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2015 Early Voting by Neighborhoods and Council Districts – Final Edition

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.


2015 Early Voting Turnout by Council District (through Wednesday)

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%   

2015 Early Voting Turnout by Neighborhood (through Wednesday)

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

First Week Turnout for COH Elections

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.


30-Day Money Reports for City Council

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.


Back to the Airwaves

» 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.


District J Candidate Conversation (and upcoming events)

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.)


The Non-Campaign for Houston Mayor

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.


All Quiet on the Television Front

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.


The 2015 Money Primary: City of Houston [UPDATED]

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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