Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen: Start Your Engines!

To have a political race, you need a finish line and a race course.  We are now close to having both for Texas congressional and legislative seats.  Although a final court order has not been issued (possibly today), it looks like:
  • The finish line for the Texas primary will be May 29 with a July 31 runoff.
  • Filing for all offices will reopen this week on Friday, March 2, and close on Tuesday, March 6.
  • Early voting will begin May 14.
In other words, this will be a drag race instead of the Daytona 500.
A word about the race course.  If you look at it through the prism of the 2008 election results it appears one way; if you view it through the 2010 elections it appears another.  For example, Democrats consider Congressional District 23 held by Congressman Quico Canseco to be a viable pick-up opportunity.  In 2008, Sen. McCain received 49.3% of the vote in CD 23 to 49.9% for President Obama.  However, in 2010 the average percentage of the vote for Republican statewide candidates in CD 23 was 55.39%.  When someone quotes you numbers for a district, make sure you know whether they are referring to 2008 or 2010 election results.  It makes a big difference.
Now, for the pre-race analysis.
The Texas congressional delegation is currently 23 Republicans and 9 Democrats.  The interim map shores up Republican Congressmen Canseco and Farenthold, and in essence splits the 4 new congressional seats as 2 Republican and 2 Democratic.  The Republicans will be favored to have 25 seats after the 2012 elections, and the Democrats 11.
The only seat in partisan contention is SD 10 held by Sen. Wendy Davis.  Essentially, she has the same seat to run in that she won in 2008.  However, it is still a marginally Republican seat.  In 2008, Sen. McCain carried the seat 52.1% to 47.1% over President Obama.
In January 2011, there were 101 Republicans in the Texas House and 49 Democrats.  Under the interim map, my initial reaction is that there will likely be 92 or 93 Republicans elected in 2012.  The Democrats will pick up 8 or 9 seats, but the House will still be overwhelmingly Republican.
Lastly, expect some filing surprises in the next 6 days.  I am hearing that a few incumbents who expected an easy race may find themselves having to burn rubber in the next 89 days!