Wednesday, March 3, 2010

No purple fingers here!

Ah the day after. Woolen-headed political consultants wake up next to woolen-headed policy wonks, look each other in the eye and ask "Did we just DO that?" This is a universal event regardless of whether their chosen candidate has won or lost. Call it pressure release for the political wannabe. At least, for the attractive, single wannabees. The ugly ones will be relegated to going home and looking at all of the pictures of "hawt people" they took, while scouring the Internet to see what it is they missed over the last three months. The married ones go home, if they're smart. The really unlucky ones get to play live-in baby-daddy to John Edwards mistress and love child....but that's a different post.**

For this post let's take a look at some of the more interesting results from your semi-regular trip to the polls. Who won, who lost, and where in the heck do we go from here. Sorry political consultant types, this blog doesn't come with motion sickness bags. Besides, I stayed home last night.

Texas Governor: I think it's a fairly safe call, at this point, to say that the strength of both front-runners was underestimated by the polls. Pretty much everyone thought Bill White would win w/o a run-off, but I don't think anyone expected 75% of the vote and the AP calling it before the 10 o'clock news. It was a great night for White who, though he hasn't faced a strong, well-funded candidate yet in his political career, will have some momentum going forward as he turns his attention fully to Rick Perry. (It's been there for a while, but now it's official.)

As for Perry? Yes, I predicted he would squeak by without a run-off but I'm not sure I believed it. And while all of the cool kids are climbing over themselves to place KBH's campaign up there with the worst all time, I think that there's something to be said for Perry's rock solid following that's being overlooked. Before the primary I asked some friends of mine the following question: "Is there anything Bill White can hit Rick Perry with that will make even the smallest of dents in his support?" I can't think of anything. Bill White on the other hand, is a blank slate to pretty much every Texan not living in the Houston area and not a member of the InterLeft. The Houston vote will keep him competitive, but he's going to have a big hill to climb.

How big? Let's look at the raw vote totals from last night as they stand now. (Leaving out a few straggling votes that I don't think will move the needle one iota.)
Rick Perry 754,611
Bill White 515,318
Quick math tells me that there's almost a 200K vote deficit that White is going to have to overcome from the git-go. Throw in approximately 100K votes from the other Democratic candidates (We'll just assume that a statistically insignificant percentage would cross-over or go outside the party) and you're looking at around a 125K "structural" disadvantage for White. For him to win the votes are going to have to come from this pool:
Hutchison 447,905
Medina 274,895
Last night Sen. Hutchison endorsed Perry and encouraged her supporters to vote for him. Still, there are media reports that some of them will not do so. One thing people learned through the Obama election is that how they vote counts. So I expect that the number of KBH voters who actually do cross party lines will be fairly small....say 10% That would get us here:
White 688K
Perry 1,202,516
Even if you assume 20-30% of KBH voters move to White along with 70% of the Medina voters the numbers are still slanted in Perry's favor.

I raise this point to say this: White isn't going to win this race with Republican cross-overs, and he's not going to win it with the Democratic base. His best chance for winning is to lure as many cross-overs as possible and then convince the approx 400K independent voters that he's their guy. He's going to need to do this in the face of what I presume will be a withering campaign from Perry casting him as a tax & spend liberal. I'm not going to say it's impossible for White because anything can happen. It sure isn't going to be easy however.

Lite Gov: So the Democrats have selected Linda Chavez-Thompson to square off against David "dress shirt" Dewhurst. I've already seen the "illegal immigrant" (Chavez-Thompson's family were migrant farm-workers) and "high-school dropout" bandied around against her by Republicans. Of bigger concern for her election chances should be her extensive ties with big labor, especially the AFL-CIO. In labor-unfriendly Texas all of those issues combined should make for a fairly easy return to the Texas Senate for Dewhurst and his many shirts. (On another note: You mean to tell me Ronnie Earle couldn't beat this lady? Hang it up Ronnie.)

Other Statewides: Hank Gilbert + Barbara Ann Radnofsky + Jeff Weems (who's running an anti-oil industry campaign) = Another Republican State-wide sweep in November.

Harris County: Democrats now have a chance to pick up the Tax-Assessor Collector, with Don Sumners beating out Leo Vasquez, raising the question (again) if a Hispanic surname is death to a Republican in Texas. They should hold on to District Clerk. One race where I don't see them winning is County Judge. Consider this: Running un-opposed Ed Emmett had twice the number of votes (112,710) than did Democrat nominee Gordon Quan (56,492).

In many places the run is over, with candidates either being unopposed in the general (State Comptroller, about 1/2 the State Lege) or facing opposition that has no realistic chance of winning. (CD 18) So if you didn't vote in the primary, too bad for you.

One last item which I found interesting: Typically, when dealing with primary propositions, they're boilerplate, stir-up-the-base issues that typically win by greater than 90%. It's glad-handing by the Party to make the hard right or left feel loved. For Republicans it's usually a steady stream of anti-immigrant, anti-tax, anti-government issues of the kind that the Tea Party folks like to make mis-spelled signs protesting. It was interesting then to see a proposition NOT get a 90% yes vote.

I'm speaking of Republican Proposition 5, State Sen. Dan Patrick's "Sonogram" prop. Just over 30% of Republican primary voters thought this was a bad idea. Good for them. The thing about Dan Patrick and his ilk is that they're all for keeping the Government out of your life unless you want to do something of which they don't approve. Then a big government solution is preferred. It's true I'm not a believer in abortion on demand, nor do I think it should be an option for birth control. If there's a situation where the mother or babies' life is in danger then OK, I'm even all-right with the so-called "morning after pill" because I don't think a non-attached egg equates to conception. All that being said: I don't want Dan Patrick and his ilk determining what medical procedures my wife would have to undergo should something happen to her. Roe v. Wade is the law of the land and, for now, it's settled law. If you want to reduce abortions then get out there and provide charity help to the women that are mostly having the abortions. Don't sit up in your radio tower with your multiple homes and tell the rest of us what we need to do to be acceptable in your eyes.

Now that the primaries are over we've got about 8 months until the general election. This gives the political aide types plenty of time to go home, shower up, take some alka-seltzer and call their friends to dish the dirt.

As for the rest of Texas, if history is any lesson most of us will be tuning out for a while.

**Me? I'm a married blogger with no party affiliation. I stayed at home last night and drank a beer or two.


  1. Yes, I am glad to see that Sen. Patrick's 'Sonogram' proposition drew as much opposition as it did. One of the reasons I made sure and voted in the R primary, in fact, was to make my position on that particularly odious piece of legislative raw meat known.

    Hopefully, this will convey the message to the Rs that they are, in fact, more diverse than either their base (or the InterLeft, as you refer to them) are willing to admit publicly.


  2. The last time the Ds really ran roughshod was back in '82, during the Reagan recession, when they had a strong top-to-bottom statewide ticket led by Bentsen, White & Hobby and they pooled their GOTV resources, etc. White, the newer model one, probably would be helped immeasurably by at least a corresponding ballot appearance by Sharp for a Senate seat ... instead he's got Barbara A. Radnofsky ... see if his schedule puts him within 50 miles of any of 'em. He's totally on his own, in a rain barrel w/suspenders.


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