28 February 2010

Will she or won't she

Now she's not resigning after election day...

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison said Friday that she is prepared to stay in the Senate for as long as eight more months if Congress is still debating health care reform.

"I have said I am going to leave the Senate. It's the best thing for Texas for me to leave the Senate, sometime this year before the November elections," she told WBAP-AM (820) talk radio host Mark Davis. "I'm going to stay and fight health care. I promised that, so that's my first commitment, and I will do that."

But if she does, Peggy Fikac:

If Hutchison doesn't win the GOP nod and changes her mind about resigning, those who might like to run for her seat may have mixed views. I talked to some (though not Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst; his spokesman said, "We're not going to focus on hypotheticals.")

"I continue to take her at her word, that (resigning) is what she is going to do,” said Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams.

Texas Workforce Commission Chair Tom Pauken, who told me he'll make a quick decision about getting into a Senate race if she resigns, said, "I believe she will (resign), but I think I'm in the minority of people I talk to who believe she will."

A delayed Hutchison departure would be no problem for Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones: "My plans originally from the get-go were to run for the seat in 2012, when my term on the Railroad Commission is up, so that suits me just fine. But if it turns out it's earlier, I'll be prepared for that, too."

Former secretary of state Roger Williams, ESPN analyst Craig James and state Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, also are cited in the mix. State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, will take a look if she resigns.

Anna Tinsley throws Joe Barton and Greg Abbott into the mix as well. And the words John Tower special election strike fear into the hearts of Republicans everywhere right now.

Gillman's take is here, including this classic from Eppstein:

"There's what she [Hutchison] says, and what she means by what she says. Until she does it, she hasn't done it," Shapiro adviser Bryan Eppstein said by phone two days before Hutchison's WBAP comments. "It seems to be a very fluid situation."
He also tells us the money they've all raised:
Roger Williams leads the pack, with $1.26 million raised, not counting loans. Shapiro collected $960,000, edging out Jones by $20,000. Michael Williams lags, with $534,000, but he says that's because "most Republican donors have not engaged yet. ... They're waiting to make sure that there's going to be a race, and they're going to wait and see who the governor likes."

Posted by Evan @ 02/28/10 10:35 PM | Comments (0)        


I joked the other day that Bill White's $500K contribution from the DGA could've been trial lawyer money and not from labor unions.

Actually, it probably wasn't from trial lawyers, because then there would have been no need to use the DGA to disguise the source of the money when he's willing to take big money from trial lawyers.

White also got $50,000 each from trial lawyers Thomas Umphrey of Beaumont, Joseph Jamail of Houston and Richard Mithoff of Houston. Here are some other big-money trial lawyer donations: $25,000 each from Russell Budd of Dallas, Domingo Garcia of Dallas and Cary Patterson of Texarkana; $15,000 from asbestos attorney Peter Kraus of Dallas and $10,000 each from Frank Branson and Marc Stanley, both of Dallas.
Of course, Bill White is a trial lawyer by training, so it's not terribly surprising.

Posted by Evan @ 02/28/10 10:27 PM | Comments (0)        


More ads

This started out pretty effective but went downhill. Couldn't they have had the candidate sound a little less angry on the "I approved this message" tag line?

The story of a family farm threatened by the TTC. But contrast this ad with Perry's ad below. Perry's ad plays on themes that resonate with Republican primary voters and is consistent with his overall message. This one is "TTC is bad, Perry did it."

Posted by Evan @ 02/28/10 08:21 PM | Comments (0)        


This disaster is what happens when a left-wing British newspaper attempts to cover Texas elections.

They include the Populist party that won elections in several states during the 1890s recession and the millions who voted for Ross Perot's presidential candidacy in the 1980s.

The things that get written in international papers about domestic American politics blow my mind.

Posted by Evan @ 02/28/10 05:54 PM | Comments (4)        


26 February 2010

Worth remembering that you can break the mold


Perry's laserlike focus was fitting for a campaign that has parted ways with some traditional campaign conventions. Perry has not sent any direct mail to voters, yard signs had to be purchased online, and there was no tour around the state to formally announce his re-election bid.

Posted by Evan @ 02/26/10 10:43 PM | Comments (0)        


Alberto Gonzales interview

It's fairly Rice-centric, but Gonzales does briefly reflect on his time as attorney general.

Posted by Evan @ 02/26/10 01:31 AM | Comments (0)        


25 February 2010

Don't mess with the IDF

This book sounds pretty awesome:

The son of one of Hamas's founding members was a spy in the service of Israel for more than a decade, helping prevent dozens of Islamist suicide bombers from finding their targets, it emerged today.

Codenamed the Green Prince by Shin Bet, Israel's internal security service, Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of Hamas co-founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef, supplied key intelligence on an almost daily basis from 1996 onwards and tracked down suicide bombers and their handlers from his father’s organization, the daily Haaretz said.

Information he supplied led to the arrests of some of the most wanted men by Israeli forces, including Marwan Barghouti, a Fatah leader often tipped as a potential president who was convicted of masterminding terrorist attacks, and one of Hamas' top bomb-makers Abdullah Barghouti, who is no relation of the jailed Fatah chief.

Mr Yousef, a 32-year-old convert to Christianity who now lives in California, has revealed the intrigues of his years as a spy in a new book called Son of Hamas, much to the concern of Shin Bet, whose operations will be revealed in detail. While the revelations may give a boost to Israel's intelligence service, whose external counterpart Mossad is still grappling with the diplomatic fall-out of last month's Hamas assassination in Dubai, there will be concern that the account may give too many insights into the murky world of espionage.

Posted by Evan @ 02/25/10 05:06 PM | Comments (0)        


Where flaks go after politics


Mark McGwire did not return phone requests left with his spokesman, Ari Fleischer, on Wednesday. Efforts also were made to reach McGwire through the Cardinals.

Posted by Evan @ 02/25/10 03:32 PM | Comments (0)        


Doesn't sound like it

John Carona doesn't sound like he's running for re-election. If he is, he's certainly asking for a primary opponent.

Posted by Evan @ 02/25/10 06:17 AM | Comments (0)        


Bill White getting money from Big Labor

Jason Embry:

The Democratic Governors Association gave former Houston Mayor Bill White a $500,000 contribution to his gubernatorial campaign on Feb. 15, signaling that national party leaders think White can topple the Republican nominee this November.

It seems to me that Embry missed the story here. The DGA is a 527, unregulated by the FEC. It can accept unlimited contributions, and then pass them through to the campaign as long as it's not coordinated* with the campaign (wink, wink). In other words, if you want to take...oh, I don't know...half a million but you don't want to disclose where it's coming from, then you send it on over to the DGA.

Who are the 4 biggest DGA donors so far? Unions. The Teamsters, government employees, Painters, and the SEIU. So it's possible that the title is unfair to Bill White**, but not likely.

* At least that's my understanding of the law right now, but Democrats and John McCain have a tendency to try and complicate an already byzantine system.

** It could have been trial lawyer money, y'know?

Posted by Evan @ 02/25/10 04:34 AM | Comments (1)        


Someone hit the boomswitch

I thought Todd Gilman had a well done writeup of the Harris County GOP dinner. My favorite part?

Among the silent auction offerings, an autographed copy of Hutchison's book about trailblazing women eventually got one bid, at the $25 minimum. The next item over was a hot seller: a Henry Golden Boy Lever Action .22 rifle, with Debra Medina's signature and the phrase "Don't Mess With Texas" engraved in the walnut stock.

It sold for $500.

Baseballs autographed by Mitt Romney, Steve Forbes and Dan Quayle had no takers at all.

Mitt might want to ponder what happened to the other two.

Posted by Evan @ 02/25/10 03:05 AM | Comments (0)        


24 February 2010

Hutch goes for spending


"If we elect Gov. [Rick] Perry for another four years, we will not address the high taxes. We will not address the spending," Hutchison told supporters and lunchtime diners at the Railhead Smokehouse, a popular barbecue restaurant in Fort Worth.

Hutchison blasted the governor for increasing the business margins tax and for what she called an 80 percent increase in state spending.

Wonder why she hasn't done more of this?

Posted by Evan @ 02/24/10 05:02 PM | Comments (0)        



[The poll] shows more than half of Texas Hispanics call themselves conservative, and a surprising 23 percent say they might participate in Tuesday's GOP primary. Among those, Perry leads Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison by 2 to 1, according to the poll, commissioned by an Austin consultant for a national group of Hispanic legislative leaders.

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, said the poll hints at a little-noticed facet of Perry's political persona: He doesn't frighten Hispanics because he often visits their communities, and he distances himself from immigration hard-liners in the GOP.

"He thought the border wall was a little ridiculous and didn't think it was going to help," said Van de Putte, Democrats' leader in the Senate and a co-chairwoman of the Democratic National Convention in Denver two years ago. "What he wanted to keep out were those people that are smuggling drugs and people."

Van de Putte said Perry tilts more to the right than his predecessor, George W. Bush, and can't match Bush's high level of support among Hispanics. But she said many Hispanics remember that Perry signed a 2001 bill that let illegal immigrants pay in-state tuition at public colleges. He has defended the bill, saying affected students have studied hard in Texas schools and will be good citizens.

Surprising comments from Van de Putte. Maybe some of that explains why she resisted entreaties to run statewide?

Posted by Evan @ 02/24/10 04:49 PM | Comments (0)        


He'd mostly been dodging that question pretty regularly until now.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) should stay in the Senate if she falls short in her bid to become governor of Texas, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Wednesday.

"My hope is that she'd stay on and serve the remainder of her term," Cornyn told The Hill in a brief interview.

Posted by Evan @ 02/24/10 04:43 PM | Comments (0)        


8 days out money reports

Just realized I forgot to put the 8 day out reports up. For the period 1/22 to 2/20.

1.1M raised
8M spent
2.3M Cash on Hand

850K raised
8.8M spent
2.5M CoH

450K raised
228k spent
291K CoH

2.2M raised
2.7M spent
5.4M CoH

1.1M raised
5M spent
1M CoH

Posted by Evan @ 02/24/10 04:33 PM | Comments (0)        


Rasmussen's new numbers

500 primary LVs, 2/23, MoE +/- 4.5%
numbers in (parentheses) are from last poll at the beginning of Feb.

Perry 48 (44)
Hutchison 27 (29)
Medina 16 (16)
Und 9 (11)

1,200 LVs, 2/22, sampling MoE +/-3%
Perry 47 (48)
White 41 (39)
Not Sure 7 (8)

Hutchison 47 (49)
White 38 (36)
Not Sure 7 (unch)

White 47 (38)
Medina 37 (41)
Not Sure 9 (16)

Posted by Evan @ 02/24/10 04:23 PM | Comments (0)        


Why I haven't mentioned the newspaper endorsements

* It was obvious who they were going to endorse.
Did anyone doubt that Bill White was going to sweep the Democratic endorsements? Was there ever a chance that a single urban daily would endorse someone other than KBH? To be honest, I haven't paid attention at all, so I suppose there's a chance I am wrong and look like an idiot. The only endorsements I've seen are when Evan Smith mentions endorsements on TexasTribune, but I'd be fairly shocked if Shami or Perry got a major endorsement...especially after Perry purposely snubbed the endorsement boards by refusing to meet with them.

* They aren't relevant.
There was a day when newspaper endorsements mattered. And even in some downballot races today, they could swing a few votes. But in a high-profile race like this KBH v Rick, newspaper endorsements aren't going to have any palpable difference.

Posted by Evan @ 02/24/10 08:21 AM | Comments (0)        


23 February 2010

1 week out predictions

Dick Murray predicts:

Perry 44% Hutchison 37% Medina 19%

White 65% Shami 18% Others 17%

There's still alot that can happen, but I'll go on the record as well.

Perry 49 Hutchison 37 Medina 14

White 49 Shami 20 Others 31

My Dem primary guess is largely based on recent history, but I might be wrong. It'd be awfully embarassing for White to face a runoff, but I'm inclined to think that he will. Whether it will be against Shami, I'm not so sure, but probably.

As for my GOP predictions, I largely assume that Perry and KBH will find a way to disseminate some of the crazy things that Medina has said, as it doesn't yet seem to have really filtered through. Also, polls would tend to overstate someone like her. It's somewhat surprising to me if Perry avoids the runoff, but I have him as about a coinflip to do so. Normally I would assume that his upper bound would be about whatever the polls say he is, and maybe that's the case here. However, I assume that his campaign can knock off some of the Medina supporters into his camp. I think he ends up in the 47-51% range.

Posted by Evan @ 02/23/10 11:31 PM | Comments (1)        


PPP and KXAN Constituent Dynamics Polls

KXAN, Constituent Dynamics, 2/19-2/21 1300 reg voters, +/- 3%

Perry 44
Hutchison 30
Medina 14
Undec 12

White 43
Shami 22
Others 8
Undec 27

Public Policy Polling, a Democratic polling firm, released their GOP primary numbers.
2/19-2/21, 400 likely Republican primary voters, sampling MoE +/- 4.9%

Perry 40
Hutchison 31
Medina 20
Undecided 9

Hypothetical runoff
KBH 35
Perry 52

PPP shows a definite bifurcation between conservatives and moderates/liberals. Among liberals, Hutchison leads 40 to 25 and among moderates Hutchison leads 51 to 26. Among conservatives, Perry leads 45 to Hutch's 24 with Medina picking up 20.

On the D side, they have White 59, Shami 12, Alvarado 5, Aguado 3, and undecided 18.

Posted by Evan @ 02/23/10 09:57 PM | Comments (0)        


Real Men of Genius

Anyone else mildly surprised that Perry's campaign hasn't reprised the Real Men of Genius ads?

Posted by Evan @ 02/23/10 04:29 PM | Comments (1)        


Damage control

Time to walk it back. A Bill White spokesman says:

"On Saturday night, Bill was NOT referring to "his GOP rivals" in discussing a post-primary scenario. Bill was referring specifically to Governor Rick Perry, who by all accounts is expected to win the Republican nomination after a difficult primary.

Very statesman-like.

Nothing like calling your opponent evil to kickoff a campaign. Even KBH -- not running the most astute of campaigns -- didn't go there, and this campaign has been pretty intense.

Posted by Evan @ 02/23/10 10:12 AM | Comments (0)        


Closing arguments: the ads on the air

Perry in work clothes, seated talking to the camera with the rest of the screen a Texas flag. The federal government is messed up. It's simple, and effective. With its talk about the 10th Amendment, this ad is aimed at former Medina supporters who can't stomach voting for a crazy 9/11 truther . "See, I've got some libertarian leanings too."

Kay = washington. Voted for the bailout and lots of earmarks.

With a picture of the Capitol as the background, the first two-thirds is a rapid fire succession of one-line shots that newspapers have printed about Perry. Then it transitions into a shot of all the newspaper endorsements she's gotten before two quick shots of Kay. It was titled "Fueled" but there was alot of talk about newspapers.

White's ad is aimed at the general election, not at the primary. I make it a habit to watch campaign ads with the sound off to check out the visuals, and...well, try it. When tax cuts are on the screen, Bill White is not making a "I am telling you the truth" face. Beyond the conflicting visual, I'm not sure how much I like putting White on the screen all the time in every ad, but maybe they're trying to turn a negative into a positive. Still, it's the right sort of theme that White should be sounding, so for that it's a decent ad.

Posted by Evan @ 02/23/10 08:58 AM | Comments (0)        


22 February 2010

Rick v Kay has been doing an awfully good job documenting that Debra Medina is a conspiracy theorist truther.

Posted by Evan @ 02/22/10 11:38 PM | Comments (0)        


Campaign finance reports due

We should get information today about how much money candidates have raised and spent. The period covers Jan 22 to Feb 20.

Posted by Evan @ 02/22/10 10:35 PM | Comments (0)        


Very post-partisan

We know what Bill White calls Republicans when he's talking to Democrats:

Former Houston Mayor Bill White on Saturday called on Dallas County Democrats to rally around his candidacy for Texas governor in order to stop the Republican "forces of darkness."


After the primary, "when the forces of darkness are licking their wounds, let's get out there," White urged Democrats.

Someone might want to remind White that the forces of darkness...er, the Republicans, are a majority in Texas. He's gonna need some of those votes.

Posted by Evan @ 02/22/10 02:11 PM | Comments (0)        


The Houston Chronicle thinks that Houston has its very own modern-day Robert Moses, apparently.

Posted by Evan @ 02/22/10 02:42 AM | Comments (0)        


18 February 2010

hear hear

Gotta agree with Cory Crow:

Annise Parker's biggest gaffe as Mayor so far? Not putting Tory Gattis on her Metro committee. Big, big mistake.

Posted by Evan @ 02/18/10 02:31 PM | Comments (0)        


Who cares about being on topic anyway?

I've written a few times about polls recently, but I hope you'll allow me one more.

The liberal blog firedoglake has commissioned polls from SurveyUSA, with the stated rationale to show that Democrats are in trouble because of the healthcare bill. These surveys have shown Democrats in serious trouble. Because of that, Democrats have begun to attack the polls and SurveyUSA. Nate Silver, who has essentially taken down Republican polling firm Strategic Vision, examines the evidence on SurveyUSA.

And as little respect as I have for FDL is as much respect as I have for SurveyUSA, which is a strong and transparent polling firm.


That is, we expect a pollster to do its very best work whenever its brand name is associated with a poll; there are no mulligans.

I could have written Silver's post almost word for word, which is fairly rare since he's on the opposite end of the political spectrum.

I agree completely that the commissioner of the poll should not matter if the polling firm puts its name on it. Um....Zogby?

Posted by Evan @ 02/18/10 03:55 AM | Comments (1)        


17 February 2010

Shami's team quitting

After yesterday's post, today's news is that they are quitting:

Campaign director and senior strategist Vince Leibowitz, press secretary Charlie Ray, communications director Kelly Love Johnson and two other senior campaign officials -- whom Leibowitz wouldn't name -- quit after a series of press releases went out without the paid political professionals' authorization or knowledge. Several were traced to Farouk Systems official Jessica Gutierrez and a Rio Grande Valley publicist hired separately by the Houston businessman, who is making his first political race.

Posted by Evan @ 02/17/10 02:51 PM | Comments (0)        


I'm hoping you get where I'm going with this, but you probably won't

To be honest, I feel bad for the Shami staffers. Sometimes the hardest part of a campaign is the candidate. You can give the best advice in the world, but if they don't listen to you...

Posted by Evan @ 02/17/10 01:28 AM | Comments (2)        


The Declare I'm Messageless Tour


U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is unveiling a two-week finishing kick to her gubernatorial primary campaign she's dubbing the "Declare Your Independence" tour.

The name is intended to relate to Texas Independence Day on March 2, which also is primary election day.

Because that just sums up the campaign's message for the 6 months...?

Posted by Evan @ 02/17/10 01:15 AM | Comments (0)        


16 February 2010

Early voting has started

So there are already votes that are out of reach for the candidates.

Posted by Evan @ 02/16/10 09:42 AM | Comments (0)        


15 February 2010

Just asking

Suppose I think women are superior to men. Someone asks me, "do you think women are superior to men?"

I reply, "Well...I'm not sure. I'm not into telling people what they should or shouldn't think. I'm into protecting people's rights to ask questions."

Could that ever rise to the level of a coordinated attack?

Posted by Evan @ 02/15/10 04:06 PM | Comments (1)        


14 February 2010


Probably worth mentioning that there's a pretty good summary of polling data over at Rick vs. Kay. Also, RvK mentions all the polls I won't, so if you want to confuse yourself with too much and possibly misleading data...enjoy!

Posted by Evan @ 02/14/10 08:54 PM | Comments (0)        


The TX dailies' poll

Pretty long time for a poll to be in the field. The funny thing is that we've had like 6 polls in the last week, and not a single one of them was particularly relevant because none of them tested how deeply Medina has imploded...the effects of which probably couldn't even be captured by putting a poll in the field today, as she continues to implode daily by saying new things and defending previous statements.

2/2 - 2/10 Blum and Weprin poll for the big dailies, 2017 adults, 1508 registered, 464 likely GOP voters

Perry 45
Hutchison 29
Medina 17

Perry 43
White 37

KBH 42
White 34

46/38 Perry job approval/disapproval as governor
40/48 Obama job approval/disapproval as potus

53/35 right track/wrong track for Texas

Interestingly, although the horse race numbers for Perry aren't great, those numbers are pretty good for him.

Posted by Evan @ 02/14/10 08:49 PM | Comments (0)        


Why I don't link to the TT/UT internet poll

Yesterday I mentioned that as a matter of general policy, I don't post polls of house districts for statewide races. Today's post is why I don't report on the UT/Texas Tribune polls.

The UT/Texas Tribune poll is an internet poll, based on opt-in. It is difficult to understate the fundamental theoretical difference between an opt-in internet poll and a telephone poll. The sample is not random.

I wish I could simply cut and paste from UT/TT poll methodology page, but frankly I found their discussion hard to understand, and I know how the poll works! So, at the risk of minor errors, let me try to simplify: the UT/TT poll is done by PoliMetrix, which obtains consent of participants (they find them through Google Ads) and keeps them in a database (currently about 55k Texans). When they need to do a specific poll, they take a random sample of the registered voters provided by the Secretary of State. Then, they attempt to match the people that were randomly selected from the voter pool with one of the people in their database who has already consented. They use an algorithm to find someone who matches the randomly selected voter as closely as possible on the basis of race, age, gender, region, and partisanship. Then they send them a web survey (if they get no response, they match to a similar person), compile their results, and voila! a poll.

The most recent study led the authors to conclude that the emprical data does not say that "opt-in sample surveys are as accurate as or more accurate than probability sample surveys." There was some back and forth (not an exhaustive set of links, obviously) which argued many things, but including if the additional margin of error was really significant.

Polling is, by nature, a cost/benefit analysis. Polling attempts to save money by taking a sample which saves money by alleviating the need to ask every single voter. Internet polling is cheaper, and has managed a decent track record, if not quite what telephone polling has. [Sidenote: I supported automated (IVR) polling before it was commonly accepted, because it was obviously predictive. So it's not that I'm reflexively anti-new forms of polling.]

However, with that said, I doubt that any professional pollster of either party has ever used an online poll for campaign purposes. As of now, telephone polling is more accurate. While it's a small sample size, PoliMetrix's polls in the 2009 races had Corzine 43, Christie 41, McDonnell 53, Deeds 40. McDonnell won 59 to 41, and Christie didn't actually lose, he won 49 to 44. While only eyeballing, I'm pretty sure that's worse than your average poll. It might also suggest that PoliMetrix underweights Republicans, though significantly more data would be required.

In sum, internet polling has improved. The UT/TT poll by PoliMetrix is on the borderline for me. In the future, it might be undebateably acceptable for two reasons: 1) it proves itself to be equal in accuracy to telphone polling, and 2) due to cell phones, telephone polling declines. And, if we were in a period with no other data, I would probably mention the UT/TT poll. But right now we some regular and irregular polling be done by established polling organizations, so in my judgment the poll doesn't add to what we already know.

Posted by Evan @ 02/14/10 01:05 PM | Comments (0)        


13 February 2010

Research2000 poll

I'll pass these along, without commenting except to say that they have White running stronger than other polls. I'm inclined to put more weight to those other polls.

Research 2000. 2/8-2/10

Perry 42
KBH 30
Medina 17

Perry 50/45
KBH 52/37
Medina 47/35 (this is before her 9/11 truther comments. Still, does anyone actually seriously believe that over 80% have even a soft opinion of Medina? )
White 49/33
Obama 44/54

Perry 46
White 42

KBH 47
White 41

Medina 44
White 43

Posted by Evan @ 02/13/10 09:16 PM | Comments (0)        


Why I don't link to house district polls, congressional district polls, etc

I see people quoting polls from CD 18, or a state house seat in Dallas, and I think, "why?"

First, I don't report polls unless I know who the pollster is, preferably with the exact wording of their question provided as well. Polling isn't quite like indictments ("a prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich") but it's close. Unreputable pollsters have plenty of tricks at their disposal to get the numbers they want to get.

Second, in terms of predicting a statewide race, a poll from any given house seat is not helpful. It's not a representative sample. If I take a poll in Austin, and it shows Ronnie Earle leading in the Dem lt gov race, do I know anything more than before? Not really.

This is especially true when there is sufficient data. Right now, Rasmussen and PPP is polling regularly, and a few new polls appear every week. There's no lack of data. There are limited exceptions, of course. If a trend can be established, that might be useful ("Gee, candidate X was winning by 10 last month and now is losing by 25!") to know, especially if one candidate was attacking on issues specific to the area of the congressional district.

But in general I think such polls confuse more than they aid. So I don't mention them here.

Posted by Evan @ 02/13/10 04:32 PM | Comments (0)        


A note for political candidates

I've provided this handy guide for political candidates. If anyone asks you any of these questions, the answer is NO.

Was Pearl Harbor a happy day for America?

Was Saddam Hussein really just a misunderstood guy? Is it only a rumor that he committed genocide against the Kurds?

Is Lyndon LaRouche really on to something?

Is Obama bin Laden really a moral, decent person when it comes down to it?

Is the Holocaust an invention of the Jews?

Does Charles Manson seem like a role model to you?

Was Barack Obama actually born in Africa?

Is there a secret New World Order conspiring to take over the world?

Was Stalin's murdering of millions a good thing?

Anyway, dearest candidate for political office, I hope you find this list helpful. I know some of those questions are difficult, so don't overthink it. The answer really is no. Moral outrage would also be appropriate.

Posted by Evan @ 02/13/10 03:51 PM | Comments (1)        


12 February 2010

KBH new ad "Honest"

I thought this was a good ad. Aside from putting her in burnt orange (y'all realize we're not all longhorns?) it was an ad they should've run months ago. But early voting opens up...on the 16th. Maybe a little late to start telling us your message.

Posted by Evan @ 02/12/10 11:42 AM | Comments (0)        


The cult of Debra Medina

Hypothetically speaking:

Q: In your opinion, did the Holocaust happen?

A: I don't have all the evidence. Good questions have been asked and I haven't seen answers. I'm not going to take a position...the Holocaust isn't even an issue in this race!

Is there a difference? Is it a trick question? Is it possible to "overthink" the question, BigJolly? If she was afraid to answer because of her supporters, what does that say about her?

She was given the biggest softball question twice and said "good questions have been asked"...twice. It blows me away that anyone would publically defend that answer.

Posted by Evan @ 02/12/10 10:34 AM | Comments (4)        


11 February 2010


The DMN endorses Ronnie Earle for the Dem lt gov primary, but:

Neither candidate details a clear vision of how to deal with such issues as the state budget crunch, under-funded highways and challenges for public education.

Posted by Evan @ 02/11/10 08:10 PM | Comments (0)        


It's a little early for I told you so, but...

I'd like to note that I've been repeatedly saying I don't think Medina will get 12% of the vote.

Posted by Evan @ 02/11/10 01:56 PM | Comments (0)        


Debra Medina transcript on Glenn Beck 9/11 truthers

Is anyone actually surprised? This isn't some fresh revelation.

Here's the transcript I typed up:

Beck: Do you believe the government was any way involved with the bringing down of the World Trade Centers on 9/11?

Medina: I don't have all of the evidence there Glenn, so I don't, I'm not in a place, i have not been out publically uh questioning that. i think some very good questions have been raised in that regard there's some very good arguemnts and i think the american people have not seen all the evidence there so i've not taken a position on that

Beck: I think the people of America might think that's a yes.

Medina: I'm not going to take a position where I think good questions have been raised and they're not answered.

Later Medina said that she's not "into mind control or thought police" as way of explaining why she's ok with 9/11 truthers.

How much of the Texas print media do you think wishes they could walk back some of those glowing profiles?

Posted by Evan @ 02/11/10 01:53 PM | Comments (3)        


10 February 2010

For what it's worth, I'd put more weight on the credit union poll than the PPP poll.

Posted by Evan @ 02/10/10 07:44 PM | Comments (0)        


Credit Union poll: Perry 49, KBH 27, Medina 19

The Texas Credit Union League has released a poll showing Perry nearing 50%.

Public Opinion Strategies' Glen Bolger (R) did the GOP part.
Hamilton Campaigns' David Beattie (D) did the Dem part.
2/3-2/6. 400 likely primary voters for each party, 800 overall.
MoE +/- 4.9% for each primary sample.

Perry 49 (27% strongly)
KBH 27 (13% strongly)
Medina 19 (12% strongly)

Perry 58
KBH 34

White 51
Shami 19
Alvarado 7
Aguado 4
16 Undecided

Right Direction/Wrong Track
65% Right direction
23% Wrong track

27% Right direction
57% Wrong track

Results show Republicans care more about their primary (no surprise, it's more high-profile) and that a plurality of each party plans to vote early.

Dem LG primary
Chavez-Thompson 25
Earle 18
Katz 8

Posted by Evan @ 02/10/10 05:39 PM | Comments (0)        


Gettin linky wid it

* The Hill profiles Dem Congressman Henry Cuellar. One thing about Cuellar: he understands that trade is a good thing. He passes along that former Dallas mayor and current US Trade Rep Ron Kirk thinks they can get the Colombia trade deal passed. I sure hope so, but given that Congressional Democrats have long been the stumbling block to the trade deal with America's strongest Latin American ally...not sure what has changed. It'd be nice to see the shameful treatment of America's allies stop though.

* Cornyn pens an op-ed in the Chron about Obama's slashing of NASA's budget in his proposed budget.

President Barack Obama's proposed budget for the next fiscal year includes very bad news for the Greater Houston area, and for our nation. One year after celebrating its 50th year and the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing, NASA has learned that the White House wants it to abandon its historic role in space exploration. The administration has proposed the termination of NASA's Constellation program, our nation's flagship endeavor to return Americans to the moon and beyond. After $9 billion invested over seven years, the president would leave this program adrift and without a mission.
Truthfully though, presidential budgets are largely political theater. Congress pretty regularly ignores them. And cutting NASA spending was just a trick so Obama could say that he actually cut spending on something.

* William McKenzie <3 Bill White.

* KBH in Bryan for breakfast. You'd think Aggieland would be Perryland, wouldn't you?

* The people making fun of Sarah Palin for the notes on her hand remind me of the people making fun of Obama for his teleprompters.

Posted by Evan @ 02/10/10 05:06 PM | Comments (0)        


Adjusting your range

This is what I call lazy blogging. This is something I wrote in an email. As such, it's a bit out of context and a bit abrupt -- even with some light editing -- but still worth sticking up in a post, I think.

Just because Medina may have crossed 20%, doesn't mean thatanything can happen. Law of diminishing returns: the people that Medina has right now are the easiest to pick up. You think she can pick up more if either campaign starts disseminating some of the things she has said?

Primary voters are upset, but it's not like they've completely lost their minds. Sure they'll say that they're voting for Medina, but it's alot easier to punch a button in a telephone poll or even put a sign in your yard than it is to vote for someone as a protest vote. Even Ross Perot couldn't stay strong until the end with his protest votes.

Medina is late 2007 Obama on steroids right now in that people are projecting onto her a smorgasbord of contradictory values. (Incidentally, according to the PPP poll, Medina does better among Obama voters than KBH or Perry.) But do you really think that Republicans are going to nominate someone who publically announced that they weren't going to vote for McCain and who won't support the GOP nominee? no way.

the best thing to happen to Perry would be that Medina makes the runoff against him.

Posted by Evan @ 02/10/10 04:31 PM | Comments (0)        


PPP releases their general election numbers

These numbers are actually fairly consistent with Rasmussen's, because this is a poll of registered voters, not of likely voters. If it were a poll of likely voters, the spread would be similar to Rasmussen's.

1200 registered voters, 2/4-2/7

Hutchison 45
White 38

Perry 48
White 42

Medina 44
White 38

They have Perry's job approval at 33/50 and KBH's at 40/37. As their poll release notes, "the main reason for each of their declines is reduced popularity among GOP voters..."

Partisan ID in the poll
36 Dem
40 GOP
24 Ind/Other

That's on the low side of the acceptable spectrum, but definitely within it. Which is more or less what you'd expect from a Democratic polling firm.

Full crosstabs.

Posted by Evan @ 02/10/10 11:43 AM | Comments (0)        


09 February 2010

Sometimes the media believes their own hype

Paul Burka writes a post that makes me struggle for descriptors. It's entitled (w/caps) WATCH OUT FOR MEDINA! Which may be all you really need to know. Nonetheless, let's take it from the top, shall we? (Edit: Just so we're clear, Burka is reacting to this poll.)

Anything can happen now. Medina's support has grown by 50% since the Rasmussen poll even though she does not have money to spend on TV. That means she is gaining on word of mouth. I thought she would be doing well to get to 20%. She shot through that barrier without slowing down.
One poll with a relatively small sample size does not a fact make. Is she probably gaining? Yes, but everything Burka wrote is drawing cement conclusions from a straw foundation. It might be true, but let's not overdo it.

Medina isn't gaining on word of mouth, she's gaining on the fact that the media has showered her with favorable coverage.

I have been telling friends for a couple of weeks now that if Medina can raise $2 million by February 16, she will be governor. What this poll tells me is that Texans are sick and tired of Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison and their career politician credentials and their negative campaigns. Medina is Sarah Palin with smarts and without the winks.

That bolded part is just crazy. Let's suppose that somehow KBH collapses and Medina squeeks into a runoff. I don't see it as likely by any means, but let's hypothesize. He really thinks that Medina will beat Perry in a runoff? A woman who talks about nullification and "globalist agendas"? Really? That blows my mind. Paul, I think you should spend more time with some Republican primary voters so that you understand that they aren't crazy.

But ok, let's continue our hypothetical: can Medina beat Bill White? NO! I'd rather have Medina than White, don't get me wrong, but White would beat her.

Furthermore, money has nothing to do with it. If anything, if Medina raised $2m, I think there's a substantial chance she'd run ads that would ruin her "I'm not a politician" rep and lose her the protest votes she's got now. According to the PPP poll, she's got 40% favorable, 9% unfav and the rest unknown. But that 40% favorable is probably the softest favorable number I've ever seen! No one knows anything about her yet, even people who are saying they currently have favorable views.

Also, Sarah Palin to Medina is probably the oddest analogy I've ever heard. Palin is within the mainstream of her party; Medina isn't. Palin was a touted Mayor in her state; Medina is the former Republican chair of a 40,000 person county. Palin had significant backing when she ran for governor, Medina doesn't. Palin signed on to McCain's presidential bid; Medina backed Paul and publically refused to vote for McCain.

Consider Perry's dilemma. The conventional wisdom was that there was no way anyone could get to his right. Hutchison tried and failed miserably. Medina got there, because she is genuine. Now what does Perry do? Does he attack her? Very risky. Does he ignore her? This is Plan B territory; I seriously doubt that the Perry campaign has a stop-Medina strategy. All his Hutchison-bashing accomplished was to weaken KBH to the point where Medina may have enough momentum to make the runoff. Amazing! How can anyone not love this stuff?

What dilemma? Perry would surely like to avoid a runoff, but I think he'd rather have a runoff with Medina than with KBH. Medina would make Perry look centrist in a runoff that he would surely win. Perry wouldn't mind that heading into the general election with Bill White.

I actually was going to write a post about tactics when I originally saw the Medina poll, but I'll hold off on writing it here.

Let's backup for a second.

Candidates A and B have spent $15 to 20 million attacking each other over a relatively compressed timeframe. They are doing so in a state that was born with a frontier individualism and which then re-emerged after Reconstruction deeply ingrained in the state's fiber a distrust of politicians. Meanwhile, in the rest of the nation, Americans are angry at politicians. The economy is bad, and incumbent politicians do not seem to be paying attention. People want to "throw the bums out."

Candidate C is an outsider. Candidate C is running as an outsider, while Candidates A and B have held political office for the last two decades. Candidate C attaches herself to a movement which is small, but has a very dedicated core. What they lack in number, they make up for in noise and are fully ready to start an echo chamber. Candidate C presents herself fairly well at 2 debates, where Candidates A and B ignore her in order to attack each other. Now Candidate C receives glowing coverage from the state's media (who is tired of both A and B).

Are we really surprised if Medina can get to 20% in a mere poll? It's easier to press a button on a telephone poll as a protest vote than as an actual vote. But now the media has to stop writing fawning puff pieces, candidates A and B might have reasons to attack, and people will get an actual idea of who Debra Medina is. As I've already said, Debra Medina 2010 = Ron Paul 2008.

Posted by Evan @ 02/09/10 04:38 PM | Comments (0)        


PPP: White 49, Shami 19

PPP (D), 2/4-2/7, 400 likely Dem primary voters
Margin of Error

White 49
Shami 19

I'd caution that Dem primary polling in Texas has not been very reliable in the last decade. The sample here was only 32% Hispanic, which I assume is a signficant underweighting. For example, they had 2006 Lt Guv nominee Alvarado at 5% and Aguado at 2%. I'd be willing to bet that they poll over 7% cumulatively.

Edit: My expectation is that they poll at multiples of 7% cumulatively, just to be clearer.

Posted by Evan @ 02/09/10 11:52 AM | Comments (0)        


PPP: Perry +11

Democratic polling firm PPP released a poll today showing Perry leading by 11.

PPP (D), 2/4-2/7
423 LVs, +/- 4.8% margin of error

Perry 39
KBH 28
Medina 24

According to their poll, among self-identified conservatives:
Perry 42
Medina 25
Hutchison 23

They asked Medina supporters who their second choice was, and it split 43-39 Perry, so Medina is drawing pretty evenly from Perry and KBH in this poll.

Posted by Evan @ 02/09/10 11:47 AM | Comments (0)        


Power in the TDP

A few weeks ago, Roll Call reported on the interconnected Washington fundraising groups that all go through Matt Angle. You might remember him as the guy who spearheaded the push to take down Tom DeLay...at the same time that he was using DeLay-style fundraising tactics.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars that will ultimately end up funding state, federal and local campaigns for Texas Democrats this year will first churn through a nondescript row house on Capitol Hill that serves as headquarters for a tight network of organizations dedicated to electing Democrats in the Lone Star State.

At the center of the operation is Matt Angle, the former chief of staff for ex-Rep. Martin Frost (D-Texas), who can reach into the checkbook of an organization he runs and make a donation to another organization he runs, pay rent to himself as a landlord, hire himself as a consultant, and employ a handful of friends, party activists and longtime Frost allies.

For example: According to state and federal campaign records, the Lone Star Fund (Treasurer Matt Angle) pays rent to E St. Properties for use of the Capitol Hill row house (owned by Matt Angle), pays Angle & Associates Inc. for consulting services (about $100,000 between 2004 and 2007) and has donated about $20,000 to the Texas Democratic Trust (Treasurer Matt Angle). The Texas Democratic Trust since 2005 has paid Angle & Associates more than $1.2 million for consulting services, travel reimbursements and rent, and it pays retainers as much as $7,000 a month to a variety of political consultants and researchers who also work for the Texas Democratic Party, the Lone Star Trust or other affiliated organizations.

The trust is also a major supporter of the Texas Democratic Party. As of last June, the trust had donated more than $3.7 million to the Democratic Party and another $800,000 to the Democratic research and organizing entity Texas Progress Council.

Go read the whole thing. I quoted an extended passage solely to argue that you should read the whole thing.

Angle has essentially become the center of the Texas Democratic Party, as you can tell from this article. He convinced much of the trial lawyers to donate through the organizations that he created. He basically controls the Texas Democratic Party since he holds the pursestrings through $3.7M that those groups have donated to the party. Using the same pool of money, he can recruit candidates with promises of campaign funding.

To wit, the recruitment of lt gov candidate Linda Chavez-Thompson:

Party leaders gathered in Austin last month to brainstorm on promising candidates for the lieutenant governor's race. They had initially approached state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, but she said she declined.

Someone suggested Chavez-Thompson, and before long, her friends and associates began a full-court press to persuade her.

Strategists dropped by her home and made their case. Pollsters broke down the numbers for her. Prominent politicians such as former state Comptroller John Sharp and state Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin, urged her to run.

Immediately after the filing deadline, Angle's organization endorsed Chavez-Thompson.

I've heard from some upset Democrats, because they view Chavez-Thompson's recruitment as having echoes of 2002's "Dream Team" AND hanging Ronnie Earle out to dry.

Posted by Evan @ 02/09/10 11:36 AM | Comments (0)        


Stick a fork in Shami

I think it's an open question as to whether Farouk Shami can be one of the factors that force a runoff in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, but I can't see any way that he ends up with the nomination. I think that was fairly likely all along, but I think we can feel pretty certain about it now.

I reviewed his campaign ads, and they're ok. But they don't exactly strike me as the sort of ads that win a Democratic primary. If anything they seemed aimed at the general more than the primary.

Nor does the fact that he's only in favor of legalized abortion in the first trimester, and repeated it a few times in last night's debate. Perhaps the bigger problem was that he didn't even seem to realize that Democratic primary voters aren't going to like that. And in fact, that seemed to happen a few times in last night's debate. And criticizing Democrats here and there isn't likely to be an effective tactic either.

Combine that with the campaign gaffes, and let's just make it official: he's not going to win the nomination. Running for office is hard and it's a skill he hasn't mastered.

Posted by Evan @ 02/09/10 10:59 AM | Comments (0)        


Perry: Use unmanned drone airplanes on the border


Posted by Evan @ 02/09/10 10:42 AM | Comments (0)        


Could be either one really

Is it Linda Chavez-Thompson's campaign plan or an Amway presentation?

Posted by Evan @ 02/09/10 09:16 AM | Comments (0)        


Perry ad "Tough Decisions"

I think I've seen this ad before in this campaign, but I guess he's ahead so there's no reason to do anything crazy.

Posted by Evan @ 02/09/10 09:13 AM | Comments (0)        


08 February 2010

Beldar on White

Beldar, nom de plume of Houston lawyer Bill Dyer, analyzes the gubernatorial contest. Though I hope it won't surprise you, dear reader, that I prefer my own analysis, he does tell a better story than I do.

Although he's unconventional in many respects, Bill White is the most viable and attractive candidate the Dems have run for any state-wide Texas office in quite some time. I know Bill reasonably well: He was the editor in chief of the Texas Law Review in 1978-1979, one year ahead of the editorial board on which I served. A few years later when I was at Baker Botts, I was heavily recruited by him and his then-law partners at Susman Godfrey. I like him and I respect him. Bill is industrious and just wicked smart -- as smart as anyone I've ever met, period.

Thus, I’m one of many conservative and Republican Houstonians who happily voted for Bill for mayor twice. I wish him well in life. I’m grateful for the good he's done. Yet I will not vote for him for any state-wide or national office -- precisely because he is indeed a devoted member of the Democratic Party.

White was a cabinet undersecretary (Energy) in the Clinton Administration, and he's now running for a place on the political ticket (Dems) that hasn't won a contested race in a Texas state-wide election since the early 1990s. I believe he'd govern as a progressive Democrat at either a state or national level, in a way that Houston's local politics simply wouldn't have permitted him, or anyone, to do as mayor. And I just have no confidence that he would — or would even want to — stand up against the leaders of the national Democratic Party; I just can't see him defying the national party line on anything important.

I think this highlights Bill White's problem. If he wants to win, he's going to need to convince Texans that he's less than a standard issue nationl Democrat. It sounds like he's not convincing the folks that know him personally. Which, perhaps isn't too surprising if he's emphasizing to reporters how liberal he grew up.

Posted by Evan @ 02/08/10 02:04 PM | Comments (1)        


Christy Hoppe writes up Sarah Palin's stumping for Perry in Cypress.

From a tactical perspective, would you rather have HW Bush's endorsement or Palin's?* Let's put it this way: I don't think HW is going to draw 8000 people.

* For the record, I think maybe the only photo I've ever taken with a politician was with HW in early 2000.

Posted by Evan @ 02/08/10 11:52 AM | Comments (0)        


Kay's Super Bowl ad

I didn't see this during the game. If you watched the Super Bowl with other people, you probably didn't even notice the ad as it doesn't leap out and grab your attention...unless you are someone who watches the Super Bowl for the ads that is.

The concept was good, but I think it was pretty easy to miss some of the attacks on Perry. Until I watched it the second time for this post, I missed them. Even people who paid half-attention might have missed the whole concept. There were some Perry signs way off in the background, but I would've tried to make the concept crystal clear from the start.

Kay's team has now dropped some pretty significant portion of their media budget on two spots: the national championship game signs ad (with Go Horns addition) and now the Super Bowl ad. It seems to me that if you're going to do that, you should try to go for gamechanging spots. The concept for the national championship game ad had the potential to do that (though it obviously didn't), but this ad didn't.

I was going to comment that this is a philosophical difference between the campaigns: Rick's team generally microtargets, whereas Kay is willing to drop the big bucks for the mass marketing approach. I'd tend towards microtargeting, but then I realized it could be a strategical difference. If Kay's goal were to expand the primary electorate, then mass marketing could be more relevant.

Except that Kay hasn't really been running an expand the electorate campaign, has she?

PS. How much do you think they laughed about naming the characters in the ad after Rick's campaign team?

Posted by Evan @ 02/08/10 11:46 AM | Comments (0)        


I was born in Texas.

I'm not ashamed to admit it. Apparently, that makes me a racist.

Posted by Evan @ 02/08/10 11:26 AM | Comments (0)        


Shami vs White tonight

Farouk Shami and Bill White will have their only debate tonight at 7 pm in Fort Worth. You can watch them live on the interwebs.

Posted by Evan @ 02/08/10 08:26 AM | Comments (0)        


Jay Cost Owns

Sometimes I think about commenting more on national politics. But then Jay Cost writes things like today's post and I remember that there is no analyst more cogent.

Posted by Evan @ 02/08/10 08:07 AM | Comments (0)        


07 February 2010

White: Perry is going to beat Hutchison

Bill White is predicting publically that Perry will beat Hutchison.

Posted by Evan @ 02/07/10 12:24 PM | Comments (0)        


05 February 2010

Friday ads

Kay Bailey on reducing abortion

This ad seems a month too late. At this point late in the race, she's trying to explain/obfuscate an issue like abortion?

Perry's camp says Hutchison's been taking lots of expensive first-class flights on the taxpayers' dime when she could've flown Southwest.

It was a pretty good spot. It seemed like all those newspaper clips were from 2000 though...and while I was watching this, I thought, "if voters were going to be convinced by this, wouldn't it have worked one of the first few times?"

Bill White

This ad is a million times better than Bill White's first ad, which has gotten worse everytime I think about it. Truthfully, I would've found some better pictures though.

Posted by Evan @ 02/05/10 04:36 PM | Comments (1)        


04 February 2010

What are Bill White's chances?

In a commentary on one of my posts, the Rick vs Kay blog writes:
I think almost any Republican... even a yellow lab... could beat any Democrat for governor in Texas this year. Once Rick's peeps ran some ads against Bill White... and he is probably a richer target than even Kay... Bill White would also fall into the Chris Bell category...

Bill White is not Chris Bell. Chris Bell was a perennial candidate who got elected to Congress by cutting a backroom deal to endorse Lee Brown, but then lost his own re-election primary by 2-1. He failed to convince even the Democratic establishment that he had a chance, and thus couldn't raise any money.

Gubernatorial races are also distinctly less partisan than federal races. You're more likely to see Republicans wins in blue states (and vice-versa) for governor's mansions than for senate races. That's because federal races more often turn on hotbutton issues. "Socialization of healthcare"/"privatization of Social Security"/abortion on the federal level are significantly more polarizing than issues like education on the state level.

In other words, RvK's statement sounded overconfident to me. So I checked some election results. Specifically, I wanted to find gubernatorial elections where a party won the governor's mansion in 1) a hostile political environment in 2) a non-friendly state or a swing state. I chose 2002 and 1994 as good GOP years, and 2006 and 2008 as good Dem years.

Good GOP years
Democrats picked up Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Tennessee. All were open seats.

Democrats picked up Alaska (3rd party candidate split GOP vote), held Nevada, Florida, Arkansas, Georgia, Nebraska, Colorado.

Good Dem years
2008 = GOP holds Vermont, Indiana

2006 = GOP holds California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota

There were no defeats of incumbent governors on that list, except for 1994 in Alaska, which was due to a split in the GOP vote. And, by the way, if you were criticizing 2002 as an example of a strong GOP year, you're right: it wasn't that favorable to the GOP.

I expected to find more examples of Republicans winning governorships in difficult states during difficult cycles for them. After all, Republicans held Mass for a long time...but it turns out that those races where Republicans won governorships in blue to purple states were not in very difficult climates. And likewise with Democrats, when they actually won difficult races in red to purple states, they were generally not in favorable climates for the GOP. 2002, for example, really wasn't a very favorable GOP environment, but still, the Democrats didn't actually defeat any incumbents in non-blue states. If you used 2004, the Democrats did pick up Montana, in an open seat election where the incumbent governor retired after having approval ratings in the 20s.

Why am I mentioning this?

First, a caveat: I think it's important to put too much importance into election results on specific questions like this. It's a very small sample size, and can thus be misleading.

However, even with the caveat, this data shouldn't be too surprising. It's hard to win elections in states where the partisan balance is against you, especially in a difficult political environment. Texas is still a red state. We haven't had a Democratic statewide officeholder in over a decade. California, by comparison's sake, has never had nearly the monolithic one party domination of its statewide officeholders that Texas has. Demographics are changing, of course, but Republicans still have a sizeable structural advantage.

It is possible that the political environment will turn less toxic for Democrats. And sometimes black swans occur that will change the president's approval ratings, eg. 9/11. It certainly can't get too much worse than losing Ted Kennedy's seat, and even with that, Rasmussen has White only 10 points behind.

All of this is not to say that Bill White doesn't have strengths; he does. He is what I'd term a corporatist; he likes big business, and as Mayor of Houston, he did whatever possible to try to win over the big business establishment. By and large, he succeeded. As a result, he will be well-funded. He's already proven he can raise money.

Bill White is also the kind of guy that the Texas media establishment loves to love. He's a Harvard, Texas Law guy who was a trial lawyer, worked for Bill Clinton and then started an oil company (which hasn't been successful) before being picked to run the holding company of a rich Lebanese family. He's successful, educated, and can project the moderate image that the establishment likes. The Houston Chronicle is a Bill White sycophant (leading Cory Crow -- not a Republican -- to memorably term the Chron "Mrs. White"). The Texas media isn't exactly in love with Rick Perry (assuming he wins); you can pretty much guarantee favorable coverage for White.

White's not a bad candidate. While not a first-tier challenger, he will run a smart race, being careful to put distance between himself and national Democrats. All told, I'd put White's chances of being governor in 2011 as about 18% right now. 1 in 6 ain't too bad, but that 18% chance is almost entirely due to the political environment improving for Democrats over the next 9 months.

Posted by Evan @ 02/04/10 03:52 PM | Comments (0)        


Going back to the past: Coke Stevenson

LBJ biographer Robert Caro answering his critics in 1991 about why he painted Coke Stevenson in such glowing terms.

Posted by Evan @ 02/04/10 12:32 PM | Comments (0)        


03 February 2010

Debra Medina 2010 = Ron Paul 2008

Why the calamity in the media? Medina is 2010's version of Ron Paul running for president. Yeah, she picks up the Ron Paul crowd plus the protest vote, but there's a ceiling on her candidacy. A large percent of Republicans aren't going to vote for a candidate who pledges not to support the Republican nominee.

A few weeks ago I believe I said I'd bet anyone that Medina be under 12% on election day. I still think that's a fairly safe bet.

Posted by Evan @ 02/03/10 05:25 PM | Comments (2)        


New Rasmussen general election poll

A few minutes after I posted that Rick Perry is now the strongest general election candidate, Rasmussen has now released his own general election poll.

Perry 48
White 39
Other 5
Not Sure 3

Hutchison 49
White 36
Other 7
Not Sure 7

Medina 41
White 38
Other 6
Not Sure 16

Posted by Evan @ 02/03/10 10:05 AM | Comments (0)        


Perry is a better election candidate than KBH

Perhaps this is already obvious, but I think I'll say it anyway: Rick Perry is now the most electable candidate in the Republican primary.

Kay Bailey Hutchison went into the primary as the stronger general election candidate, albeit with an asterisk that we needed to see some proof that her campaign skills hadn't atrophied since her last real race in 1993. Her advantages were clear: a long-time reputation as a moderate, the highest favorables of any Texas politician over a long period of time, and the backing of much of the state's big business and media establishment.

However, during the course of the campaign, Hutchison's favorables have declined. Further, she's muddied up her reputation as a moderate. Meanwhile, her media spots have been widely panned and her debate performances have been lackadaisical. And that's not even mentioning minor failures like her campaign announcement. It's no surprise that the last Rasmussen poll essentially had her running even with Perry against White.

No Message
After watching this primary season, I have zero confidence in KBH to put together a coherent message. She's literally been thinking about running for governor against Rick Perry for 9 years, yet she has no message. None. I don't get the impression that she thought about what she wanted to do as governor before running; if she has, she hasn't really given us any clue as to what exactly that would be. What would she focus on? I don't know. And if she does have a message, then she's failed at articulating it.

Instead, it seems like we're seeing a Kitchen Sink strategy: throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. While it's possible that she has simply failed strategically during the primary and can still put together a winning message in the general campaign, it seems significantly less likely.

KBH won her senate seat in a crazy multi-candidate special election; the runoff was against an appointed senator (appointed senators have a horrible record winning re-election) in what was becoming a red state at a favorable time for the GOP while Clinton was unpopular. After beating Ronnie Earle's indictment against her in 1994, she has faced nominal opposition only. [Full disclosure: I remember nothing about her race for treasurer two decades ago.] She's proven that she can use her approval ratings and fundraising to avoid opponents, but hasn't really proven (and especially not recently) that she can win a 1 on 1 competition against a non-token Democrat.

Have Perry's opponents been better? For sure, Chris Bell was an underwhelming candidate, who by his own admission would have been outperformed by a corpse. Even the 2006 general, however, was higher profile than any of KBH's opponents since the special election. While Tony Sanchez is largely panned by Texas Democrats now, he spent $70 million or so in 2002 trying to take Perry down and came up completely short. Meanwhile, Perry ran a solid race against John Sharp in 1998. He's had more meaningful opponents and has proven he can win in the general election.

In sum, I think Kay Bailey has already lost much of the advantages she would have brought to the general election. Going into the race, we knew she had a popular image, but outside of being a moderate, it wasn't a very defined image. Given that she hasn't run a competitive campaign in 15 years and that her primary campaign has been an absolute messaging and performance disaster, we have to have some skepticism about the current state of her campaign skills. I think most Dems still want to run against Perry, but I think they are about 6 months behind the times.

Posted by Evan @ 02/03/10 09:53 AM | Comments (0)        


02 February 2010

Money totals, 30 days out

The 30 days before the election campaign finance reports are out.

Rick Perry
$735k raised
$1.9M spent
$10.5M cash on hand

Kay Bailey Hutchison
$270k raised
$3.4M spent
$10M cash on hand

Debra Medina
$146k raised
$108k spent
$68k cash on hand

The Dem reports are not yet available online, so I'll have to trust Matt Stiles:

Bill White
$755k raised
$209k spent
$6.4M cash on hand

Farouk Shami
$3k raised
$1M spent
$1M cash on hand

A few quick thoughts:

1. Hutchison dropped in the polls while spending $3.4M against Perry's $1.9M. Ouch.

2. Shami spent $1M after spending $3M up to this point. If he is going to spend $10M as he's promises, that means we've got at least $6 million in Shami ads coming in the next month.

3. White was the slight winner for the fundraising period.

4. I see it occasionally remarked that the GOP winner is hurt by a primary, and I've already written on the topic. However, I think it's slightly more likely that Bill White sustains any damage by having to spend for a primary. I just can't ever see Perry or KBH lacking for funds. I can see Bill White lacking for funds -- possible, though not very likely -- because he has to prove he has a chance at winning, assuming he wins the primary.

Posted by Evan @ 02/02/10 08:01 PM | Comments (1)        


As if on cue, hours after I posted my criticism of Richard Murray's assessment of the Democratic primary, he again posted on the subject.

I'll probably offer some thoughts when I have more time, but I thought it was fair to note that he posted again.

Posted by Evan @ 02/02/10 07:39 PM | Comments (0)        


Rasmussen: Perry lead at 15, runoff possible

2/1 Rasmussen poll, 538 likely primary voters

Perry 44
Hutchison 29
Medina 16
Not sure 11

Possibly the more important number would be the job approval number"
74% Approve (18% strongly)
25% Disapprove (9% strongly)

For trend purposes, here are the 1/17 results, with numbers in parenthesis from the Nov poll.

Perry 43 (46)
Hutchison 33 (35)
Medina 12 (4)
Undecided 11 (14)
Perry had a 68% job approval in the 1/17 poll.

Posted by Evan @ 02/02/10 04:12 PM | Comments (0)        


01 February 2010

On the Democratic primary

I've been meaning to comment on ABC13 political analyst Richard Murray's "assessing Bill White's chances in the March Democratic Gubernatorial contest" for awhile. His conclusion that Bill White is likely to win seems reasonable. He provides 6 reasons:

1. White has name ID in Houston.
2. Other than White and Shami, the other 5 have no money.
3. White has only Shami to beat.
4. Self-funders frequently lose.
5. Bill White can raise money.
6. Bill White is good at campaigns.

If I were teaching a college class, and a student turned this analysis in, I'd give them a D+. Yes, it's pretty bad.

Of course Bill White is likely to win the Democratic nomination, but most importantly he is favored because he has the backing of the Democratic establishment. I can't think of a single endorsement Shami has gotten or is likely to get that brings votes. Bill White is the former chair of the Texas Democratic Party. He worked for Clinton. He's raised money for lots of Democrats currently in office, so it's not surprising that they will endorse him. Union leaders remember him as party chair, so they'll endorse him (I seem to recall Shami recently complaining that a union didn't even give him a chance to compete for their endorsement). Local Democratic county chairs will endorse White and tell their friends. And so on and so forth. All of this generally has a pretty significant effect in politics.

Now let's turn to Murray's stated reasons, since they do not provide much support to his conclusion. #1 is indisputable, but lacks context. How much of the Dem primary vote is the Houston metro region? Murray didn't tell us, but my back of the envelope calculation suggests that it is only about 20%. So, White starts out with a fairly small advantage in name ID. Yet I would guess that the CHI has a favorable name recognition as high as that, so if Shami can establish Farouk Shami = inventor of the Chi, he's probably not as far behind in name ID as it might seem. If my group of female friends is any example, there's a pretty dedicated fanbase for Shami's invention.

2 and 3 are self-evident. 5 is a truism, and 6 is Murray's opinion based on a sample size of...one competitive race. And that race was almost 7 years go against Orlando Sanchez and Sylvester Turner. Yes, both those candidates had already run for mayor once and lost; they were, it could be argued, re-tread candidates. Frankly, neither ran a good 2003 mayoral campaign -- Sanchez essentially mailed it in, but still made the runoff. And Sylvester Turner shocked me and failed to even make the runoff.

As to self-funders frequently losing, Murray states that "big personal spenders lose three times out of four on average." You see the problem with that right? If you said, "compared to what?" then you win. Yes, big personal spenders frequently lose, but if you compare them to non-big personal spending first time candidates, they have an amazing record at running for office.

Are many self-funders weak candidates? Yes. But more often, they are not backed by the establishment and thus lack tradiotional party support and name ID. To even hope to be competitive, they have to outspend the career politician. And, it appears that Shami will outspend White. Now there is a rapid decline in the marginal effectiveness of campaign spending once you get to a certain point, but in the end, Shami probably will have the name ID advantage.

As I finished writing this post, I read Karl-Thomas Musselman's commentary at BOR on Murray's post. It was significantly better, and is worth reading.

Murray goes on to speculate that Shami is a "stalking horse" for Perry, and that only by running a positive campaign will Shami show that he isn't a stalking horse.

But of course, Murray knows that if you are Shami, you are up against the establishment's pick. Shami must define Bill White, because he is up against the establishment. He's not going to win by running bio spots, he's going to have to go over the heads of the establishment and appeal directly to rank-and-file Democratic primary voters. In short, if Shami doesn't attack, he loses. If Shami doesn't define Bill White as an insider career politician...he loses. It's not rocket science.

And truly, this has been done before by a candidate who seemingly had less advantages than Shami has. Obviously, I'm thinking of Victor Morales in both 1996 and 2002. In 1996, schoolteacher and first time candidate Morales beat the Congressmen John Bryant and Jim Chapman to be the Dem's Senate nominee. And in 2002, Morales led Houston Congressman Ken Bentsen and Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk in the primary election before losing to Kirk in the runoff. And hey, even Gene Kelly managed to be the Dems' Sen nominee in 2000 and push Radnofsky into a runoff in 2006...without doing any campaigning, even as Radnofsky campaigned for a year and had the backing of the entire Democratic establishment.

In other words, very recent history suggests that the backing of the Democratic party establishment may not actually be very valuable, although it's important to note that the Dem-establishment backed gubernatorial candidates won in both 2006 and 2002 without runoffs. So the data suggests that the establishment is able to provide more support in gubernatorial primaries.

I have not seen any of Shami's ads, which seems to be the biggest factor. The fact that Bill White went up on the air today seems to indicate to me that he is worried about losing the primary. Otherwise I would assume that he would be more likely to conserve his money for the general election. I bet two things: that White has polling numbers that worry him, and that the original plan was not to go on the air on Feb 1.

Murray's post seems less like political analysis and more like Bill White cheerleading. And hey, cheerleading is ok, but let's not cheerlead under the guise of political analysis.

Posted by Evan @ 02/01/10 01:10 PM | Comments (1)        


Bill White's first ads

Frankly, I wouldn't put Bill White in front of the camera for 25 of the 30 seconds of the ad, especially for the first one. And that facial expression on "we can't afford to stand still" is...strange.

Spanish version:

I thought his accent could use some work. It wasn't exactly the same ad, more a "I'm Bill White, I was born in San Antonio, my parents were teachers, education is the most important subject for our future, let's give our kids the schools they deserve." Actually, that's the script almost verbatim.

Hat tip to Phillip Martin.

Posted by Evan @ 02/01/10 11:44 AM | Comments (0)        


The nativist wing of the Democratic Party?

Dave Montgomery, FWST:

An East Texas Democratic Party county chairman told gubernatorial candidate Farouk Shami in an e-mail that he is wasting his time running for governor because "nobody is going to vote for anyone named Farouk" in today’s post-9-11 political climate.

J. Larry Davis, chairman of the Anderson County Democratic Party, said he made the comments to Shami, a Palestinian-American who founded a billion-dollar hair care empire, as a realistic assessment of what he said are "redneck" attitudes in deep East Texas. He said there was "nothing racist at all" intended by the message.

I'm not sure it helps Democrats to have local party functionaries calling voters racists, even if done subtly.*

Meanwhile, Shami has fired back** by saying:

I am more Texan than [Bill White] could ever be.
Slampo's commentary on the issue made me laugh.

* Perhaps Mr. Davis was suggesting the idea that voters like to vote for someone like them -- I expressed a version of this idea when I mentioned my surprise that Shami's signs say Farouk and not Shami on them -- but the "voting for someone like me" that voters often have is made up of all factors. Name is only a part of that. Davis' comments seem unarticulate if we charitably assume that this is what he wanted to say.

** I'm not sure what the exact timing is, but Shami was surely trying to pre-empt the talk about his name.

Posted by Evan @ 02/01/10 11:26 AM | Comments (0)        


It seems to me that one of the criticisms of Perry has been cronyism. He must not do it very well, since even the TTC builder has decided to support KBH.

Posted by Evan @ 02/01/10 11:15 AM | Comments (0)        


Kinky is weird

Jessica Meyers does the DMN's Kinky running for Ag Commish piece.

The entertainer – characterized by his signature cigar, black hat and wry one-liners – has given the agriculture commissioner race sudden allure. A gubernatorial candidate in 2006 and briefly last year, the author-musician says he's found his niche as a Democratic commissioner candidate.

He drops lines like "no cow left behind," and he's subbing his typical cigar shop visits for university talks and lecturing on sustainable fuels and organic farming. He's even snagged former Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower as an adviser.

"He has a genuine interest in being an elected official, but I don't know what the motivation is for this position," said Laura Stromberg, Friedman's press secretary in the 2006 governor race. "I don't think he has come out with anything that shows he learned something in the first race, no new ideas, nothing really bold."

So, he's run for local office as a Republican, for governor as a high-profile independent, and now a downballot statewide race as a Democrat after bombing as a potential Democratic candidate for governor...oh, and if he meets the requirements that Texas law requires to be Ag Commish, it's only on a technicality. Yeah, sounds like a great plan.

Like other folks, it seemed part of Kinky's original run was to sell books. And there was at least some plausible opening for him to be governor, I suppose. But running this time won't attract the same media attention to sell books, and he seems as likely as not to lose the Dem primary. I don't get it.

Posted by Evan @ 02/01/10 10:57 AM | Comments (0)        


More Greg Mankiw, less Ron Paul please

I noticed that both Texas' senators voted against Bernanke getting another term. As I said before, I think it's an irresponsible vote.

It compromises the independence of the Fed, which leads to more inflation. It gives rise to turbulence in the markets, which isn't something the government should be promoting in these days. But most importantly, is there any chance that Obama would appoint someone better? Absolutely zero.

I wonder how many of the votes against Bernanke would still have been "nay" if they were the deciding vote. Not many, it seems that many of those nay votes indicated. So it's essentially a protest vote. And while there's certainly plenty to protest in TARP and foolhardy stimulus packages, I hardly see how voting against Bernanke solves that or improves what has already happened.

While I'm often critical of Democrats' Keynesian approach to having the federal government attempt manage the economy, Carter, Clinton, and Obama have so far made intelligent choices with regards to the Fed Chair. Democrats making good economic decisions? That's something Republicans should support.

Posted by Evan @ 02/01/10 10:46 AM | Comments (0)        


Farouk Shami couldn't name the comptroller, the AG, or his own reps in state government.

On the other hand, he could name the size of the state budget. That does seem a bit more relevant.

Posted by Evan @ 02/01/10 10:33 AM | Comments (0)        


High School Civics question

If George W. Bush were to endorse a candidate, how much would it matter for each candidate?

Posted by Evan @ 02/01/10 08:53 AM | Comments (0)        



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