Rick Perry vs World

01 December 2014

Jose Menendez brings the stupid


A measure introduced in the Texas Legislature would affect the transactions you make with retailers, demanding that a business owner check a photo i.d. before accepting a debit or a credit card, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.

"Some stores already do this," State Rep Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio), the sponsor of the proposal, told Newsradio 1200 WOAI. "I think it would great, I don't think it would take that much longer, and I appreciate it when a store asks me for an i.d."

It is impressive how pro-regulation legislators manage to come up with inane regulations that would waste time while helping no one. Clearly Menendez knows absolutely nothing about credit card fraud, but he has no problem filing a bill to regulate it.

Unlike Menendez, I actually do know something about credit card fraud, having worked professionally at preventing it. Menendez's bill would do nothing to make anyone's finances or financial information more secure. (Hint: the consumer is not liable if someone steals a card and commits fraud.) And of course, it wouldn't help businesses with a POS terminal -- they already have the option to do it, and they already have a financial incentive to cut down on fraud.

The most pernicious credit card fraud these days is being done using skimmers or hacking the POS terminal. Since those would be exempted from Menendez's bill, if every state adopted Menendez's idea, we'd have even more places for fraudster to put skimmers. So fraud would likely go up.

Ideas have consequences.

Posted by Evan @ 12/01/14 11:20 PM | Comments (0)        


30 November 2014

The Center of Ps thinks government creates prosperity

The liberal policy org Center for Many Ps has a Chron editorial arguing that Texas should never have a spending cap:

But only recently has the spending cap become an ideological football, with some hard-line conservatives trying to set an artificially low limit that starves school districts and stifles innovation

Got that? Limiting the growth in government spending stifles innovation. Yes, the major left-wing think tank in Texas believes that innovation comes from government. That makes perfect sense if you believe that prosperity is created by the government.

So of course you'd be against a spending cap. You just need to spend more. It's the California Model.

Posted by Evan @ 11/30/14 03:49 PM | Comments (0)        


29 November 2014

Could Wendy Davis win back SD10?

Could Wendy Davis win back SD10? Nope.

Wendy Davis lost her home district by 7.5% to Greg Abbott a few weeks ago. According to my analysis of the Tarrant County precinct report, Davis earned 83451 votes compared to Greg Abbott's 96927 votes in SD10. That is a 53.74% to 46.26% defeat in the head-to-head vote.

A few points:

1. Wendy Davis now has the profile of a national liberal Democrat in SD10. In 2012, Wendy Davis won re-election against Mark Shelton. Even while Mitt Romney and Ted Cruz both picked up 53% in SD10, Davis obscured her liberal voting record enough to get 51.1% of the vote. Put differently, Wendy ran nearly 6 points ahead of Obama's 45.4% vote share in 2012.

Wendy now runs even with Obama in SD10. Romney beat Obama by about 8 points in the district. In 2014, Abbott beat Wendy Davis by about the same 8 points.

Obama and Battleground Texas intended use Wendy Davis to turn Texas blue. Instead Wendy Davis turned SD10 red.

Konni Burton turned SD10 red

2. Konni Burton outperformed Greg Abbott in SD10, winning with 54.2% of the head-to-head vote. Tell me which Austin lobbyist would've predicted that. She got a nasty hit piece put on her by the Texas Medical Association and got negative coverage from the Star-Telegram, but still ran half a point in front of Greg Abbott.

Looking precinct by precinct, Burton and Abbott performed quite similarly. Burton outperformed Abbott because she did slightly better in the highest turnout Republican precincts.

3. When you hire bad political consultants, it is very hard to win. Mark Shelton and Wendy Davis both hired political consultants (Bryan Eppstein and Jeremy Bird, respectively) who didn't know what they were doing. In the process of losing those races, both Eppstein and Bird showed themselves to be pretty bad at math.

Candidates who can't even hire good political consultants should not hold office.

Posted by Evan @ 11/29/14 02:02 PM | Comments (0)        


28 November 2014

Only in government (or maybe higher education) could this level of inefficiency exist

"With deficits looming, team targets waste at City Hall" -- Mike Morris:

About a decade ago, someone paid for a permit with a counterfeit bill, leading [City of Houston] staff to launch a process that would devour 140 hours a month for the next decade: Recording each applicant's driver's license, along with the serial number on every single $100 and $50 bill.

Several counterfeit bills lost the city a few hundred dollars, Bounds noted; having employees invest 16,800 hours over 10 years hoping to prevent that loss cost taxpayers about $540,000 in salary and benefits.

Only in government would this 1) be implemented, and 2) kept around for years. Lack of competitive pressure in bureaucracy inevitably leads to waste.

Posted by Evan @ 11/28/14 06:15 PM | Comments (0)        


10 November 2014

David Dewhurst did not lose in 2012 because of turnout

What is David Dewhurst doing next? He gave an hourlong interview to the Houston Chronicle, and in typical Dewhurstian phrasing, he told them he is planning a "large public policy venture" and perhaps planning a return to electoral politics.

Given that he's talking to the Chron, perhaps he really is considering a Houston mayoral run. Re-launching with the Chron would be a strange route to take if his goal was to run for statewide office again. On the other hand, why did he talk about how much he loves the Cowboys? Not too many Cowboy fans who vote in Houston mayoral races.

In the meantime, he apparently dropped some spin in:

The only thing that surprised him? Low voter turnout, an issue that is "threatening Texas's democratic future," Dewhurst said.

It also very probably ended Dewhurst's political career, of course. The May runoff and a 2012 runoff in the lieutenant governor's race against Ted Cruz for the U.S. Senate both featured extremely low turnout of mostly tea partiers opposed to Dewhurst's establishment conservatism.

Dewhurst's losses "also very probably" had nothing to do with turnout. How quickly some forget that the Dew hasn't broken 45% in any ballot test primary poll for years.

Here's the relevant Republican turnout data:

2014 primary turnout: 1,330,000
2014 runoff turnout: 750,000

2012 primary turnout: 1,400,000
2012 runoff turnout: 1,110,000

2010 primary turnout: 1,480,000

1998 primary: 550,000 (600k in guv race)
98 runoff: 230,000

1. 2012 primary turnout was very high. Gubernatorial primaries tend to drive turnout more than senatorial races, and yet Rick v Kay (a race nearly 8 years in the making!) only had marginally more voters. Now 2012 was a presidential year, but the primary was held so late so that the GOP nomination was long-decided. If anything, turnout was probably more depressed than normal by the fact that the primary was held the day after Memorial Day.

2. 2012 runoff turnout was extraordinarily high. 80% of primary voters showed back up to vote in the runoff. Compare that to just about half in the 2014 and 98 races. Contemporary accounts of the race recorded pundits opining that turnout would be under a million.

3. Dewhurst did not lose the runoff because of turnout. He lost because people who lazily voted for Dewhurst in the primary realized that they made a mistake and switched. Dewhurst's nasty campaign ads and milquetoast legislative record came back to haunt him.

2012 primary:

2012 Texas Republican primary results

2012 runoff:

texas republican runoff results 2012

Notice how Dewhurst and Cruz essentially switched the number of votes. Cruz even got more votes in the supposed "low turnout" runoff than Dewhurst did in the primary.

The "Dewhurst lost because of turnout" canard is even dumber than the "Dewhurst would've won if the election hadn't been pushed back" counterfactual.

Posted by Evan @ 11/10/14 11:35 PM | Comments (0)        


26 October 2014

Van de Putte's alternate reality

Van de Putte sure can spin a reporter from the Washington Post:

"Quite frankly, statewide races in the past have been very complacent about consistently having a program in those Latino communities," said state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, the Democrats' nominee for lieutenant governor. "We haven't had a race in two decades that has put resources into Latino communities. I am so proud of the strides we have made, but I wish there was so much more."

How quickly Ms. Van de Putte discards the tens of millions that Tony Sanchez put into Latino turnout. Tony Sanchez spent $76 million (over $100 million in 2014 dollars) in 2002. For months, you couldn't go through the east side of Houston without hearing a sound truck blaring messages in Spanish and English. Bill White didn't spend nearly as much, but I recall some Spanish ads that got some heavy airplay from very early in the campaign.

Also, wasn't the whole point of Battleground Texas to consistently have a program to sell liberalism in Latino communities? [Aside from being an enrichment program for Obama's campaign staffers.] Perhaps Texas Latinos just don't like the shoddy liberal product that Texas Democrats keep trying to sell them.

Posted by Evan @ 10/26/14 01:24 PM | Comments (0)        


20 October 2014

Wendy Davis is a Karl Rove plant

Wendy Davis must be a Karl Rove plant.

Remember those days circa 2003-2005 when the left and the Beltway media establishment (but I repeat myself) credited Karl Rove with extraordinary powers? To hear them tell it, he was playing in a league of his own. Every time something bad happened to Dems, lefty bloggers immediately assumed that Karl Rove orchestrated it.

Karl Rove

Wendy Davis's candidacy has been such a disaster for Texas Democrats that you wouldn't blame them if they started to come up with crazy theories like they did a decade ago.

1. Wendy Davis has sucked money out of competitive districts. I'm sure that Steve Mostyn was going to write a few eight figure checks anyway, but there's no doubt that some money that could have gone to competitive races instead came to Texas to fund Obama's fantasy about turning Texas blue.

Plus, in her best chance to make an impression on Texas after a series of disjointed ads, we got the Wendy Davis Meltdown. Such churlishness in a debate recalled a certain Al Gore. Remember: it's all Karl's plan.

2. Wendy Davis is the worst possible candidate imaginable to win Latino swing votes. A white liberal who got rich off of her elected office while gaining liberal notoriety as an abortion absolutist? This could only be the work of the Karl Rove that DailyKos bloggers imagined.

No doubt Davis will still get most of the Latinos who strongly identify as Democrats. But she certainly won't drive turnout from disaffected Democrats. Her primary loss in South Texas counties was historic. She couldn't even get Latinos to vote for her over a no-name in the primary.

In Hidalgo County -- 91% Latino -- Democrats are actually removing her from their advertisements for the Democratic slate!

3. The wheelchair ad sucked all the oxygen out of the room. You know who is angriest about the wheelchair ad? It should be Leticia Van de Putte, because it suffocated any potential chance she had of getting traction. Wendy Davis was already a lost cause, but perhaps with a stroke of genius, Van de Putte could've found the right combination to narrow the race to single digits.

Van de Putte is actually pretty good in front of the camera , when she isn't shamelessly pandering. With the right stroke of luck, maybe she could've grown an inkling of a chance into actual momentum.

Nope. Wendy Davis killed that. Or perhaps it was Karl.

Posted by Evan @ 10/20/14 10:02 PM | Comments (0)        


18 October 2014

If you waste your money on bad political consultants, you deserve to lose

Nancy Sims has a couple of interesting posts up previewing the upcoming Houston mayoral race. They seem pretty accurate to me.

One post about the long-shot candidates caught my eye:

Ben Hall ran against Parker last election and is said to be considering another bite at the apple. We hope he hires different political professionals as he had one of the worst campaigns ever in 2013. He can finance the race though and would still be a contender if he decides to run.

John Weaver and Mark Sanders destroyed Ben Hall's chances to be mayor. It was so obvious that I predicted it beforehand. Hall went from main challenger to also-ran for this election cycle. When you hire a terrible consultant, not only do you waste tens of thousands of dollars, but you ruin your chance to run again.

The market for political consultants is terribly inefficient. First time candidates frequently have no expertise, and thus hire consultants who talk a big game but are terrible at campaigns.

Posted by Evan @ 10/18/14 02:30 PM | Comments (0)        


09 October 2014

It's about time

Response rates to traditional telephone polls keep declining, and opt-in online polls are an inherently biased version of sampling public opinion.

If ballot race tests just went away, would the Republic immediately improve? Probably. [I'm sure Wendy Davis's Yankees agree!]

Microsoft is going to try to use sparse machine learning to replace phone polls:

His goal is to quicken the pace of culling answers and broaden the range of questions. For example, in a series of daily polls of users on Microsoft’s XBox video game console, Rothschild was able to generate forecasts and models using the data and demographic information that closely mirrored the accuracy of poll aggregation.

At least if it proves successful, then I won't get my Twitter feed crowded with the "predictions" of someone who averages polls and then runs a Monte Carlo sim on top?

Posted by Evan @ 10/09/14 10:16 PM | Comments (0)        


02 October 2014

Texas Lyceum poll loses all credibility

The Texas Lyceum poll just took a poll. It included a trial ballot for governor. See screenshot below.

Texas Lyceum poll

Notice that their poll sampled more Democrats than Republicans. Perhaps they thought they were polling in California or in Wendy Davis's native Rhode Island?

Posted by Evan @ 10/02/14 11:21 AM | Comments (0)        


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