zeidman:

In attendance were Democratic elected stalwarts Judge Zinetta Burney, Constable May Walker and State Rep. Ron Reynolds; and Republicans Harris County District Clerk Chris Daniel and former Judge Levi Benton (Burk’s treasurer). Mayor Annise Parker was the Special Guest. Burks announced that he had hired Sandra Strachan from the Greater Houston Partnership as his Chief of Staff, and former Council Member Mark Goldberg as an Executive Advisor — two strong hires.

I’m curious to know what Burks’ supporters here think of that. Is this the Council member you thought you were getting? I personally will be eagerly awaiting Burks’ January finance report, to see who has hopped on the late train for him.

Be that as it may, the question is whether this coalition can be successful in a normal-turnout election, or if it’s an artifact of the unique conditions that a runoff like this one entails. I continue to believe that Burks will be vulnerable in 2013 in a way that freshman Council member usually aren’t, but I have no more history or precedent to go on than anyone else does.

One other interesting aspect of this race was the undervote, which was considerably higher than the undervote in At Large #5. That’s not surprising, since clearly AL5 was the marquee race, but I’ve heard several disappointed Thibaut supporters grumble about how that affected the outcome. Here’s how the non-votes went by district, for both At Large runoffs:

Dist Thibaut Burks Under Under% AL5 UV AL5 UV% =================================================== A 2,535 2,180 826 14.9 152 2.7 B 1,703 4,042 622 9.8 112 1.8 C 5,834 2,922 623 6.6 58 0.6 D 2,183 4,802 641 8.4 51 0.6 E 2,478 2,370 450 8.5 31 0.6 F 851 655 101 6.3 19 1.2 G 4,441 3,696 800 9.0 36 0.4 H 1,385 1,214 196 7.0 34 1.2 I 981 775 145 7.6 15 0.8 J 957 617 108 6.4 25 1.5 K 2,192 2,248 332 7.0 42 0.9

Clearly, Thibaut left some votes on the table in District C, but then so did Burks in Districts B and D. Again, this was the pattern for him from 2009 – far fewer people vote for him in the African-American districts than for Jolanda Jones, or any other such candidate. I think that may hurt him in a normal election, assuming he doesn’t gain some polish and add a professional campaign to address these shortcomings, but it’s hard to say that the dropoff in voting helped or hurt either candidate in this race. I don’t think you can make assumptions about who the non-voters in the Republican districts would have chosen if they had bothered to do so. I’m certain quite a few of them made the deliberate “none of the above” choice. Will those voters, presumably mostly Republicans, be part of a Burks coalition in 2013? His re-election likely gets a lot harder if they aren’t. On the other hand, if he does enough to merit their support (and keep out a Helena Brown type from his race), how much does he lose from the Democratic side? It’s going to be fun to watch, that’s for sure.

In any close race, it’s easy to point at this factor or that as a key to the outcome. I think it’s equally fair to say that if Thibaut had done a better job driving turnout in the Anglo Dem areas she could have won as it is to say that if Burks had run an actual campaign he’d have won more comfortably. After all this time, and with the precinct data in hand, I still don’t know what to make of this race. Greg has more.

First impressions of the new maps

Before I get too into this, the invaluable Texas Redistricting reminds us that the parties in the lawsuit will be able to make objections and comments to the proposed maps today at noon. Meaning, there may yet be some tweaks to come.

Until then, this is what we have. I have 2008 electoral data for the House here and for the Senate here. The Trib has some nice pictures of the maps here, Greg has a Harris County view here, Stace has a look at his neck of the woods here, and Texas Redistricting notes all of the pairings here. My opening thoughts:

– The Senate map is not very different from the one we had coming into 2011. Sen. Wendy Davis, whose statement about the proposed maps can be seen here, gets a district she can win but will have to work hard to do it. Note that SD09 is also somewhat purple in hue, though redder than SD10. It’s certainly worthy of a challenge. I don’t have much to add to this, just to note that Dems would have a puncher’s chance of maintaining 12 seats. No guarantees, but they’re in much better shape for it than they were when they started.

– By my count in the House there are 60 seats that Democrats should have some reasonable expectation of winning:

Dist County Incumbent Obama Houston ========================================= 22 Jefferson Deshotel 68.8 72.6 23 Galveston Eiland 47.8 54.3 27 Fort Bend Reynolds 68.8 68.6 31 Webb Guillen 77.1 80.7 33 Nueces Torres(R) 49.8 55.4 34 Nueces Scott(R) 49.8 55.3 35 Hidalgo Aliseda(R) 63.3 65.0 36 Hidalgo Munoz 72.8 75.1 37 Cameron Oliveira 67.5 69.7 38 Cameron Lucio 64.7 67.0 39 Hidalgo Martinez 72.3 74.6 40 Hidalgo Pena(R) 74.8 77.4 41 Hidalgo Gonzales 57.0 59.7 42 Webb Raymond 70.8 76.5 43 S Texas Lozano 51.6 57.9 46 Travis Dukes 76.6 74.6 48 Travis Howard 60.7 56.7 49 Travis Naishtat 73.9 69.5 50 Travis Strama 59.6 56.6 51 Travis Rodriguez 80.6 77.9 54 Bell Aycock(R) 60.6 60.4 74 Maverick Gallego 57.9 61.3 75 El Paso Quintanilla 74.1 75.4 76 El Paso Gonzalez 74.7 77.5 77 El Paso Marquez 60.8 62.6 78 El Paso Margo(R) 58.3 60.0 79 El Paso Pickett 64.8 67.4 80 Uvalde T. King 51.9 56.8 90 Tarrant Burnam 66.8 68.7 93 Tarrant Nash(R) 62.1 62.4 95 Tarrant Veasey 79.2 79.3 100 Dallas E. Johnson 87.6 87.7 103 Dallas Anchia 60.5 61.9 104 Dallas Alonzo 68.2 70.8 105 Dallas H-Brown(R) 49.7 51.6 107 Dallas Sheets(R) 65.6 66.9 109 Dallas Giddings 74.2 74.7 110 Dallas Caraway 80.8 81.7 111 Dallas Y.Davis 73.8 74.3 116 Bexar M-Fischer 59.6 59.4 117 Bexar Garza(R) 53.7 54.2 118 Bexar Farias 53.7 56.3 119 Bexar Gutierrez 58.2 59.7 120 Bexar McClendon 64.9 64.5 123 Bexar Villarreal 59.2 58.9 124 Bexar Menendez 59.4 59.6 125 Bexar Castro 57.7 58.5 131 Harris Allen 80.7 81.1 137 Harris Hochberg 60.3 60.7 139 Harris Turner 75.9 76.1 140 Harris Walle 70.0 73.8 141 Harris Thompson 72.7 73.4 142 Harris Dutton 77.3 78.9 143 Harris Luna 60.2 66.9 144 Harris Legler(R) 53.2 59.0 145 Harris Alvarado 61.6 65.7 146 Harris Miles 81.2 80.8 147 Harris Coleman 81.0 79.2 148 Harris Farrar 59.0 62.4 149 Harris Vo 55.2 55.5

Note the post above about pairings, and note also that Reps. Gallego and Castro are planning to run for Congress as things stand right now. Harris County remains with 24 seats, but instead of Reps. Hochberg and Vo being paired, Rep. Beverley Woolley was “paired” with Rep. Jim Murphy. I put “paired” in quotes because of course Woolley is retiring, and what they really did was eliminate HD136 – it’s now in Waller and Montgomery Counties – and give Murphy a stronger red district. The Harris split as I see it is now 13D – the twelve existing incumbents plus the redrawn HD144 – to 11R, with Woolley and Rep. Ken Legler going away. Quite remarkable.

In addition to these, the following seats could be competitive for Dems and certainly should be contested:

Dist County Incumbent Obama Houston ========================================== 17 Bastrop K'schmidt 40.9 46.2 26 Fort Bend Open 48.4 48.3 45 Hays Isaac 46.7 45.8 47 Travis Workman 44.6 41.2 64 Denton Crownover 42.0 41.8 65 Denton Solomons 43.0 42.4 94 Tarrant Patrick 41.5 42.0 97 Tarrant Shelton 43.0 43.0 102 Dallas Carter 43.4 43.8 106 Williamson Open 46.0 43.1 108 Dallas Branch 48.7 46.0 112 Dallas Chen Button 42.1 44.0 113 Dallas Driver 46.0 48.2 114 Dallas Hartnett 42.4 41.3 115 Dallas Jackson 44.0 42.9 134 Harris S. Davis 50.1 46.2 135 Harris Elkins 42.8 43.8 138 Harris Bohac 42.2 42.9

Obviously, some of these are more potentially competitive than others, but there are a couple that could reasonably go the Dems’ way. Note that Reps. Driver, Hartnett, and Jackson are all stepping down, and that Rep. Burkett was paired with Driver and Rep. Sheets was paired with Hartnett. HD26 was Rep. Charlie Howard’s (HD30 is the new Fort Bend-centered district), and HD106 had been called HD149 before.

Bottom line: Assuming this map with no unfavorable changes made to Dems, I’d consider a 10-seat pickup to be acceptable, and a 15-seat pickup to be a hell of a day. I have no idea why the Chron says that Dems “could gain a half-dozen seats” when a cursory glance shows eight Republicans now in districts that were majority Dem all the way in 2008. If six was all we got under this map, I’d call for beheadings. Note that Robert Miller predicts a more or less 90R 60D House, which is right in line with my view, so it’s not just my optimism talking here.

– Bear in mind that if the Dems pick up 13 seats, which I would consider a very good result, that leaves the partisan balance at 88-62 in favor of the Republicans, or exactly where we were after the 2002 elections. The loss of all those rural Democrats really hurts. The path forward from here is urban and suburban, and it won’t be easy.

But at least there is a path forward now. We’ll see if the court makes any further adjustments to the maps after today’s hearing. BOR, Juanita, EoW, and PDidde have more.

Precinct analysis: 2011 At Large #5

Last but certainly not least, the race everyone is wondering about, At Large #5:

Dist Robinson Jones Christie Ryan ======================================= A 17.10% 23.61% 48.91% 10.38% B 18.80% 73.00% 5.09% 3.11% C 25.07% 30.02% 35.57% 9.35% D 14.96% 73.56% 7.86% 3.62% E 19.97% 13.73% 54.51% 11.79% F 19.44% 30.45% 37.41% 12.70% G 14.99% 14.70% 61.81% 8.49% H 23.23% 45.26% 21.10% 10.41% I 26.13% 41.33% 21.39% 11.14% J 20.19% 31.78% 35.56% 12.47% K 20.85% 51.01% 21.54% 6.60%

For comparison purposes, here are my analyses of the 2009 runoff and regular election for At Large #5. I’m going to keep this simple, because I think Greg captures most of the important points. Superficially, the race this year resembles the one from 2009, in that you had CM Jolanda Jones versus Jack Christie, an African-American woman, and another Republican. Clearly, though, Laurie Robinson > Davetta Daniels, and Carlos Obando at least had second place finishes in the old Districts H and I to show for his effort. Jones remained strong in B and D – she scored 76% and 70% in the old versions, respectively. While Robinson did better than Daniels in those districts – Daniels had 8% and 14% – she didn’t take a noticeable amount of that vote away from Jones. But Jones starts out with a lower percentage than last time, suggesting there may be more people than before that are willing to vote her out.

Which is a problem, of course, because she won by a very slender margin last time. The main difference this time is that the 2009 runoff was a relatively high profile affair, with Gene Locke and Ronald Green also on the ballot, wooing African-American voters. Over 160,000 people voted in the ’09 runoff. Here, Jones’ race is the top of the ticket, and Andrew Burks will hope to ride her coattails because he has no momentum of his own. If the 2011 election was like the 2007 election, perhaps the 2011 runoff will be like the 2007 runoff, in which case we can expect maybe 25,000 to 30,000 voters. It all comes down to who comes out. Jones has no room for error. The scary thing for her is that when you shrink the voter pool that much, even if the basic shape of the electorate is the same as it was two years ago, a little random fluctuation here or there could be the difference. I’ll say it again, I would not bet against her, but I would hate to be in this position. It’s anyone’s ball game.

Precinct analysis: 2011 At Large #2

What can you say about a ten-candidate pileup? Let’s start by seeing what the district numbers look like:

Dist Thibaut Perez Burks Goss Fraga Dick Pool Griff Robinson Shorter ==================================================================================== A 15.69% 17.99% 13.94% 3.03% 6.93% 11.67% 6.41% 11.35% 9.75% 3.25% B 8.93% 6.65% 31.58% 1.83% 4.70% 4.43% 5.48% 3.93% 18.52% 13.94% C 18.49% 10.79% 7.76% 1.41% 10.92% 9.49% 14.37% 11.63% 12.93% 2.20% D 7.24% 6.22% 35.65% 1.38% 4.64% 3.36% 4.45% 4.22% 13.85% 18.98% E 15.70% 23.72% 15.98% 2.69% 7.03% 9.61% 5.19% 9.44% 8.27% 2.38% F 28.18% 16.73% 11.24% 2.67% 5.41% 7.79% 5.23% 7.60% 9.72% 5.41% G 25.08% 15.87% 14.93% 1.64% 7.85% 9.80% 4.16% 9.95% 9.07% 1.65% H 9.93% 20.35% 9.70% 1.50% 24.90% 6.49% 7.73% 6.96% 8.31% 4.13% I 8.56% 24.54% 9.54% 1.82% 27.29% 4.11% 4.95% 4.74% 8.12% 6.34% J 20.07% 16.78% 11.47% 2.52% 8.47% 7.12% 7.14% 9.64% 11.79% 4.99% K 15.34% 11.16% 19.45% 1.92% 5.68% 4.69% 6.89% 7.52% 15.72% 11.62%

Starting from the top:

– Andrew Burks obviously and expectedly did well in the African-American areas. I had thought that Rozzy Shorter might shave a few points off his totals, and I daresay she did, but it wasn’t enough to knock him out. He also did pretty well everywhere else, no doubt in part to the decent name ID gained by being a seven time candidate for a Council seat, even if he himself can only remember five of them. I guess at some point it’s hard to keep track of them all.

– Kristi Thibaut did well in District C, but it was her advantage in the west/southwest part of town that carried her into the runoff. She led the field in Districts F and G, and had a strong showing in K as well, all of which was enough to overcome third-place finisher Elizabeth Perez’s advantages elsewhere (more on that in a second). Also good news for Thibaut is that three of the four candidates that finished behind her in C – Jenifer Pool, David Robinson, and Bo Fraga, who combined with her for almost 57% of the vote in C – have endorsed her for the runoff. She will need big margins in places like C to counter Burks’ numbers in B, D, and K.

– Perez won the Election Day vote and didn’t miss the runoff by much. She did well in the Republican districts as you’d expect, but both Thibaut and Burks were able to keep close enough to her to prevent her from passing them. Where she really did well was – say it with me now – in Districts H and I, where she outdistanced Thibaut by enough to wipe out her margin in District C. Unfortunately for her, she shared the ballot with Fraga, who did better than she did, thus again keeping her from making a real run at the top. While this looks on the surface a bit like a missed opportunity for the Republicans – Perez wasn’t exactly raking in the contributions – it’s a bit hard to see where she could have drummed up more support.

– The retiring Griff finished fourth in his old stomping grounds of District C, just ahead of Bo Fraga, and fourth in District E, just ahead of Eric Dick. I guess that means something, but compared to his performance in 2009 it’s hard to say what other than another step in the random walk. His single best shot at a win post-1993 was in 2007, if only he’d cared enough to do more than just show up.

– Speaking of Dick, well, there’s really not much to say, is there? He finished fourth in his home District A. He barely got half as many votes as Perez did for considerably more money. But a lot of people know his name now, so mission accomplished, I guess.

– David Robinson finished second in B, third in D, and second in K. I’m going to take a wild guess here and posit that his name was advantageous to him.

That’s about all I’ve got for now. Last but not least will be At Large #5, coming up next.

Precinct analysis: 2011 At Large races, part 1

Here’s a look at the election returns in each Council district for the three “normal” At Large races, in At Large #1, #3, and #4. First up is #1, where first term incumbent CM Stephen Costello won a narrow majority for a second term.

Dist Costello Galvan Boates Cook ====================================== A 46.25% 7.44% 28.98% 17.34% B 42.41% 9.19% 18.17% 30.24% C 63.58% 5.07% 19.66% 11.68% D 46.48% 8.23% 20.82% 24.47% E 42.68% 6.21% 33.25% 17.86% F 45.46% 9.03% 22.44% 23.07% G 53.55% 3.44% 30.58% 12.43% H 53.68% 18.22% 12.30% 15.80% I 48.36% 22.10% 12.91% 16.62% J 50.64% 9.05% 21.56% 18.74% K 52.14% 7.15% 19.85% 20.87%

Costello’s numbers roughly match those of Mayor Parker – he did a little better in some districts, a little worse in others, and finished about a percentage point higher than the Mayor. A couple of things stand out to me. One, for all of the anti-Renew Houston backlash in District A, Costello didn’t do too badly there; he received as many votes as Brenda Stardig but had a higher percentage of the vote, as there was a greater undervote in his race. The total among his three opponents was about the same as Helena Brown’s total, so who knows, maybe all of the Bob Schoellkopf voters skipped this race. Two, the fact that James Partsch-Galvan was able to score in double digits in Districts H and I is a clear indicator to me that little to no voter outreach was done in those districts, at least for this race. No rational voter, given even minimal information about the candidates, would ever choose Partsch-Galvan. Greg suggests that CM Costello needs to work on increasing his name recognition, and I’m inclined to agree. When people don’t know anything about the candidates they’re voting for beyond the names they see in front of them, strange things happen.

Moving on to At Large #3:

Dist Noriega Carmona Batteau ============================== A 48.35% 34.81% 16.84% B 53.76% 15.36% 30.88% C 66.58% 23.62% 9.80% D 51.89% 14.82% 33.28% E 43.06% 41.43% 15.51% F 49.26% 32.34% 18.39% G 46.92% 40.23% 12.85% H 68.16% 19.62% 12.23% I 70.08% 18.12% 11.80% J 55.64% 26.48% 17.88% K 56.49% 20.80% 22.71%

CM Noriega had over 55% of the vote, which is right in line with her performance in the 2007 special election runoff. She won majorities outside of the Republican districts, though her totals in B, D, and K were likely diminished by the presence of Brad Batteau, even if some people thought he was in another race. Carmona did decently in E and G but was mostly background noise in the rest of the districts. He had less money than Scott Boates did, but as Carmona did not try to have it both ways with his party ID, it probably worked better for him. One more thing to note is how well Noriega did in Districts H and I. Having a Latino name surely didn’t hurt, but let’s not forget that Noriega lives in District I and is pretty well known in and around there. She did better in I than its district Council Member, James Rodriguez: Noriega received 4,282 votes to Rodriguez’s 4,045. Point being, once again, that being known to the voters is a necessary condition for performing to expectations.

Finally, At Large #4:

Dist Bradford Molnar Price ============================== A 59.66% 14.08% 26.26% B 84.79% 4.63% 10.58% C 65.64% 10.81% 23.55% D 83.70% 4.51% 11.79% E 60.52% 12.40% 27.08% F 55.85% 15.19% 28.96% G 67.61% 10.75% 21.64% H 57.52% 17.58% 24.90% I 52.43% 21.77% 25.81% J 57.19% 14.69% 28.12% K 73.82% 7.76% 18.42%

CM Bradford had easily the best showing among contested citywide candidates, and one of the best showings overall. He also did not have something that Costello, Noriega, and Jolanda Jones had: A Republican opponent. My guess is that if you’d thrown a token R into his race – imagine Jack O’Connor moving into At Large #4 instead of the Mayor’s race after leaving At Large #5 – you’d likely move Bradford’s numbers down into the Costello-Noriega range. It’s impossible to say with any certainty, of course. There are so many factors to consider. Unlike Costello and Noriega, Bradford did get the CCLUB endorsement, which surely helped him in the Republican areas, but who knows if he’d have gotten it over a real Republican. I don’t want to understate Bradford’s strength as a candidate – he’s now won two multi-candidate races in a row with large majorities, which is no small feat – but I don’t want to overstate it, either. He was in a different race than his colleagues, and that makes it hard to compare them.

I’m working on analyses of the At Large #2 cattle call, and of course the At Large #5 race as well. Look for them shortly. Let me know what you think of this.

Precinct analysis: The 2011 Mayor’s race

I finally have a draft canvass of the 2011 Harris County vote. You know what that means. Here’s the breakdown in the Council districts for the Mayor’s race:

Dist Simms Ullman Wilson Herrera Parker O'Connor ===================================================== A 4.41% 1.28% 16.31% 18.03% 41.89% 18.09% B 22.41% 3.02% 11.92% 12.71% 43.80% 6.14% C 1.65% 0.83% 9.11% 11.21% 65.38% 11.83% D 15.33% 2.63% 11.07% 11.67% 50.84% 8.45% E 2.48% 0.81% 18.23% 15.03% 38.25% 25.20% F 5.20% 2.15% 10.81% 13.48% 48.78% 19.59% G 1.49% 0.51% 12.16% 9.43% 50.50% 25.91% H 6.04% 2.09% 7.70% 29.48% 47.33% 7.36% I 5.95% 2.47% 8.82% 29.98% 44.68% 8.10% J 5.82% 2.15% 13.27% 13.97% 50.05% 14.74% K 9.62% 1.99% 10.29% 11.00% 56.63% 10.47%

For comparison purposes, here’s my analysis of the 2009 Mayoral runoff. A couple of thoughts:

– As expected, Mayor Parker had her best showing in her District C stronghold, but let’s be honest: 65% against a bunch of no-names is nothing to write home about. Even on her friendliest turf, she failed to top the Lee Brown line. This is what I mean when I say that her problems begin with a lack of enthusiasm in her base. That needs to be Job One for her political team.

– All things considered, Parker did pretty well in the African-American districts, certainly compared to her 2009 head-to-head with Gene Locke. Obviously, not having a top tier African American candidate opposing her helped, but at least she can say she got a lot more support in these areas than before.

– On the flipside, the Mayor lost a lot of support in Republican areas, though she maintained a (slim) majority of the vote in District G. While there were no A listers among them, the fact that there were three conservative Republicans running against her was certainly a contributor. Seeing this makes me wonder why Republicans didn’t back Roy Morales more strongly in 2009. He’s no worse a candidate than any of the three Rs this time around were, and he’d run citywide before.

– The results in district H and I should concern Team Parker. How much of that was genuine dissatisfaction with the Mayor, and how much was Latinos voting Herrera’s name plus a lack of engagement from the Parker campaign? In my neighborhood, I saw a lot more Herrera signs than I did Parker signs. No question that a lot of the former was driven by the issues we’ve discussed before, but the latter I suspect was mostly about lack of outreach. I spend a lot of time in District C, and I barely saw any Parker signs there. What, other than run some TV ads, was her campaign team doing to reach out to voters?

– Looking at this, I wonder if the strategy of squeezing Parker out by running an African-American and a Republican against her – say, Ben Hall and Paul Bettencourt – would really have worked. I’ve no doubt that Hall could have taken a chunk of African-American votes away from Parker, but it’s not clear to me that Bettencourt had much room to improve on the performance of the three Republicans. For one thing, if you replace Wilson, O’Connor, and Herrera with Bettencourt, I’d bet he’d lose some of the Latino votes Herrera got in Districts I and J. He might do better in District G than the non-Parkers did, but maybe not. It’s also possible that the presence of a polarizing figure like Bettencourt, combined with the possibility that she might actually lose to this partisan, conservative Republican, could galvanize the Democratic vote in the Mayor’s favor. It’s anybody’s guess who would benefit from higher turnout, but I don’t think it would strongly favor any one candidate. I think the odds are very good that a Parker-Bettencourt-Hall race winds up in a runoff – Parker had very little margin for error, after all – but I think the most likely ordering would be Parker, then Bettencourt, then Hall – remember, it was Sylvester Turner that got squeezed out in 2003, not Bill White. In that scenario, I’d make Parker a solid favorite in the runoff. Ironically, if she went on to post a decent win in that hypothetical runoff, say 55-45, she might then have been perceived as stronger than she is right now. You can drive yourself crazy thinking about these things.

I’m sure I’ll have more things to say about this as I keep thinking about it. For now, this is what we have. I’ll run the numbers for the At Large races next. Greg has more.

Some Garcia 2002 numbers

When I did an analysis of County Commissioner Precinct 2 for this year’s election, I said that I couldn’t include a comparison from 2002 because I didn’t have precinct-level data for that year. I got an email the other day from Robert Jara, in which he kindly included a spreadsheet of some of that 2002 data. You can see that here. It only has information about the Senate and Governor races, from which we can see that CC2 was two to three points more Democratic than Harris County as a whole, at least for those contests. My guess is that would be fairly consistent down the line, which would make CC2 in 2002 much like it was in 2006, maybe even a pinch more Democratic, likely the result of better turnout in base Democratic areas in 2002 thanks to the Tony Sanchez campaign. Garcia ran several points ahead of the Democratic norm – three points better than Ron Kirk, four points better than Sanchez, likely more than some other members of the ticket. Anyway, now you know. My thanks to Robert Jara for sending me the data.

Thibaut versus Murphy, third time around

We know that the story of HD133, which has now been won twice by Jim Murphy and once by Kristi Thibaut, is one of turnout. With sufficient turnout in the Democratic part of the district – that is, the precincts in Rep. Al Green’s CD09 – it’s a Democratic district. With dominant turnout in the Republican part of the district – the precincts in Rep. John Culberson’s CD07 – it’s a Republican district. How did things look this year?

CD07 - 2010

Pcnct  Votes  Turnout  Murphy Thibaut  T Pct  T Margin
130     1483    64.37    1145    285   19.93      -860
356     1456    51.02     978    425   30.29      -553
395     1064    59.64     782    240   23.48      -542
437     1195    60.38     892    270   23.24      -622
438     1132    63.52     879    213   19.51      -666
483     1856    43.85    1075    700   39.44      -375
492     1214    48.39     790    400   33.61      -390
493      962    53.47     696    235   25.24      -461
499     1498    65.56    1146    311   21.35      -835
504     1363    60.82     991    346   25.88      -645
625      990    53.40     646    314   32.71      -332
626     1231    43.22     731    455   38.36      -276
706      213    40.19     130     78   37.50       -52
727      764    31.48     265    466   63.75       201

Total 18,369    50.44  11,146  4,738   29.83    -6,408

CD09 - 2010

Pcnct  Votes  Turnout  Murphy Thibaut  T Pct  T Margin
96       323    26.22      38     274  87.82       236
338     1561    33.85     498    1001  66.78       503
429     1142    27.93     278     819  74.66       541
487      966    30.35     340     582  63.12       242
503      402    28.71     131     246  65.25       115
508     1179    36.71     397     728  64.71       431
559     1449    32.14     433     940  68.46       507
565      752    22.49     120     597  83.26       477
620     1948    39.05    1103     783  41.52      -320
765     1335    34.83     608     681  52.83        73

Total 11,057    32.14   3,946   6,651  62.76     2,705

The good news from Thibaut’s perspective is that turnout was up in her good precincts by quite a bit over 2006. The bad news is that it was also up in the bad precincts for her. Both did a little better percentage-wise in their strong areas, with Murphy doing a little better than Thibaut at improving the base rate. In the end, Murphy’s margin was larger in absolute terms than it was in 2006, but slightly smaller in relative terms. That’s not a whole lot of comfort, but given what a wave this was for Republicans, it makes Thibaut’s showing look more respectable.

I wondered what the result might have been in a somewhat more normal year. Out of curiosity, I applied the turnout and voter percentage rates from 2006 to all of the CD07 districts, and left the CD09 districts as they were for this year. This is how it looks in CD07 based on that:

Pcnct  Votes  Turnout  Murphy Thibaut  T Pct  T Margin
130     1246    54.09     924     322  25.85      -602
356     1128    39.51     756     371  32.94      -385
395      880    49.32     626     253  28.81      -373
437      997    50.39     748     249  24.98      -499
438      975    54.71     731     244  25.03      -487
483     1464    34.58     873     591  40.35      -282
492      917    36.55     610     307  33.47      -303
493      818    45.46     577     240  29.40      -337
499     1237    54.15     911     326  26.38      -585
504     1153    51.47     797     357  30.93      -440
625      830    44.75     517     313  37.69      -404
626     1049    36.83     611     438  41.72      -173
706      175    33.09     108      68  38.69       -40
727      484    19.96     198     287  59.20        89

      13,354    42.49   8,987   4,366  32.70    -4,621
                       12,933  11,107  46.38           

That last row represents what the total numbers would have been. The overall turnout rate, and Thibaut’s percentage of the vote, are each a bit different than what I showed in the original post for 2006 because I apparently just averaged the percentages back then, instead of adding the actual vote and voter numbers and figuring it out from there. My bad. Anyway, what this shows is that this district was always going to be a tough hold, but was at least within hailing distance of a win under more normal circumstances. It’ll be very interesting to see what happens here in the 2011 redistricting. One obvious “fix” would be to shift some of those CD09 precincts to Hubert Vo’s HD149, while moving some CD07 precincts from there to here. That shores up Murphy while acknowledging that if the Republicans couldn’t take out Vo in 2008 with his apartment issues and a strong candidate opposing him, and they couldn’t take him out in this hundred-year-flood year, they’re not likely to ever take him out. We’ll see about that.

For those who might wonder about Bill White’s ability to attract crossover votes, I should note that he lost this district by all of 15 votes. Here’s how the other statewide candidates who had Democratic opponents did this year and in 2006:

Incumbent   2006%   2010%   06 margin  10 margin
Dewhurst    62.30   58.94       4,952      4,645
Abbott      63.43   60.33       5,456      5,436
Patterson   59.84   59.03       3,902      4,656
Staples     59.27   58.18       3,688      4,197

Dewhurst and Abbott saw their percentages drop as much as they did because their margins were smaller with more votes being cast. Patterson and to a lesser extent Staples were helped by the increase in straight ticket voting, as both of them had a higher undervote rate in 2006 than in 2010. If you’re curious, you can see how the first three candidates did in 2002 here, on page 131.

Partisan breakdown for the city propositions

Now that I have addressed the question of the effect of straight ticket voting on the city propositions, the next question is to figure out how they did in Republican and Democratic areas. To try and get a handle on this, I sorted the precincts into strong and weak partisan groups, based on the straight ticket vote in each. “Strong R” precincts are ones in which Republicans got 60% or more of the straight ticket vote, “Weak R” are the ones in which they got between 50 and 60%; the “Strong D” and “Weak D” precincts are the converse. Here’s how it looks:

Type Pro 1 Con 1 Pro 3 Con 3 For 1% For 3% ============================================================ Strong R 61,883 71,602 72,660 63,802 46.36 53.25 Weak R 17,251 13,683 16,419 15,269 55.77 51.81 Weak D 17,424 13,762 16,172 15,930 55.87 50.38 Strong D 69,557 61,463 53,908 82,292 53.09 39.58

The numbers don’t add up to the official totals because of the partial precincts that were excluded. I have to say, I was more than a little surprised by this. I would have assumed that Republicans would have been the primary opponents of the red light cameras, but that was not it at all. From what I saw, Prop 1 got a fair number of Democrats riled up – though as you can see, in the end Democrats were its biggest supporters – but I never saw or heard of any argument over red light cameras. The depth of animosity towards the cameras from Democratic voters just came out of left field for me.

As for Prop 1, you can look at this data and say that the Texas Conservative Review endorsement either had no real effect, or might have saved it by blunting opposition to it just enough. I’m agnostic about that, so either one can work for me. Here’s another view of the data from Greg Wythe, which shows the results from each election in certain key precincts:

Anglo Dem Neighborhoods Prop1 Prop3 Heights ......... 57.1 ... 52.2 Meyerland ....... 54.9 ... 59.6 Rice U .......... 65.2 ... 63.8 Montrose ........ 70.6 ... 55.0 African-American Neighborhoods Prop1 Prop3 Acres Homes ..... 45.8 ... 32.8 UH/TSU .......... 49.8 ... 36.0 Fifth Ward ...... 46.9 ... 28.5 Hiram Clarke .... 49.8 ... 36.7 Sunnyside ....... 49.2 ... 29.4 Anglo GOP Neighborhoods Prop1 Prop3 Clear Lake ...... 45.1 ... 50.0 Galleria ........ 50.1 ... 59.4 Kingwood ........ 34.9 ... 43.9 Garden Oaks ..... 42.2 ... 51.2 River Oaks ...... 56.1 ... 62.1 Sharpstown ...... 49.8 ... 55.1 Spring Branch ... 43.6 ... 53.7 Memorial ........ 44.3 ... 60.6 Hispanic Neighborhoods Prop1 Prop3 Hobby ........... 46.6 ... 41.6 East End ........ 55.2 ... 46.5 Near Northside .. 55.2 ... 44.6 Multicultural Neighborhoods Prop1 Prop3 Alief ........... 57.4 ... 44.6

If this summary looks familiar, it’s because Greg did something very much like it for the 2009 election. For Prop 3, the division was entirely racial: Anglo voters supported the red light cameras, people of color did not. As for Prop 1, I thought the late opposition from the four African-American members of Council might be a death blow for it, but in the end that doesn’t seem to have had that much of an effect. (Yes, you could make the same argument here as for TCR.) Maybe their message didn’t penetrate that much, I don’t know. It’s something to think about, that’s for sure.

By the way, Greg is back from his blogging hiatus, and he’s got maps a-plenty for those of you who like that sort of thing – you know who you are. Go pay him a visit and see the election in multicolored hues.

Straight ticket voting and the city propositions

As you know, the Chron recently wrote an editorial decrying the rise in straight ticket voting. Among other things, they said:

In two highly publicized Houston propositions on the ballot last Tuesday, nearly 56,000 voters did not register a choice on the Proposition 1 drainage fee issue and nearly 46,000 bypassed Proposition 3 on red-light cameras. Prop 1 narrowly passed and Prop 3 narrowly lost. It’s likely most of those so-called under votes were straight-ticket voters who never ventured down the lengthy ballot.

I still don’t have the data to answer the question about how many straight ticket voters did not cast a ballot in the city proposition elections, but I do have precinct data now, and can try to offer some illumination here.

The first thing to determine is in which precincts there are city of Houston votes, so the other precincts can be removed. This is an inexact science, because city boundaries do not conform to precinct boundaries. In other words, a given precinct may contain Houston voters and non-Houston voters in it. What I did, very simply, was eliminate precincts that had a large disparity between the number of votes cast and the number of votes plus undervotes for the propositions. This throws out some genuinely Houston votes, and includes some non-Houston votes, but it’s the best I can do, and it gets pretty close to the actual picture.

My method estimates that 380,830 votes were cast by Houston voters, which is a bit less than 48% of the Harris County total. The county clerk puts that number at 388,611, so I’m not too far off. I also calculate that 66.7% Houston voters cast a straight ticket vote, which is nearly identical to the 66.9% rate of straight ticket voting in the county overall. So far so good.

The undervote rate for each of the three propositions, as stated by the County Clerk, is as follows:

Prop 1 total votes = 332,757
Prop 1 undervotes = 55,838
Undervote rate = 14.37%

Prop 2 total votes = 315,076
Prop 2 undervotes = 73,522
Undervote rate = 18.92%

Prop 3 total votes = 342,819
Prop 3 undervotes = 45,779
Undervote rate = 11.78%

As discussed before, the undervote rate in the judicial elections was about 5.5%, so clearly there was a higher rate of undervoting on the city propositions. That leads to two questions. Question 1 is simply, was it likely to make a difference?

I’m going to throw out Prop 2 for the rest of this discussion, for two reasons. One, there was no campaign for or against Prop 2, and as such you should expect it to have made little impression on most voters. Two, the number of undervotes is less than the difference between the Against and For totals, meaning that if all of these undervotes were changed to For votes, it still would have failed.

For Prop 1, the For vote exceeded the Against vote by a margin of 6,123. To make up a 6,123 vote difference from 55,838 ballots, you need 30,979 of them to vote Against, which is 55.48%. I suppose that’s doable, but given the closeness of the overall vote, that seems like a bit of a stretch.

For Prop 3, it’s even more stark. Prop 3 was defeated by a 19,345 vote margin. To make that up from only 45,779 ballots, you’d need to win 71.13% of them, or 32,563 votes. I don’t think so. Maybe Prop 1 opponents have a case that straight ticket voters cost them a shot at a win, but red light camera proponents have no such argument. It’s just not plausible.

There’s another way of looking at this, which leads to Question 2: How do these undervote rates compare to undervote rates in city-only elections? There’s no such thing as a straight ticket vote in odd-number-year elections, after all. Let’s take a look at the 2009 election and see what it tells us.

First, for the eleven Constitutional amendments on the ballot, the undervote rate ranged from 10.80% (Prop 2) to 16.84% (Prop 6). That range comfortably includes the undervote rates in the city proposition elections for this year. Those amendments were voted on by the whole county, however, so let’s look at city-only races. Here are the undervote rates for all of the non-Mayoral elections in 2009:

City Controller = 15.39%

At Large #1 = 28.48%
At Large #2 = 30.66%
At Large #4 = 28.56%
At Large #5 = 25.89%

District A = 18.24%
District B = 14.94%
District C = 13.30%
District D = 15.05%
District E = 14.98%
District F = 8.64%
District G = 22.51%

I only included the contested races. With the exception of District F, every race here had an undervote rate that was higher than it was for Prop 3, and with the exception of Districts C and F, every race here had an undervote rate higher than it was for Prop 1. You can say whatever you want about this, but straight ticket voting had nothing to do with it. As such, I consider the Chron’s hand-wringing to be unfounded. Like or dislike straight ticket voting as you wish, I say it had no effect on the city propositions.

UPDATE: Fixed the math on the Prop 3 undervote calculation. Thanks to Mark C for the correction.

Precinct analysis: More maps

I’m pretty much wrung out on precinct analysis for this election, but not everybody is. Go check out Greg’s place for Mayoral Maps By Order of Finish and A Path To Victory: A Tale of Three Neighborhoods. Each of those posts tell the story with maps and colors, so those of you that had had enough of tables and numbers will be pleased. Check ’em out.

Precinct analysis: The top 50

Martha has a nice look at the 50 precincts inside the city of Houston in which the most votes were cast, and how each of the four contenders for Mayor did in them. I’ve copied the data into this Google spreadsheet so that I could add in total and percentages. Here’s how that breaks down:

Candidate Votes Pct ======================== Parker 17,162 36.93 Morales 12,322 26.52 Brown 10,139 21.82 Locke 5,633 12.12

So in these 50 precincts, which make up about 25% of the total vote, Parker led Locke by a 3-1 margin. You have to be a little careful about drawing any broad conclusions here, since this is a heterogeneous set of precincts, in which Parker or Morales were the top votegetters in all but two, but that looks like an impressive performance to me.

Now of course, with a finite data set like this, for Parker to do better than her overall performance here she must have done not as well as her overall performance elsewhere, with the same being true in reverse for Locke. Here’s how it looks for the remaining 700+ precincts:

Candidate Votes Pct ======================== Locke 38,341 29.98 Parker 36,757 28.74 Brown 29,317 22.92 Morales 23,480 18.36

Locke edges ahead here, as Parker’s margin over him in the other precincts was larger than her total margin over him. There’s a lot more voters here than there are in the top 50, so he doesn’t have to do as well percentage-wise to move ahead. By my calculation, if you redistribute the votes in these precincts so Locke got 35% and Parker 24%, he’d have finished ahead of her. Having said that, I’d rather depend on a smaller number of big boxes than a larger number of small ones to hit my target. That just seems like the simpler task to me.

Precinct analysis: City Council At Large races

Moving on to the At Large City Council races. I’m going to look at each of them here. First up, At Large #1:

Dist Cook Litt Alls Cost Derr Rodr Perk Batt ============================================================ A 1,521 1,629 397 4,806 4,144 2,087 919 439 B 1,091 679 252 1,063 1,622 1,466 3,133 1,138 C 1,340 6,626 339 4,423 2,852 1,611 826 673 D 1,689 2,994 526 2,372 3,472 2,026 2,203 2,821 E 1,903 1,287 475 4,842 2,979 2,343 1,104 725 F 1,298 779 193 1,610 1,128 1,153 553 324 G 2,056 3,039 417 8,914 4,218 1,860 1,140 630 H 684 1,309 359 1,635 3,790 3,304 585 334 I 609 671 169 999 1,017 2,976 471 640

I think this is the kind of result you get when you have a lot of candidates, none of whom have citywide name recognition, and not a whole lot of money spent, Stephen Costello somewhat excepted. Costello ran strong in Republican areas, especially District G. I presume that’s where his ads ran on cable. He also led in F and was runnerup in C. Karen Derr did well in her backyard of District H, and reasonably well in neighboring District A. She led in District D, though with a fairly modest 19% of the vote. You can see each of their paths to victory here. Costello needs to amp up his numbers in the Republican and outside the Loop districts while staying competitive in C. Derr needs to dominate the Democratic districts – she has already collected a number of endorsements that went to Herman Litt originally, plus that of the HCDP – and stay close in A and G, both of which reach inside the Loop. She should benefit from having Litt, Rick Rodriguez, and Kenneth Perkins (who as far as I can tell never filed a finance report during this cycle) out of the race. Costello had the benefit of being the only Republican candidate in Round One, and so probably shouldn’t expect too many votes to be transferred to him – he apparently has Lonnie Allsbrooks’ endorsement, judging by the appearance of Costello signs at Beer Island – but the votes he does have should be pretty solid. This one could go either way.

At Large #2:

Dist Lovell Burks Shorter Griff =================================== A 8,333 2,311 940 3,908 B 3,156 3,841 1,684 1,332 C 10,803 2,582 1,254 3,342 D 7,108 6,390 3,039 2,071 E 7,278 3,330 1,175 3,717 F 3,333 1,317 740 1,568 G 11,617 3,404 1,087 5,762 H 5,856 1,708 1,023 1,930 I 3,272 1,434 945 1,233

Not much to see here, really. Lovell came close to an outright win, with Burks and Griff having a nearly equal share of the vote against her. She had majorities in districts A, C, G, and H. She has some issues with the African-American community but still did reasonably well in B and D. I don’t see any path to victory for Andrew Burks that doesn’t include dominating those two districts, and even then it’s unclear how he gets to a majority. You never know what can happen, but I don’t see how Lovell doesn’t win next month.

At Large #4:

Dist Bradford Shafto Freeman Garmon ======================================= A 5,762 2,935 4,031 2,873 B 9,561 666 883 589 C 8,815 2,780 4,261 1,905 D 14,467 1,673 2,884 848 E 6,614 2,604 3,792 3,266 F 3,051 1,227 1,779 959 G 9,296 3,226 5,447 3,942 H 4,942 1,933 2,683 905 I 3,757 1,264 1,517 660

I’m not sure if I underestimated Bradford, overestimated Freeman, or both. It had seemed clear to me that Bradford’s name recognition was a double-edged sword for him – if it had been an unequivocal positive, he’d be our District Attorney right now. By my calculation, he ran about a point and a half behind the average Democratic judicial candidate inside the city of Houston last year, which was enough to hold him back. But if there were any lingering negative effects, it’s just not apparent in the data. He did very well in the African-American districts, easily outpacing Gene Locke in each. He performed well in the three Republican districts, carrying each one and only dropping below 40% in District A. He had a near-majority in Freeman’s home district H, and a clear majority in District I. I don’t know if things might have been different had Freeman been able to raise more money, but it doesn’t really matter. However you slice it, Bradford is Council Member-elect, and all the others who had opponents are in runoffs. You have to tip your cap to him for that.

At Large #5:

Dist Obando Christie Daniels Jones ======================================== A 2,190 8,713 944 4,544 B 843 1,002 940 8,907 C 2,522 6,322 1,532 7,844 D 1,485 1,877 2,727 14,022 E 2,333 9,040 1,143 3,978 F 1,214 3,032 625 2,304 G 2,456 14,922 1,118 5,376 H 2,752 2,536 841 4,735 I 2,156 1,478 725 3,154

When Jack Christie first entered this race, I thought he had a good chance to make things interesting. Then he posted non-existent numbers for the 30 days out report, and I thought it meant his campaign was a non-starter. And then his 8 days out report showed a bunch of spending and I had to reassess again. He showed a lot of strength in the Republican districts, and he did well in C and F besides. I get the impression that the Republican base is more excited about his candidacy than any of the other citywide races, so he should get a lot of his voters back for the overtime period. If he can bring out some new voters, or find a way to grow a little inside the Loop, he can win. Jones, like Bradford, basically maxed out in B and D; I thought it was possible for Davetta Daniels to siphon off some support from her in those districts, but she was a non-entity in B, and didn’t do that much in D. If anything, Jones was probably more hurt by Carlos Obando’s presence in H and I than Daniels’ in D. If she can shore up her support in those places, and keep Christie at arms’ length in C, she ought to win. I think she’s the favorite to win here, but I wouldn’t put it at better than 3:2 odds.

So that’s the end of these analyses. I may have one or two more things to add later. Hope you found this useful.

UPDATE: Greg brings the neighborhood data.

Precinct analysis: The City Controller race

Here are my numbers. As before, for maps, go see what Greg‘s got.

Dist Green Khan Holm ============================= A 4,685 6,750 7,125 B 7,483 3,329 1,362 C 7,356 7,494 6,332 D 13,410 4,673 3,047 E 5,133 7,684 6,633 F 2,403 4,171 1,975 G 4,908 8,446 16,733 H 4,879 4,236 2,973 I 3,725 2,708 1,510

One of the reasons why I thought Pam Holm would make it to a runoff, and why I thought MJ Khan had no chance to do so, is because there are so many more voters in District G than there are in District F. Indeed, Holm built up a huge lead in G, and had a small advantage in neighboring District A, but it wasn’t enough. She ran third in all six non-Republican districts, while Khan carried districts C and E in addition to his home district F, and ran second everywhere else, including in Fort Bend. I have to assume his TV advertising paid off for him; unlike the Mayor’s race, where Peter Brown’s air assault wasn’t enough to get him into the runoff, this race featured three far less known candidates, only one of which spent any significant amount on TV. The boost I presume he got in name recognition, with no countervailing forces from Holm and Green, propelled him forward. I don’t know why Holm didn’t spend more of her money on TV. She still had over $130K in her treasury as of the 8 days out report, and spent less than half of what Khan did ($380K to $160K) in the period. This strikes me as a critical mistake on her part.

As for Ronald Green, he did about as well as Gene Locke in District B, once you factor in the 15% undervote in the Controller’s race, and he did better in District D. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Khan’s first place showing in C, not to mention his strong second place finishes in H and I, should be a loud blaring klaxon that he needs to shore up his support among Anglo and Hispanic Democratic voters. With Holm’s support in the Republican districts likely to transfer to Khan, and with Khan’s strength in F (though I note he didn’t get a majority there), Green can’t take anything for granted. He needs to raise some money quickly, and to remind the Inner Loop folks that he’s their guy. I believe there will be another 8 days out report for the runoff, so we’ll have some idea if he’s doing that or not. If he continues to coast, I believe he will lose.

Next up: City Council At Large races.

Precinct analysis: The Mayorals by Council district

I’ve got some preliminary precinct data from the County Clerk’s office, and have been doing my usual spreadsheet action on it to get a handle of how the vote went this past Tuesday. What follows below is a look at the Mayoral vote by City Council district. If you want a more visual analysis of the data, go see Greg‘s maps.

Dist Parker Locke Brown Morales ======================================= A 7,450 2,601 4,937 6,312 B 1,537 8,774 2,931 681 C 10,439 4,522 5,224 4,156 D 6,185 11,928 4,642 1,007 E 5,741 3,147 5,734 8,084 F 2,714 2,079 3,026 1,935 G 11,183 4,985 7,643 9,881 H 6,011 3,119 3,082 2,143 I 2,650 2,815 2,215 1,582

Breaking it down one candidate at a time:

Annise Parker turned in a solid performance pretty much everywhere. She finished first in Districts A, C, G, and H, came in second in D, E, F, and I, and third in B, which was her only poor showing. Whatever we might have believed about Locke’s pincer strategy or Peter Brown’s supposed Republican appeal, it was Parker who ran the best overall in the Republican districts. Now, there are still plenty of Democratic voters in those places, and I suspect Parker cleaned up with them to post these results. If so, and if she can entice some former Brown backers to come to her side next month, she’ll be in a very strong position to win.

Beyond the obvious fact that he did indeed make it to the runoff, I have to figure that Gene Locke isn’t too happy with his performance last week. He finished last in as many districts (three – A, E, and G) as he did first (B, D, and I, just barely), and finished third in two others (C and F; he finished second in H). It’s less obvious what his path to victory in the runoff is, though clearly he will need to get the Brown voters from B and D into his column, and to try to convince African-American voters who sat it out in the first round to come out next month. I guess he can try to appeal to Republican voters, but given his dismal showing with them plus the possibility of pushing more Anglo Dems into Parker’s camp, I have my doubts about that. Maybe he can make some headway with Latinos for Locke, but they didn’t exactly turn out in droves last week, and Parker did pretty well with them besides. There are possibilities for him, I’m just not sure he can make enough of them work for him. But we’ll see.

Peter Brown was Mister Consistency. Outside of D (-3.12%) and F (+5.87%), he finished within three points of his overall 22.55% total in every district. He finished first in F, second in B and C, and third everywhere else. I have to assume his 21% showing in B damaged Locke, though it’s unclear to me how much his attacks on Locke actually helped him. Whoever his voters are, they can have a huge effect in the runoff if they come back out.

Ah, Roy Morales. What can you say? He did do well in the Republican areas, finishing first in E by carrying Clear Lake and Kingwood, and second in A and G. Everywhere else, he finished last. If that’s what the full force of the Harris County GOP can do for you, I would expect more of the same for Roy if and when he runs again citywide. Greg noted that Roy did reasonably well in some Hispanic boxes. All I can add to that is that it’s not apparent from his overall performance in H and I.

Finally, for the morbidly curious, the three fringe candidates had their best combined showing in District F, garnering a total of 1.95% of the total. Amada Ulman received 1.16% in F, which was the only time any of them broke the one percent barrier. Their worst combined showing was in D, where they finished with 0.55% of the vote. I know you’re glad to know that.

Here’s the Chron analysis of the race. I’ll be taking a look at the City Controller and City Council races next. Let me know what you think about this.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that this is Harris County data only, so the small pieces of Districts D and F that are in Fort Bend, and the even smaller piece of E that is in Montgomery are not included.

One more from Annie’s List

Annie’s List announced their first endorsed candidate for 2010 over the weekend. Now they have a second, and she’s in Houston. From their email:

Annie’s List is proud to announce our endorsement of Kendra Yarbrough Camarena for State House District 138 in Houston. Kendra is a life-long resident of the district that includes Spring Branch, Garden Oaks and the Oak Forest areas of Northwest Houston outside of Loop 610.

She is also a mother of two beautiful children, a highly regarded middle school teacher, a volunteer little league coach for her son’s team (Go Cardinals!), a life member of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, a former member of the SDEC and certainly no stranger to the rough and tumble world of politics. Her father, Ken Yarbrough, held this seat in the 90’s, and while earning her degree at the University of Texas, she worked in the Capitol for an East Texas Democrat.

In recent elections, Democratic candidates have won increased support in HD-138 and Sheriff Adrian Garcia carried the district last year with 52.8% of the vote. And, hometown Democrats like Senator John Whitmire and J.P. David Patronella typically run well ahead of the Democratic ticket in the middle class swing precincts. It is also worth mentioning that Democrats actually perform better in non-presidential elections here where Republican straight ticket voting advantage is nullified.

Additionally, tremendous demographic changes are occurring in this portion of Houston (now a combined minority Voting Age Population over 50%), and mobile young professionals and GLBT families (getting priced out of the Heights and Montrose) are revitalizing older neighborhoods just outside Loop 610. All of that combined with the fact that the Republican incumbent, Dwayne Bohac, has never been forced to defend his extremist record against a well funded, hometown Democratic challenger, and it is pretty clear this race can be won.

Bohac has had challengers in the last two elections, Mark McDavid in 2006 and Ginny McDavid last year, but neither had any real funding. He also ran better than the average Republican in his district in each of those years, and he’s got strong ties to the district as well. And as for the assertion about straight ticket voting, I took a look at the 2008 and 2006 numbers, and this is what I got:

Year Straight R Straight D R Pct Bohac McDavid Bohac % ============================================================= 2006 5,412 3,975 57.7 7,087 4,308 62.2 2008 11,699 9,521 55.1 9,929 5,497 64.4

Those are the straight-ticket vote numbers in HD138, and the Bohac/McDavid numbers with the straight-ticket tallies subtracted. Dems actually closed the straight ticket gap somewhat last year, which I think is a tribute to the overall HCDP county coordinated effort. But by the same token, Bohac won a higher percentage of the ticket splitters in 2008 than he did in 2006. Convincing those voters to switch will need to be as big a part of this effort as getting out the base Democratic vote.

There’s an ActBlue page for Camarena, and Annie’s List will be matching contributions through June 30. They’re definitely out of the gate early, so we’ll see how successful the effort is to get a jump on fundraising.

Early voting in District H

Not a whole lot of people have voted in the District H special election so far. You can see the daily totals here (PDF). Through Wednesday, a grand total of 832 in-person and mail ballots have been cast. I think it’s safe to say that there are no lines at any of the early voting locations.

There’s an interesting discussion on my Facebook page about turnout projections for this race. My back-of-the-envelope math is as follows: When I did my precinct analysis of City Council districts for the 2008 election, I calculated that approximately 7.75% of the total City of Houston vote came from District H. In the 2007 special election for At Large #3, there were 34,274 votes cast (PDF) citywide. Assuming a similar proportion, you get a final turnout of 2,656. Bert Levine suggested a range of 2,400 to 3,000 in that Facebook discussion, using the 2007 election as a guide, and I think that’s dead on.

Needless to say, that means every vote counts. You have to figure that in a nine-candidate race, a 25% showing gets you to the runoff. Twenty percent is probably enough, but for sure twenty-five will do it. That means something like 600 or 700 votes is all you need. A candidate could conceivably do that just with people they and their volunteers know personally It doesn’t get any more basic than that.

I have been asked numerous times who I am supporting in this race. The answer is that even after all this time, I still haven’t made up my mind. While there are a number of good candidates in this race, it comes down to a choice between Maverick Welsh and Ed Gonzalez for me. They’re the closest to my views on the issues, and I think either of them would do an outstanding job. I’ll say who I’m voting for when I figure it out for myself. In the meantime, if you live in H, I hope you’ll make up your own mind and cast a vote. You may never have such a great effect on a race again. Well, at least not till the runoff.

Precinct data: The City Council districts revised

Last week, I presented data on the 2008 election results by City Council district and by city of Houston/not City of Houston. I said at the time that the measurement was a bit rough because precinct boundaries do not conform to City of Houston boundaries. After the post was published, I heard from Eric Ingenthron, who has been crunching some numbers for the Karen Derr campaign, and he was able to provide me some more granular data about individual precincts and the number of registrants in each that have the “city of Houston” designation on them. I then used his data to refine my results, and this is what I came up with.

District Obama Noriega Garcia Judicials ============================================ Houston 61.0 61.8 65.9 60.9 Harris 39.5 40.5 45.7 39.8 A 45.4 46.6 52.9 45.2 B 91.0 91.6 92.9 91.7 C 60.6 59.9 64.5 58.5 D 88.9 87.1 88.7 86.9 E 40.8 42.4 47.4 40.9 F 63.7 65.2 68.8 65.0 G 42.2 40.6 45.6 39.2 H 68.8 72.5 77.7 70.9 I 72.6 79.0 81.6 76.5

The first thing to note is that by getting better information about the Houston/not Houston distinction, I was able to shift about 100,000 votes that I had been counting as Houston out of that bucket and into the not-Houston bucket. Now instead of counting for about 57% of the total vote, the city of Houston now accounts for about 52% of the total, which is a much more accurate representation of the city to county population ratio. That’s also the reason why the Democrats’ share of the vote in each region went up, as the votes in question were less Democratic overall than the city of Houston share, but more so than the non-Houston share.

The biggest differences in the individual Council districts were in A, which shifted about six points in the Dems’ favor, and B, which moved about four points in that direction. District D also became a bit bluer, by about a point. That made District A much closer to parity, with Adrian Garcia carrying the district, and confirmed my initial suspicion, which I’d thought had been rebutted, that it is winnable this year by a Democrat. District E became about a point less Democratic, District G a tenth of a point less so; they were the only districts to move away from the Dems in this recalculation. All other districts remained about the same.

Anyway, that’s the revised data. Greg, who was correct to suspect that such a refinement would move the needle about two points overall inside Houston towards the Dems, has more.

Precinct analysis: The City Council districts

I’d been wondering for a long time how the 2008 vote broke down by City Council districts, as well as for the city of Houston versus non-Houston Harris County. I finally did something about it awhile ago and made a call to Hector de Leon at the Harris County Clerk’s office to ask him if precinct data was available from the 2007 election that could help me answer these questions. He very kindly provided me with a spreadsheet that gave all the 2007 results by precinct, and I was off to the races. Here’s what I found out.

There’s one key point that needs to be understood before I get into this: Precinct boundaries do not conform to City of Houston boundaries. In other words, a given precinct may have voters who live inside the City of Houston, and voters who do not. The effect of this on my analysis, since my data is only granular to the precinct level, is that about half again as many votes were counted as “City of Houston” than they were as “Harris County”. That’s because if a precinct had votes in it for the 2007 election in a city race, it was counted in its entirity towards the City of Houston total in 2008. Had this not been the case, I would have expected a roughly equal amount of votes inside and out of Houston in Harris County. I just don’t have any way to make a distinction within a precinct, so we have to live with that.

That raises the interesting question of whether or not this skews the numbers I generated, and if so by how much? Precincts are geographically small, so these Houston/not Houston voters in the same precinct are basically neighbors for the most part. What’s the bigger factor in determining their voting behavior: proximity or city limits? There’s probably a master’s thesis in that. In any event, my rough guess is that the results I’ve generated probably underestimate the Democratic-ness of the city of Houston and overstate it for its complement, but not by very much.

I note here I’m still using draft canvass numbers from 2008, which is basically all of the non-provisional votes. I don’t think this makes much difference, either, but I wanted to mention it just to be clear. And so, without further ado…

District Obama Noriega Garcia Judicials ============================================ Houston 58.5 59.3 63.5 58.4 Harris 39.0 40.1 45.3 39.3 A 39.5 40.2 46.3 39.0 B 86.8 87.7 89.4 87.8 C 60.6 59.9 64.5 58.5 D 87.7 87.1 88.7 87.0 E 41.3 43.2 48.1 41.8 F 63.6 65.1 68.7 65.0 G 42.3 40.7 45.6 39.2 H 68.8 72.4 77.6 70.9 I 72.7 79.0 81.6 76.5

The numbers given are percentages of the vote, for Barack Obama, Rick Noriega, Adrian Garcia, and the county Democratic judicial candidates. A few thoughts:

– I had previously thought that District A would be amenable to electing a Democrat this year to replace the term-limited Toni Lawrence. That doesn’t appear to be the case here. I was surprised to see that A was the most GOP of the districts – I’d have guessed it would have been E or G. It may be that the precincts that encompass District A also happen to include some strongly Republican non-Houston turf, more so than E or G, I can’t say. But it does put a bit of a damper on my hopes for Jeff Downing and Lane Lewis.

– I expected Districts C and F to skew Democratic, but I was surprised by how much they did. Given that C’s precincts likely include some pieces of West U and Bellaire, that’s even more impressive. Democrats – and as that stands right now, that means Mike Laster – ought to win F this year, and I’d give good odds on winning C in 2011 when Anne Clutterbuck terms out.

– In the meantime, despite their inability to compete citywide, Republicans have overperformed a bit in winning district Council races, as they have five seats but are only a majority in three. As noted, I think that’s a temporary situation, and given Adrian Garcia’s showing in those three red districts, they shouldn’t be taken for granted by anyone, either.

– Of course, the electorate for a historic Presidential race and the electorate for city races, even one with a wide-open Mayoral campaign, are two very different things. All things considered, that probably gives a more Republican tilt overall, one which is more pronounced in the years that don’t have a Mayoral melee at the top of the ticket. How big an effect that is, and how much it’s being counteracted by demographic trends, I couldn’t say.

– Finally, I thought I’d add one more table, showing how many votes were cast in each Council district in the Presidential race, again bearing in mind all the caveats from above:

District Votes ================== A 118,019 B 72,743 C 73,627 D 81,009 E 113,438 F 43,704 G 99,061 H 47,409 I 35,492

Even if you assume some districts are more bolstered by precincts with non-Houston voters than others, there are still some pretty huge differences there. Let’s just say I foresee large challenges for those who are tasked with redrawing City Council districts, whenever that may be.

Dallas Dems look to 2010

Never too early to be thinking about these things.

“I don’t think it’s a big stretch to say we can do 57 percent [countywide] in 2010,” said Darlene Ewing, chairwoman of the Dallas County Democratic Party.

Because of that comfort level, Ewing said, the county party is targeting Dallas County commissioner Precinct 4, held by Republican Ken Mayfield.

Mayfield won in narrow victory in 2006, as his Republican-leaning area in western Dallas County continued to see demographic shifts that resulted in more Hispanic voters.

Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Elba Garcia, a Democrat, is expected to challenge Mayfield next year.

Ewing said Democrats are also eying state House District 105, where last year Republican Linda Harper Brown of Irving held on by 19 votes to beat little-known Democrat Bob Romano.

HD105 is a given; it really should have been won in 2008, but that’s water under the bridge at this point. It gets harder after that – HDs 108, 112, 113, and 114 are all within numerical reach, though they all present challenges. If they can find and fund quality candidates, anything is possible. Some defense will be in order as well, especially in HD 101, where the Obama wave was helpful to Robert Miklos’ victory.

Beyond that, I sure hope their sights are set a little higher than this. Winning a County Commissioner’s seat is big, but there’s another prize out there that’s just begging for a claim to be put in. I’m speaking about CD32, where Pete Sessions will be operating as the chair of the NRCC in a district that’s trending strongly Democratic – as the Swing State Project documented, where George W. Bush won 64% in CD32 in 2000, and 60% in 2004, John McCain could muster only 53% last year. With the DCCC having already targeted Sessions on the airwaves, and with a lack of any countywide races to take over, why not take aim here? The Dems had a candidate in 2006 who had money but no visible campaign that I could discern, and a candidate in 2008 who ran an active campaign but had little money. Surely in 2010 they could find someone to put both halves of the formula together. Thanks to BOR for the link.

Here we go again with City Council redistricting

Or at least, here we go again with arguing about when we should be redrawing City Council lines.

Mayor Bill White’s decision to delay redrawing the boundaries of City Council districts has angered numerous community activists, who say his stance is defying Houston’s charter.

Under a 30-year-old legal settlement with the U.S. Justice Department, the number of council members “shall increase” from 14 to 16 when Houston’s population hits 2.1 million. That settlement later was incorporated into the city’s charter.

The mayor, City Council members and officials all acknowledge that the triggering population threshold has been crossed.

But White and several council members have resisted the push for redistricting, asserting that the city lacks population data needed to redraw district lines accurately. That data will come from the U.S. Census Bureau’s decennial survey in 2010. Pressing on without it, they say, could lead to a court challenge under federal voting rights laws.


Houston has had more than 2.1 million people since 2006, according to population estimates the city has been using in official documents. To create new districts and change boundaries, however, the city would have to use detailed population estimates for specific tracts of land, city officials said. Though demographers are assumed to estimate the overall city population accurately, the only accurate tract-level data would have to come from the 2000 Census.

Redrawing district lines now would, in effect, be based on almost 10-year-old data, said Jerry Wood, a former city planner and redistricting expert. He noted that the city went through redistricting in 1982 and 1985, based on dated census figures. The estimates used those years were shown to be wrong in the 1990 Census, Wood said.

That possibility, and any lawsuit that could stem from it, led City Attorney Arturo Michel and Chief Administrative Officer Anthony Hall to advise the mayor against redistricting now.

“I have no doubt that our actual population exceeds the threshold number, but there are substantial legal issues about whether federal law allows us to draw districts based on guesses about where people live,” White said.

I appreciate that perspective, and as far as it goes, I agree we’ll have much more accurate data real soon now. But we’ve been talking about this for over three years, and the city could have taken action in 2006 in time for the 2007 elections, but demurred on the grounds that we weren’t really sure we were past the 2.1 million mark. That seems to have been an erroneous belief. Anyway, the last time this came up, the word was wait till 2010. Which makes sense in a vacuum, but it didn’t have to be this way. I have a lot of sympathy for the people who are complaining about it again now.

Presently, in a city made up of 41.7 percent Hispanics, 24.3 percent African-Americans and 5.3 percent Asian-Americans, there is one Latino council member, four African-Americans and one Asian-American.

“We’re the fourth-largest city in America. Let’s act like it,” said Vidal Martinez, an attorney and former Port of Houston commissioner who urged council members recently to take up redistricting now.

But council members noted that much of the city’s growth that would be addressed in redistricting has happened in west Houston.

“We’re going to have to peel away (new districts) from existing western, white districts,” Councilwoman Anne Clutterbuck said. The problem with drawing out districts to address a certain population, like a Hispanic population, is Hispanics are scattered across the city.”

We’re likely, though certainly not guaranteed, to have another Latino member after the special election for District H. That would make Council exactly half Anglo, half non-Anglo, and while that’s not really aligned with the overall population, I’ll bet it’s a pretty fair representation of the population that actually votes. Some Latino leaders have a summit coming up in three weeks to talk about issues like that – see Marc Campos for details. More voter participation, and more Latinos running At Large would make a big difference even with the current lines.

If you’ve read any of my precinct analysis posts from the 2008 election, you know I agree with Council Member Clutterbuck about the electoral map out west. Another question that will need to be dealt with for the eventual map-drawers is what to do with District E. It really doesn’t make sense to glue Kingwood and Clear Lake together, but splitting them apart is likely to create two districts that will tend to elect Anglos, instead of just one. If the goal is to increase minority representation, that will come into conflict. Whenever we do get around to this, it’s going to be a tricky and contentious task.