How Bill White Can Win

Bill WhiteIt's no secret that Bill White is a pretty long shot to win the gubernatorial race at this point. He's behind 7-11 points, and underdogs at that margin with only two weeks to go in the race almost never come back. Nate Silver's database puts those possibilities in single digits. Of course, that just means that of the polls in Silver's data set, somewhere between 1 in 10 and 1 in 20 candidates came back to win. Hardly rocket science. And there's reason to think that Silver's model overstates White's real chances because I doubt he included a model of the effect of early voting. Texas' early voting, unlike many other states, reduces the chance that a major scandal or gaffe can change the race. And even for a Democratic partisan, the ETF aspersions don't qualify as a major scandal.

Why is Bill White losing?
The best way to answer this is by looking at the respective candidates messages.

Rick Perry's message: Texas has the best economy in the nation because we keep taxes low and balance our budgets. Bill White left Houston bankrupt and scandal-ridden.

Bill White's message: Rick Perry is corrupt and I'm a businessman who will do better in education and healthcare.

Basically, Bill White is running as a generic Democrat. Maybe a generic pro-business Democrat. In Texas, which hasn't elected a single Democrat statewide in 15 years while even blue states Rhode Island and Mass elect Republican governors a few times. And this is likely to be the most Republican year in my lifetime, surprassing 1980 and 1994. Do you see the problem?

Name one area that Bill White disagrees with most Washington, DC Democrats. I can't. Perhaps he does, but he hasn't shown it. He certainly hasn't spent lots of time talking about it. I am 100% sure most likely voters can't identify a single issue.

And considering that his last few jobs have been mayor of Houston, chair of the Texas Democratic Party and working in the Department of Energy under Bill Clinton, you can see why Texans might not be convinced.

What can Bill White do?
Throw the Hail Mary and take a high-risk strategy. Unless he's planning on running for Senate in 2012 (I think he will, but that will be a harder race for him to win than this one), there's no reason not to take a high-risk strategy.

I'd release an ad talking about how he wants to repeal most parts of ObamaCare. It's not a state issue, which is exactly why he should do it.

Is there any chance he'll do it?
Zero. Politicians are risk-averse, even when they shouldn't be. If there were any chance, I probably wouldn't post it.

Would he win even if he did it?
Probably not. See Texas and see very favorable year for Republicans.

Beyond that, he hasn't laid any foundation with his base or with swing voters. Is it believable to swing voters if Bill White all the sudden breaks with his party on a major issue? I doubt it. To date, he hasn't done it or given much inclination of it, besides saying that he's a business man.

What about his base? The Democratic base is already demotivated and White hasn't managed to get them passionate enough about him that he can start freelancing. On the other hand, it's entirely a turnout question; no White supporter is going to go vote for Perry because White says he wants alot of ObamaCare repealed.

Posted by Evan @ 10/15/10 05:24 AM


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are you sure you were here in 1980?

Posted by yara @ 10/17/10 08:28 PM

This Aggie wants Bill White for Texas!

Posted by Aggie2000 @ 10/19/10 12:21 PM

That's legit. Of course, you are commenting from a University of Houston address, which seems to undercut your claim to be an Aggie?

Posted by Rick Perry vs World @ 10/19/10 12:25 PM

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