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Almanac Updates: Dallas and Fort Bend County House Districts

A few nuggets from the Almanac updates I'm still slowly getting around to ...

Since I'm crunching the data from the big counties and their official or unofficial canvasses, I'm trying to keep a few of the countywide contests in the overview. This gives a little bit of insight into two GOP-held Dallas County districts: HD105 and HD107, which were contested by Dem candidates Rosemary Robbins and Robert Miklos respectively. Both ended up losing fairly close contests. But both were also won by Dallas County Tax Assessor, John Ames. Obviously, everything comes down to whether re-redistricting happens by the 2014 elections, but those should be ground zero for Dem pickup opportunities if the maps hold.

In HD112, Angie Chen Button didn't have any competition for re-election. But her district didn't lose much ground from the 2008-level competitiveness it saw.

HD114 had a great Dem candidate trying to pick up a seat. But it was about as out-of-reach as anticipated, with even a status quo district likely to be even harder in a non-Presidential year next time.

The newly-configured HD115 ended up being a bit closer than I'd have expected. Again, assuming the status quo holds for 2014 maps, it could be interesting to see whether this one gets a more aggressive challenge since incoming Rep.-elect Bennett Ratliff comes from the "good GOP" Ratliffs and is likely to pick up some pro-education support.

I've also added the Fort Bend districts, where we can see the relative performances in HD26 and the impact of Dora Olivo's campaign experience in HD85 (which has the non-Ft. Bend Counties included in the totals).

Not included anywhere in the Almanac yet, but worth mentioning here is County Commissioner Richard Morrison's performance in winning re-election. All that's needed to be remembered about this district is that it was marginally Republican when Morrison first won it in 2008 and that redistricting didn't change the boundaries in this election. Oh, and Morrison's opponent this time was a Pennsylvanian outted for vote fraud. Good news for Morrison, but good luck getting swing votes in a Presidential year ... right?

Here's how the contests played out in the first precinct ...

Romney   - 26,750 (56.1%)
Obama    - 20,500 (43.0%)

US Senate
Cruz     - 26,476 (55.8%)
Sadler   - 20,072 (42.3%)

County Commissioner
Fleming  - 22,955 (49.3%)
Morrison - 23,640 (50.7%)

No other Dem on the ballot broke 45% in Precinct 1. Congrats again to Morrison on this win. For the record, the next-most Dem-friendly County Commissioner seat in Fort Bend is the Sugar Land-centric Precinct 4 held by James Patterson. Obama won 40.5% there while downballot Dems fell just shy of 41%. Given Sugar Land's Asian vote, I'll simply point out that one of those downballot candidates to perform well there was 1st Court of Appeals nominee Kathy Cheng, with 40.8%. Might be something to suggest for a local Chinese-American Dem willing to run there if you ask me.

That's about it for progress, so far. I'll try and work in some Bexar County research since there seems to be some publicity about the GOTV work funded by Mikal Watts and executed by local consultants. My .02 regarding publicity like this stands firm. And a cursory glance at the EV vs E-Day numbers in San Antonio seem to suggest nothing more than a shift of E-Day voters to Early Voters. Maybe there's something there that isn't visible in the totals. But I'm skeptical.

One local sidenote that drives me somewhat mad, while I'm at it. Apparently, the total number of registered voters counted on the canvass here in Harris County is taken from the voter roll counts at a much earlier point in time than those available to vote on Election Day. I know this because of some time lost on my part counting cattle in HD137. If you go through the Registered Vote counts by election cycle, as reported to the state, it would seem that my fair district lost votes every cycle. A rather shocking 20% drop since 2002, in fact.

Well, I happened to get a handful of counts the old-fashioned way: downloading the precinct data and getting the totals from each. Here's my math ...

08/06/2012 ... 47,665
09/24/2012 ... 48,174
10/14/2012 ... 49,061
10/21/2012 ... 49,407
10/25/2012 ... 49,729
2012 Harris County Final ...

Granted, the reason this is important to me is because the Gene Wu campaign invested quite a bit in voter registration this past election. We saw some impressive results in areas where we concentrated our efforts and that's work that I look forward to doing again. I know we ended up with the first net-positive gain in registered voters in this configuration of HD137. It would have been nice to see that reflected in the official numbers.

But the reality is that Registered Vote counts (and by extension, turnout levels) are among the biggest crapshoots for interpretation. Counties vary in how they've maintained the voter rolls and yet turnout levels tend to get quoted as if they were sacred mantras. They aren't.

Just as well. Next time, I'm looking to break the 50k barrier.

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  1. Robbins came close in 105, and so did Miklos in 107. It will take another Presidential to win them. We need good Democratic candidates with strong roots in these district to outperform the Presidential numbers. Fmr Rep. Kirk England and former Irving Mayor Herb Gears come to mind but neither are likely to run in 105. I’m not sure who will run in 107. Kenneth Sheets base in the west side of White Rock Lake bailed him out.

    I live in 114 and wish the numbers were closer. Villalba portrayed himself as a more moderate Ted Cruz but with his arming teacher’s bill he now hangs out with the tea party faction like Cruz. I thought Kent may appeal to independent women in Lake Highlands where she is from, but outside of her neighborhood, the residential precincts went only 35-40% or less for the LH Democrat. The Preston Hollow area has always been a GOP stronghold with some of the richest people in Dallas living there. LH will remain a GOP stronghold until the young professionals start to outvote the old empty nesters. If the apartment complexes each had some captains like the condo commandos in Miami, 114 could become competitive by the end of the decade. The problem is the complex residents are low income, nomadic, and very young.

    We would have won the old 102, 105, and 107 districts had they not been redrawn.

    If Dan Branch gives up his HD 108 to run for AG, Allen Vaught would be the best candidate to run.

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