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2012 Primary Early Vote Locations for Harris County

We got us some new locations, also ...

Days and hours are as follows:

Early Voting Hours of Operation
May 14th - May 18th: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
May 19th: 7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
May 20th: 1:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
May 21th - May 25th: 7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.


Hard-Hitting Stuff …

» Chron: A year after election, Precinct 2's Morman has 'sea legs'

Andi Morman, the commissioner's wife and a high school economics teacher, said her husband vents less about work these days. He's able to solve problems in a way he couldn't in the courtroom. "If it's a Precinct 2 issue and it's something that needs to be fixed, I can go out and fix or make sure it gets fixed," he said. "That's refreshing."

The biggest family change in the last year, Andi Morman said, has been their schedule, though she has welcomed the chance to get more involved in community events. The Mormans' kids, Jordan, 5, and Jack, 3, have welcomed that, too - they were thrilled to ride in parades, for instance. They are less excited by their father's many evening and weekend phone calls.

Consider this to be either a datapoint against the "liberal media" mythology ... or a suggestion that John Williams is secretly ghost-writing homilies on the elected class for other reporters at the Chronicle.


Meet the New Boss: Cactus Jack

As leaked expected ... Jack Cagle is your new County Commissioner.

I don't know that any expectation of someone from the diminishing "respectable" wing of the GOP was ever going to happen unless a placeholder appointment was in the works. But, from the sounds of this 1995 Houston Press story mentioning then-attorney Cagle's work on behalf of rightwing activist Larry Maxwell suggests that there might have been some room for a higher expectation. I realize he was just the attorney for the guy ... but still.

Given his far right bonafides, I'd expect Cagle to navigate his way through any contested GOP primary when the seat is up in 2014. How he settles into the divide between Radack and Emmett seems to be one of the few possible rays of hope.


Harris County, Minus One (The Chronicle Version)

A twofer of Joe Holley stories on redistricting the State House ...

» Chron: Harris County will likely lose state House seat
» SA Express News: Complexities of redistricting

I mention the San Antonio story in passing since I don't have too much to add to it. They aren't growing or shrinking the number of districts. The county's balance of population is shifting toward the North and Northwest, which means decent-to-good things for the GOP. About the only interesting thing to watch for there is whether the GOP can protect the newly-elected John Garza in HD117. It should be doable since there's enough population to split off from the fast-growing GOP districts.

As for Harris County, we'll be dropping a seat. And here's a taste of what the talking heads think might happen ...

"Scott Hochberg's gone," [GOP consultant Allen] Blakemore said. "He's under, and he's a white Democrat."

That sentiment could be premature, said political scientist Mark Jones, of Rice University.

"Hochberg is gone if you change the district by too much," he said. "He's well-known in the area he represents, but if he has to pick up population in an area where he's not all that well-known, he could be in trouble. He'll be fine if he keeps, maybe, 65 percent of his current district. He's more endangered if you create a district that's more Hispanic."

I don't doubt the creativity of GOP mapmakers, but I'd love to see the map that Blakemore has in mind that does away with Hochberg. And to address Professor Jones' point ... why stop at 65%? Why not suggest that Hochberg could be 100% drawn out of his district if the GOP wanted to aim at him? I suggest that because it's been done before. Like precisely 10 years ago. The map below shows Hochberg's old District 132 (green) and his current District 137 (blue). Unless perhaps the GOP is willing to split Bellaire and West U, I don't see many good options for erasing Scott Hochberg from the map. There just aren't that many folks in Southwest Houston looking to replace the guy.

While I'm guessing that neither District 137 or 149 (Vo) was created as a VRA district, they both now represent situations where the GOP would risk retrogressing if they tinkered with them too negatively. I don't put it past the mapmakers to try ... but I do hold some skepticism about their ability to succeed.

The path of least resistance for the GOP is to cede a little bit of ground in the urban districts, shore up some defense for the demographic changes in the suburban counties (plus Tarrant), and lock down the changes in rural counties (and districts like Dee Margo's El Paso seat). It's a path that probably gives them a solid lock on 90 or so seats this decade.

That obviously means there would be about 10 GOP members looking for jobs in two years. Some of that is inevitable, with population losses in rural counties probably accounting for half the cuts the GOP will see from their majority. The tradeoff would be that losses in Harris and Dallas would happen along with growth in Fort Bend, Collin, and Denton. As Burka noted with the Dallas County example, there are plenty of Paxton supporters who will be hard-pressed for favors in this process. And just to highlight two names that Holley didn't throw into the mix: Ken Legler and Debbie Riddle were on the other side from Straus during the "race" for Speaker. Legler is already a few precincts shy of being unelected. And Riddle lives just on the other side of Tomball from Allen Fletcher, so it's easy to pair them. Just a few suggestions.

We'll see soon enough. But for the time being, I'll pick the "over" on Hochberg being able to win again in 2012.

SIDENOTE: Well, also for the time being, I'll note that Holley's Chronicle article might be considered "biased" by Republiblogger/scorekeepers if the party labels of all involved were switched. Funny how that only works one way, huh? Also funny that Holley couldn't find one example to balance out the "Hochberg is gone" talking point. Just saying.


The Scope of Harris County’s Demographic Change

Here's a snapshot of the demographic change underway in Harris County. The maps below show which demographic group has 50% or more in a Census tract. Red for Anglo, brown for Hispanic, black for African-American, and yellow for areas where nobody has over 50%. If you want to look at an interactive version of each map side-by-side (handy for looking at individual tracts or neighborhoods), here's that.

Harris County 2000

Harris County 2010


The Most Important Cultural Moment in Houston You (Probably) Never Heard Of

Pertaining to the previous post on the changing demographics of the Houston suburbs ...

Everything you ever needed to know about the changing demographics of Harris County, summed up in one image. For those of you familiar with the Houston area, note the location of the event below.


I happened upon a pushcard for this event at one of the Asian-American groups I happened upon back in 2007 (ya know, like we all do). This jumped out at me for one thing and one thing alone: it wasn't taking place in Sugar Land or southwest Houston. Instead, it was taking place in Cypress. Since I was unfamiliar with the show, I asked around and was told that it was a tour spun off from what is essentially an Indian-style "American Idol" show.

Again ... Cypress.


Census Stories: The Suburbs of Houston

» Chron: 3 spots tell story of changing suburbs

Good reading here on the changing demographics taking place along the outer rim of the Houston area. I've not seen the printed version of the paper, so maybe there's a graphic to go along with this. I've added a map below the fold if you want to explore what's going on in each of the areas that this article cover.

The bulk of what gets noticed here is the Katy area, with one Census tract in Harris County and two in Fort Bend (which were split for the 2010 Census). On the Fort Bend side, it's the Asian population growth that gets noted. On the Harris County side, it's the Hispanic population growth that gets noted. Another datapoint is offered in the Greenspoint area as having the largest drop in Anglo population.

On the whole, I'll call this a must-read for background on the changing nature of the suburbs. On the margins, I'll point out two minor quibbles that I think flesh out the fuller story a bit more:

- The article seems to focus on a numerical calculation of "biggest increases/biggest decreases." That's fine and well, but I think it portrays the bigger story in terms of triviality. The overall growth of the Asian population in the Northwester part of Harris County is enough to devote an entire story to. The Asian share of the population in southwest Houston (the area most commonly associated with that population) was nearly stagnant from 2000 to 2010. But the growth in the northwestern region that includes the HP/Compaq campus and the growing medical centers in the Cy-Fair area. The overall size of the Asian population there is between 1/3 to 1/2 that of the southwestern area. I'll have some more findings on this later in the week.

- The "biggest decrease" example, while numerically interesting, doesn't seem to highlight the fact that the entire Census tract is comprised of about five apartment complexes and one trailer park. I don't have the precise numbers, but I think it's fair to point out that residence in apartments are more shorter-term than those in houses. That allows for demographic change to be fast-forwarded. The fact that the tract is surrounded by high concentrations of minority population may also have a role to play. Having lived just north of the area, I'm more surprised that the Anglo population there was worth mentioning to begin with. But it would be interesting to see what the second or third biggest decrease might have been if it allowed for more of an apples-to-apples comparison with the two Katy examples.

I mention those two points not to detract from the value of the news report, but merely to note that the story is bigger than a few datapoints. That strikes at least me as much more interesting. I still run into people that are convinced that Cypress is inhabited by nothing but rightwing crazies and any Fort Bend population outside of Missouri City is equally as whacked out. But the way those areas are changing will have a big impact on how we understand opportunities politically, commercially, and beyond.

As stated, there's a Google map of the three areas mentioned in the story below the fold. I invite you to switch over to the satellite view of the map and zoom in to see what's going on.


The New Demographics of Harris County

Below are the demographic maps below for Harris County by Census tract, broken out as the politically traditional: Anglo, Hispanic, African-American, and Asian. The Hispanic map is the default. Feel free to zoom and poke around the individual Census tracts to see the demographic details of each one.

In the case of the minority populations, I added the State Rep districts to allow you to see how they intersect with those populations. The African-American map is particularly instructive. It used to be that you'd see Anglo Dems pull in as many Hispanic-heavy precincts. By every appearance, the current map has a lot of Hispanic areas pulled into African-American districts.

Map: Hispanic (default) - Anglo - African-American - Asian
(right click and open in a new window for full-page view of each)

The gradiation breakpoints are as follows:

             Hispanic     Anglo   Afr-Am     Asian
dark green     65%+       60%+      60%+       20%+
green          50-65%     50-60%    50-60%     12.5-20%
light green    35-50%     40-50%    40-50%      8-12.5%
gray            0-35%      0-40%     0-40%      0-8%



Before & After: 2000 Greater Houston Population Density

While we're waiting on the new Census data to come out this week, I thought I'd go ahead and start prepping some "Before" snapshots to compare against when I have new maps drawn. Below is the population density of the greater Houston area (Harris Co. plus all surrounding counties) with darkest representing the most densely populated census tracts in the 2000 Census. You can click around the map to see what the specific population density is for a given census tract. For the purpose of this map, I calculated solely on the Census' calculation of land area and didn't include water area. It makes a slight difference in a few areas.

Using the tract-by-tract calculations, Harris County overall contained 1,990 people per square mile, with 1703 square miles of land area. Those numbers are obviously up in the American Community Survey data. Wikipedia lists the 2008 estimate at 2,302 per square mile. While we all have some anecdotal understanding of where we expect to see some increases in population density, I'd still expect a surprise or two (or a lot more).

Of some interest for now is the density in Gulfton's tract 4212 (next door to mine). It has a density of 23,700 people per square mile. A lot of apartment complexes in the area help that along. Some of the lighter spots you see in and around the loop may be light because they include parks, reservoirs and other open areas. Memorial Park is in tract 5108 and has a substantially lower population density of 1,374 people per square mile.

I've done some preliminary analysis in a few areas of Harris County to see what population growth rates overall looked like overall and which demographic changes went into building that population. Alief is one interesting area since the Asian population there has been stagnant (as of the ACS data), but the overall population has been growing due to Hispanic growth. Among the areas where there has been explosive growth in the Asian population, the northwest side of town has been the place to be. It'll be interesting to see what the parallel is in Sugar Land. Likewise, some of the overall high-growth areas (Galveston Co. suburbs, Northwest Harris County, parts of Montgomery County) will be interesting to review as well. I still need to do some repair work on the map file in order to add the Bolivar Peninsula tracts, but it will also be interesting to see the impact of the hurricane-related exodus from there, as well as any changes on Galveston Island.

Feel free to poke around and see what areas of interest jump out at you.


- If you prefer a bigger map, here ya go.
- If you want to look at the file in Google Earth, here's that.

dark green - 5,000 people per square mile
green - 2,500 people per square mile
light green - 500 people per square mile


The Demographic Tribes of Harris County

After a weekend spent thinking about the use of geo-targeting (I know ... life in the fast-lane, right?), I want to roll out a few posts that will eventually intersect at a broader point that I think is worth making about how political campaigns are known to target voters. Micro-targeting, of course, has been a critical concept for all young, up & coming political professionals to know. There are big, important companies devoted to varying uses of it, there are Vanity Fair articles on it, and there are even must-read books in their second edition on the topic. Alas, I'm not here to dismiss it.

But I do want to raise the point that geographic and demographic targeting needs to be re-elevated alongside of it. And the place to start with this is at home. In my case: Harris County. Below is a map of census tracts in the county, with color coordination indicating those tracts that have over 50% of a particular racial or ethnic makeup. Black is for African-American, brown is for Hispanic, red is for Anglo, and yellow is for multicultural (ie - no one group has over 50% of population in that tract).

For now, I'll point out two things.

One being that this map doesn't differ terribly much from the election outcome maps we're used to seeing (case in point, the 2010 map for Harris County). And for good reason. Democratic candidates tend to do disproportionately well among African-Americans and Hispanics. There are segments of the Anglo population that Dems win, to be sure. And the multicultural area tends to favor Democratic candidates as well. But the rough sketch of the inner-city "squid" that is the Democratic blue portion of Harris County is evident from this map.

Second is the fact that if we know so much about the demographic makeup in this manner - by geographical areas - that it should warrant more attention to how it's used in certain aspects of a campaign. The biggest of these, in all likelihood, is field. But I'd argue that there are ways to incorporate this into mail and TV advertising as well.

Tomorrow, I'll add a more defined political understanding of this map, along with some math from recent elections. My point is that the geographical reach of like-minded voters is something that campaigns cannot afford to ignore ... yet somehow do. It's not quite as sexy and mathematical to talk about as micro-targeting, but I'll argue that geographical targeting, in many ways, can be even more important. When it's all said and done, I think there's a place for both. But I do think there's a need to use the right tool for the right job. And I'll ultimately get around to explaining why I think this sort of targeting is the right tool for more jobs than it's presently employed for.

In the meantime, feel free to explore the map a little (or a lot). It obviously relies on 2000 Census data, so it's not the most terribly up-to-date bit of information. As the 2010 data comes in, however, I think there's a fresh opportunity to use the new data in ways that make geographical targeting even more relevant for 2012.

Click here to view the map in a full browser.


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