If Bill King doesn't win, it would be a surprise

On election night I tweeted:

A brief look at recent Houston mayoral elections might make that tweet seem crazy given that the Democratic machine dominates Houston municipal politics.

A couple days later, I started writing a version of this post. I never did finish it, in part because momentum kept shifting to Bill King.

Aside: Rice prof @MarkPJonesTX is definitely worth a follow on Twitter:

A few thoughts:

1. Turner has never shown that he can move beyond his base of voters...and the number of votes he's getting is moving in the wrong direction.

That's definitely not going the right way for Turner, especially considering how much population the city of Houston continues to add every year.

Have we seen anything in this runoff that would convince a voter to switch from repeated votes against Turner to voting for him, despite Sylvester Turner's ethical baggage?

If so, I missed it. King is getting endorsements and fundraising help from Democrats. Heck, Sylvester Turner couldn't even keep Chris Bell neutral!

2. Nationalize and demonize

What worked for Democrats in the last 2 close mayoral elections between R and D was to make it a partisan election where they could nationalize the election and demonize the opposition.

It was easy to do it to Mosbacher - he was a national Republican figure. And Orlando Sanchez willingly brought in national Republican endorsements from George W Bush and Rudy Giuliani. But Democrats scored a nice blow there when Sanchez's campaign couldn't say that Sanchez and Giuliani had ever met.

They haven't been able to make the runoff a partisan election.

Is Bill King even a Republican? I'm not sure - maybe? His writing over the years suggested he was quite willing to criticize both parties. King calls himself an independent.

3. Turner's campaign looks and sounds desperate

Not quantitative by any means, but Turner's campaign looks desperate. Their messaging is all over the place. They are throwing stuff at the wall and hoping something will finally stick.

Turner's campaign has always been very light on policy, but in the runoff it's just all-out personal attacks.

Early in the runoff, Turner seemed to be trying to turn this into a partisan race, but it wasn't working, so he just decided to try slandering King instead. But the attacks so far are weaksauce. They don't like the name of the boat that he sold years ago?

Bottom line:
All of this adds up to one thing: an unhappy Democratic machine on election night. Maybe they can pull the rabbit out of the turnout hat, but at this point I would bet against it.

Posted by Evan @ 12/03/15 03:42 PM


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