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


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