Mike Baselice, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst’s pollster, recently stated that “every Republican candidate with over 43 percent going into a statewide runoff during the last 20 years has gone on to win.” PolitiFact rated this statement as True. Rice University Professor Robert Stein opined in his blog this morning that because of Dewhurst’s 144,422 vote margin in the first round, “A Dewhurst victory in the July 31 runoff election is far from certain, but it is more likely than a Cruz victory . . .”
I had always heard that frequently the second place finisher in the first electoral round went on to win the runoff. U. S. Senate Republican runoffs only happen once a generation in Texas and are sui generis. But with 17 state representative runoffs scheduled for July 31, I was curious whether that adage was statistically true for the Texas House. It is not.
There have been 104 Texas House runoffs since 1992 (Democrat and Republican). In these 10 runoff election cycles over the past 20 years, the first place finisher in the primary general election went on to win the runoff 71 times or 68% of the runoffs.
Damon Runyon in On Broadway had a famous paraphrase of Ecclesiastes 9:11 saying “The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet.” I am betting that Dewhurst wins the runoff.