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BOPR Analysis: Texas Democrats Gain for 3rd Straight Cycle


by: Phillip Martin

Wed Nov 05, 2008 at 07:19 AM CST


For the third straight general election cycle, Texas Democrats made significant gains in state-level elections. While the Texas House ended up being a topsy-turvy night, at the end of the very long day House Democrats gained at least three more seats -- and will wait to see the results/recount of a fourth that could potentially leave the TX House in a 75-75 tie.

Here's a snapshot of the key story lines in Texas, with more analysis coming later tomorrow:

Democrats Still Lose Statewide -- But Gaining Ground

The Texas Democratic Party is growing, while the Republican Party of Texas is shrinking.

Compare the 2004 & 2008 Presidential turnout:

  • 2004: Bush --  61%,   4,526,917 votes
               Kerry --  38%    2,832,704 votes

  • 2008: McCain -- 55.2%   4,408,558 votes
               Obama -- 43.2%   3,498,149 votes

When Texas' favorite son wasn't on the ticket, 120,000 fewer voters actually voted for the Republican presidential candidate in 2008 than in 2004. Meanwhile, over 660,000 more Democrats voted at the top of the ticket in 2008. That's a net swing of ~ 780,000 more Democrats voting Democrat atop the ticket than Republican..

This isn't necessarily just a fluke atop the ticket, either. The dropoff from the Presidential to the U.S. Senate race is almost identical:

  • John Cornyn --  54.66%   4,274,582 votes (~134,000 fewer than McCain)
    Rick Noriega -- 42.99%    3,362,337 votes (~136,000 fewer than Obama)

Republicans still maintain a clear majority stronghold in the state. No one can deny that -- just look at the federal races:

  • TX-10: Republican Congressman McCaul holds onto his seat 54-43.
  • TX-22: Democrat Congressman Nick Lampson loses 52-45 to former Cornyn staffer Pete Olson. According to Real Clear Politics, this is one of only four Congressional seats across the nation that is a Republican pick-up.
  • TX-7: Republican Congressman John Culberson easily wins re-election, 56-42.

It really looks like we'll have to wait until redistricting to hope to gain back Congressional seats. Still, based on last night's statewide results, the Texas Democratic Party is growing, while the Republican Party of Texas is shrinking. And we can confirm that by looking at the State Legislature.

Democrats Continue to Make Gains in State Legislature

Democrats net 1, maybe 2 State Senate seats; 3, maybe 4 State House seats.

First, let's look at the two State Senate races where Democrats did well:

  • SD-10: Wendy Davis (D) --- 49.89%   147,561 votes
                 Kim Brimer (R) (i) -- 47.54%   140,613 votes

  • SD-17: Chris Bell to runoff (Democrats get over 50%)

That is one definite, and another potential, pick-up in the State Senate for Democrats, putting the margin at 18-13 for sure, and possibly 17-14 if Chris Bell can win in the runoff. In a chamber that has blocked voter ID legislation by a thread for two cycles, it will be nice to have a little more breathing room.

Next, we have to look at the State House, where a crazy night last night only added confusion for the Speaker's race:

  • 2002: Republican landslide flips chamber to 88-62 Republican; Craddick elected Speaker

  • 2004: Democrats net one seat, with the signature victory of Rep. Hubert Vo defeating incumbent House Appropriations Chair Talmadge Heflin. (87-63 Republican)

  • 2006: First, Rep. Donna Howard wins a special election in the spring (86-64 Republican). Then Democrats hold every incumbent seat and win five more, for a new net total of 81-69 Republican.

  • 2007: Rep. Kirk England switches parties to become a Democrat. 80-70 Republican.

  • 2007: Rep. Dan Barrett wins a special election in the winter (though he lost his re-elect on Election Day). 79-71 Republican.

  • 2008: 3 incumbent Democrats lose, but 6 Republican seats flip:
Incumbent Democrats Who Lost - 3 Seats
  • HD-17: Donnie Dippel (54-42.8) -- open seat
  • HD-32: Juan Garcia (50.1-46.8)
  • HD-97: Rep. Dan Barrett (55.3 - 42.8)
Challenge Democrats Who Won - 6 Seats
  • HD-52: Diana Maldonado wins by 848 votes.
  • HD-78: Joe Moody wins (51-45)
  • HD-96: Chris Turner wins (55-43)
  • HD 101: Robert Miklos wins by 527 votes.
  • HD 102: Carol Kent wins (53-47)
  • HD 133: Kristi Thibaut wins by 514 votes.
The "Limbo Seat" -- Romano vs. Harper-Brown
  • Rep. Linda Harper-Brown (R) leads Bob Romano by 25 votes; provisional ballots and a recount postpone definitive close of race.

Mark it 76-74 Republican, with a shot at an absolute 75-75 tie.

Democrats continue to make gains in the State House. As disappointing as losing some of our incumbents was -- and as hard as protecting some of our pick-ups will be in two years -- today, as it stands, Democrats have won for the third straight cycle in Texas.

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Disappointed in Dan (0.00 / 0)
OBAMA WON!!!

Sorry had to get that out of the way.

Moving On,
I know I got blasted for saying this earlier but Dan's race was/is a waste of money. The fact that a democratic incumbent can't hold his seat in an election where we practicaly sweep the national scene is ridiculous. Not only that but he lost by over 8,000 votes! Davis was able to beat Brimmer, Turner beat Zedler, so what happened with Dan???

The point is that we could have put that money in other races and potnetial gained even more seats in the Texas house. But because we bet on a lame duck in a foot race we ended up throwing away other opportunities across the state.

But anyway, OBAMA WON!!!!


Fair point (0.00 / 0)
I've got to say, I'm going to admit total wrongness on that one.

Now, a very great man once said that some people rob you with a fountain pen.

[ Parent ]
My favorite return number (3.00 / 1)
Maverick County went 78% for Obama.

just fyi... (0.00 / 0)
You have McCain and Obama's numbers flipped.  

OOPS (0.00 / 0)
JK, read that wrong, sorry!

[ Parent ]
Shout Out to Love! (0.00 / 0)
Since I haven't seen it anywhere, we should give a shout out to Tom Love!  This was much closer than anyone expected, and he had no money.

U. S. Representative District 24      
Kenny E. Marchant - Incumbent REP 151,740 55.91%
Tom Love DEM 111,649 41.14%
David A. Casey LIB 7,969 2.93%

Those numbers are roughly the same as CD 7, and only 2 points worse than CD 10. I hope people look harder at this seat in 2010.

(Full disclosure: Tom Love is one of the first activists I met in Texas, and I consider him a friend.)


very happy the Robert Milkos won (3.00 / 1)
I know him from school, he is a good guy & will be a great representative.

(Robert - if you read this - you, me & Gretchen will have to have lunch some time when you're in town - before the session)

Hill Country Ride for AIDSmy HCRA Page


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