Friday, June 13, 2014

Not the numbers so much as the analysis of them

Laying aside the almost requistite harshness of the TexTrib's past record in polling, the poll's methodology (left to others to dissect), and even the fact that early snapshots hardly reveal the final picture... the most recent numbers produced by Jim Henson at UT/TT really don't leave much to quarrel about.

They represent a very accurate portrayal of the base electorate in Texas, IMHO.  Yes, Republicans have anywhere from a 8-14 point advantage in statewide races, and have had that for almost two decades now.  They wax a little in midterms (2010 being a great year for them) and wane a little in presidential election years (2008 and 2012) but that's the generic spread.

The problem this go-round is that Henson wants to be a pundit (like all the rest of us).  Start with his first premise at that link.  There probably isn't anything more obnoxiously wrong than the "resistance is futile" meme from the GOP.

That didn't turn out too well for either the Borg or the Emperor, IIRC.  To quote the underdog: you're gravely mistaken.  Zac Petkanas is correct; Greg Abbott is the weakest candidate the TXGOP could have nominated, and he has demonstrated that ineptitude every time he comes out of hiding and says or does something craven and/or stupid.  Abbott has only the home field advantage.  That's it.

Henson's second postulate ("The statewide Republican advantage survived a divisive primary season just fine") is also false and somewhat laughably so.  His poll was taken between May 30 and June 8, at the crest of the GOP primary runoff results, and concluding just as the RPT was holding their convention in Fort Worth.  You know, the one with the party platform planks that received national notoriety for their undue harshness on immigration reform and reparative therapy and reproductive freedom and a host of other issues.

There isn't enough backlash to those outrages --  from Republicans, mind you -- baked into this poll.  I could go on and eviscerate the other three points he and his polling associate, Joshua Blank, make but you get the picture.  These poll numbers are hardly probative of much of anything beyond the established baseline.

"B-B-But Wendy Davis replaced her campaign manager!", you would sputter if you were a crimson partisan.

True enough...State rep. Chris Turner has been brought on to replace DC darling Karin Johanson.  Not that big a deal.

Turner was Davis’ first choice to manage her bid, said someone close to the campaign, but was initially unavailable due to timing with the legislative session. Washington Democrats had been excited about Johanson, who they saw as an experienced hand who lent credibility to the campaign.

It was, in fact, Johanson's idea.

Johanson took credit for the decision in a farewell email.

“A few weeks ago I suggested to Sen. Davis that she reach out to Rep. Chris Turner to lead the campaign to election day. Chris has managed tough Texas races and as member of the Texas House is respected across the state for his smarts and common sense,” Johanson wrote in an email to the campaign staff, which was forwarded to msnbc by the campaign. “I am proud of what we have all built in this campaign…We have raised more money, have more donors (133,600) and have more volunteers (18,222) than any candidate ever in Texas. We have raised more money than any non-incumbent candidate for Governor in the country. We are organizing voters in every region of the state.”

Though Johanson was a D.C.-based consultant who helped get Tammy Baldwin elected in Wisconsin and spent decades working Democratic politics and with EMILY’s List, Turner is a seasoned Texas consultant and Democratic state representative.

Even if you would rather believe this is campaign spin, I will suggest what I believe is the real reason Johanson decided to leave.

Recently the Davis campaign got into a bit of a spat with the Democratic Governors Association after Johanson criticized the organization for not listing the Texas gubernatorial race as a top targets for Democrats in the 2014 cycle.

"The uninformed opinions of a Washington, DC desk jockey who's never stepped foot in Texas couldn't be less relevant to what's actually happening on the ground," Johanson said.

In response the DGA communications director Danny Kanner said that Texas is a historically difficult state for Democrats to win statewide.

"Governor Shumlin stated the obvious fact that Texas has historically been a tough state for Democrats, but that -- because we have a strong candidate -- we are hopeful about our chances this year," Kanner said.

The DGA isn't going to send millions of dollars to Texas for Wendy -- exactly the opposite in fact, as has traditionally been the case -- but they did not need to be dismissive of the Davis campaign... and Johanson shouldn't have kicked them in the shins when they were.

Anyhow, the worst way this can reasonably be interpreted is as a tempest in a teapot... and the seas are calming.

We're coming off an election just a couple of weeks ago where 1% of registered voters cast a ballot in the D primary runoff.  Three times as many voted Republican, but that's still not saying much.  Obviously this is what Battleground Texas is working hard to change.

It's way too early for any declarative statements about the 2014 election until Texans start paying more attention, and that won't happen until sometime after Labor Day.  Meanwhile, BGTX is performing the Aegean task of building the political infrastructure necessary to break up the Texas monolith.  And that remains a massive work in progress.


Gadfly said...

He is right about VDP ... I don't know what's needed to boost her visibility, but something is.


Turner is a good add as the new Davis manager.

And, as the Cantor primary showed, putting Abbott over a barrel on immigration might be a good tactic.

Greg said...

If Greg Abbott is the weakest candidate the GOP could have nominated and he is kicking Wendy Davis' ass quite handily, what does that say about the state of the Democrats here in Texas? Clearly it is reduced to minor party status along side the Greens and Libertarians.

PDiddie said...

It says, as the post carefully details, the same thing it has always said (which isn't quite the conservative spin you posted).

The TexTrib -- and, I would hazard, any other outfit -- isn't likely to conduct a poll in the run-up to the TDP convention in two weeks, nor in the warm afterglow of it. But if someone does, it would show a significant narrowing of the margins for Republicans. And then they would fall back to the historical trend, with little movement until the fall (unless pictures were made public of Greg Abbott nude with dead girl or a live boy, of course).

It's called momentum, and the RPT has it, and the TDP is trying to take it away (or at least slow its roll).

To be continued.