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Greg's Opinion http://gregsopinion.com Greg's big blog of whatnot Wed, 11 Nov 2015 12:00:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.3.1 Post-Election Cache Clearance http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15793 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15793#respond Wed, 11 Nov 2015 12:00:54 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15793 I’ve been away too long. Fortunately, others have taken up the usual election mapping and district analysis. That leaves a bit of neighborhood analysis that I like to do. And I’ll get to that before I have the pleasure of speaking to the Meyerland Dems on Monday evening. For now, I’m slightly more interested in deleting some tabs on my tablet in order to keep it from being bogged down with the smattering of news items I want to preserve in blog form. With that, here’s most of the news I wish I had more time to comment on over the past two weeks:

» The Upshot: Obamacare Not as Egalitarian as It Appears (Tyler Cowen)
The NBER Working Paper referenced in the article isn’t likely to make it onto an already lengthy list of weekend reads for whenever I reach that mythical weekend where I catch up on my reading list. Until then, this is Cowen’s setup conclusion that builds up to his more cynical conclusion which you can agree or disagree based on your own preference. This setup, however, captures most of what I was skeptical about in the Affordable Care Act:

… while numerous government programs redistributed income toward the poor successfully in the past, successive improvements, as exemplified by the Affordable Care Act, have become harder to accomplish, as many of the easiest and most efficient opportunities have already been exploited. We have ended up at margins where political divisions and interest group capture make further progress harder to carry out, no matter how good the proposed policies may seem on the drawing board. While politicians wrangle over the health care law, many of the monetary gains from the changes in the system are benefiting the health care establishment rather than the patients.

» NY Times: Red Tape Slows U.S. Help for Children Fleeing Central America (Michael Shear)
It’s not just grand ambitions that suffer these days. It’s also somewhat minor ones that have an unfortunately massive impact on people’s lives:

President Obama vowed a year ago to give Central American children fleeing violence a new, legal way into the United States by allowing them to apply for refugee status while in their own countries instead of accepting help from smugglers or resorting to a dangerous trek across Mexico.

But not a single child has entered the United States through the Central American Minors program since its establishment in December, in large part because of a slow-­moving American bureaucracy that has infuriated advocates for the young children and their families.

More than 5,400 children, most of them trying to escape street gangs, extortion and sexual assault in El Salvador, have applied to join their parents, who are already in the United States legally. So far the Department of Homeland Security has interviewed only 90 of them, and lengthy procedures for getting airplane tickets and processing paperwork have delayed those whose applications were approved.

» The Guardian: I’ve seen America’s future – and it’s not Republican (Stan Greenberg)
This is basically a refresh on the Emerging Democratic Majority thesis. But that original argument has plenty of room for some updates like this:

The political landscape is also being reshaped by a reversal of the historic pattern of mobility and home ownership. The middle class ladder used to take every generation and new wave of immigrants from city centres to suburbs to the exurbs. But in the past decade cities, with their falling crime rates, have attracted more people – particularly retiring baby boomers – than suburbs, and real estate values in metropolitan areas have risen faster than elsewhere and created more jobs. At the same time, only half of millennials have a driver’s licence, the right of passage for prior generations.

The political tides are still more incremental than the folks who get in print would have you believe. That’s probably a contributing factor to EDM co-author John Judis changing his mind earlier in the year. What I find increasingly lacking in these arguments is the point of “which electorate are you talking about?

» NY Times: School vs. Society in America’s Failing Students (Eduardo Porter)
Defining educational reality of our time:

In a report released last week, Martin Carnoy from the Graduate School of Education at Stanford, Emma García from the Economic Policy Institute in Washington and Tatiana Khavenson from the Institute of Education at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, suggest that socioeconomic deficits impose a particularly heavy burden on American schools.

“Once we adjust for social status, we are doing much better than we think,” Professor Carnoy told me. “We underrate our progress.”

Also outlined on a state-level scale by former State Rep. Mark Strama at the end of the 2013 legislative session:

» Washington Monthly: Confessions of a Paywall Journalist (John Heltman)
This is easily the most entertaining and insightful read on the topic of DC-area trade publications vs general interest media you’ll find today. And as exciting as that sounds, I find the economics of each industry group mind-boggling to consider:

More recently, McGraw Hill Financial—which owns Platts, an energy trade outlet that has been active in Washington for decades—announced its bid to buy SNL Financial, a financial and business intelligence trade outlet that has in recent years expanded its footprint in energy and climate reporting. McGraw Hill agreed to buy SNL for $2.23 billion in cash.

Contrast that with the recent sales and acquisitions of more household names in journalism. The Washington Post was sold to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2013 for $250 million. The Boston Globe sold in 2013 for $70 million. The international education firm Pearson sold its 50 percent stake in the Economist for $731 million, valuing the 172-year-old institution at around $1.4 billion. Even the New York Times’s market capitalization is about $2 billion. This demonstrates that the market is convinced of the business case for trade journalism and its potential for growth, and that it is not similarly assured of the future of newspapers.

Currently wondering how hard it is to launch a new trade publication.

» NY Times Mag: The Cult of the ‘Amateur’ (Amanda Hess)
Noted here in the not-entirely-miniscule chance that we find ourselves with an amateur President.

» Politico Magazine: Winning Isn’t Everything – John Weaver and the business of political seduction. (Jason Zengerle)
I like John Weaver about as much as it’s possible to like any Presidential-tier lead consultant. There’s a lot to read here to give anyone a reason to agree or disagree with that conclusion. That said, I’ve largely tuned out the GOP side of the campaign season. It’s just too hard to take stupid seriously.

» Deal Book: The Risks and Rewards of Short­Termism (Eilene Zimmerman)

I do not own a controlling interest in any company as of this writing. So this probably impacts me at something close to zilch. But I vividly recall most of the points of this debate from my days at UH’s business college (at the time, named for the founder of U-Tot-Em convenience stores). Maybe we’ll see if any of the grand ambition expressed these days comes to fruition.

… and with that, my tablet seems to have some resources freed up. This is going to totally come in handy for spending Veterans Day binge-watching Curb Your Enthusiasm.

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2015 Early Voting by Neighborhoods and Council Districts – Final Edition http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15781 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15781#respond Sun, 01 Nov 2015 12:00:07 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15781 Complete City of Houston Early Voting results by neighborhoods and council districts:

Turnout by Neighborhood

Neighborhood   15EVTO%   13EVTO%  13TO%  (Precincts)

African-American Neighborhoods
Southside AfrAm  13.0%     9.3%   18.9%  (31,140,180,219,863)
Northwest AfrAm  17.1%     9.6%   18.1%  (109,157,365,576)
Fifth Ward       12.8%     7.4%   16.2%  (138,144,186,406)
Hiram Clarke     14.4%     9.0%   17.8%  (216,286,292,318,542)

Hispanic/Latino Neighborhoods
Lindale          12.7%     7.2%   16.4%  (46,78,196,207,637,846)
East End          8.7%     6.3%   15.2%  (11,64,69,72,218,530)

Anglo GOP Neighborhoods
Kingwood         24.6%    11.8%   22.5%  (469,563,590,612,760)
Clear Lake       17.6%    11.6%   24.3%  (473,728,732,744,745)
West             19.3%    11.8%   27.1%  (130,356,437,438,492,499)

Anglo Dem/Swing Neighborhoods
Sharpstown       13.2%     9.3%   19.9%  (256,296,297,311,426)
Meyerland        15.1%    12.5%   34.6%  (14,146,176,281,293,403)
Heights - C      13.3%     8.8%   25.3%  (53,57,58,501)
Montrose         17.0%    11.5%   27.6%  (34,37,39,60)

Indexed Early Voting Results

African-American Neighborhoods
Southside AfrAm  1.405
Northwest AfrAm  1.786
Fifth Ward       1.726
Hiram Clarke     1.601

Hispanic/Latino Neighborhoods
Lindale          1.766
East End         1.387

Anglo GOP Neighborhoods
Kingwood         2.081
Clear Lake       1.518
West             1.638

Anglo Dem/Swing Neighborhoods
Sharpstown       1.419
Meyerland        1.205
Heights - C      1.504
Montrose         1.478

Turnout by Council District

                      2015                    |                    2013         
Dist      RV      TO   TO%   Share  13-compare|         RV        TO      TO%   Share
A     75,080   9,897  13.2%   7.7%    0.0%    |     70,734    13,560    19.2%    7.8%
B     96,557  12,661  13.1%  10.2%    2.1%    |     95,663    13,780    14.4%    7.9%
C    133,318  18,547  13.9%  14.3%   -4.0%    |    128,427    32,489    25.3%   18.6%
D    113,446  14,385  12.7%  11.4%    0.0%    |    110,678    19,681    17.8%   11.3%
E    110,475  17,696  16.0%  14.1%    3.2%    |    105,417    18,712    17.8%   10.7%
F     70,047   6,367   9.1%   5.0%    0.5%    |     67,105     7,794    11.6%    4.5%
G    117,415  19,438  16.6%  15.4%   -0.4%    |    115,926    27,348    23.6%   15.7%
H     73,921   7,107   9.6%   5.5%   -0.3%    |     71,973    10,271    14.3%    5.9%
I     65,335   6,030   9.2%   4.6%   -0.7%    |     62,833     9,553    15.2%    5.5%
J     47,124   4,186   8.9%   3.4%   -0.1%    |     45,697     5,947    13.0%    3.4%
K     80,621  10,849  13.5%   8.4%   -0.3%    |     78,927    15,485    19.6%    8.9%
COH  983,339 127,163  12.9%                   |    953,380   174,620    18.3%   

Obviously, the main eye-catcher is that Kingwood has already surpassed in Early Voting this year what it turned out for the entire 2013 cycle. There’s only one datapoint to compare against here and 2013’s 22.5% turnout doesn’t seem like a terribly high bar to clear in a more hotly contested race such as this year’s. While much of the neighborhood comparisons have an unknown variable of how many voters come out on Election Day, there’s still something to be said for batting more than double the early vote of the last comparable election. And mathematically, there’s nothing to suggest that all of the city vote in Kingwood is maxed out.

The flip side of this is what would seem like a decline of turnout in Meyerland. To be more accurate, Meyerland has turned out in greater numbers than their 2013 Early Vote turnout. And their 2013 EVTO was the highest you see on this list. So I believe that a better interpretation is that they are still just as likely to match their insanely high 2013 turnout of 34.6%. I think it’s easier to see Meyerland just doing a great job of matching previously great turnout and possibly not being as capable of flushing out new voters in a city year. There’s no inverse of the Tea Party activity that Kingwood benefits from.

Sometimes the motivation to drive out one segment of voters to the polls has a disparate impact in an electorate. And sometimes the motivation in one constituency has an echo effect that motivates competing constituencies. A classic example of the latter was seen in the North Carolina Senate campaigns involving Jesse Helms (in 1984 and moreso in 1990). In both cases, there was a belief that African-American voters could be motivated to vote in numbers greater than usual. In other words – their share of vote could be increased. Unfortunately, the efforts to increase interest among African-American voters also drove up turnout by North Carolina white conservatives. That Sen. Helms relied on television advertisements that were accused of being racist isn’t without some parallel to the anti-HERO ads we see and here today in Houston.

Local elections, however, are a different story. About the best example I can think of locally was the 2007 HISD bond election, with many leading African-American elected officials opposed to the bond issue due to the plans it contained for closing a number of community schools in African-American neighborhoods. The bond passed, but with African-American voters rejecting it in their polling places. This election definitely feels reminiscent of that. So it’s not that “such-and-such neighborhood/constituency/whatrever didn’t turn out” for this election. It’s more the case that another such-and-such whatever DID get an additional motivation to turn out.

We’ll see some of the usual postmortems about who didn’t vote, how baffling it is that so few people end up voting, and other horror stories that accompany elections every year. I still don’t buy such stories, though. We’ll end up seeing a healthy increase in turnout by the time Election Day is done with. In and of itself, that’s better than the alternative. Whether a particular outcome meets my preference or not is a different story. But I doubt we’ll see any postmortems that accept blame for not talking to enough friends and neighbors.

Until then, read into the above numbers what you will. For all of the increases in turnout among GOP-friendly areas, the voting behavior is still Dem-leaning throughout the city. Nothing terribly bad can happen as long as that’s the case.

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2015 Early Voting Turnout by Council District (through Wednesday) http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15770 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15770#respond Thu, 29 Oct 2015 19:10:46 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15770 An update from the first week totals, broken out by Council District. And again, it’s worth noting that this looks at EV turnout through Wednesday, versus total turnout for all of 2013. If I were really on the ball, I’d break out 2013 by EV and Total turnout and use that nifty index to see how this year’s EV looks against 2013’s EV. No dice, though. You get what you pay for here. 😉

It’s worth emphasizing that District C’s lag may have something to do with the fact that Meyerland overperformed to a sickening degree back in 2013. I think some lag is inevitable from a 34.6% turnout level in a city election. I’ll make some attempt to find time to look at prior election returns to get another view on all of this.

                      2015                    |                    2013         
Dist      RV      TO   TO%   Share  13-compare|         RV        TO      TO%   Share
A     75,080   6,959   9.3%   7.7%   -0.1%    |     70,734    13,560    19.2%    7.8%
B     96,557   9,168   9.5%  10.2%    2.3%    |     95,663    13,780    14.4%    7.9%
C    133,318  12,938   9.7%  14.3%   -4.3%    |    128,427    32,489    25.3%   18.6%
D    113,446  10,257   9.0%  11.4%    0.1%    |    110,678    19,681    17.8%   11.3%
E    110,475  12,746  11.5%  14.1%    3.4%    |    105,417    18,712    17.8%   10.7%
F     70,047   4,495   6.4%   5.0%    0.5%    |     67,105     7,794    11.6%    4.5%
G    117,415  13,930  11.9%  15.4%   -0.2%    |    115,926    27,348    23.6%   15.7%
H     73,921   4,985   6.7%   5.5%   -0.4%    |     71,973    10,271    14.3%    5.9%
I     65,335   4,138   6.3%   4.6%   -0.9%    |     62,833     9,553    15.2%    5.5%
J     47,124   3,057   6.5%   3.4%    0.0%    |     45,697     5,947    13.0%    3.4%
K     80,621   7,552   9.4%   8.4%   -0.5%    |     78,927    15,485    19.6%    8.9%
COH  983,339  90,225   9.2%                   |    953,380   174,620    18.3%   
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2015 Early Voting Turnout by Neighborhood (through Wednesday) http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15764 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15764#comments Thu, 29 Oct 2015 16:00:12 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15764 Truth be told, I hate being called “a numbers guy.” Stuff like this probably won’t help that. What you have below are some selected neighborhoods, with precincts indicated in case anyone wants to proof my work. The column headers are as follows:

15EVTO% – turnout for Early Voting through Wednesday
13EVTO% – turnout for Early Vote for the entire 2013 election
13TO% – total turnout – including Election Day – for the 2013 election

This gives you a bit of context for how much growth (or not) there is in particular neighborhoods. Below that listing is an effort to normalize these numbers and show an index comparing 2013 Early Vote totals to the 2015 Early Vote total to date. Any number over 1 means they’ve surpassed their 2013 Early Votes, for instance. Obviously, you see a pretty good showing in Anglo GOP areas. It may remain to be seen whether one area is shifting their vote more toward Early Voting, but I’m a skeptic of that. We’ll see soon enough what it all means, but enjoy the fancy numbers so far. I’ll update once all Early Voters are reported.

Correction: Thought I was looking at through-Wednesday totals earlier. I wasn’t. Numbers below are updated to reflect actual through-Wed totals.

Neighborhood   15EVTO%   13EVTO%  13TO%  (Precincts)

African-American Neighborhoods
Southside AfrAm   9.7%     9.3%   18.9%  (31,140,180,219,863)
Northwest AfrAm  12.4%     9.6%   18.1%  (109,157,365,576)
Fifth Ward        8.9%     7.4%   16.2%  (138,144,186,406)
Hiram Clarke     10.2%     9.0%   17.8%  (216,286,292,318,542)

Hispanic/Latino Neighborhoods
Lindale           8.7%     7.2%   16.4%  (46,78,196,207,637,846)
East End          6.2%     6.3%   15.2%  (11,64,69,72,218,530)

Anglo GOP Neighborhoods
Kingwood         18.7%    11.8%   22.5%  (469,563,590,612,760)
Clear Lake       12.3%    11.6%   24.3%  (473,728,732,744,745)
West             14.3%    11.8%   27.1%  (130,356,437,438,492,499)

Anglo Dem/Swing Neighborhoods
Sharpstown        9.9%     9.3%   19.9%  (256,296,297,311,426)
Meyerland        10.6%    12.5%   34.6%  (14,146,176,281,293,403)
Heights - C       9.0%     8.8%   25.3%  (53,57,58,501)
Montrose         12.3%    11.5%   27.6%  (34,37,39,60)

Indexed Early Voting Results

African-American Neighborhoods
Southside AfrAm  1.042
Northwest AfrAm  1.294
Fifth Ward       1.193
Hiram Clarke     1.139

Hispanic/Latino Neighborhoods
Lindale          1.214
East End         0.991

Anglo GOP Neighborhoods
Kingwood         1.582
Clear Lake       1.060
West             1.217

Anglo Dem/Swing Neighborhoods
Sharpstown       1.067
Meyerland        0.851
Heights - C      1.023
Montrose         1.070
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First Week Turnout for COH Elections http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15759 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15759#respond Mon, 26 Oct 2015 20:53:31 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15759 With a little review from some fellow election counting friends, here is a look at turnout through the first week of Early Voting (in-person and mail ballots). Worth noting that this is just for Harris County precincts. So there’s ample votes uncounted in District K as a result.

The “13-compare” column is the difference in share of the vote from 2015 compared to 2013. The purpose is to show where 2015 turnout is doing better or worse than it was two years ago.

                      2015                    |                    2013         
Dist      RV      TO   TO%   Share  13-compare|       RV       TO    TO%   Share
A     75,080   4,586  6.1%    7.9%     0.2%   |   70,734   13,560  19.2%    7.8%
B     96,557   5,876  6.1%   10.2%     2.3%   |   95,663   13,780  14.4%    7.9%
C    133,318   8,226  6.2%   14.2%    -4.4%   |  128,427   32,489  25.3%   18.6%
D    113,446   6,492  5.7%   11.2%     0.0%   |  110,678   19,681  17.8%   11.3%
E    110,475   8,243  7.5%   14.3%     3.6%   |  105,417   18,712  17.8%   10.7%
F     70,047   2,830  4.0%    4.9%     0.4%   |   67,105    7,794  11.6%    4.5%
G    117,415   8,877  7.6%   15.4%    -0.3%   |  115,926   27,348  23.6%   15.7%
H     73,921   3,298  4.5%    5.7%    -0.2%   |   71,973   10,271  14.3%    5.9%
I     65,335   2,688  4.1%    4.7%    -0.8%   |   62,833    9,553  15.2%    5.5%
J     47,124   1,942  4.1%    3.4%     0.0%   |   45,697    5,947  13.0%    3.4%
K     80,621   4,704  5.8%    8.1%    -0.7%   |   78,927   15,485  19.6%    8.9%
COH  983,339  57,762  5.9%                    |  953,380  174,620  18.3%   

I’m still dabbling with defining neighborhoods for this election. But a quick comparison of turnout can bee seen here:

Kingwood: 11.8% turnout
Westside: 9.0%
Clear Lake: 8.0%
Montrose: 7.7%
Meyerland: 6.5%
Sharpstown: 6.5%
East End: 4.2%
Lindale: 5.9%
Southside AfrAm: 5.9%

Northside AfrAm precincts are tricky since a lot of them are outside of the city. So I’ll spend some time refining the neighborhood definitions tonight and come back with turnout comparisons later. For context, it’s also worth looking at previous year elections. Kingwood will probably always outperform Montrose, for instance. But how the disparity of this election looks against, say, 2013 is more important.

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30-Day Money Reports for City Council http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15753 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15753#respond Thu, 08 Oct 2015 16:27:45 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15753 Here’s the PDF of everything listed here as of this morning. I’ve included a total for the past two fundraising cycles to get a sense of the overall level of spending. To wit, here’s the Mayoral totals:

                       Raised   In-Kind      Loan        Spent     On Hand
Sylvester Turner    1,253,359    33,927         -    1,867,093     507,100 
Stephen Costello    1,737,825    17,072    90,000    1,367,778     696,540 
Bill King             999,696    39,617   650,000    1,307,307     322,475 
Adrian Garcia       2,005,833    85,857         -    1,183,157     831,285 
Chris Bell            491,746    17,484         -      444,903      91,902 
Ben Hall            1,006,490         -    850,000     247,871     758,618 
Marty McVey            43,972    16,270  1,075,000     133,285   1,075,000 

Taken together with the one and only poll that is being publicized so far, my thoughts as to what we know by now:

– It doesn’t matter so much if Adrian and Sylvester are really #1 and #2. It’s that people writing campaign contributions believe it.

– Unless you’re writing checks to Bill King or Stephen Costello, that is. The polling is malleable in terms of what you want to believe from it. There’s nothing in it that would lead me to be shocked if either King or Costello made a runoff.

– Think about how little campaign presence you’ve seen – at your doorstep, on your TV, in your mailbox – for the $6.5M already spent by all candidates in the Mayoral race. I realize that’s split a lot of ways. And with 4 top-tier campaigns spending less than $2M, that still doesn’t go a long way in a city as big as Houston.

– Chris Bell’s totals are going to lead many of those donor-class folks to write him off (the ones who haven’t already, that is). But for a guy who knew that money was going to be hard to come by, I like the approach they’ve taken – spend it early and see if a miracle can happen rather than sit on it, spend it late and watch your one shot at winning compete for oxygen while everyone else is campaigning full steam ahead.

– Everyone except Marty McVey, that is. Seriously. I wish the guy no ill will whatsoever. I probably have more friends that I respect helping Marty than any other campaign. But if he hoped to use this run to prep himself for another run down the road, this particular “campaign” doesn’t seem to be something that will help him. I’d expect him to recoup his loand, live another day, and sleep happily on a big pile of money for as long as he wants. But it sure would make things interesting if he wrote a meaningful amount of that bank balance to help out HERO … or Chris Bell.

– Eric Dick’s finance report is one of the more interesting reads. Allegedly, he raised no money, loaned himself no money, yet spent $100k on advertising (mostly signs). I haven’t seen enough of his signs in my neck of the woods to warrant the expense. Either he’s saving a lot of them for Early Voting – or he’s printing material for other campaigns. At least I haven’t seen them posted on utility posts yet.

– Not every report is created equal in terms of accuracy. I have no idea what’s up with Richard Nguyen’s, for instance. There’s no reason he should have only $8.7k on hand after raising $77k the previous cycle and showing no indication of spending much of that.

– Likewise, some absences are notable: Dung Le may have gotten off to a late start in filing for District J, but there are way too many vinyl signs draped on public property to warrant not filing a finance report.

Kuff has the HERO-related overview.

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Back to the Airwaves http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15737 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15737#respond Thu, 24 Sep 2015 17:27:55 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15737 » Chron: Mayor race only now heading to TV

Rebecca Elliott from the Chron does the reporter-ey thing and captures some details of the ad “war.”

To date, five candidates have paid a combined $1.6 million to advertise on network television, half of what was spent on TV in the last open-seat race in 2009.

Thus far, Costello has spent more on broadcast than any candidate in the race – about $625,000 across KTRK (Channel 13), KHOU (Channel 11), KPRC (Channel 2,) KRIV (Channel 26) and KIAH (Channel 39), according to his campaign – with ads scheduled in two waves through Nov. 2. He also has been advertising on cable since July.

Meanwhile, presumptive frontrunners Sylvester Turner and Adrian Garcia, who closed out the first half of the year with more than $1 million in the bank apiece, have invested about $450,000 each in broadcast TV.

At the time of posting on the 22nd, I had the press release in hand about Turner’s buy and I’d seen an ad for Chris Bell that morning. As the story (and press release in my inbox) indicates, the pro-HERO folks will go up on the air on Thursday with a fairly significant-sized buy. With that, here’s a minor update on the cross-section that I’ve been tracking for ads placed on local newscasts:


Four details from the Chron story seem worth pointing out:

– Bill King’s cable buy of $300k qualifies as a different means of trying to do the same thing. Simply stated, $300k on cable is a very different animal than what most other candidates will do. I’ll be shocked if King doesn’t go on broadcast at some point. But the level of his cable purchase is a worthwhile strategy.

– Adrian Garcia’s plan to go up on TV as late as possible despite sufficient resources is a gamble. Obviously, they’re banking on Garcia having good name ID and probably some ability to coalesce some of the Latino vote from Univision ad placements. There’s a fair amount of risk in this approach.

– Chris Bell’s lack of money in the bank is a definite strike against him. But I think the quality of his ad and the low-cost placements he’s going for give him a decent bang-for-the-buck. Early AM and afternoon newscasts aren’t super expensive and the audience from them is pretty rich. There are a couple of placement patterns available on cable that are also inexpensive and reach a good audience for voters. It remains to be seen if any of this will have an impact on actual votes cast, but there’s nothing wrong with doing the best you can when only limited resources are available.

– Marty McVey’s strategy is highly suggestive that some of the rumors I’ve heard will come true. Namely, that he isn’t going to spend most of the money he’s loaned himself for the campaign. Heck, at this point, I’m not sure why he’s spending any of it. The quote in the article is essentially a concession speech.

Those points aside, there are mixed results for what early ad exposure gets you. The belief is that Costello was simply trying to game exposure prior to polling in order to show something better than single digits. I haven’t seen any campaign’s polling to know if that worked, but I would have been more impressed with Costello’s early strategy if it was more evenly purchased and aimed at creating something for Election Day rather than a poll.

The go-by example for early advertising is obviously Bill White in 2003. But the dollar amounts for what White spent aren’t seen in candidates this time around. As for the “not” example, there’s Peter Brown. Brown was airing his second ad and had at least one mailer delivered by this time. For what little it matters to the outcomes, I thought Brown’s ads were good and Bill White’s early ads weren’t. Suffice it to say, quality of the candidate matters. And usually, a little luck and whole lot of other things have an impact, too.

So I don’t claim early advertising to be the end-all of candidate success. I’m just amazed that any individual campaign would leave the playing field to someone else when they have the means to compete. And at the end of it all, I think there is something to be said for communicating what you plan to do as mayor to voters outside of the limited network of civic organizations, political clubs, makeshift candidate forums, and the lucky few who get to meet a candidate on their doorstop.

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District J Candidate Conversation (and upcoming events) http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15734 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15734#respond Thu, 24 Sep 2015 13:16:13 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15734 The Access Channel debate for District J:

The week ahead has three more opportunities to see and hear from District J candidates:

– Tonight 6:30pm: Sharpstown Civic Association Candidate Forum (Bayland Park Community Center)
– Saturday 10am: Sharpstown Democrats (Bayland Park Community Center)
– Tuesday 7pm: Moving Forward Candidate Forum – (Riceville Mt. Olive Baptist Church – 11539 S. Gessner Rd.)

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The Non-Campaign for Houston Mayor http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15730 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15730#comments Tue, 22 Sep 2015 17:39:57 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15730 Keeping up with the DVR project mentioned earlier, I recently made it a point last week to clear out some space on the DVR by catching up on logging some TV newscast ad placements by political folks.

You’ll recall that as campaign finance reports came due back in July, we had a sense of which candidates would have enough money to do any kind of significant voter communication. With four candidates closing the period with over $1M in the bank (and Ben Hall writing a big enough check to himself to have $800k), some folks were excused for their over-exuberance in expecting a flood of campaign advertising. And you would have thought that more than one candidate would make news by going up on television sooner rather than later.

No dice.

There’s an operating truism in most campaigns that you won’t meet enough people in-person to win an election. There’s just no way. If you knock on doors, you’re lucky to get a 40% rate of people opening their doors. If you make phone calls, you may get somewhere between 5-25% rate of people answering and/or listening to what you hope is a meaningful pitch for your candidate. If you make the rounds at all the events, forums, other people’s fundraisers that you can crash, or National Night Out events, you run into the same 500 people (or however many people you want to attribute) throughout the city that attend such events. All in all, these points of contact aren’t nothing. And every campaign should do these activities. But that sets the floor for how many people you actually see one-on-one. There just isn’t a path available that ends up with these methods of outreach touching enough people to meaningful swing an election.

That reality seems to go out the window in City of Houston elections, though. Without a doubt, every candidate goes home late at night, worn out from the schedule they’ve put themselves through. Campaign staff – also presumably – works as late as possible either running a phone bank; scrounging up volunteers; writing copy for screening committees that will scan them and news departments that will largely ignore them; and staffing a candidate for the sheer joy of peddling push cards to event attendees who have already made up their minds for whom they’ll vote. From a campaign’s perspective, it’s very easy to convince yourself that there is a very real campaign going on.

Except that, in Houston there isn’t much of a campaign going on. For anything. With four Mayoral candidates showing seven-figure bank accounts and the promise that multiple candidates in an open seat election would lead to a hefty increase in voter turnout, I’m not convinced.

There are really two methods of communicating with voters that, to me, demonstrates a visible campaign: mail and television. I haven’t seen a single piece of mail in my own mailbox. By all means feel free to drop a comment if you’re seeing anything in yours. I’m informed that mail is dropping in my own Council District, but for whatever reason, I’m not getting any.

Granted, my residence is an apartment. Those doors don’t exactly get knocked on a lot. And I have no idea which databases have my current cell number, but I’m not terribly eager for a phone pitch for any candidate anyway. The long and short of this is that it’s not like I live in an area where you can tell it’s election season simply by walking the dog and counting yard signs, volunteers knocking on doors, or sending annoying phone calls to voice mail every weekend.

What is more unavoidable, however, is mail and television advertising. In this regard, Stephen Costello is the only candidate who has run any semblance of a functional campaign so far. And that’s all courtesy of television ads. And that’s all reliant up an ad buy that has been fairly weak in the past two weeks.

So, I’ve been recording the following newscasts:
– Channel 2 – 6am news
– Channel 13 – 6pm news
– Channel 11 and 13 – 10pm news

Here’s what the ad placement has looked like through Sunday:

2015 Houston Mayoral Ad Spending through 9/20/15

Three caveats:

– Sylvester Turner apparently went up on television as of yesterday.

– I’m conveniently ignoring cable advertising (news or otherwise). Apparently Bill King has bet his entire television advertising to date on cable. Costello’s buy has been supplemented with cable, and Turner’s purchase will also be supplemented with cable. Cable isn’t nothing, but what is generally unknown is what cable outlets are purchased. It may very well be that either a campaign or ad buyer may see fit to buy just Comcast. But Comcast’s share of market has been in decline since I bought it for candidates back in 2008. And the overall dollar amounts I’m seeing for candidates so far doesn’t suggest their putting an enormous priority on it. Long story short, I view these buys as “something,” but not a game-changer in terms of how much presence they have. And for the record, I’ve not seen a single ad placed on anything I’ve recorded from basic cable (which isn’t much).

– My selection of newscasts is not designed to be exhaustive. It is simply a cross-section. The selection of any particular channel at any given time is debatable. I just wanted to cover those three parts of the day and ensure that I covered the big three channels. Sorry KRIV!

I’m certain that the remainder of the campaign will get more crowded on the airwaves and in the mailbox. But my point in declaring this year’s campaign a bust is that we’ve now less than a month away from Early Voting. We know about what percentage of voters will cast their vote early. And the level of communication with voters has been about as minimal as can possibly exist.

The net result is that the large and diverse field running for Mayor will do next-to-nothing to drive up turnout – in and of itself. the real campaign will be the runoff and that’s a much shorter campaign. And it will probably have a quiet period right after November 3rd as campaigns look to find a second round of funding to get back in gear.

It’s also worth noting that there is nothing on television promoting the HERO proposition. That’s even more concerning. I believe the anti-HERO narrative has enough strength through word-of-mouth networks and right-wing radio to boost turnout against the proposition. But there is simply nothing happening to counteract that. I hope I’m ultimately wrong, but I wouldn’t want to bet big at this moment on Prop 1 passing in November. That one doesn’t have a runoff to extend the conversation another 4-5 weeks. So November is a much harder deadline.

There are a lot of challenges that campaigns – even those with $1M on hand – have in running a visible and viable campaign. In short, $1M really doesn’t go very far in a city like Houston. That has a lot to do with why we know precious little about city council candidates or candidates for Controller. But the side effect of that big field of candidates is that the money seems to be spread fairly thin among the top-tier candidates.

Maybe the 30-day finance reports will shed some new light on what campaigns are doing well, what they’re doing right, or which candidates shouldn’t be trusted with the city’s budget based on how they’re operating their campaign budget. In the meantime, most of the voters will just wait for a campaign to say something meaningful to them. A lot of time has ticked off the clock already, though.

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A Most Unusual Water Bill Complaint http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15722 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15722#respond Fri, 28 Aug 2015 19:30:29 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15722 To set the scene, here are two names from the Houston City Council agenda for public speakers to address council on Tuesday afternoon:

  • Mr. Deepak Upreti – 8500 Nairn Street – 77074 – Water dispute discrepancy
  • Mr. Kamal Bhambhani – 8500 Nairn Street – 77074 – Water dispute discrepancy

What jumps out from this is the address. 8500 Nairn is the Rockport Apartments here in southwest Houston. It is also one that was particularly hard-hit by the tornadoes and flooding that happened over Labor Day weekend. Here’s some background on why this particular apartment complex means anything:

» KTRK: Many Residents Displaced After Tornado Hits SW Houston Apartment Complex

The scene was pretty gruesome. Council Member Mike Laster and his crew worked overtime to help families in the days after 11 of the 22 buildings in this complex were damaged.

Anyhow, it turns out that the owners of the complex chose to address council about what they believe to be a $2,000 overcharge on the water bill for the complex – supposedly related to the impact the damage had on the occupancy rate for the complex. Things did not go well.

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All Quiet on the Television Front http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15713 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15713#respond Mon, 10 Aug 2015 19:51:06 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15713 Since I’ve got a spanking-new Comcast DVR to break in, I thought I’d set up a schedule for the local news. So I’ve got one schedule for a 6am broadcast on KPRC, a 6pm on KTRK, and a 10pm on KHOU. Mind you, I don’t intend to watch this much local news. The purpose of this is to see what local candidates are advertising there. Since setting this up about a month ago, I’ve not seen a single ad. Obviously, we’ve not yet reached Labor Day. So there’s still time. I’m told that Stephen Costello had advertisements purchased on the locals – I presume it was at the launch of his “Hello Costello” ad. But there’s been no sustained advertising that I’ve witnessed.

The campaign finance reports released back in July indicated that King and Costello were buying cable advertising. I owe it to myself to investigate those purchases. It’s always interesting to see if there’s some wildly inefficient spending going on with cable ad purchases.

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The 2015 Money Primary: City of Houston [UPDATED] http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15695 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15695#respond Wed, 15 Jul 2015 20:01:55 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15695 UPDATE (Thursday afternoon) – Updates made after the first large batch are italicized below. Carroll Robinson leads the way for updates.


UPDATE (midnight) – Kudos to the city staff who got the page updated in good time. Updates below are from the reports listed around midnight on the 15th. Obviously, some are still missing.

A note on methodology: I broke out the amounts “raised” into three distinct categories: the relatively true “raised” total from page three of the reports, the in-kind total from page three, and the loans reported on page three. Totals for expenditures and cash on hand are taken from page two of the reports. Most campaigns are likely to publicize their grand total of funds raised. My intent is to highlight the amounts raised in new, hard cash as well as the cash on hand. For now, just the totals – I’ll update the missing as I get to them. Commentary and a little bit of research to follow in the days ahead.


Here’s the running total as they come in. As Kuff notes, the city’s system isn’t prepared for the new format of the report. So if I’m lagging, here’s the page where the reports are supposed to be loaded.

The new system is designed to clarify what expenses are really in-kind contributions. For the uninitiated, these kind of items have typically been things like a poll or opposition research package provided by an organization or major donor (which has some value and has varying degrees of actual value). They’ve also been abused by candidates listing yard signs as a set dollar value in-kind contribution (which is generally bull-honkus). For better or worse, the distinction looks like it is designed to provide some honest-er accounting.

Given the time of year, Cash on Hand is the amount to pay the most attention to. You may or may not be able to puff up numbers elsewhere in the report, but the amount of money you have in the bank to drop on an opponent’s head going into the Labor Day campaign launchpad is harder to massage. Although, there’s not much accountability for just making up a number there.

Anyway, numbers to come as they’re posted or if candidates post some Page 2s online. In that case (like that of Chris Brown’s below), the in-kind column is noted with a placeholder (#).

Mayor                     Raised     In-Kind      Loan      Spent     On Hand
Chris Bell               366,770     14,897          0    204,868     190,034
Stephen Costello       1,476,757     15,475     90,000    496,668   1,314,202
Adrian Garcia          1,441,792     64,982          0    122,699   1,321,625
Ben Hall                 948,630*         #    850,000    136,454     812,175
Bill King                721,250     34,042    500,000    680,685     544,498
Marty McVey               43,927     16,270  1,075,000    129,185   1,071,585
Demetria Smith                NA
Sylvester Turner         747,793     15,298          0    601,853   1,160,813

* - Ben Hall's campaign didn't break out their in-kind expnses on their report.

Controller                Raised     In-Kind      Loan      Spent     On Hand
Jew Don Boney                 NA
Chris Brown              267,750      3,547          0     22,032     222,858
Bill Frazer              128,097      1,009     32,500    120,956      53,973 
Dwight Jefferson           8,653      2,943      1,860      9,255           *
Carroll Robinson          46,170      3,908          0     33,973       5,033     

* - Jefferson's campaign didn't have Page Two details

At Large #1               Raised     In-Kind      Loan      Spent     On Hand
Trebor Gordon                 NA
Griff Griffin                 NA
Lane Lewis               102,473      2,296        100     19,082      62,839
Tom McCasland            128,241     13,742          0     30,199      98,041
Chris Oliver              27,585     10,000          0      3,913      23,671
Jenifer Pool                  NA

At Large #2               Raised     In-Kind      Loan      Spent     On Hand
Andrew Burks                  NA
Moe Rivera                   992        130          0        303           ?
David Robinson (i)            NA

At Large #3               Raised     In-Kind      Loan      Spent     On Hand
Brad Batteau                  NA
Atlas Kerr                    NA
Michael Kubosh (i)        63,205          0          0     23,322      44,745
John C.B. LaRue              650      1,525          0        537         218    
Joseph McElligott             NA
Doug Peterson              4,250        505          0        104       4,120 

At Large #4               Raised     In-Kind      Loan      Spent     On Hand
Larry Blackmon               NA
Amanda Edwards          157,084       8,874        500     29,300     118,185    
Jonathan Hansen             950         300      6,663      1,613           0
Roy Morales              16,300         500          0        451      16,348
Matt Murphy               3,990           0     10,332     14,195         330
Laurie Robinson          28,623      14,420     12,000     16,736      26,719

At Large #5               Raised     In-Kind      Loan      Spent     On Hand
Jack Christie (i)       124,350           0          0     28,148      100,281
Durrel Douglas               NA
Philippe Nassif              NA
Charles Tahir                 0

District A                Raised     In-Kind      Loan      Spent     On Hand
Brenda Stardig (i)        85,075          0          0     31,833      113,897

District B                Raised     In-Kind      Loan      Spent     On Hand
Jerry Davis (i)           96,430          0          0     28,687      161,587

District C                Raised     In-Kind      Loan      Spent     On Hand
Ellen Cohen (i)          131,450          0          0     24,479     167,474
Jason Hochman                  0          0          0          0           0

District D                Raised     In-Kind      Loan      Spent     On Hand
Dwight Boykins (i)        86,050          0          0     34,760      59,481

District E                Raised     In-Kind      Loan      Spent     On Hand
Dave Martin (i)           72,900          0          0     14,045      94,758

District F                Raised     In-Kind      Loan      Spent     On Hand
Steve Le                      NA
Richard Nguyen (i)        77,095      1,352          0    16,457       73,347

District G                Raised     In-Kind      Loan      Spent     On Hand
Sandie Mullins Moger      15,920      1,550          0      8,035       8,617
Greg Travis               16,635          0     41,000    29,773       34,395

District H                Raised     In-Kind      Loan      Spent     On Hand
Roland Chavez             48,669      5,235      5,100     5,573       48,415
Karla Cisneros            30,095      5,272          0    13,956       24,647
Jason Cisneroz            33,000      2,174          0    14,611       18,738
Abel Davila                6,500          0          0     9,046       17,453

District I                Raised     In-Kind      Loan      Spent     On Hand
Robert Gallegos (i)       62,655      3,000          0     21,475      91,014

District J                Raised     In-Kind      Loan      Spent     On Hand
Jim Bigham                    45          0          0         51          45
Mike Laster (i)           85,550      1,711          0     14,081     157,061

District K                Raised     In-Kind      Loan      Spent     On Hand
Larry Green (i)          110,270          0          0     29,135     137,117

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Vacation Prep: The Weird Part http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15688 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15688#respond Thu, 09 Jul 2015 11:45:36 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15688 In addition to United Airlines grounding their fleet for the second time in a month (yesterday), here’s more Minnesota madness that I get to content with:

» CNN: Bear at Minnesota Zoo causes brief scare by smashing viewing glass

In somewhat related news, the director of the Minnesota Zoo is headed to Houston. No word if he plans to bring along the monkey rebellion with him.

» Star-Tribune: Air pollution warning expanded in Minnesota due to smoke from Canadian wildfires

For the sake of completeness, the state Capitol in St. Paul is closed to the public while they do interior renovations. Good thing I can still take in all those statues around the Capitol mall, I suppose. Also, mudslides along the Mississippi look like they’ll make for some interesting detours to get to some parks and river walkways.

And with that, I’m off to find out exactly how excruciating of an ordeal it can be to deal with TSA, reservations made by Orbitz, DOS attacks on United Airlines’ system, and other atrocities known to world travelers.

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One Foot Still in Houston: City Fundraising Announcements http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15685 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15685#respond Thu, 09 Jul 2015 11:30:17 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15685 I haven’t left Houston just yet, so it’s worth taking note of the markers that the city candidates are putting down for their fundraising results.

Garcia was first out of the gate with his figures, announcing a $1.5 million haul Tuesday afternoon. According to his campaign, Garcia neither contributed his own money nor transferred funds from his sheriff’s account.

King followed with a statement Wednesday morning saying he raised $1.25 million, $750,000 of which came from donors, meaning King likely supplied $500,000 for his own bid.

Costello also financed his own campaign to the tune of $250,000 and transferred $262,000 from his city council account, according to his release.

That’s just the Mayoral numbers. The Controller’s race is obviously well below the radar, but there are more than two viable candidates in that race, also. If the results are anywhere near what they are in the Mayoral race, it’s quite obvious that someone is going to raise a whole heckuvalotta money, run a better race than Peter Brown ever ran, and still miss out on a spot in the runoff.

And just as obviously, there’s going to be some nit-picking over how the reports are filed: how much is in-kind contributions, how much is transferred from other campaign funds, self-funded, or family-funded. And things like burn rate, donor names, and other piddly details are enough to eat up my free time when I get back from the Twin Cities. But fear not – eventually the voters get a say in whether any of that matters.

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Seeing the Saints http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15683 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15683#respond Wed, 08 Jul 2015 15:30:06 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15683 I have yet to see an Astros game in-person as an American League entity. But tomorrow involves catching this team in their new stadium in downtown St. Paul.

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Nice Ride: The Musical http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15681 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15681#respond Tue, 07 Jul 2015 16:22:58 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15681 On the topic of the Twin Cities’ bike share program, I think it’s safe to say that I will not be singing while pedaling.

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Vacation Prep: The Easy Part http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15678 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15678#respond Mon, 06 Jul 2015 15:05:57 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15678 In lieu of any truly meaningful blogging, I thought I’d start with some pre-vacation items. The wheels go up for me Thursday morning. Dog-sitter has already been procured. And I’ve taken the radical step of purchasing a piece of luggage. After checking the memory banks, it seems the last real vacation I had was to Toronto in 2000. About all I know to expect for my first post-9/11 flight is to arrive early, take off the shoes, and rely on the hotel for shampoo and conditioner.

The biggest reason that the Twin Cities is a destination of interest for me is to visit Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul. I’ve been listening to podcasts of Greg Boyd’s sermons since sometime after he was profiled in the NY Times in 2006. And the first time I read the article, I wasn’t particularly swayed. I wasn’t looking for another Jim Wallis to listen to. But I eventually gave him a listen and his messages grew on me rather quickly. I picked up the book he was known for at the time – “The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church” – and it resonated pretty strongly. I’m sure there are those who would still classify Boyd as a crazy liberal evangelical. But I’ve never been disappointed that I didn’t make the time to listen to each week’s message. Since then, the podcast-listening hasn’t been as routine. But Woodland Hills has remained on something akin to a bucket list. So that’s my Saturday. To set the vacation mood, this little blog post of Boyd’s is worth the time.

Outside of that, my vacation criteria were rather simple: get to another plot of geography outside the state. If for no other reason than to say I’ve actually set foot outside of Texas. And make sure there’s enough big-city accoutrements to satisfy my exploratory curiosity. So, with all due regards to Podunk, Idaho, I’m off to a big city with the following agenda items somewhere on my to-do list:

» Mall of America – This really goes without saying.

» See the St. Paul Saints – The Twins are in town while I’m there. But where’s the fun in that? The Saints are partly owned by none other than Bill Murray. Yes, Ghostbusters Bill Murray. And all I know otherwise about the team is that the catcher is the only .400 hitter in the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball (the only Texas teams being the Grand Prairie AirHogs and the Amarillo Thunderheads). Lucky me, I get to catch the Ottawa Champions.

» Stone Arch Bridge – And about a handful of other places to see the Mississippi River up close.

» Ride a bike – The Twin Cities has a pretty robust bike share program and given that much of my sightseeing falls conveniently in each downtown area, biking it makes the most sense.

» Whitesnake – They happen to be in town Saturday night. Coincidence?

Obviously, there are loads of other details to take up time. I’ll try and save a few as a surprise.

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A Fine Time to Move http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15671 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15671#respond Wed, 01 Jul 2015 11:00:39 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15671 I picked a heck of a week-plus to get my stuff (and dog, and myself) moved back to Houston. Let’s see:

– KHOU polled Houstonians on their preference for Mayor. Looking forward to seeing what this “Don’t Know” dude’s position is on fixing potholes.

– Yet another senseless hate crime is carried out in a way that is too maddeningly common. As a result, the confederate flag falls – in southern state capitols, Amazon, and Bo & Luke’s car. Never underestimate what a confused 21-yr old hillbilly can accomplish in this world.

– Obamacare survives another challenge with the Supreme Court. The Bush-appointed/conservatives-celebrated Chief Justice wrote the opinion on why. Some heads exploded. Scalia among them.

– Greece somehow managed to knock my brokerage account down a couple of percentage points in one day. Good thing I was too busy schlepping boxes to check in and join in on the panic.

– We finally get an answer to what happens when investigators find heretofore unreleased records from Hillary Clinton. And unless references to hanging up fax lines is code for “let the embassy burn,” wingnuts are sure to be disappointed.

– Oh, and gays can marry.

On the plus side, I’ve managed to successfully install cable and internet in my apartment, the dog is confused by her new surroundings, the office gets a remodel this week, and I still need to plan a vacation agenda down to the nanosecond.

Topical commentary should pick back up from here on out.

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CoH 2015: Southwest Houston Council Challenges http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15666 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15666#respond Thu, 18 Jun 2015 16:50:00 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15666 I’m long overdue for catching up on the City of Houston campaign season. My plan was to take a deeper dive into the subject after my vacation in a few weeks. But it’s worth pointing out that both city council members representing SW Houston will have primary challenges this election. Today’s entry happened with District J, with Sharpstown Civic Association President Jim Bigham jumping into the race against incumbent, Mike Laster. Prior to that, District F incumbent Richard Nguyen drew an opponent in physician Steve Le.

Together with an open (and crowded) Mayor’s race, it should be interesting to watch. For whatever it matters or proves to be worth, here’s my post showing the partisan inclination of City Council voting districts.

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About That San Antonio Election http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15648 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15648#respond Wed, 17 Jun 2015 16:31:54 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15648 I’m obviously still running days and weeks behind on a lot of election/campaign news going on. In the case of the San Antonio mayoral race, I’m only a few days behind. With that, here are the three traditional views of the results (map courtesy of the Express-News):

» San Antonio Express-News: Taylor dominated key voting precincts
» Texas Tribune: Taylor’s San Antonio Win a Wake-Up Call for Democrats

Ivy R. Taylor  .......... 50,659 (51.7%) 
Leticia Van De Putte .... 47,328 (48.3%) 

There’s obviously a great deal of angst expressed by folks who (like me) supported Leticia Van de Putte. In particular, a lot of that is directed at “those lazy people who don’t vote.” I’ll offer one contrarian take to this and be done with it. I’ve worked on campaigns that have won and lost. I’ve worked on campaigns where I had a negligible impact on that outcome and those where I’ve had a bit more. But I know enough to say that when you’ve lost, the first questions shouldn’t be aimed at voters who didn’t support you. I guarantee you that there had to be something the LVP campaign wishes they had done differently that had an impact on the election. I doubt that lack of money was a significant issue for the campaign. So, as much as it pains me, there should have been a better campaign run. Period. That doesn’t seem to reflect what’s getting written about, but I hope the folks who go from LVP’s campaign to work on other campaigns operates on that basis in their next campaign.

The oddity of it all, for me, is that San Antonio seems to be the most fought-over mayor’s seat that involves a City Manager form of government. There have certainly been mayors in San Antonio’s recent history that have exceeded what most weakish-mayor systems tend to produce. But still. San Antonio will be fine.

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The Exit Door (part 3) http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15656 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15656#respond Wed, 17 Jun 2015 14:22:50 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15656 Well, that’s one way to announce your retirement:

As others have noted, there are only three remaining GOP members of the House that helped elect Joe Straus Speaker in 2009: Charlie Geren, Byron Cook, and Straus himself. Geren and Cook are certain to have challenging primary elections. But the good news for Straus is that he’s been doing a sufficient job of winning support among caucus-mates further to his right. It says something that the last two challengers for Straus’ speakership were junior members of the caucus who barely knew either the House rule book or legislative process. There’s a way of looking at the original base of Straus’ support and seeing his time as Speaker being limited. But there hasn’t really been a big hue and cry for change among the GOP caucus. So I wouldn’t expect to see a change given retirements like that of Keffer, or even after a few primary losses.

Bud Kennedy gets the reaction on Keffer’s announcement from Mike Lang, who had expected to challenge Keffer. I’d expect to see a few more credible names line up for the seat now that it’s open.

CORRECTION: Unfortunately, former Rep. Ed Kuempel passed away in 2010 and was replaced by his son. The third member of the “Gang of 11” that remains, is Joe Straus himself. The correction has been made in the post above.

ADD-ON: It’s not legislative, but it’s of some intrigue – Michael Massengale (1st Court of Appeals, Place 8) will challenge Supreme Court justice Debra Lehrmann for the GOP nomination in 2016. If nothing else, that creates an open seat on the multi-county 1st CoA. That court has the same jurisdiction as the 14th CoA and here’s what the 2012 and 2008 results look like for those courts (GOP results on the left column, Dems on the right column):

2012 General Election

1st Court of Appeals District
Place 2   Bland(I)      869,923  (53.3%)   Lovett       762,619  (46.7%)
Place 6   Brown(I)      871,073  (53.4%)   Silverman    758,993  (46.6%)
Place 7   Jennings      872,095  (53.5%)   Oakes        757,166  (46.5%)
Place 8   Massengale(I) 875,473  (53.8%)   Copeland     752,158  (46.2%)
Place 9   Huddle(I)     870,117  (53.4%)   Cheng        759,483  (46.6%)

14th Court of Appeals District
Place 3   Busby         851,386  (52.3%)   Gardner      777,867  (47.7%)
Place 4   Brown(I)      882,666  (54.2%)   Wrotenbery   744,530  (45.8%)
Place 5   Jamison(I)    879,147  (54.0%)   Garth        748,127  (46.0%)
Place 8   Donovan       857,843  (52.7%)   Maldonado    771,367  (47.4%)

2008 General Election

1st Court of Appeals District
Place 3   Hubbard       776,587  (49.4%)   Sharp        794,759  (50.6%)
Place 5   Higley(I)     802,668  (51.2%)   Taylor       763,840  (48.8%)

14th Court of Appeals District
C. Justice Hedges(I)    798,272  (51.0%)   Beverly      768,045  (49.0%)
Place 4   Brown(I)      806,648  (51.6%)   Moser        756,035  (48.4%)
Place 6   Boyce(I)      793,829  (50.8%)   Markantonis  768,014  (49.2%)
Place 7   Frost(I)      790,831  (50.7%)   Siegel       770,586  (49.4%)

While those numbers are close and Jim Sharp managed to win a majority in 2008, the real trick to winning this district is to see (at minimum) a 53% win in Harris County and some slight upticks in the other counties. Seeing Ft. Bend County go 50-50 would still leave you short without the smaller counties chipping in a point or two. It’s still a good court to run for in the hopes that the tide turns, but it’s a challenge to run with the aim of picking off your own crossover votes. Sharp obviously benefited from his last name. I worked on the Siegel campaign in 2008 and we ran cable ads in the hope of getting some crossover votes. I think I can make an argument that it happened, but it definitely didn’t happen in large enough numbers. And whether you believe that the 2008 level support is there in 2016 or whether 2012 is more reflective of the new normal is definitely a factor for consideration.

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Campaign ’16: Hillary Announces http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15646 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15646#respond Tue, 16 Jun 2015 14:11:33 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15646 Among the blog topics to get back up to speed on – it seems there’s a somewhat active Presidential campaign gearing up. There are two other guys in the primary race on the Dem side, but until new records or a dead body show up from the Rose Law Firm, the presumptive nominee is no surprise:

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(Sorta) New Year Resolutions http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15638 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15638#respond Tue, 16 Jun 2015 14:04:30 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15638 In some ways, the day after a legislative session feels like New Years Day – if it only happened every 18 months. It’s time to move back to Houston. It’s time to see if my dog being house-trained is a fluke or not and it’s time to flesh out the home with a few more items that were put off until I had a fresh 18-month clock to enjoy them (namely, a big fat recliner that I can occasionally fall asleep in with my hound dog). The session also takes me out of my weekly volunteer routine at church, although I do manage to get back for random weekends. Hopefully they’ll have me back on a regular basis in a few weeks.

So, in addition to taking a proper vacation for the first time in over a decade, I thought I’d take the time to list a few more things I’m hoping to accomplish over the next 18 months:

Reading: If I really wanted to get nerdy about things, I could chart my life by the amount of reading I get done to the amount of driving I do. It’s a perfectly inverse relationship: whenever I had a car and a long commute, I got very little reading done. Whenever I relied on a METRO pass to and fro, I got a jack-ton of reading done. Currently, there’s a car and a short work commute (and the occasional urge to go shopping some place further than my local Fiesta). I may need to dust off the library card, sort through the Kindle, and carve out some time. But these are all doable things. Around the time of my move last year, the plan was to add a basset hound to the equation and I knew that would also suck up some free time. It did, but the training is now paying off. Elsie still needs play time from me, but I no longer have to spend an insane amount of time patrolling a very small apartment for things she’s chewed up or pooped on. Bottom line: I can no longer state a good reason for why I’m not going through at least one book every two weeks given all of my time constraints. I think this will just take some will-power to get back into the habit. I’m off to an abysmal start with the first two assignments, but proper shaming can wait until I’m back to having a 3 minute commute to work.

Writing: Yes, the blog and Almanac both need some pixels typed into them. But I’m actually thinking something more like this from a habit I developed somewhere around 2009-10:


Seems that there used to be a project promoted by a church I listen to via podcast that involved a group of people devoted to transcribing books of the Bible. I gave this a shot on my own at the time and it was rewarding in a lot of different ways. I seem to have maintained a habit of collecting composition books with the intention of doing this again … without actually starting up again with the writing. So this gets added to the list of things to get back in gear with.

Recording: Tops on the “big expense” items that I’ve held off on until the Lege wrapped up is an upgrade of recording gear and a few new additions to the guitar gear. I’ve wanted to take a few ideas that I’ve recorded and flesh them out into fuller songs. Technically, there’s nothing stopping me from doing that with the equipment I already have. But the biggest impediment I currently have is the memory limitation on my 8-track recorder. It seems that the type of SD card it takes is limited and behind the times. If I wanted to stock up on 2GB cards, I’d be spending a small fortune to overpay for the privilege. And importing/exporting is a chore. So I’m upgrading that bit of hardware and creating a setup that lets me record a mic’d up amplifier rather than the more limiting tone of a direct line into the recorder (essentially the difference of hearing your guitar emulate something closer to a motorcycle rather than a bunch of angry bees). The amplifier and recording device are the easy decisions. The harder decision seems to be the microphones (what kind and how to use them properly) as well as the fine art of re-amping. I’m looking forward to it, though. There may be some unloading of guitar gear that I currently have in stock just to offset the crazy expense of new equipment that far exceeds the skill and talent I have to play and compose music.

More trips to the dog park: Elsie has long since made her proper introductions at the Danny Jackson Dog Park on Westpark. But her time there was bracketed by virtue of her young age and being in heat shortly before we left for Austin. So we’ve probably only managed to visit the place a handful of times last year. Little Elsie is now accustomed to a big backyard and a larger dog that she shares our Austin home with. I think we’re going to have to work in multiple trips to the park per week to compensate for her more isolated home life in Houston. The time commitment for a leash-free romp in the park is the least of my concerns. The need to bathe Elsie after each trip is the biggest issue.

That’s a sizable enough list of things that I’d hate to admit defeat over. With some amount of effort, there will be snippets and reviews from the reading list, music samples, cute puppy pictures from the dog park, and maybe some weekend posts updating the writing project. If not … who knows. Maybe just pictures of me and Elsie zonked out on the recliner.

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The Exit Door (part 2) http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15636 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15636#respond Mon, 15 Jun 2015 16:54:04 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15636 Following up from the initial retirement/”moving on” list

Sen. Kevin Eltifemakes it official that he’s leaving. Expect to see half of East Texas run for the seat.

Rep. Bryan Hughes & Rep. David Simpson – will be among the list of candidates seeking to replace Eltife. Outgoing SBOE member Thomas Ratliff’s name is still a “maybe.”

Among the replacements …

Dr. Tom Oliverson has announced his plans to replace Rep. Allen Fletcher. The fake quote that accompanies his press release reads as follows:

“I am running for State Representative to fight for our conservative values. As a small business owner, I understand first hand that small businesses are the engines that drive our economy. I will fight to promote free markets and end burdensome regulations that cripple our businesses and hurt the Texas economy. I will unapologetically defend the life of the unborn, fight for lower property taxes, protect our border, be an advocate for education reform, and defend our 2nd Amendment rights.”

I’m real interested to learn about those burdensome regulations that cripple Texas businesses. Sounds like the past 20+ years of single-party Republican rule have been a bit of a failure according to their own standards.

Previously mentioned, but Kevin Roberts of the Lanier Law Firm will be seeking Patricia Harless’ HD126. The Lanier connection could make him an interesting member to watch, if he succeeds.

Former Longview mayor Jay Dean will reportedly seek Simpson’s seat. At first glance, he seems to be an improvement over most in the Lege. But in fairness to our friends in East Texas, HD1’s Gary VanDeaver election in 2014 was a good head start on improving the other caucus.

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HoundTV: Elsie vs Deer http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15634 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15634#respond Thu, 11 Jun 2015 16:02:57 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15634 I figured it was inevitable that little Elsie would run across a deer while we were living in Austin. And this technically is her second encounter with suburban-dwelling deer. The first time involved the family of deer running away anytime Elsie got withing 50 feet. This is from May 31st – and we finally had some interaction between the animals.

I like to think that Elsie saved the neighborhood from this (and two other) deer this day. But that would involve putting up statues in Elsie’s honor – 14-inch high statues. And people would just trip all over those.

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The Exit Door http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15627 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15627#respond Tue, 09 Jun 2015 14:48:04 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15627 The Almanac is still a thing, but I figured the current round of legislative retirements deserves a dedicated working space. With that, here’s who’s moving on to better and brighter things:

Rep. Allen Fletcher (R – NW Harris County) – was hoping to get the appointed gig for Harris County Sheriff, but has made it known that he’d be running for it in 2016 regardless. He also gave his going-away speech toward the end of the legislative session. District is about as safe as it gets for GOP – no known names for the seat come to mind.

Rep. Sylvester Turner (D – NW Harris County) – running for Houston mayor for the third time. Also preached his going-away speech during the final days of the lege. Safe Dem seat and there will be a long line of potential replacements. Biggest name to date is HISD trustee Rhonda Skillern-Jones.

Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock (R – Bell County) – gave his going-away speech in the closing days of the Lege. No known names for the seat early on, but the district has potential for a Democratic pickup in 2016 (followed by an almost certain return to GOP control in a non-Presidential year).

Rep. Joe Farias (D – Bexar County) – gave his going-away speech in the closing days of the Lege. Like Aycock’s seat, the district has some potential for swinging to the other party.

Sen. Troy Fraser (R – Central Texas) – announced via letter to Senators after the legislative session. Rep. Aycock was asked to consider running for the seat by Fraser’s campaign manager, but declined. There shouldn’t be a shortage of candidates for this seat, but the field could be thinned out by fundraising ability. Of some interest is that former Representative (and failed Comptroller nominee) Harvey Hilderbran represented the southern portion of the Senate District.

Rep. Patricia Harless (R – NW Harris County) – announced on June 8 that she would not run again. District is safe GOP. Two names to watch for may be Harless’ husband (who toyed with a run for SD7 after Dan Patrick announced for Lt. Gov). Former HD126 candidate John Devine has since successfully run for state Supreme Court. The only semi-announced candidate thus far is attorney, Kevin Roberts.

And in other activity:

Thomas Ratliff (R – East Texas) – announced he would not run for re-election to the State Board of Education.

Sen. Kevin Eltife (R – East Texas) – hasn’t announced whether or not he’ll run for re-election. But State Rep. David Simpson is rumored to be running for the GOP nomination regardless. Outgoing State Board of Education member Thomas Ratliff has said he would consider running if Eltife opted to retire.

Rep. J.D. Sheffield (R – North Central Texas) – Rep. Sheffield has a very visible voting record that allows him to be identified as a moderate in a GOP primary. But his speech against the Schaefer amendment that would ban abortions of fetuses with genetic abnormalities after 20 weeks gave even more ammunition to opponents. Rep. Jonathan Stickland announced via twitter that “[t]his could be Rep. Sheffields last speech on the #txlege floor.” Stephenville realtor Brent Graves announced his intention to challenge Sheffield prior to the end of the legislative session.

Rep. Jim Keffer (R – North Texas) – Hasn’t made an announcement. Michael Quinn Sullivan seems to believe he will retire rather than face another tough primary challenge (allegedly from RR Commish David Porter). That may be wishful thinking on Sullivan’s part, however.

Rep. Charlie Geren (R – Tarrant County) – Hasn’t made an announcement. Presumed to be running again. But already has a primary challenge. Given the growing strength of the Tea Party in Tarrant County and more relaxed campaign finance laws (not to mention Geren’s pointed opposition to same), it could potentially be more entertaining than prior primary challenges against Geren.

Updates are a given …

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The Joys of Bracketing http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15618 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15618#respond Tue, 09 Jun 2015 13:59:25 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15618 A minor tidbit of legislative work to share from the past five months:

Legislative Director typically entails reading a fair amount of legislation. That’s about as exciting as it sounds. And even more mundane is that a good deal of legislation is “bracketed” so that it only applies to certain counties, cities, school districts, etc…. After a while, you pick up a lot of the easy-to-guess brackets, like Harris County being “a county of over 4 million.” But some locations require more creativity. And when you factor in a fight over a pet project, the added spite makes that creativity a bit more comical.

With that, I offer my favorite bracket of all time – offered as an amendment to an amendment by Rep. Jason Isaac (R – Hays County) after taking offense to Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R – NW Dallas County) arguing against an economic incentive fund. The solution: don’t allow it to be used in the bulk of Rinaldi’s legislative district:

Amend amendment by Rinaldi to CSHB 1 (page 43, prefiled amendments packet) by adding the following appropriately numbered item and renumbering subsequent items accordingly:

(_) None of the funds appropriated above to Strategies C.1.1, Economic Development; and C.1.2, Tourism can be used for projects located in a city with a population under 750,000 people according to the 2010 census and located within a 5 mile radius of an international airport with three active flight towers.

It was the first time I’ve seen a bracket definition incorporate either a radius or airport flight towers. And in fairness to Rep. Isaac, he did seem to leave a good portion of HD115 eligible for economic development funds (blue blob = HD115; yellow line = 5 mile radius from DFW Airport):


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Summer Reading 2015 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15602 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15602#respond Mon, 08 Jun 2015 14:46:27 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15602 Long days in the Lege managed to kill off a lot of my normal reading time. If you’d like, I can provide countless hours of very abnormal committee hearing notes that have occupied much of that time. But for the summer ahead, there are a few items on the reading list to make up for lost time. And you should know that the sole purpose of posting this is to shame myself into actually reading these for fear that someone will ask me about them (what with all the dinner parties I attend).

» Red Tape: Its Origins, Uses, and Abuses
by Herbert Kaufman
I actually forgot I ordered this since I pre-ordered it several months prior to release. Which is remarkable since the book is a reprint of a 1977 book.

As far as subject matter goes, the book keeps me planted pretty close to the Political Science/Public Administration realm. Which is just as well since I’ve got two partially-read college texts on the subject to mow through over the next 18 months. I’ve put off buying James Q. Wilson’s “Bureaucracy” to fill this need for reading material. So I’m hoping that it absolves me of the need to buy more lit in this genre when it’s all said and done.

» Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877
by Brenda Wineapple
I wish there was some majestical reason I could give for picking this book out of the herd, but the reality is that it came with a $3.79 price tag that went very well with my itch to read more about Reconstruction-era history.



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Vacation, All I Ever Wanted http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15600 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15600#respond Mon, 08 Jun 2015 14:10:30 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15600 One more legislative session is out of the way. One thing that definitely feels overdue is the need for an actual vacation. So, no sooner than I get my stuff moved back into a new place in Houston, I’ll be packing up for a few days in the Twin Cities of Minnesota (a poor man’s DFW, if you will). Most of time is penciled in for the St. Paul side of things, although Mall of America is an obligatory stop and I’ve noticed a timely Twins-Tigers series going on while I’m in town. The main draw for me is a visit to Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul. But I’m spending a lot of my free time listing other possible things to do, see, eat, or experience. If you know of anything worthwhile to do in either Minneapolis of St. Paul, feel free to let me know.

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84(R) http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15584 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15584#respond Mon, 19 Jan 2015 18:23:36 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15584 Belatedly, it’s worth noting that I’m back in Austin for the legislative session. Theoretically, that would mean a slowdown in blogging. But given the pace over the past several months, who knows.

For the sake of making myself feel better, the work product over this span of time seems to be about 568 pages of notes from legislative and budget board hearings between the end of the last legislature and the beginning of this one. I’m sure it’ll eventually be some fascinating reading for an archaeologist many years from now.

To make matters even more fascinating, the reading list has turned to matters more along the lines of a thrilling class on Public Administration. I’ve caved into the textbook pricing scheme and picked up some long-lost reading that includes some updates since my time in college. The Washington Monthly obliges with more recent spins on the subject. As fascinating as I find the subject matter, it’s not exactly the most “blog-friendly” material.

With that, I expect a bit of a slowdown, but also some time to refocus on what it is that I’d like to spend more time blogging about (or updating the Almanac with). Until then, I’ll be sure to update sparingly between now and the end of the legislative session.

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2009-13 ACS Update http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15581 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15581#respond Thu, 11 Dec 2014 17:12:03 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15581 The end of the year means new Census data being released. I’m saving most of my work until the Citizen Voting Age data is out, but here are the top lines for total population in Harris County, with previous ACS updates included to show the gradual change over time:

          Tot. Pop. '10 (%) | Tot. Pop. '11 (%) | Tot. Pop. '12 (%) | Tot. Pop. '13 (%) 
TOTAL     4,092,459         | 4,025,409         | 4,101,752         | 4,182,285
Anglo     1,349,646 (33.0%) | 1,353,868 (33.6%) | 1,354,869 (33.0%) | 1,361,568 (32.6%)
Hispanic  1,671,540 (40.8%) | 1,621,065 (40.3%) | 1,671,262 (40.7%) | 1,717,940 (41.1%)
Afr.-Am.    754,258 (18.4%) |   747,398 (18.6%) |   775,085 (18.9%) |   774,120 (18.5%)
Asian       249,853  (6.1%) |   246,924  (6.1%) |   257,467  (6.3%) |   262,251  (6.3%)
Other        67,162  (1.6%) |    56,154  (1.4%) |    43,069  (1.1%) |    66,406  (1.6%)

On a technical note, this is all based on the 5-yr dataset, which is the only dataset that provides CVAP details at the block group level. The one-year data at the county level, however, shows a more current snapshot of the county:

         5-yr ACS             1-yr ACS
        4,182,285            4,336,853   
Anglo   1,361,568 (32.6%)    1,376,670 (31.7%)
Hisp    1,717,940 (41.1%)    1,803,547 (41.6%)
AfrAm     774,120 (18.5%)      798,658 (18.4%)
Asian     262,251 ( 6.3%)      276,803 ( 6.4%)
Other      66,406 ( 1.6%)      81,175  ( 1.9%)

I asked some people smarter than me about how the five year set was calculated. I figured they may weight more recent years or do something fancy. Turns out, there’s no magic to it at all. Everything is weighted the same. What this means is that the “Pulaski Effect” leads to the 2012 and 2013 5-yr data sets closely tracking with the full 2010 Census data. That’s due to the aggregate of yearly data in, say, the 2008-2012 data set averaging somewhere toward the middle of that range – which is precisely 2010. I trust that everyone in the world was as curious as I was about that.

Again, CVAP data and mapping to happen as soon as the Census puts numbers online.

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Harris County Election Results, by House District http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15577 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15577#respond Tue, 11 Nov 2014 16:11:00 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15577 Mapping and other analysis is slowly underway during my free time. But here are the results for statewide offices broken out by House District in Harris County.

As Kuff notes, about the only real standout is that Leticia Van de Putte carried HD134. Dan Patrick lagged behind lower-ballot GOP candidates in most districts. But in most cases, it was a minor amount. In HD134, it was just more substantial. Previous research has shown that the inner-loop “Anglo Dem” corridor has been home to the lowest amount of straight ticket voting, so it makes sense that the district would have the biggest variation in performance.

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Canvass Results Are In! http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15572 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15572#respond Thu, 06 Nov 2014 22:53:22 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15572 I’m still recuperating from a final week of more manual labor than I should be doing at my age. But I’ve also got the unofficial canvass of Harris County returns on my hand. Of immediate interest, I’m proud to see the efforts of Team Wu pay off to the tune of 57.9%. That’s on par with the results Scott Hochberg got in the old HD137 (and the current one is drawn to perform very similarly to that one). Even better, we outperformed all other Dems on the ballot in our district – in terms of total votes and percentage. Last time around, I believe Garcia and Ryan did better in each of those columns than we did.

District 137       D     D%        R     R%       TV
Gov              6,899 (55.3%)   5,306 (42.5%)  12,472 
Lt. Gov          6,815 (54.9%)   5,161 (41.6%)  12,410 
Comptroller      6,626 (53.8%)   5,203 (42.3%)  12,311 
Attorney General 6,683 (54.0%)   5,251 (42.4%)  12,386
Land Commish     6,243 (50.6%)   5,565 (45.1%)  12,342 
Ag Commish       6,300 (51.4%)   5,362 (43.8%)  12,250 
RR Commish       6,340 (51.6%)   5,343 (43.5%)  12,278 
SCOTX-CJ         6,451 (52.5%)   5,466 (44.5%)  12,278 
14th COA - CJ    6,593 (54.5%)   5,505 (45.5%)  12,098 
1st COA - CJ     6,622 (54.7%)   5,480 (45.3%)  12,102 
State Rep        7,147 (57.9%)   5,203 (42.1%)  12,350 
Dist. Attorney   6,779 (55.6%)   5,420 (44.4%)  12,199 
Dist. Clerk      6,449 (53.5%)   5,597 (46.5%)  12,046 
County Clerk     6,576 (54.4%)   5,503 (45.6%)  12,079 
County Treasurer 6,502 (53.6%)   5,628 (46.4%)  12,130 
BOE - Kerner     6,707 (55.7%)   5,325 (44.3%)  12,032 
BOE - Noriega    6,721 (55.7%)   5,343 (44.3%)  12,064 

Eventually, I’ll check a few other curiosities in other districts. And the neighborhood analysis and maps will follow at some point.

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4-wk sprint: DPI Comparison http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15569 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15569#respond Sun, 02 Nov 2014 21:08:52 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15569 Upon running a quick comparison using another method for seeing how the county is doing, I’m getting 46.98% for the county. This method assumes that Obama’s 2012 percentage holds the same per precinct and plugs in the new precinct turnout for EV and VBM. Another way to think about it is that the county running, basically, at “Obama, minus one.” This, of course, starts from the notion that Obama clocked in at 48% when the EV and VBM totals showed up back in November 2012. Compared to the Clarity method, that presents a fairly tight range of performance. We’ll see what we see when the real numbers start rolling in. But I don’t see much reason to expect anything wildly off from a 46-47% opening score for Dems.

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4-wk sprint: The Closing Bell for Early Voting http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15567 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15567#respond Sun, 02 Nov 2014 16:05:37 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15567 The scoring for Early Voting, based on Clarity scores, is as follows:

Mail ballots – 49.1% Dem
In-Person Early Voting – 46.2% Dem
Combined 46.7% Dem

And the combined scores by House district …

 HD      Votes   DEM Support
County  373,940     46.7%
 126     18,563     31.2% 
 127     24,942     28.3% 
 128     16,926     28.9% 
 129     20,478     32.9% 
 130     24,070     22.6% 
 131     13,812     82.1% 
 132     18,310     35.2% 
 133     25,706     26.4% 
 134     25,963     40.6% 
 135     16,013     36.5% 
 137      6,886     55.2% 
 138     15,358     34.9% 
 139     15,688     75.5% 
 140      5,584     74.8% 
 141     11,342     83.6% 
 142     12,754     76.4% 
 143      8,247     71.5% 
 144      6,286     53.6% 
 145      7,960     61.0% 
 146     16,183     76.2% 
 147     16,608     78.2% 
 148     11,586     58.9% 
 149     13,695     51.5% 
 150     20,980     28.7% 

Comparing this to 2012 for the county, here are a variety of metrics I had back then:

v2 ……… 45.45% Dem
Clarity …. 54.16% Dem
DPI-Obama .. 49.98% Dem
DPI-Avg …. 50.34% Dem

As I recall, I think I was placing most of my faith in adjusting the Clarity v2 score up by about 2.5 points. Obama ended up opening with a combined EV and VBM deficit of 48.0%-51.1%. So the baseline Dem estimate ended up fairly close to the money. I still need to crunch data on a DPI estimate for the county. But I don’t expect it to be wildly off from Clarity scoring. This time around, I’ve only had time to do a very simple comparison of the current score to previous elections and I didn’t see much reason to add or subtract anything. We’ll see from the first numbers on Tuesday night how they stack up, though.

Kuff breaks out the napkin to do some math and suggests that a 54.2% showing on E-Day would be what it would take to win. No quarrels with the math. But I’m not overly optimistic about the probability. In part, that’s because I think there’s too much behavior shifting to get more Dems into the Mail Ballot column.

The fact that more of our base voters are available for E-day than there are for Republicans is a key counterpoint to that skepticism and that’s why I take a pass on making any grand prediction on whether we win on E-Day or outperform the opening numbers. Obviously, I’d love to see us beating the opening spread by 7 points, as was the case in 2010. But I’m not overnighting a check to Vegas on that one. Short of an across-the-board win, a few key wins by some folks with a D next to their name would be a significant positive. And if the end result is nothing more than a better showing than 2006 or 2010, we’ll be spending several months afterward spinning the results.

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4-wk sprint: With One Day Left http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15565 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15565#respond Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:21:44 +0000 http://gregsopinion.com/?p=15565 This should be pretty close to what expectations are for the opening bell numbers that roll out Tuesday after 7pm. On the plus side, Steve Hotze doesn’t believe any of this.

Thursday was effectively a draw for Dems, which replicates the 2012 pattern. Today should be more of the same. I think there’s ample reason to believe Dems will win E-Day. But I guess I’m the chicken little of the group and doubt that it will be enough. Either way, here’s hoping that this election cycle is the last one where we see people prognosticate on who’s winning or losing based on countywide turnout levels or even EV polling place counts.

At some point after all the EV results are in, I’ll run counts on what the voter makeup of each polling place looks like and maybe even map out where voters come from to vote at some of the more heavily-trafficked locations.

 HD      Votes   DEM Support
County 319,229     46.1%
 126    16,020     30.4%
 127    21,591     27.7%
 128    14,564     28.3%
 129    17,800     32.4%
 130    20,345     22.2%
 131    11,534     81.6%
 132    15,770     34.6%
 133    22,364     25.9%
 134    22,225     40.5%
 135    13,324     35.9%
 137     5,800     54.2%
 138    13,216     34.3%
 139    13,209     75.3%
 140     4,712     74.7%
 141     9,538     83.3%
 142    10,667     76.1%
 143     7,027     70.5%
 144     5,549     53.1%
 145     6,785     60.2%
 146    13,817     75.9%
 147    13,969     78.3%
 148     9,853     59.0%
 149    11,750     50.6%
 150    17,800     27.9%
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