Texas will never turn blue

At least not in this political reality. I know, it’s a rather evocative headline, but the charts and stats I show below will hopefully convince you that the only thing that would guide Texas toward the left is huge national trends. As I have said before, I strongly believe that the Republican Party will go the way of the dodo in about 20 years or so, leaving behind a Democratic Party that gets so all-encompassing that it splits in two. Short of that, the GOP could realign in just as much of a substantial way. The great step to the right of the 1980s would be superseded by a step to the left in the 2030s, like the previous leftward step a century previous. The horrendous midterm results for Democrats have not shaken my belief that the Republicans are on a destruction course; in fact, it has only strengthened my resolve. However, the results specifically in Texas have lead me to believe that all the work of groups such as Battleground Texas has been in vain. There is little left to do now, for progressives, than to work together with moderate Republicans to elect pragmatic conservative candidates and to wait for the rising tides to guide Texas away from the rocks. I only wish it will not be too late by then.

State Senator Wendy Davis (D-Tarrant County), the Democratic candidate for Governor, lost her race by twenty points, 39-59. Governor-elect Greg Abbott performed better than Governor Rick Perry in all three of his elections. For the downballot elections, all the other Republicans won by comparably margins. The Lieutenant Governor’s race was the closest, with the Democrat losing by just more than 19 points, and the US Senate race being the biggest blowout, with Senator John Cornyn being re-elected by more than 27 points. The Republicans re-took the US Senate, meaning that — all other things being equal — Cornyn will now be the Majority Whip of the Senate.

Locally, Harris County went straight Republican, whereas Bexar County was a reddish shade of purple. Neither showed any improvement from 2010 (I didn’t realize how many judgeships the Democrats won in Bexar in 2010), though, with the big exception being that Nico LaHood (D) defeated Susan Reed (R) and was elected District Attorney in Bexar County. In Harris County, the GOP slate generally beat the Democratic one by about 10 points, though certain races were closer. DA Devon Anderson defeated her Democratic challenger, Kim Ogg, by only about six points. Though it is important to note this was just a special election for the post, and it will be right back on the ballot in just two years.

Davis’ State Senate also fell to the Republicans, specifically a woman named Konni Burton. This puts the party in control of 20/31 seats, just shy of the coveted 2/3rds needed to ramrod legislation through. However, Lieutenant Governor-elect Dan Patrick will likely disassemble that rule anyways. In the State House, the Republicans picked up three seats. State Representative-elect Wayne Faircloth (R-Galveston County) prevailed in the district currently held by retiring Democrat Craig Eiland. Meanwhile, State Representative Philip Cortez (D-Bexar County) was defeated by Rick Galinda and State Representative Mary Ann Perez (D-Harris County) was defeated by Gilbert Pena.

Also around the state, voters in Denton approved a measure to ban hydraulic fracturing (fracking) within the city limits. This has prompted the Oil & Gas Associated, as well as the General Land Office, to file suit against the city. Watch out for the Legislature passing a law disallowing these types of referendums next session.

Now, I’ve put together a few charts. First up, I compared the counties won by the gubernatorial candidates in 2010 (top) to those won in 2014 (bottom). Obviously, blue for the Democrat and red for the Republican.

Governor10

Governor14

Obviously, Davis won fewer counties than Bill White, the 2010 Democratic candidate. Most notably, she didn’t win Harris County, although it is important to note that White was a former Mayor of Houston and that Abbott is also a Houstonian. But Abbott also won three southern counties that White triumphed in. I don’t know if you could call locales like Kleberg County (fourth from the bottom on the coast) part of the Valley, but it is more than 70% Hispanic.

Davis did worse than White, worse than Chris Bell (2006 Dem nominee) and worse than Tony Sanchez (2002 Dem nominee). In fact, if you look at the margins of victory in recent gubernatorial elections, it appears as though the trend is for Democrats to do worse as time goes on –quite different than what common knowledge would have you believe.

Next, the same comparison for Lieutenant Governor:

Lt Gov10

Lt Gov14

Now, in 2010, the Democrats had a rather unremarkable candidate for Lieutenant Governor: Linda Chavez-Thompson. With only slightly more resources than Jim Hogan, she ran a truly awful campaign. And when she went up against Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, she did even worse than the Democratic nominee this year. State Senator Leticia Van de Putte, the Democratic candidate, did win a net 2 more counties in the south, including Kleberg.

Moving onto Attorney General:

Attorney General10

Attorney General14

Sam Houston, the Democratic candidate for Attorney Genera, won a few more southern counties. He carried Jefferson County, the home of Beaumont (that blue speck in the right corner), the only Democrat by my calculations to do so.

Last, and probably least, the US Senate election:

Senate12

Senate14

Granted, this map compares David Alameel’s, the Democratic Senate candidate, performance to the 2012 election, but it is still striking. Alameel was the worst contender of all the Democratic ticket, and for good reason.

All in all, the Democrats did worse than four years ago. Downballot, they didn’t necessarily do as bad as some are claiming, mainly because Bill White outperformed the Democratic ticket in 2010 by A LOT. Davis outperformed them by a statistically insignificant amount, in comparison. Below, I have attached a line graph demonstrating the margins with which Republicans have won the non-Judicial statewide offices since 1998. I have omitted the 2000 Railroad Commission race and the 2010 Comptroller race because they lacked Democratic candidates and the 60 or 70-something margins would have skewered the graph:

Ranges

The other major point is that ticket-splitting has decreased rapidly. The range of the losses was about 37 points in 1998, decreased to about 25 points in 2002, 16 points in 2006, 17 points in 2010 and only 8 points last Tuesday. Like I have opined in the past, this is likely because of the growing stupidity of the average Texan, and the rise of “FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BAD” style straight-ticket voting.

Finally, I wanted to look into how much Democrats have improved in Bexar and Harris counties. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet for finding just how Republican an election is in these counties before 2010, back when ticket-splitting was still commonplace. Ultimately, I settled on straight party voting, which is a rather bad barometer, but it beats nothing.

Bexar County

Harris County

These are bad measurements for a couple of reasons, namely that they overstate Democratic support. While Democrats received more straight ticket votes than Republicans in 2006 in Harris County, they still loss the whole county and all the positions. And 2000 wasn’t a close election either. But these graphs should just illustrate, rather unscientifically, that there is no meaningful improvement for Democrats in either county in midterm elections. If I have an abundance of time, I will average the margins of victory for all the countywide elections in a given election year to find a more accurate number.

As I have opined before, since Davis and the pack did not crack the 40% mark and did convincingly worse than 2010, Battleground Texas will be no more. Snuffed in its infancy. Either it will just fold in the next few weeks or its budget will be slashed so significantly that it will become a non-entity in practice. Most of the people running that rolling calamity will likely be out of a job. I’m going to leave my rationale for why the Democrats got whupped so monstrously to a latter post, but let’s just say there are quite a few reasons.

The most important reason, however, is that the average Texan is evidently both too stupid and too lazy to be bothered to participate in the political process. A pitiful 1/3 registered voters participated. Campaigns can do what they want to drive turnout, but until young people put down the blunt and the funyuns long enough to “occupy” a voting booth, nothing will get any better for the Democrats. Until other non-voters get up off their butts and stop being worthless, ‘poor and puny anonymities,’ politics will continue being dominated by the far-right. At the end of the day, however, in a democracy, people get the government they deserve. Lazy Texans will get that government many times over in the succeeding years.

Big Jolly Politics, Brains & Eggs (Parts I, II, III, IV), Eye on Williamson, Off the Kuff and Texas Leftist all have more.

What I’m looking for tomorrow

For the most part, Texpatriate endorsed Democrats this election cycle. An absolutely contemptible slate of statewide non-judicial Republicans, along with Harris County courts that are — all too often — corrupted or being run inefficiently, led us to disproportionately back the Democratic challengers. In editorial squabbles, especially compared to last year, I found myself seldom in the minority. In fact, only in one contest, the Land Commissioner election, did I dissent from the endorsement. If you still haven’t voted yet, please do so, whoever you will support.

If you have ever read something on this publication before, you are likely familiar with my skepticism as to Battleground Texas’ short-term feasibility, as well as the statewide Democratic slate. I’m not holding my breath for any statewide Democrats to win, but I’ve never insisted that their victory should be the number one priority. Since mid-2013, I have been writing that even a loss could be a win for Texas Democrats, and the rationale rests upon three main items.

First, State Senator Wendy Davis (D-Tarrant County), the Democratic candidate for Governor, and the rest of the ticket need to move the needle. Bill White, the Democrats’ 2010 gubernatorial nominee, garnered 42% of the vote. Davis needs to do better in order for the pipedream of Texas turning blue to be taken seriously. She doesn’t need to do much better. After all, 2014 is shaping up to be a bad year for Democrats nationwide. But she needs to do better.

Second, the rest of the Democratic slate needs to do better. White significantly outperformed his compatriots because, as a popular former Mayor of Houston, he received many crossover votes, but also his running mates were lousy candidates. With downballot choices this time around such as State Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-Bexar County), the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, and Mike Collier, the bombastic and stellar Comptroller candidate, the same simply cannot be said again in 2014. Oh yeah, and the Democratic candidate for Attorney General is named SAM HOUSTON! In all seriousness, he is a talented lawyer and a good candidate, but his rockstar name will ensure he probably does better than any other Democrat. The Democrats running statewide in 2010 not named Bill White received anywhere from 34-37%. That number’s median needs to be raised to at least 40%, in my opinion. That is comparable to how statewide Democratic candidates not named Barack Obama did in 2012.

Third, and most importantly, Davis needs to lend her coattails to Democratic pickups in Bexar (San Antonio), Harris and Nueces (Corpus Christi) counties. She also needs to have a strong enough performance in Dallas County to ensure the countywide elected Democrats politically survive there. I’ve seen no evidence that Nueces County is in play, but the other counties (including Dallas) look to be tossups. This is perhaps the most important.

If Democrats pick up anything in either Bexar or Harris Counties, it will largely justify some progress and otherwise good news for Democrats. This could be as simple as merely winning the DA’s office in Harris County. If they, by some lucky maneuver, can win all the way down the ticket in either county, it would be a truly cause for celebration. But going Zero for whatever once again in both counties would, similarly, cause alarm bells to ring. Losing in Dallas County would cause hell to break loose.

I have opined before that, if the Democrats do really, really poorly, as in less than 40% of the statewide vote, Battleground Texas will pack up and go home. Talk of “turning Texas blue” will be a one-time debacle only uttered in Washington DC bars, with the same lamentations as soft drink executives recalling New Coke. For the record, I don’t think that will occur, but it is certainly within the realm of possibility.

That is why it is so important to vote. Statewide races will almost certainly not be decided by close margins, but in Harris County they certainly could. Judge Kyle Carter, a Democrat in the 125th District Court, got re-elected by fewer than 2000 votes last time. Mike Sullivan, a Republican, was elected Tax Assessor by a similar margin. On first count, President Barack Obama carried the county by TWO votes. TWO votes. That’s you and one friend.

 

Reality Check, Part V

First and foremost, a poll was released by The Texas Tribune today that appears to place the final nail in the Democrats’ coffin. Now, as I have opined time and time again in the past, I’m not really a fan of the Tribune’s polling, so take this with a grain of salt. But with Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican candidate for Governor, leading State Senator Wendy Davis (D-Tarrant County), the Democratic candidate for Governor, by a whopping 16 points, the margin of error is taken care of more than five times over. I’ve attached the polls for all of the statewide non-judicial contests.

TGov

TLtGov

TSenate

TAG

TCompt

TLandCom

LAgCom

LAgCom

Of note, because of rounding errors, the Land Commissioner poll should not equal 100. Excel insisted upon putting Bush’s total at 51% anyways, but the Tribune poll only put 50%.

These polls put the Democratic deficit anywhere from 15 points (Agriculture Commissioner) to 26 points (US Senate). The poll basically insinuates that there are people who are voting for Wendy Davis, yet are splitting their ballots for Dan Patrick. Or thinking that Jim Hogan is a sensible, qualified and tempered candidate for Agriculture Commissioner (he’s none of those things), and yet Ken Paxton is the superior choice for Attorney General. Do these people truly exist? Are Texans truly that inept? I say no, and think those absurdities prove that the poll is just a bunch of stuff, as the Vice President would put it.

The polls also show third parties getting huge percentages of the vote, sometimes nearly 20%. That’s a little bit silly, considering that they rarely surpass 5%. I tend to think the reason for their gross overperformance is that the poll is largely conducted via eager participants on the internet. You know, the people who have the extra zeal to come up with their own outlying political views.

Let’s get something clear, no statewide Democrat is going to win this year. That much I am certain of. But the Democrats don’t have to literally win in order to win, as counter-intuitive as that might sound. The slate needs to outdo Bill White’s performance in 2010, which was roughly 42%. Ideally, they should do well enough to lift the ticket in Bexar County (San Antonio), Harris County and Nueces County (Corpus Christi) enough to elect some local Democrats. But showing progress from the last election is the most important thing. Battleground Texas will keep registering voters, demographics will keep moving in a good direction and Texas will transition inch-by-inch into a purple state. Vox made a similar point today.

Bud Kennedy at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram noted today, though, that the Texas Democrats have a considerable chance on not outdoing their 2010 performance. If the slate is less than 42%, alarm bells will ring. If it ranges from the high to low 30s, as this poll might suggest, it will be Armageddon for Texas politics. Battleground Texas will likely disband. National Democrats will think of the short-lived project to turn Texas blue and shake their heads. In the bars of Manhattan and Capitol Hill, it will be thought of with the same naivete as the New Coke debacle. I really don’t want that to happen.

Through the first four days of early voting, the numbers are negligibly different from four years ago, with some minor differences I’ll note in tomorrow morning’s issue of The Daily Texan. That will be what determines how well Davis does. So please, please, vote.

In re Wendy Davis’ primary

The Texas Tribune reports on a growing cause for concern among Democrats statewide, Wendy Davis’ lackluster primary finish. State Senator Davis (D-Forth Worth), now officially the Democratic nominee for Governor, had a somewhat disappointing finish in the Democratic primary. She faced an individual named Ray Madrigal, who is a Municipal Judge in the Corpus Christi suburb of Seadrift, who spent $0 and engaged in absolutely no campaigning. However, somehow, Madrigal not only racked up over 20% of the vote, he won 25 counties (tied in 2 others), with nearly all of them being Hispanic majority counties.

Perhaps you should read that again: a perennial candidate with no experience and no serious outreach program soundly defeated Wendy Davis in the most strongly Democratic portion of the State purely on the basis of having a Hispanic surname. I make the distinction about Madrigal’s non-campaign because it has relevance when one compares this primary victory with Greg Abbott’s or Bill White’s. Abbott’s opponents engaged in campaigning; indeed, all three of them had campaign websites and one even submitted a Texpatriate Questionnaire. And yet, all put together, the three opponents conjured up less than half the vote-percentage as Davis’ non-opponent.

Click here to see the charts put together on this subject!

Everyone hates Kinky

The Houston Press wrote a five page cover story on the Democratic Agriculture Commissioner candidate everyone loves to hate, Kinky Friedman. A former independent candidate for Governor, Kinky Friedman garnered 12% of the vote in a year (2006) when the Democratic candidate lost to Rick Perry by less than 10%. Ever since, Democrats have unfairly bullied and criticized the man at every turn. Never mind that this irrational animosity ignores the fact that a huge chunk of Friedman’s supporters came from people who would have supported either Perry or the other independent in the race if he had not run.

Four years later, in 2010, he ran for Agriculture Commissioner, but as a Democrat this time. The Democrats were not quick to forgive, and he was later decisively defeated in the primary by Hank Gilbert. While I believe Gilbert was ultimately better qualified to serve, he was absolutely shellacked by the Republican in the general election because he offered nothing to stand out from the crowd. Kinky Friedman does stand out from the crowd.

Now he is running for the same post a second time, and he is running with a very interesting niche issue: pot legalization. Now, one may think that the legalization of cannabis is a dangerously extreme position to take in Texas, but this simply is not true. 58% of Texans support full legalization, the same percentage as medicinal legalization.

Click here to read more!

Playing dirty in District D

I logged onto my Facebook today to find this interesting ad on my newsfeed:

1003326_10200701153149339_1546987383_n

First of all, this is a hilarious photo of Boykins. I cannot find it on his account, for the life of me. While the ad itself did not appear to be the work of any other candidate in the race, one such contended, Larry McKinzie, wasted no time in sharing the ad to his Facebook (which is how I stumbled across it).

The ad raises some serious allegations about Boykins. First, I would like to know how many Republican primaries we’re talking about. I can’t think of many people more yellow dog Democrat than my father, and he voted in GOP primaries prior to 2006, back when absolutely 0 Democrats ever had a chance in Harris County. I would not be surprised if Boykins was doing the same thing. I know some people affiliated with the HCDP have some special Obamaesque spying technique that allows them to figure out exactly which primaries Boykins voted in. I’d like to see how that goes.

But his campaign donations are public knowledge, so I decided to investigate that angle. Boykins donated a lot of money to Democrats; the GOP money is dwarfed in comparison. Further, when that money is examined, a pattern appears. Boykins donated to incumbents like Ted Poe, Kay Granger and Pete Olson, who faced only token opposition. Boykins donated to David Dewhurst, which I can’t blame him for considering who he was up against. Boykins donated $500 to Randy Weber, but he donated three times that amount to the Democratic opponent, Nick Lampson.

Fellow “blogger o’ the left” Erik Vidor also posted his two cents on the two entire issues. Vidor commented:

Dude has only voted in one Republican Primary (2010) going back to 2000. Every other time it was for the D’s. The contributions are interesting fodder but it’s important to recognize that Mr. Boykins line of work requires working from both sides of the aisle. And upon further examination of campaign reports, he’s been pretty even in his giving to both parties.

I do not know if Vidor is getting his information from the fancy Obama spying software I previously mentioned, but if he did only vote in the GOP Primary in 2010, I cannot really blame him. Except for a few delusional liberals, everyone knew the Democratic Party was going down in flames that year. It made much more sense to nominate less-evil Republicans who would be sure to win in the general election.

All in all, I do not see much in the way of substantial attacks against Boykins. While nothing in the ad is untrue, it is somewhat misleading. I will be doing a somewhat more thorough investigation on this in the coming days. Otherwise, there is no real scandal here. Larry McKinzie has officially lobbed the first stone, and campaign season has begun.

Reality Check

Immediately following Wendy Davis’ epic filibuster, the dominant buzz throughout the State revolved around her gubernatorial intentions. Unfortunately, she will probably do just as poorly as every other Democrat. Public Policy Polling, which is affiliated with Democratic groups but usually is somewhat accurate, has put out a sobering poll for the Democrats’ prospects, irrespective of if Rick Perry will choose to run for re-election. The results were as follows:

1. Rick Perry approval
45% Approve
50% Disapprove

7. Perry v. Julian Castro
50% Perry
43% Castro

8. Perry v. Wendy Davis
53% Perry
39% Davis

9. Perry v. Annise Parker
52% Perry
35% Parker

10. Perry v. Bill White
50% Perry
40% White

11. Greg Abbott v. Castro
48% Abbott

34% Castro

12. Abbott v. Davis
48% Abbott
40% Davis

13. Abbott v. Parker
50% Abbott
31% Parker

14. Abbott v. White
48% Abbott
36% White

15. Second Special Session approval
43% Approve
44% Disapprove

16. Filibuster approval
45% Approve
40% Disapprove

17. SB5/HB2/SB1 approval
20% Approve
28% Disapprove

The poll does not include a question about a Republican Primary or a Democratic Primary. That bugs me to no end, though in the past Perry has outdone Abbott in these polls. When it comes to these eight races, they are the identical candidates that PPP discussed in a January poll. In that poll, White had a 3 point lead over Perry. Now he has a 10 point deficit. In fact, in all eight races, the margins shifted heavily to the Republicans.

Perry v. Castro, January +5% R
Perry v. Castro, July +7% R
Abbott v. Castro, January +10% R
Abbott v. Castro, July +14% R

Perry v. Davis, January +6% R
Perry v. Davis, July +14% R
Abbott v. Davis, January +12% R
Abbott v. Davis, July +8% R
Perry v. Parker, January +7% R
Perry v. Parker, July +17% R
Abbott v. Parker, January +12% R
Abbott v. Parker, July +19% R
Perry v. White, January +3% D
Perry v. White, July +10% R
Abbott v. White, January +7% R
Abbott v. White, July +12%

The Democrats did worse in all of these polls except one: the Abbott/Davis campaign. Davis actually does 4 points better in July. Interestingly, Davis is also the only candidate who does better against the Attorney General than the incumbent Governor. Bill White suffered the biggest drop, by far, in his race against Perry.

One excuse that I immediately thought of in an attempt to spin the poll results was that it was started before the filibuster took place. Sadly, this is not the case. Polling did not begin until last Friday. Accordingly, when one digs deeper into the number, it becomes apparently obvious what has happened. Because of all this SB5 stuff, Perry has revitalized his base. The Religious Right, which rode him back into office in 2010, is coming to the rescue again.

Off the Kuff and Texas Leftist both have more on the poll itself, and what not. This is making me a little bit to upset to write coherently, but I would like to discuss some of the implications of Wendy Davis’ candidacy that still exist. Bear with me, I might get a little bogged down in the minutia.

At a certain point in the 1960s, the Republican Party realized that they could not keep nominating liberals in the style of Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt for President. You see, while the traditional liberal who would fight for the marginalized was originally a Republican, at some point following the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt convinced the American people that the Democratic Party was the party of liberals. Following the Great Depression and World War II, most Americans were liberals, so the Democrats won most Presidential elections and had a lockjaw on Congress. The GOP, wanting to get in on this, would nominate liberals like Thomas Dewey. Nelson Rockefeller also ran a painful number of times. But here’s the thing, when the American people wanted to vote for a liberal, they would vote for a Democratic liberal. Accordingly, the Republican Party was stuck in a rut until they started trying to change peoples’ opinions. Enter Barry Goldwater. Goldwater lost in a landslide, but he changed the conversation and ultimately set the stage for this ugly right-turn the country has been on since 1980. Simply put, the Texas Democratic Party needs their Goldwater.

Once upon a time, the Texas Democratic Party was the party of the average, rural Texan would identify with. John Tower, Bill Clements and George Bush changed all of that. However, much like the Deweys and Rockefellers of the past, the Texas Democratic Party continues to nominate people like Bill White, Paul Sadler and Hank Gilbert. Don’t get me wrong, I liked all of these politicians personally and believe they would have been great officeholders. But, simply put, they did not have the chutzpah to run for office as open Democrats. When Sadler had a chance to correct this, he ran away like a scared little poodle. If we concede that the Texas electorate wants conservatives, they will vote for the conservative candidate.

Wendy Davis could be our Goldwater. Even if she doesn’t win, she shifts the conversation. That way, two or three elections down the road, we win. The great landslide of 2026 or what not will look back at 2014 the way the Reaganphiles look at Goldwater. But I digress.

The other upside to Wendy Davis running for Governor would be what I call the “Obama effect.” Having Davis at the top of the ticket, even if she can’t win Statewide, will be sure to help the downballot Democrats in Bexar and Harris counties, respectively, in what will be sure to be competitive county elections.