Sunday, November 16, 2008

So how'd we do?

Greg took issue with my contention -- I expected to disagree with him -- but the better and still-contradictory analysis is at Trail Blazers and the Texas Observer. First, from Robert T. Garret at the DMN:

Hey, let's start an argument. Did the Democrats' big push in Harris County succeed this year? It all depends on your expectation.

Mine were very high, especially at the end of Election Day, as I sat in the Harris County CCO with Beverly Kaufman and crew and watched the EV returns being tallied.

The bottom line:

If you're a Democrat who thought this year's effort was going to be like the old eyedrops Murine -- and take the red out of Houston -- maybe you should be seeing red.

But if you're a Democrat who was just looking for progress in Harris County -- which until Nov. 4 hadn't voted Democratic in a presidential election since 1964; and in a countywide race, since 1994 -- you could be smiling.

And this take from Matt Angle (a fellow I have disagreed with repeatedly) nails it ...

Democrats won the straight ticket vote by over 40K while losing it by over 40K just 4 years ago.

None of this was an accident or good luck. Democrats worked together, devised a smart and realistic strategic plan and stuck to it. They raised money and spent it strategically, using sophisticated targeting and clear messages. They did not count on an Obama wave but were able to take advantage of the enthusiasm for Obama. They made a clear, strong case that Republican leadership in Harris County had failed.

Harris County Republicans were not caught off guard. They raised and spent more than Democrats. They simply got outworked and outmanuevered.

Harris County has moved from being a Republican County to one where Democrats have a marginal advantage. It will take continued work and commitment by local Dems to grow and lock in this advantage.

And this, from Dave Mann (third entry from the top), is also dead solid perfect:

Lower-than-expected turnout—especially on Election Day—scuttled Democratic hopes for a sweep. The Harris County Democratic Party hoped that 1.3 million voters would cast ballots. And during the early voting period, when more than 726,000 people voted, Democrats seemed well on their way to hitting their turnout targets. Most Democratic candidates led their races in the early voter totals.

But the plan fell apart on Election Day. Not even 450,000 voters turned out on November 4, roughly 200,000 fewer than expected. The GOP dominated among those voters. It was the scenario feared by some Democratic activists, who had worried that the Harris County coordinated campaign wasn’t devoting enough resources to get-out-the-vote efforts. They had few paid organizers focused on ushering voters to the polls.

Harris County is majority Democratic—at least on paper—if only they all voted, says Fred Lewis, who worked on Democratic campaign efforts in Houston. Democrats don’t need to persuade people with advertising. They have enough potential voters. The problem has been low turnout. And it still is.

Mann, like Wythe, doesn't blame any demographic or geographic for it, but there's going to be some devils in those details. And there's always a little room for finger-pointing and recriminations.

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