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2012 Election Mapping: Harris County Sheriff

Guthrie vs Garcia, all mapped out ...

full page - Google 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.


Polling for Harris County

Closer to home ...

» KHOU: Obama leads tight race in Harris County

The poll shows the president leading in Harris County with the support of 46 percent of surveyed voters, compared to Romney’s 42 percent. Libertarian Gary Johnson cracked the survey with 2 percent.

In the U.S. Senate race, Democrat Paul Sadler’s 44 percent leads Republican Ted Cruz with 42 percent in Harris County. With a 3.5 percent margin of error, that’s a statistical dead heat in the largest county in Texas.


Republican crossover voters are helping push Democratic Sheriff Adrian Garcia to 51 percent in this survey, compared to Republican challenger Louis Guthrie’s 32 percent. Another 13 percent were undecided.

On the other hand, many Democrats told pollsters they’re voting for Republican district attorney candidate Mike Anderson, who’s polling at 41 percent. Nonetheless, Democrat Lloyd Oliver is close behind with 35 percent. Another 19 percent are undecided. That number is especially striking because Democratic Party leaders were so embarrassed by Oliver’s candidacy they tried to remove him from the ballot.

» Chron: Strip club cash raises questions in sheriff campaign

Ali Davari, who with his brother Hassan Davari owns a handful of prominent local strip clubs, including Treasures, Gold Cup and Trophy Club, gave $25,000 to the deputies union political action committee on Oct. 15. It was the only contribution the organization received during the time period covered by the report, which was filed Thursday. The union donated the same amount, in its only listed expenditure, to Republican Louis Guthrie's campaign a week later, earmarking it for political advertising.

Guthrie reports receiving a $25,000 check from the union on Oct. 9; Guthrie's campaign manager Sara Kinney said the campaign listed that date because that was the date on the check. HCDO Vice President Eric Batton could not explain the discrepancy in the dates.

As much as I hope the swing votes are enough to save the county from embarrassments like Guthrie and Oliver, I stand by my conclusion that all other datapoints are merely indicative of a swing county in the midst of a battle over who finishes on the plus side of what I expect to be a plurality vote at the Presidential level.


Primary Mapping: Dem Sheriff

Picking up from yesterday's map-related posts of Primary and Runoff election outcomes ....

So I'm falling a bit behind the timeline I set for getting more of these done. Such is life. But to continue on with some Primary and Runoff maps, here's the outcome of the Sheriff's primary. Basically, I tweaked the code to tell a fuller story about where any non-Adrian Garcia vote may come from. So instead of a binary, who-won-what color-coding, I show the following:

Dark blue: Garcia won
Light blue: Garcia under 60%
Yellow: Garcia under 50%

What you see is a mix of some African-American boxes where voters are looking for another candidate and an assorted scattershot of odd precincts here and there. About the only things I conclude from this are that: a) Hispanic candidates still generally run into some issues among Afr-Am voters, even if they're incumbents; and b) when you don't run much of a campaign, you run into some vote loss here and there. Garcia really didn't have to take much of any time to campaign for the primary. I think it's a safe assumption that this will be very different for the General, though.

full page - Google Earth


The 2012 Primary G-Slate

In what negligible amount of spare time I have before May 29th, here's my biennial check-in on where my personal preferences stand for some of the contested primaries on my ballot. Take 'em for whatever they're worth to you.

State Representative, District 137: Gene Wu
Easily the biggest one of importance to me since I'm still drawn in District 137. Also due to the fact that, professionally, I'm busting a hump or two trying to get the guy elected. I don't think its my style to be half-in for an open seat in my neighborhood. Much of the rationale here is similar to that I used for supporting Mike Laster in his two most recent runs for City Council: having a representative who's been involved in the neighborhood issues means a lot to an area typically overlooked. And much like the most recent race for Houston's District J, there's not a bad candidate running. But just like that year, there is only one clear choice if you want someone who's dealt with the area on a day-to-day basis.

Dem. Party Chair: Lane Lewis
I'm old enough to remember the Claude Jones years. Enough. Lane may certainly be a departure in style and background from the previous run of party chairs we've had. We'll find out soon enough whether that's a good or bad thing. But there's no argument over the fact that the opposing candidate in this race would be another shot in the foot that I don't think we have the luxury of affording.

U.S. Representative, District 7: James Cargas
After doing a small amount of work on the Skelly campaign in 2008, its hard to see how anyone else steps up to the plate with money, resume, background, or whatever and improves the odds. But there are three candidates up for this one and I'll take a semi-respectable showing for whatever trouble its worth to run everywhere.

State Board of Education, District 6: Tracy Jensen
Redistricting happened a hundred years ago, right? I've long since forgotten what the math looked like in the new 6th. However long the odds are, though, its still worth putting the best showing possible against Terri Leo.

State District Judge, 215th: Steven Kirkland
Funny thing is, I don't have any qualms with the attorney who's gunning for Kirkland. And under normal circumstances, I suspect that Elaine Palmer would have far better political advice than she's received this time around. Maybe she would have even payed attention to it long enough to not let anyone know she's as nutty as she's shown. But the secret's out now. So I think I'll stick with the guy who's there now.

District Attorney: Zack Fertitta
I don't have any major hangups with voting for Pat Lykos if the loony Dem wins this race. But Zack's a good candidate with a good resume for the job. I hope people are paying attention to this one.

Sheriff: Adrian Garcia
Seriously? ... why would anyone challenge Garcia in the primary? For whatever reason, they are. So my stamp is down with the guy I lifted a finger to help back in 2008. He's pretty dang good. So I think I'll keep him as my Sheriff.

County School Trustee, Pos. 3: Diane Trautman
I can't say that this is as strong an endorsement or need to prevent some whackjob from being on my ballot in November. But I think Diane's just the right one based on the strength of her resume.

I still have no idea what to even call for a coin toss on some contested primaries for County Commissioner (vs. Radack) and Constable (vs Camus). Both are going to be for nominees that have no chance in an area drawn a bit better for the GOP. Haven't met any of the candidates, so I can't really judge from anything else I've seen.

A few races elsewhere that I don't have any kind of say in ...

State Representative, District 144: Ornaldo Ybarra
Admittedly, I'll be shocked if he wins. The money and organizational strength tends to be behind Mary Ann Perez. But I've long since believed that Ybarra is a great story for the district since it would be great to see the Hispanic community outside of Houston show some strength. Its just a matter of time.

State Representative, District 146: Borris Miles
Here's hoping the rubber match ends here. Still prefer having him as my next-door-neighbor State Rep. There doesn't seem to be any serious money behind Al Edwards this time. And they haven't been successful at just making up sh*% for the 10pm news to air as an unpaid attack ad on Borris. Yeah, I still remember that, KHOU.

State Representative, District 93: Roger Fisher
This'd be a district that covers my old 'hood in Tarrant County. The incumbent, Todd Smith, is looking to move up to the State Senate. This one's a GOP district and normally, I'd care incredibly little. But since the exiting Smith is a Trinity High grad, I feel a little compelled to root on the lone contestant for the open seat that happens to be a fellow alum. It helps that Fisher has also earned the endorsement of Parent PAC. So who knows, maybe he'll follow in the tradition of the pre-2010 Todd Smith.

Anything other than a yawner of a U.S. Senate primary that I'm overlooking?


Let the Campaign Filings Begin (Ctd)

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.


The Difference Turnout Makes

» Wash. Post: Eyes on Northern Virginia’s swing districts

One of the better journalistic moments in describing how turnout differences can swing elections in different cycles, as the Post covers a small group of contested swing districts for the State Assembly in the DC suburbs.

Voter turnout tends to be sharply lower in off-year elections than during presidential or statewide races. Turnout in Virginia was about 75 percent when Obama was elected in 2008 and 71 percent when George W. Bush won reelection four years earlier. It ranged from 30 percent to 53 percent in the years in between.

“Because Virginia has an off-year election cycle, you’re looking at a situation where the election is a very, very distorted picture of the electorate,” Farnsworth said. “You’re talking about a swing of millions of people participating or not participating.”

Even so, there is a reason to pay attention to the three districts: They’re competitive. Unlike the deep rural areas that are GOP territory and the cities and close-in suburbs that tend to go for Democrats, Virginia’s exurbs are “contestable,” Farnsworth said.

“These particular races are really important races because they’re in the areas of rapid growth and in the areas where both parties are really pretty competitive,” he said.

The reason for that is the growing diversification of those areas, experts say.

“There used to be this very easy formula, as a place became more suburbanized, it became more Republican,” Holsworth said.

But that traditional dynamic has not held true in these districts because of the way they have developed: first with large estates, then with townhouses and apartments, Farnsworth said.

“The first people into Loudoun are much more focused on a conservative social agenda than the second wave, who may be just looking for a deal on a townhouse they can afford with their high-tech job,” he said.

That's actually a two-fer in describing how the suburbs of today are less like the suburbs of the 80s and 90s in addition to the difference turnout makes. I don't know that I've fully distilled an explanation for what I mean by how turnout differences played a role in 2010, so here's a first stab at it:

Imagine you have two equally-sized precincts in a district. One goes 60.1% Dem and the other goes 60.0% GOP. If they turnout at the same rate, the Democrat wins. If the GOP precinct turnout is higher than the Dem precinct, the Republican wins. That's a rough explanation of what happened to Sylvia Garcia and a lot of other Democrats in 2010. The turnout in Dem precincts wasn't overly different than most other midterm cycles, while the GOP turnout was amped up quite a bit. That made a difference in county races. It made the difference in Sylvia's County Commissioner contest. And it made the difference in a few State Rep races in Harris County.

There was less change in terms of Dem support within Dem precincts or GOP support in GOP precincts. In the case of Sylvia's 2010 loss, there was a dropoff from 2002 levels of Dem support by about 3 percent in the cluster of precincts that Sylvia won and lost. That was across the board and fairly even among both groups of precincts. But in 2002, Sylvia won by 5.5%. Come 2010, the turnout in precincts she won actually rose. The problem - and hence, the difference-maker in all of this - was that the precincts that Sylvia won had a 6-point difference in turnout to those where she had lost, yet in 2010, that gap grew to 13 points. That was enough to make for a hairline loss for Sylvia

You can see the gory math here. It's not dissimilar to what happened in 1994, also. That's what makes midterm tsunamis what they are. But it also leads to a lot of bad reporting that suggests that voters suddenly changed their mind about Obama as President, health care reform, or whatever other issue that fits into a nice, neat pre-packaged narrative. Those factors can certainly influence the motivation to get out and vote. But unless you want to make editorial judgments on why folks come out to vote vs no vote, there's no clear read on a change of mind really taking place.

There's still a lot to be said for the difference in enthusiasm to get out and vote in terms of a Presidential election cycle. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if we see some significant cases of turnout dropoff from 2008. Particularly where the incumbent President carried a number of areas due to high levels of excitement among less-reliable voters. And that will make for some very hard-fought defensive campaigns by those who won in 2008. I think most everyone is writing off Indiana for Obama in 2012. And states like Virginia, Florida, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and North Carolina will likewise be tough. It's not for nothing that they're called competitive.

But just for a good dose of local angle on all of this: Barack Obama won Harris County, TX with 50.4% of the vote. There wasn't much in the way of official campaign activity in Texas (save for calling folks in New Mexico), but there was certainly enthusiasm since the election basically played out everywhere on the news stations. That's what promises to make 2012 competitive around these parts.


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