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
Challenge Democrats Who Won - 6 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)
The "Limbo Seat" -- Romano vs. Harper-Brown
- 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.
- 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.