Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thoughts at the End of the 2008 Election

With the Senatorial race in Minnesota remaining the only undecided race, because of a slow recount process, it’s time to take a minute and think about what the 2008 campaign season and elections mean, and what bodes for the future.

Here in Texas, I’m afraid we still have a southern red state on our hands. Indeed, as revealed by the voter trend map published by the New York Times, Republicans did better than the last election in small pockets of Texas. But the in vast majority of the state, Democrats performed at the same level as in the last election, or actually improved their performance.

The trend is clear. Texas is slowly but surely swinging to blue.

Yes, Democrats won at the top of the ticket (no thanks to Texas), and that is going to affect national policy, but as they say, all politics is local. A win that is truly life-changing is a win at the local level.

And we had one. Precinct 1 voters in Fort Bend County stopped the Republican juggernaut in its tracks as 800 voters decided that Richard Morrison was going to be a better bet in office than former Fort Bend Toll Road Authority Treasurer, Greg Ordineaux. Morrison made the issue of ethics a cornerstone in his campaign, and it appears he will carry on the fight to introduce ethics to county government (at this point, a novel idea in the county). And who knows, if contractors are finally made aware that they cannot buy votes for contracts, they just might bid more competitively. And who knows, that just might save taxpayer dollars. Another novel idea in Fort Bend County.

But for the most part, what we saw statewide and locally was only a slight change in the legislature, but with Republicans holding only a slight edge in the Texas House, 76-74, and a 19-12 margin in the Senate, it should prove to be more of a challenge for Republicans to carry out their agenda this next year.

No, our main victory is that overall we lost most of our races less spectacularly this year. This was not so apparent in nearby Harris County where a significant number of races were won by Democrats. But here in neighboring Fort Bend County, Republicans are still in the majority.


Fort Bend County has gone from a 60-40 county in 2004 to a 51-49 county.

What this tells me is that if the demographic trend continues, Democrats must run a candidate in every available county race in 2010, and must be well-poised to mount an aggressive well-funded campaign á la Harris County’s coordinated campaign.

The last race of the election season underlines the point.

In the SD 17 race, as I mentioned in yesterday’s posting, we saw a possible 5% demographic shift toward the left in a two-year period. Now this is counter-intuitive if you consider that most low turnout elections favor the Republican. Should not, then, the victory margin be at least the same as it usually is in that district? 61-38? Instead, in this low turnout election (12.34%) the historic margin was cut to 56-44.

So we have a very promising trend here in SD 17, a trend that should improve over time.

This brings me to Chris Bell’s election night speech. It was caught on video by one of his staff members, on her camera phone, no less. So I have embedded it below.

By the way, I’ve always thought that this particular staffer had a novel title: Online Instigator. The only online instigators I was aware of until now are the rabble rousers that incite flame wars. Times change.


Anonymous said...

Democrats will only make inroads locally if there is someone compelling at the top of the ticket nationally to draw some of the traditionall Democratic groups to the polls (like President-elect Obama did).

What we witnessed in Sentate District 17 is an example of what will continue to happen locally if there is nothing compelling nationally (or statewide) to draw more of the traditional Democratic groups to the polls.

I'm not sure what will draw these groups to the polls in 2010. Surely not a re-cycled Chris Bell or Nick Lampson.

With all due respect to Richard Morrison, he never would have won without the straight party voting that resulted from the President-elect Obama effect on turn-out.

Hal said...

Beg to differ.

Blaming improvement of Democratic candidate performance in Texas on the Obama Effect does not explain the 2006 mid-term election when the demographic shift in Texas began to show up in the polling. You can also blame increasingly disappointed moderate Republicans who find nothing attractive about their former party.

In 2010 it will be all about the Governor's race.

Anonymous said...

You really think Morrison would have won had Bush not been so unpopular and without the coattails of straight-ticket voting for Obama?

I think not.

Clark Bowers said...

This is a state that is currently run on conservative values. Conservative values that make it the strongest economy in the nation. The Democratic party is at its peak, and its not going to increase in this state. Obama, Reed, Pelosi will a) increase taxation b) increase spending and c) all get so power hungry that the democrats will eventually fall apart at the seems. The same thing happened with the republican party, but due to the democratic partys drama queen like response to everything, then things are going to end nastier and quicker.

Why else is California, New York, Ohio falling apart, and everyone is moving to Texas?? Red Texas? Conservative Texas???

Think about it? Spend less, Tax less, and we are going to stay red.

Anonymous said...

Why isn't this site counting the Olivo's (D) district seat win against Steve Host (R)?

Anonymous said...

Morrison, regardless of party, will make a wonderful addition to the court and bring something they have needed for over a generation, ethical practices. Morrison has also talked more like a true fiscal conservative than any currently serving. Let's get away from the 'borrow and spend bunch' just for once.