Archive for October 27th, 2014

Dem Bad Numbers

There is no sugar coating it. The Chron’s Theodore “Teddy” Schleifer has a story on it today. Folks have instant access to the voter roster and voting history. It is out there. We know what is happening.

My pal Robert Miller put out a couple of tweets the past few days that are not good news for Harris County Democrats. I have not seen any good news tweets from local Dems. I have seen some chatter from local Dems expressing concern after seven days of Early Voting in Person here in the County.

Here are the Robert Miller tweets:

Robert D. MIller ‏@Robert_Miller Oct 25
R analysis of first 5 days of Harris Co. early vote show Rs outvoting Ds 55% to 45%. HD 149 (Vo) is 50/50. #tx2014 #txlege

Robert D. MIller ‏@Robert_Miller 53m53 minutes ago
Murphy Nasica analysis shows 47% of Harris County early voters so far are R and 36% D. #tx2014 #txlege #hounews

This is supposed to be the week that local Dems make up ground in Early Voting in Person. I don’t feel good about where Dems are in Harris County. If we have to wait for the last week, then something is wrong.

The Trib also has a pre-election post-mortem of sorts today talking about Team Davis and will they score more votes than Bill White in 2010. Oh, brother!

Here is the Chron piece by Teddy Schleifer:

The number of Texans voting early at the polls is down significantly in Harris County compared with the last midterm election, a potential warning sign that pundits say may mean Democrats will suffer worse defeats than those seen in the 2010 countywide Republican sweep.

In-person turnout during the first seven days of early voting is 33 percent less than in 2010, a drop masked by a huge surge in vote-by-mail ballots that inflated the first day’s returns. Texas Democrats launched a coordinated vote-by-mail program this year to target the state’s elderly voters, and the Harris County Democratic Party supplemented that effort with its own absentee operation.

Together, the numbers of votes by mail increased by 17,000 on the first day over the last midterm election’s haul, but that increase was quickly been nullified by a daily drop of 5,000 to 8,000 in-person ballots. Vote-by-mail ballots are received and counted mostly on the first day, so it is not expected that the massive uptick seen on day 1 will repeat, while the in-person decline may persist throughout this week.

At the end of the first week, about 195,000 total votes have been cast – 13 percent less than the number at this point in 2010, when former Houston mayor Bill White ran as the Democratic candidate for governor but local Democrats still suffered heavy losses.

Democrats would need a large turnout statewide – especially in Harris County, the epicenter of Texas’ efforts to turn the state blue – to earn surprise victories on Election Day. The lower turnout could spell trouble for Democratic candidates, including Kim Ogg, the district attorney who stands as the Democrats’ best chance to win a countywide offiice this fall.

“Clearly, they’re down in the count,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political scientist at the University of Houston. “You’ve got this hidden pocket of Democratic voters that voted in 2008 that clearly aren’t deciding to show up in 2014.”

Rottinghaus noted that turnout was weak at the Acres Home and Metropolitan Multi-Service Centers, which typically are heavily Democratic.

2nd week strongest

Early voting typically increases daily during the second week, which has longer hours, and spikes on Friday, the final day. That gives Democrats a chance to reverse the trend, said Lane Lewis, the county’s Democratic Party chairman.

“The challenge that’s going on right now is our base vote,” said Lewis, “but the second week of early voting is always our strongest week, so I’m very optimistic.”

The Harris County Democratic Party directed its own vote-by-mail program that sent out more than 22,000 absentee ballot applications, mostly to seniors who they consider likely to vote Democratic if presented with the right messaging. Democrats have traditionally trailed Republicans in mail voting.

Paul Simpson, the chairman of the county Republican Party, acknowledged that the increase in mailed ballots was the result of Democrats’ efforts, but argued that they were merely shifting when voters cast ballots rather than persuading new voters. Lewis disagreed, claiming that a majority of absentee ballots in the county came from Democratic voters, many of whom were previously independents or Republicans.

Lewis called the absentee numbers “astonishingly up.”

“That’s the levee that hasn’t broken,” Lewis said. “That’s the levee that’s kept us in the game.”

GOP cautioned

Simpson claimed Republicans were leading the first week of early voting, but said they could not grow complacent considering that Democrats could have a strong turn out in the second week and on Election Day.

The county party’s volunteers have made about 100,000 voter contacts over the past week, he said.

“I follow the rule that you lose until you win,” Simpson said. “I don’t take anything for granted and no Republican should.”

The Trib also has a pre-election take:

San Luis lost a top prospect this past weekend. 22-year old rookie outfielder Oscar Taveras is no longer with us.

I’ll skip today’s MLB question.

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