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Ted Cruz and the Hispanic Vote: Harris County edition

November 22, 2012 Politics-2012 1 Comment

Following up from both Kuff (twice) and some natural curiosity over the impact of Ted Cruz (and GOP Hispanic candidates in general) among Hispanic voters, I thought I’d do a little bit of cartographic number-crunching to look at the issue.

I haven’t gotten too far out of Harris County in any election analysis yet, so I’m limiting my view close to home with a bit of a presumption that what we see in Harris is probably mirrored in the DFW Metroplex and maybe Bexar County. Whether it mirrors anything in South Texas or rural Hispanic areas is something worth another round of testing. But here’s what we see in Harris County for now …

The first thing that should jump out to anyone asking whether Ted Cruz benefited from crossover Hispanic votes is that there is a net vote dropoff for both Cruz and Paul Sadler compared to their Presidential counterparts. That tracks with a very common down-ballot concern – that your party’s vote dropoff may be greater than that of the other party. Pre-2008, the pattern was that GOP voters would dropoff at a greater level than Dem voters once they got down to judicial races. 2008 was a sea change as the operating theory suggests that a large number of new voters came to the polls and, in significantly large numbers, didn’t vote downballot. The result was that we saw Dem judicials with about the same dropoff problem as Republican judicials.

A case in point can be seen in 2004 among the judicial vote dropoff:

        Total Ballots   President     Avg Judicial
2004    1,088,793      1,067,988    1,006,443 (94.24%)
            R            584,723      536,241 (91.71%)
            D            475,865      470,202 (98.81%)

The right-hand column shows the percentage of the Presidential vote that held in the average judicial result. Basically, you have a much more cohesive vote on the Dem side in 2004, while GOP voters were much more likely to drop off. The results weren’t meaningful enough to give any Dem judicial a win, but they were enough to give hope that the gap could be narrowed as demographic change might make the county more competitive over time.

Here’s what the situation looks like in the Obama years:

        Total Ballots   President     Avg Judicial
2008    1,188,731      1,171,472    1,101,014 (94.24%)
            R            571,883      541,257 (94.64%)
            D            590,982      559,757 (94.72%)
        Total Ballots   President     Avg Judicial
2012    1,188,731      1,185,722    1,131,078 (95.39%)
            R            584,866      563,488 (96.34%)
            D            585,451      567,590 (96.95%)

There’s still a modest advantage for Dems going downballot, but the difference is narrowed greatly. In years where Obama was winning a close race countywide, this was enough to keep the judicials over the top.

That brings us to 2012. And with the US Senate contest, we’re dealing with a race higher on the ballot and one that doesn’t generally generate as much vote dropoff compared to the judicials. Here’s what the pattern of vote dropoff looks like in Harris County for US Senate races in Presidential years:

      Total Ballots    President         US Senate
2000      995,631        974,426      941,968 (96.67%)
2008    1,188,731      1,171,472    1,151,174 (98.27%)
2012    1,204,167      1,188,585    1,174,884 (98.85%)

And here’s what the party dropoff comparison looks like in 2012:

      Total Ballots    President         US Senate
2012    1,204,167      1,188,585    1,174,884 (98.85%)
	        R            584,866      581,197 (99.37%)
	        D            585,451      562,955 (96.16%)

What we don’t know from this is how much of the vote that dropped off for Sadler went over to Cruz. I think it’s realistic to assume that that’s decent chunk of the vote. But we know that it’s not 100% of the movement. So here’s where we can get into the weeds a little and see where the vote movement happened. To do this, I ran two calculations:

1. The dropoff of vote from Obama to Sadler as a percentage of Obama’s vote count in a precinct. (O-Sadler)
2. The dropoff of vote from Romney to Cruz as a percentage of Romney’s vote count in a precinct. (R-Cruz)

With that, there are two maps to show the results. For the sake of avoiding the problem of small precincts skewing the results, I limited the precinct selection to those with more than First, the O-Sadler findings …

full pageGoogle Earth

And, secondly, the R-Cruz findings …

full pageGoogle Earth

The color-coding for both is as follows:

Dark Blue: Senate candidates beat Presidential candidates in raw vote count
Light Blue: Senate candidates underperform Presidentials by 0-2% of the Presidential nominee’s total vote count
Purple: Senate candidates underperform Presidentials by 2-4% of the Presidential nominee’s total vote count
Red: Senate candidates underperform Presidentials by >4% of the Presidential nominee’s total vote count

Or, in short, you can look at the dark blue as areas where the Senate candidates overperformed and the red as areas where they significantly underperformed. Performance being defined here as a function of vote dropoff.

In Sadler’s case, the areas where he overperformed were areas where Democratic voters are likelier to be wealthy Anglos and underperformed in heavily Hispanic areas. In Cruz’s case, however, his overperformance is not limited to just Hispanic areas. He also overperformed in many heavily African-American parts of the county. Kuff’s post has aggregates by House District and you can definitely see the pickup that Cruz gets in districts such as HD131 (Alma Allen), HD139 (Sylvester Turner), HD141 (Senfronia Thompson), and HD142 (Harold Dutton). While there are certainly some Hispanic pockets of votes in those districts – some more significant than others – I think it warrants an explanation that the under-reported aspect of all of this is that Sadler just lagged in many areas due to more structural problems like not having resources to compete statewide in a meaningful way. That Sadler’s dropoff problem is as pervasive as it seems doesn’t suggest to me that it’s an isolated issue, even if the bigger disparity is in Hispanic areas.

In fact, in many of the heaviest African-American precincts, you can see a negative R-Cruz and a positive O-Sad number. That means that Ted Cruz got more votes than Romney at the same time that Sadler was getting fewer than the President in heavily African-American boxes. Whether that’s due to Hispanic voters in those areas shifting over to Cruz or some other movement of votes is beyond the reach of data like this.

But I wouldn’t carpet-categorize Cruz’s showing in Harris County as purely the impact of Hispanic voters crossing over to support him any more than I’d suggest that the wealthy Anglo parts of town suggest a lack of support for Cruz (either due to an unwillingness to support a Hispanic candidate or for any other reason). Likewise, I think that suggesting that Cruz’s appeal was more strictly connected to Hispanic voters ignores the impact seen in African-American areas. Is anyone writing columns about Ted Cruz’s support among African-American swing voters? Certainly not that I see.

The reality is that you have a combination of effects. And given the fact that Sadler never had a chance to compete given the lack of financial resources, I’d at least begin with the suggestion that you had a broader problem there and that it was augmented by any support among Hispanic voters unrelated to the previous issue. That’s obviously very difficult to put into a 600-word column to distill the situation down into a more easily-digested takeaway from the event. But if I’m looking at a situation such as this and seriously wondering how to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, I think reality suggests that resources matter. How much do they matter against a high-profile Hispanic Republican running? We obviously don’t have a terrific comparison without getting into more apple vs orange issues.

Rewinding to the days when San Antonio Republican Congressman Henry Bonilla used to contemplate a statewide run, I’m not sure that I’d lump Cruz’s ascension to the Senate as the creation of an 800-pound political gorilla that Democrats can’t beat because he’s cutting into the Hispanic vote too much. Cruz ended up with less than a third of a percentage point more than Mitt Romney in Harris County. I’d argue that if Sadler had the resources that even Rick Noriega had in 2008, the results could have been more favorable for Sadler. There still may be a long way to go to turn Texas purple as a whole. But I’m not sure I’d put that much movement in the category of a game-changer for Texas Republicans to stave off demographic inevitability forever.

Shameless Self-Promotion (now with Mediterranean food)

November 19, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

Tonight, join Sharpstown’s finest – myself and Stace Medellin – as the Meyerland Democrats foist us upon their membership at the club’s January meeting. I’ll be the one bringing maps and talking about election outcomes in the county and in Meyerland.

Seriously, who can resist that? I’m pretty sure that Fadi’s serves alcohol if that helps, though.

2012 Election Mapping: METRO GMP Referendum

November 14, 2012 Politics-2012 6 Comments

Here’s the METRO referendum on General Mobility Payments, with light blue indicating that the Yesses were between 50%-75%.

full pageGoogle Earth

The binary views are availalbe here if desired: full pageGoogle Earth

On the whole, the referendum passed as follows:

Yes: 78.84%
No: 21.16%

It takes some straining to see, but there does appear to be a faint view of some Anglo Dem angst at Metro inside the loop. It obviously wasn’t enough to turn a majority in many precincts as almost all of the pure, “No” boxes were simply due to low numbers in split precincts voting against.

What you’d make of the lack of enthusiasm for the referendum outside of that, I’m interested in hearing any theories.

2012 Election Mapping: Houston Prop B

November 14, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

Late start for mapping today. Here’s the Parks proposition for the City of Houston, with light blue indicating that the Yesses were between 50%-75%.

full pageGoogle Earth

The binary views are availalbe here if desired: full pageGoogle Earth

On the whole, the proposition passed as follows:

Yes: 68.05%
No: 31.95%

There definitely seems to be a strong base of support in much of the Anglo Dem turf as well as some spots of Anglo GOP turf. It might be interesting to see how this map overlays with some of the key projects planned for the bond funds.

2012 Election Mapping: The Near Misses in Harris County

November 13, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

Looking at the nearest misses among House Districts for Democrats, it’s no surprise that HD134 will likely be a hot contest throughout the decade. That’s not just due to the district being as near parity as any district in the county as it is that the area serves as home to a number of high-quality potential candidates.

What’s been emerging ever since the housing boom of the 2000s is the changing demographics on Houston’s far west side. Below the fold is a snapshot of the Sheriff results with the district outlines. If Democrats are going to make any kind of run at growing their ranks in the Lege, these two districts will be the ones that have to flip.

Oddly enough, HD134 has always had the extra challenge of its electoral competitiveness being more intractable than elsewhere. This is due in part to there not being a great deal of new construction driving demographic change. That stands in fairly stark contrast to HD132. Granted, we’re likely to see another round of redistricting in the next session, but if these districts were to stand, I wouldn’t be surprised to see HD132 flip before HD134.

2012 Election Mapping: US President (in Harris County)

November 13, 2012 Politics-2012 4 Comments

Romney v Obama, the conclusion in Harris County …

full pageGoogle Earth

The results in this race were:

Barack Obama (D) – 49.38%
Mitt Romney (R) – 49.33%

2012 Election Mapping: US Senate (in Harris County)

November 13, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

Cruz vs Sadler, in technicolor …

full pageGoogle Earth

The results in this race were:

Ted Cruz (R) – 49.58%
Paul Sadler (D) – 48.02%

2012 Election Mapping: Harris County Sheriff

November 13, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

Guthrie vs Garcia, all mapped out …

full pageGoogle Earth

The results in this race were:

Adrian Garcia (D) – 52.95%
Louis Guthrie (R) – 45.20%

ADD-ON: For the sake of comparison, here’s the 2008 map of Adrian Garcia’s showing against incumbent, Tommy Thomas.

2012 Election Mapping: HD137

November 13, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

Unofficial canvass out for the county. Here’s HD137 in cartographic form …

View HD137 – 2012 General Election in a larger map

The info boxes show the Obama-12 and Obama-08 results, as well as relevant performance for Scott Hochberg in 2010. I’m pretty sure Scott had some 2006 showings that were as good or better, for what it’s worth.

I don’t see any surprises in this map in terms of red vs blue. There were certainly some great showings in the red precincts, where Gene Wu definitely had some evidence of about 5-6 points worth of crossover support. Also worth pointing out some of the crossover support that MJ Khan got in Pct. 430 – home to two mosques and a few apartment complexes relatively well populated by Pakistanis and Muslims who prefer the walking distance to them. I’ll take a 43% showing in Briarmeadow to that any day considering that that was better than Adrian Garcia’s showing. Bigger news is that Pct. 256 seems to be pulling away from “swing” status.

Election Season Math: In Review

November 10, 2012 feature, Politics-2012 No Comments

Following from some earlier posts about number-crunching in election season, here’s a starter for what I saw as the Early Votes came in …

At the county level, there were multiple ways of looking at how the Early Vote crowd voted. The two different individualized scores showed the electorate at 45.45% Dem and 54.16% Dem at the pessimistic and optimistic ends of the spectrum. Accounting for the biases seen in the 2008 electorate, these two scores placed the outcome at about 48-49% Dem.

The DPI-by-Precinct scores showed the Obama results clocking in at 49.98% Dem – less than a half point behind the pace from 2008. And since that score is in a multi-candidate field, it would be enough to open up Election Night with a small lead.

The reality was an opening mark of 48.00% (behind Romney) for Obama and a closing mark of 49.38% (ahead of Romney) for Obama.

Below is what the results showed among some of the districts in Harris County with contested district races. Two obvious DPI scores I chose were ones that had an easy correlation to 2012: Barack Obama and Adrian Garcia. I didn’t expect either of them to do as well as they did in 2008, so I added CO Bradford’s results from his District Attorney race to see how a narrow loss in 2008 might translate. Later in the process, as the results started showing a very 50-50 county, I added two judicials: Ashish Mehendru and Josefina Rendon. Rendon was the narrowest win in 2008 and Mehendru’s showing was the low end of the range from that year.

Finally, to compile a somewhat pessimistic average DPI of my own, I folded each of these into an average DPI score. Traditionally, the DPI scores created by others are just that – an average. And on a good day, they’ll tell you what they’re averaging.

                                    DPI SCORES
        | ACTUAL EV |   Avg   | Obama  Garcia  Bradford | Mehendru  Rendon
HD134   |   42.6%   |  43.0%  | 46.1%   49.8%   39.9%   | 39.7%    39.5%
HD135   |   37.7%   |  39.5%  | 39.3%   45.2%   38.3%   | 36.6%    38.0%
HD137   |   63.6%   |  63.2%  | 62.9%   67.5%   62.0%   | 61.2%    62.6%
HD139   |   79.2%   |  77.5%  | 77.0%   81.0%   76.7%   | 75.9%    77.1%
HD141   |   89.4%   |  86.5%  | 86.1%   88.2%   86.4%   | 85.6%    86.4%
HD143   |   71.0%   |  68.5%  | 64.4%   74.2%   68.0%   | 66.4%    69.7%
HD144   |   46.6%   |  51.7%  | 47.4%   58.6%   51.4%   | 48.8%    52.3%
HD149   |   58.9%   |  55.0%  | 54.6%   58.9%   54.1%   | 53.1%    54.2%
HD150   |   28.6%   |  31.7%  | 31.2%   37.7%   30.9%   | 28.8%    30.1%
CD2     |   30.6%   |  36.1%  | 36.6%   42.5%   34.9%   | 33.4%    33.4%
CD7     |   34.7%   |  38.5%  | 40.1%   44.5%   36.6%   | 35.7%    35.7%
CD18    |   76.5%   |  77.6%  | 77.3%   81.1%   76.9%   | 76.3%    76.3%
Const 1 |   59.0%   |  61.3%  | 61.8%   67.3%   59.4%   | 59.1%    59.1%
COUNTY  |   48.0%   |  50.3%  | 50.0%   55.5%   49.2%   | 47.9%    49.2%

I found each of these DPI scores instructive, so I let them stand on their own. For instance, Obama’s DPI isn’t necessarily instructive for many Hispanic districts – and I think this is visible in HD143. Obama tends to perform at the low end of the spectrum of scores and local Hispanic candidates typically perform better. For a district like that, looking at Adrian Garcia’s DPI score is more helpful. And averaging down that peak score is even more helpful.

What surprised me upon seeing the first Early Vote numbers, was how close the numbers were in HD137 and HD147. In the case of 137, there’s a small sample size of only 28 precincts. As mentioned before, I ignored the DPI number all through EV and chose to focus on the individual scores, which had our district between 57-59%. Hubert Vo’s HD149 is instructive for how crossover votes aren’t accounted for in a DPI model like this. That’s always going to be an X-factor unless you have a very well-developed ID program with the data fed into the voter database and tracked closely. Most State Rep campaigns won’t have the manpower for that, so you’re really left to play that by ear in the real world.

All in all, I continue to be surprised by how accurate this approach is. If you take a look at what Robert Miller posted on E-Day, you’ll see what has traditionally been offered. This is basically showing the count of “Hard/Soft Dems”, “Hard/Soft Republicans” and a big “unknown” category mistakenly identified as “Independent”. I’ve heard those counts offered year in and year out – usually as proof that Dems were going to win big right before they didn’t.

I’d suggest to everyone that there is a significantly better way to measure Early Voting without getting that 20-30% unknown factor. This is the second cycle that I’ve used this approach and it’s been fairly good. There’s certainly some artistic license that goes with it to determine what kind of DPI measurement is best for a given race. In 2010, we were staring at wildly optimistic DPI’s from vendors assuming that 2006 and 2008 were a good basis of comparison. The 2010 results I posted were based on the DPI scores provided by NCEC, which is the standard place a lot of campaigns go for that information. But I’d suggest that if you have a good enough research ability on your team, you can and should know your own turf better than a national political shop.

Anyways, that’s what I saw going on during Early Voting. I’d hope that results like this could be posted publicly at some point in the future. But campaigns are fairly selfish entities, so I’m not sure how likely that is.

About Last Tuesday

November 8, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

So, this happened …

Candidate      |   Absentee   |      Early    |   Election   |    Total
Gene Wu (D)    |   508 41.78% |  8,771 65.54% | 6,510 69.06% | 15,789 65.72%
M. J. Khan (R) |   708 58.22% |  4,611 34.46% | 2,916 30.94% |  8,235 34.28%
Cast Votes:    | 1,216 95.75% | 13,382 96.16% | 9,426 94.56% | 24,024 95.51%

Registered Voters: 48,003
Ballots Cast:      25,154
Turnout:           52.40%

I’ll now be on an apology tour of my own since I’ve been far more pessimistic of how HD137 would perform. Check the 2008 math yourself, but the best showing from that year was Linda Yanez’s 62.8%. My notes suggested that precincts that turned out abnormally for Obama in 2008 would not repeat at those levels and that the 2004 results were somewhat instructive as a bit of a floor-level performance. To me, that translated to a floor of 55%, with about eight years of demographic change tacked on for good measure. So for the last three weeks of the campaign, I basically told everyone that we could expect to finish somewhere between 57-59% and if we did 60-62, it would be due to Obama more than anything we did. I have no idea where the heck 65% comes from.

Obviously, getting a draft of the county’s canvassed results will help. But I’m really curious how Gene did compared to the President in our district. Next door to us, Hubert Vo similarly beat expectations that I had, but I can chalk up some of that to a track record of swing voters – both from the Vietnamese community and the Alief business community that Hubert has cultivated. So maybe the results in these two Southwest Houston districts are coincidental of a “new normal” for the Obama years. Or maybe there’s more to the story. The numbers will tell more of this story.

I’ll save the remainder of my frenzied number-crunch festival for other posts. For this, I think there’s one point to put on the story of Gene Wu’s first run for political office. When I first met Gene, I was a bit player at a table full of more important people who talked to Gene about possibly running for office some day. I can’t claim instant inspiration as I was busy making my points that there were a few skills needed for successful campaigning that I felt I hadn’t seen in this brief encounter. I’d seen a number of candidates with great resumes hitting the right point in their life for a political run, who had flamed out in single digits because they lacked several of the basics for being a candidate.

The last time I saw Gene before he was a candidate for State Representative was a different story. A few days after Scott Hochberg announced his retirement, I was told that he’d be stopping by the office pretty late in the day. It turns out that our shop was the second stop on Gene’s post-work schedule. The first involved a meeting where he was asked not to run. Ours involved a much more focused and driven Gene Wu than the first meeting we had with him. Whatever concerns I had then were out the window. This was something he wanted and he was committed to doing well.

With the decision set, all I knew was that there was just no way I could be involved in a State Rep race that included my neck of Southwest Houston without winning. Hard to sound like you know something if you can’t even win your own back yard. Our competition included a candidate backed by a State Rep respected for his campaign savvy. Another candidate was backed by one of the two biggest fundraisers in the county and had a ton of connections due to being the former Executive Director of the Harris County Democratic Party. The last candidate was a woman from the Alief ISD Board of Trustees.

At first glance, one woman in a field of four seemed like a legitimate threat. I figured she was capable of getting 20% with little-to-no effort due to any combination of gender and/or her background on the school board. She finished with 11%. The guy backed by the State Rep won the Chronicle endorsement and had some killer fundraising at the end of the primary to spend on anything he wanted. I figured he’d be a given for the runoff. He finished third with 21.8%. The candidate backed by the big fundraiser, I believe, did an effective job of campaigning in the apartments in the district. He may have benefited some from being the only African-American in the district, but he exceeded the numbers that would have fallen his way due to that in both the Primary and the Runoff.

All we had was an unproven Asian kid in a district that’s less than 12% Asian with a primary electorate that very well could have clocked in at under 6% Asian. As simple as it sounds, Gene was committed to blockwalking. I was happy to cut turf for him to talk to voters directly. I was happy to have a budget to send some mail to voters. I was happy that I got my choice of campaign managers for Gene in Beth Martin. But for all that happiness, there were still no guarantees that I wouldn’t be doing non-political work after the May primary.

Since Gene did manage to earn the nomination, the next step was to go up against a former City Council Member who could write whatever check he wanted to fund his campaign after passing the hat to his just-as-wealthy friends. We knew we’d be out-raised and out-mailed. We were. We knew that MJ Khan was familiar with parts of the district that he represented on City Council. That turned out to be a questionable thesis. We knew we’d be attacked. We were. And we knew that we also had to struggle to get money in the bank just to do some fundamental level of campaigning. All while Gene went off and got married. No problem.

What worked for us despite this time crunch was that Gene got better as a candidate with each passing day. The Gene Wu I first met would be prepping for a new District Attorney as his boss if he hadn’t. By August, Gene had been in fifth gear for quite a while. Still, I figured there would be a few points worth of swing votes that might go MJ’s way. I still pegged the district fundamentals at about 57% Dem. True to form, the attack mail goes out on Gene and is followed by $25,000 worth of cable ads attacking him. We limited our contrast mailer strictly to issue-based items on education and public safety. Gene blockwalked some more. And it was through that that we found out that MJ wasn’t being entirely honest with voters at the door. Gene never shied away from telling anyone he was a Democrat. MJ and his staff were leaving voters with the impression that HE was the Democrat. The more Gene walked, the most MJ Khan signs came out of yards as voters got the facts.

For staffing our three Early Vote locations we needed to worry about, we sent only Gene to one of them. The campaign manager, Beth Martin, did yeoman’s work by begging and pleading for as many E-Day poll workers as possible, knowing there just weren’t enough unemployed friends of Gene to staff all of 22 locations. In short, the final days offered plenty to be paranoid and nervous about.

And in the end, it didn’t matter. We’ll see soon enough how the district performed in other contests. But what makes me happiest is that my little ‘hood is represented well for the next two years. Scott Hochberg is a tough act to follow and there’s no point filling his shoes. Gene’s shoes (and boots) are a little road-worn from the walk lists I handed him this year. But they’ll do just fine.

One coda on worth sharing from the little amount of work that I did on this project ….

A fair amount of the work I did during the Primary and Runoff was air-conditioned campaign work. That’s a luxurious life that I knew wouldn’t cut it in the General. Some of you may be happy to know that I wore out my left knee climbing apartment stairwells. If you see any knee tendons or ligaments somewhere in a Westchase apartment complex … they’re mine. Please return them. I was too busy failing miserably at trying to keep up with a campaign manager who was just a few years past being a college athlete. Physically, I’m sure that I’ll heal from that.

Saved for Determining Momentum vs Anecdote in 2016

November 4, 2012 Politics-2012 3 Comments

Upon picking up as many Gene Wu signs as possible at Early Vote locations, I arrived Friday night at the Alief Library to see a line wrapped around the Kirkwood side of the building. What was more impressive about the line was that we were arriving at nearly 8pm. What was less impressive was that it meant our quick sign pickup venture would turn into an unplanned, hour-long campaign festival. Here’s what it looked like without the Kirkwood side of the building …

So this brought on a little inquiry about the makeup of voters who were casting votes late into Friday night around the county. It turns out that there were 9,872 voters who cast their votes from 7pm on. Many of those may have been in line since well before 7pm, but this is a good enough timestamp to apply universally. Remember that Friday saw over 11% of the votes cast by voters who were in line at or near 7pm and ended up waiting as long as 9:49 at the Alief Library. The overall lengthiest closing time was 10:30pm at the Franz Road Storefront.

A quick glance at the data might suggest good things for Republicans. The Champion Life Center in HD150 was the biggest post-7pm location and several other heavy GOP areas are in the Top 10 list for number of voters who cast their votes in this time period. Alief, it turns out, was only the 8th biggest such location.

But putting the raw data into VAN gets a surprising result: the total of such voters throughout the county were roughly 57-59% Democratic. That’s compared to a full Friday reading that saw voters at a 52-53% Dem share. And even that wasn’t the result of Democratic House Districts turning out at higher rates than GOP House Districts. Voters who reside in HD138 (Bohac) and HD126 (Harless) saw their post-7pm voters as majority Democatric, while HD135 (Elkins) was right on the cusp of 50-50 status after 7pm.

I don’t offer the above as anything more than possibly suggestive about the degree of enthusiasm or energy for voting – either in full, or for Tuesday. What’s lacking in this is some historical context about the late voters from 2008 or 2004. I’m not overly fond of relying on a selective data view like this for anything more than it is … pretty interesting.

We’ll see soon enough what it may or may not mean for Tuesday.

Harris County Early Voting in the Books

November 3, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

One final take on Early Vote numbers now that all of the data is available.

Based on every available metric I’m seeing, the opening bell for Harris County should be as close as close gets. That will take into consideration both Early In-Person and Mail-In ballots. It almost goes without saying that this comes down to how successful each side is on E-Day. Almost, because in 2008, it was over by this time.

For some light historical context, here is how the last two Presidential cycles performed at each phase of the election …

               MAIL             EARLY            E-DAY             TOTAL
McCain ...... 41,986 (62.72%)  297,944 (44.49%)  231,953 (53.35%)    571,883 (48.82%)
Obama ....... 24,503 (36.60%)  368,231 (54.98%)  198,248 (45.59%)    590,982 (50.45%)
Total Vote .. 66,941           669,720           434,811           1,171,472

E-Day to Early Difference: -9.39 Dem

               MAIL             EARLY            E-DAY             TOTAL
Bush   ...... 29,926 (63.36%)  226,295 (55.90%)  328,502 (53.34%)    584,723 (54.75%)
Kerry ....... 17,010 (36.01%)  176,523 (43.60%)  282,332 (45.84%)    475,865 (44.56%)
Total Vote .. 47,233           404,846           615,909           1,067,988

E-Day to Early Difference: +2.24 Dem

Whether you believe E-Day bodes well for you depends on whether you think the new normal will look like 2008, when Dems banked two-thirds of their vote before Election Day … or just about every year prior to 2008, when Dems typically got a little bit of a boost on E-Day.

By all appearances, the GOP did a better job this cycle of catching up and even surpassing Dems in EV GOTV. But for all that improvement, the game is still essentially tied going into the 9th inning.

I’ll be freer to get into the weeds with what the Early Vote numbers suggest for the opening bell after 7pm on Tuesday. For now, there’s work to be done. Hope you’re having a saner weekend wherever you are.

And on the final day of early voting …

November 2, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

A smattering of quick reads while electioneering takes priority …

» NY Times: What Too Close to Call Really Means
It’ll be interesting to see how much Harris County tracks with the national popular vote. I’m seeing both as very close. Wouldn’t mind being wrong if it means Dems can breath easier during E-Night.

» The Economist: Which one? America could do better than Barack Obama; sadly, Mitt Romney does not fit the bill
Pretty much mirrors my sentiments. I’m not a big fan of “the new normal” for Democratic Party worldview. But there’s just not another option to take seriously.

» Tampa Bay Times: Democrats crushing Republicans on sporadic Fla voters in early voting
I’ve read every blog post about this article, so this is me setting it aside for night-time reading this evening. I’m typically more skeptical of selective stats like this being trumpeted as evidence of winning or losing Early Vote. But I’m also curious how much of the 2008 Obama effort in Florida can be replicated this time around. And if that’s enough to pull off a surprise win in the state on Tuesday night.

Oh, and this …


A next-to-final note on EV for Harris County: It’s still looks close. Damn close. And I think today’s numbers are likelier to make it closer. By 7:30pm Tuesday night, we’ll see what the real numbers have to say about things. And there’s still the matter of who’s left to vote on E-Day. If you ever wanted to know what it was like to live in a swing state, this swing county may have to suffice for now. That said: your vote matters and will go a long way for the direction of the county, at least. I’m all in favor of more folks exercising (and having) that right.

Election Season Math Primer

October 18, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

As the Texas-based portion of the world awaits Early Voting, I thought I’d highlight something I started using in 2010 on the Bill White campaign. Since it was a new method in 2010 that I didn’t have any background use on, I didn’t want to play it up too much at the time. Basically, it’s a Democratic Performance Index (DPI) of a district, county, or state, based on precinct-level turnout and precinct-level DPI multiplied out.

The theory behind the tool is simple: assume that whatever precinct-level metric you use is a static number regardless of who votes; as voters turn out, they don’t always do so in the same proportion on each day of Early Voting or even from past elections; multiply the turnout from whatever day of Early Voting you have and multiply it by that precinct level metric; do this for all precincts and you’ll have a pretty decent benchmark for what an election is going to look like.

Here’s an example of what two different elections might show for a mythical district with four precincts:

Four Precincts, Two Elections, Different Turnout (TO)

                  |    Election 1    |   Election 2
                  |    TO  Dem  GOP  |  TO  Dem  GOP
1.  50% D - 50% R |   100   50   50  |  50   25   25
2.  75% D - 25% R |   100   75   25  |  60   45   15
3.  25% D - 75% R |   100   25   75  | 100   25   75
4.  90% D - 10% R |   100   90   10  |  50   45    5
     TOTAL        |   400  240  160  | 260  140  120
                           60%  40%  |      54%  46%

Seeing the impact of turnout and the relative similarity in precinct-level performance has demonstrated to me that the vast majority of what the 2010 election showed was the impact of turnout changes moreso than any group of voters changing their minds about which party they supported at the polls. Without a doubt, there is always some amount of mind-changing that takes place from election to election. But the turnout differentials we saw in 2010 were nearly enough to explain the full impact that we saw on election outcomes. All I do to arrive at this is replicate the above example out over a county or district.

What I saw in 2010 with this method is as follows …

                    DPI-prec    ACTUAL
47 .... Bolton ..... 52.05      46.18
48 .... Howard ..... 49.11      48.53 (Won)
50 .... Strama ..... 55.39      54.84
52 .... Maldonado .. 46.21      38.00
93 .... Pierson .... 50.80      47.58
96 .... Turner ..... 46.03      47.60
101 ... Miklos ..... 49.49      48.18
102 ... Kent ....... 43.46      45.36
105 ... Haldenwang . 46.79      44.89
106 ... England .... 48.97      48.49
107 ... Vaught ..... 47.47      46.48
132 ... Mintz ...... 36.40      31.69
133 ... Thibaut .... 46.95      42.43
134 ... Cohen ...... 47.97      49.31
137 ... Hochberg ... 56.00      58.71
138 ... Camarena ... 44.00      35.48
144 ... Molina ..... 42.30      38.27
149 ... Vo ......... 51.20      52.23

And here’s what I saw in the countywide totals compared to the ending Bill White 2010 vote share, which was admittedly at the high end of the spectrum for Dems that year.

County ...... DPIprec .. Actual (Bill White)
Bexar ....... 50.43% ...  48.82 (Won)
Collin ...... 33.92% ...  33.12
Dallas ...... 55.31% ...  55.23
Denton ...... 37.00% ...  32.84
El Paso ..... 64.10% ...  61.29
Ft. Bend .... 44.80% ...  47.04
Galveston ... 44.21% ...  41.09
Harris ...... 48.65% ...  50.23
Hidalgo ..... 70.46% ...  66.82
Jefferson ... 52.64% ...  48.15
Montgomery .. 24.46% ...  22.62
Nueces ...... 48.97% ...  45.12
Tarrant ..... 42.45% ...  40.97
Travis ...... 60.13% ...  59.77
Williamson .. 40.11% ...  36.89

Among the districts and counties with the biggest disparities (Maldonado & Denton, for instance), I think it’s worth pointing out how much disagreement that myself and others had with what we thought were too-generous DPIs since they appear to have been weighted too much by the pro-Dem, 2008 wave.

Redistricting has done a number on comparing precincts from 2 years ago and 4 years ago. It was easier to manage this for the tiny little State Rep district that I’m working this time. I also don’t seem to have a current DPI score for precincts. And since I never agreed with the DPI scores that I saw in 2008 and 2010, I figured I may as well create my own and use slightly more pessimistic datapoints to use as benchmarks. That seems to rid me of much of the problem of using the DPI numbers provided by others that aren’t explained fully and that I would likely take some amount of issue with.

When I took those DPI measurements and stacked them against 2004 turnout, I get HD137 as 57.4% Dem. Compare that with an average of the 2008 statewide results at 61.8%. And for whatever it’s worth, the GOP-friendly BIPAC group scores the district as being 56.98% Dem. For my purposes … close enough.

My quick & dirty methodology was designed because of frustration over hearing a lot of the bogus numbers that seem to get parroted every election. There are individual classifications of voters as being Hard Dems/GOP, Soft Dems/GOP, and (my favorite) Unknown. I remember hearing from people who rake in multitudes more consulting dollars than I ever will about the importance of these numbers. But they have serious flaws and leave everyone guessing what “Unknown” really is (or why it accounts for 20-30% of the electorate) and why Hard Dems + Soft Dems never adds up to 50. Invariably, you’ll hear a campaign with zero shot of winning point out that Early Voting shows them leading, say 38-30 with 32% Unknown based on this measurement. It sounds great until the real votes start being counted. In short, this is the worst metric I’ve ever seen used in campaigns and it still amazes me how often it gets used. It just needs to die off … or at least stop being taken seriously.

I think there’s a lot of room for improvement over the way I use a DPI-by-Precinct method. But, to date, I’ve only tried to rely on it as a decent benchmark that offers as much of a binary count without some big “unknown” variable that nobody knows anything about. The results were surprisingly good from what I saw in 2010 and if anyone is interested in learning how to apply this method this time around, feel free to drop me a line.

2012 Harris County Early Voting Locations

October 17, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

For your early voting pleasure. Early voting begins on Monday and runs through November 2nd. If you’re registered to vote in Harris County, you can vote at any location in the county.

Hours for Early Voting are as follows:
October 22 – October 26: 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
October 27: 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
October 28: 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
October 29 – November 2: 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Primary Runoff 2012: Early Vote Locations

July 19, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

Early Vote locations for the impending runoff elections …

Dates for taking care of business are from Monday the 23rd to Friday the 27th. No weekend voting. Hours of operation are 7a to 7p all week. Thursday and Friday could be the two days some of us aren’t watching paint dry at these locations.

Interestingly, the one location that’s changed in my neck of the woods impacts the primary race I’m working. Typically, any change in locations is a bad thing because not everyone checks harrisvotes.com about 10 times a day and while I typically get good readership for anything I post with a map, I’m certain that there aren’t enough readers within the district for this to be considered suitable notice of said change.

But the location that is changed, is changed to something closer to the district and probably closer to most voters in the area. The Alief location is significantly smaller in terms of where HD137 Dems go to vote, but I’ll obviously be looking to see if the change has any perceptible impact on turnout.

Voting locations for E-Day, as Campos has noted, is a great deal more chaotic. HD137 will have nearly half of it’s vote likely coming from one of the nine polling places operating on the 31st.

Let the Campaign Filings Begin (Ctd)

January 19, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

Some updates on yesterday’s post

HD136 … I stand corrected on Mano DeAyala. He’s showing over $144k raised and $106k on hand. That leads the pack in a pretty strong field of candidates that at least a few people have cast a ballot for in elections past. I’d still rank him as an underdog, but he’s a very well-financed one.

HD137 … Joe Madden gets his report in and shows just over $10k on hand.

HD144 … Ken Legler gets his report in: $34k on hand.

A few more Harris County filing totals to highlight:


                      RAISED       SPENT          ON HAND
Alma Allen          $5,565.00    $14,542.75     $18,764.13
Wanda Adams             $0.00     $4,697.82     $59,572.22


                      RAISED       SPENT          ON HAND
Borris Miles          $15,900      $2750.00      $6,800.08
Al Edwards              $0.00         $0.00      $1,199.64

Adams’ money lead over Allen is pretty impressive. I’d probably have to peg Allen as a better campaigner in that one. We’ll see what the voters think, though. My hunch is that it gets more even in terms of resources. They should be at parity on dollars spent when it’s all said and done. The dollar figures on Miles and Edwards is a bit misleading. Miles will have whatever resources he feels he needs – he can either raise it or write the check. The question for Edwards is whether he’ll have the people driving his campaign that do all the work for him like Sylvester Turner has done in years past. If other people think Edwards is pushing it this time around, this could be the election where he becomes an afterthought. All that said, either new configuration for HD146 could show some interesting new twists.

District Attorney

                      RAISED       SPENT          ON HAND
Mike Anderson           $0.00         $0.00          $0.00
Pat Lykos         $194,598.71    $40,927.94    $320,551.54

I’m not sure what Anderson can bring to the table in terms of resources, but given the high profile of his challenge, I’m just assuming he hasn’t gotten around to holding a fundraiser yet.

Tax Assessor

                      RAISED       SPENT          ON HAND
Mike Sullivan       $8,200.00    $14,629.25     $53.641.89
Don Summers             $0.00     $2,788.56      $3,921.11

Interesting. Just interesting.

Harris County Sheriff

                      RAISED       SPENT          ON HAND
Adrian Garcia     $187,726.78    $37,531.56    $302,290.00
Carl Pittman       $13,039.00    $25,178.31     $28,907.02
Paul Day                $0.00         $0.00          $0.00
Harold Heuszel          $0.00         $0.00          $0.00
Louis Guthrie      $96,690.00    $35,590.87     $21,641.03
Ruben Monzon       $33,250.23    $18,336.49     $14,913.74

All listed here but Garcia are running in the GOP primary. I have no idea what to expect from that electorate among the crew listed on their ballot. But it’s nice to see Garcia start off with a healthy advantage.

Constable – Pct 1

                      RAISED       SPENT          ON HAND
Alan Rosen         $43,500.00     $5,923.87     $37,313.67
Quincy Whitaker     $5,475.00    $18,260.84          $0.00
Grady Castleberry   $3,741.06     $9,908.66      $4,568.00
Cindy Vara-Leija   $22,765.71     $3,256.01     $15,508.37

This could become more interesting if the “caretaker” appointed to Pct. 1 decides he’s got the itch to run for election. But this is going to be an eventful field to watch since the district – and the primary electorate in particular – is a bit of a catch-all with no clear distinct tilt favoring any particular candidate. The precinct includes Acres Homes, part of Fifth Ward, Northside, and much of the Anglo Dem belt inside the loop. And you’ve got a field of candidates that appeal to every corner of that precinct.

There are a few contests that I drew the line at researching just for the interests of time and personal interest. If you’re truly interested in putting together a more thorough list or adding to this one, feel free. I need to think through some placement on the Almanac for the county races as soon as time permits. Here’s hoping that it permits sometime this year.

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