Friday, July 03, 2020

Friday Lone Star Round Up: Reds have the Blues, #MaskUpTexas, die from COVID or by HPD, etc.

Let's begin with something other than the latest broken news.

Larry Sabato offers more enthusiasm for Congressional Donkey hopefuls in the fall, presented as a frantically waved caution flag and a blaring red alert.

Tellingly, of 18 Texas polls in the RealClearPolitics database matching Biden against Trump dating back to early last year, Trump has never led by more than seven points -- in a state he won by nine in 2016. It seems reasonable to assume that Trump is going to do worse in Texas than four years ago, particularly if his currently gloomy numbers in national surveys and state-level polls elsewhere do not improve.

In an average of the most recent polls, Trump leads by two points in Texas. In 2018, Sen. Ted Cruz won re-election over then-Rep. Beto O’Rourke by 2.6 points. If Trump were to win Texas by a similar margin this November, the congressional district-level results probably would look a lot like the Cruz-O’Rourke race. Those results are shown in Map 1 (see larger version at original link).

Cruz carried 18 districts to O’Rourke’s 16. That includes the 11 districts the Democrats already held in Texas going into the 2018 election, as well as the two additional ones where they beat GOP incumbents (TX-7 and TX-32) and three additional districts that Republicans still hold. Those are TX-23, an open swing seat stretching from San Antonio to El Paso; Rep. Michael McCaul’s TX-10, an Austin-to-Houston seat; and TX-24, another open seat in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.

TX-23 is competitive primarily because it’s two-thirds Hispanic, and it already leans to the Democrats in our ratings. TX-10 and TX-24 better fit the suburban mold: both have significantly higher levels of four-year college attainment than the national average (particularly TX-24), and Republican incumbents in both seats nearly lost to unheralded Democratic challengers in 2018.

Cruz won the remaining districts, but several of them were close: TX-2, TX-3, TX-6, TX-21, TX-22, TX-25, and TX-31 all voted for Cruz by margins ranging from 0.1 points (TX-21) to 5.1 (TX-25). These districts all have at least average and often significantly higher-than-average levels of four-year college attainment, and they all are racially diverse.

In other words, these districts share some characteristics of those that have moved toward the Democrats recently, even though they remain right of center.

This is all a long preamble to an alarming possibility for Republicans: If Biden were to actually carry Texas, he might carry many or even all of these districts in the process. In a time when ticket-splitting is less common than in previous eras of American politics (though hardly extinct), that could exert some real pressure on Republicans in these districts.

We already have several of these districts included in our House ratings (see Table 2 at original). But we are moving four additional ones from Safe Republican to Likely Republican: Reps. Dan Crenshaw (TX-2), Van Taylor (TX-3), Ron Wright (TX-6), and Roger Williams (TX-25). They join Rep. John Carter (TX-31) in the Likely Republican category.

To be clear, we don’t really see any of them in immediate danger, and they certainly can and probably will run ahead of Trump in their districts, just like they all ran ahead of Cruz in 2018 (they also likely will have the kind of resource edges that can help make this happen). The same can be said of Sen. John Cornyn at the statewide level, who appears to be doing better than Trump in polls (although that may not last in the end).

Trump’s Texas sag in 2016 didn’t immediately imperil any Texas Republican U.S. House members, except for retiring Rep. Will Hurd in the perpetually swingy TX-23; it took the 2018 midterm, when Trump’s unpopularity led to big House losses for Republicans, to make many of these districts much more competitive. So it’s possible that Biden could do really well, but not have strong enough coattails in these and other similar kinds of districts. We also still like Trump’s chances in Texas, despite the close polls.

However, if that changes -- and if Biden wins the state without much ticket-splitting -- there could be some unpleasant surprises down the ballot for Republicans in Texas. That could also include control of the Texas state House of Representatives, which might be in play if things get bad enough for Republicans this November.

Redistricting looms for 2021; at the very least, Republicans who currently control state government in Texas may have to dramatically re-draw the map to shore up incumbents whose safe seats have eroded over the course of the decade while also accommodating a few new House seats because of Texas’ explosive growth. For Republicans, their gerrymander after the last census (albeit blunted a little by judicial intervention) made practical political sense, but demographic changes and coalition shifts pushed 20 of the 36 districts to vote more Democratic than the state in the 2018 Senate race.

FWIW I counted the word "Republican", Republicans", or "GOP" in the paragraphs below the map 15 times -- not including named individuals -- compared to four times for the words Democrats or Democratic.  Just in case you weren't familiar with Sabato's bias.  The fear is real and palpable among our Great State Pachyderms, as several of the allegedly smart Congress critters (Pete Olson?) got out early while the gettin' was good.

After the State Republican Executive Committee voted last night, by a 2-1 margin, to proceed with convening in person -- in Houston in two weeks -- the Texas Medical Association withdrew their sponsorship.  It's okay, though; the GOP delegates will be wearing the armor of God.  Which means masks, according to Sylvester Turner ...

... unless Greg Abbott caves again to the right-wing freaks and overrules him.

The game to watch now, all the way into 2022, is the Patrick Anti-Mask Caucus versus the Abbott Tightrope Act.  How easy is it to keep your balance on a razor's edge in a wheelchair?  Probably depends on how much money you can raise.

Okay, that's enough conservative stupidity for the week.

Here is an update on the tragic murder of Army soldier Vanessa Guillen.

Here's some environmental Tweets, embedded in the graf following.  This category has been overshadowed by the more pressing daily topics.  I like this one to open, from across the pond.

If it weren't for government handouts, friends like Ted Cruz shielding them from "harmful legislation" and assorted other favors, it might be time to nationalize the industry and then tax it until it is small enough to drown in a bathtub.  But it's hard to get a true picture of the value of these companies.  They could be so overvalued and poorly managed it might not be worth it to the taxpayers.

Sharon Wilson at Earthworks follows up on Total's plans to frack Arlington, Downwinders at Risk identifies Dallas' air monitoring policy as 'CYA', Big D activists want the city to move 'Shingle Mountain', and Texas Environmental News, the very best aggregator for this topic, brings word of the United Steelworkers' lawsuit against the EPA.

The United Steelworkers, the largest U.S. industrial union, filed a suit in federal court to reverse the weakening of a safety rule implemented during the Obama administration. The Chemical Disaster Rule aimed to reduce risks and improve safety at chemical plants.

The Chemical Disaster Rule set stricter requirements in place for chemical plants. The measure followed an explosion in 2013 in a West, Texas fertilizer plant that killed 15 people, including 12 firefighters. The blast injured many more and damaged more than 500 homes.

In January 2017, before President Donald Trump assumed office, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced several changes to risk management plans companies submit to the EPA. These included requiring more analysis of a company's safety technology, more third-party audits, incident investigation analyses and stricter emergency preparedness mandates.

After President Trump took office, a coalition of chemical and energy industry groups, including the American Chemistry Council and American Petroleum Institute, submitted a petition to the EPA to delay and reconsider the Obama-era amendments.

The new rule, finalized in November 2019, eased requirements that chemical plant owners consider safer alternatives to various technologies, obtain third-party audits to verify compliance with accident prevention rules, conduct root cause analyses following incidents, and disclose certain information to communities about their operations. The new rule also delayed the dates of implementation of provisions on coordination with local emergency services and emergency situation exercises.

The new rule comes two years after the EPA sought to suspend the rule. In March 2018, a federal judge reinstated the rule.

Pandemic next.

This story became news after her Tweets went *ahem* viral.

Police department abuse and incompetence is the stench of the week.

We're about to close out a very busy week and head into a long weekend, with the realization that many Americans do not celebrate it in the same way as Anglos, and with few places to go without risk of contracting the plague.

Allen Young in The Rag Blog remembers an image from his childhood -- an obscure moment from 1951 at the United Nations -- that underscores the long US history of racial injustice.

Marking the passing of a renowned Latino author:

And finally ... beaches on Galveston Island are closed this holiday weekend, so read about a time when you would have also feared for your life if you went there.

No comments: