Monday, June 16, 2014

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance thinks it's the Republican Party of Texas platform writers that need some therapy as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff emphatically reminds us that Greg Abbott owns the RPT platform, no matter how much he may try to avoid the subject.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos asks why bother to address issues of substance that matter to most of us when it is easier to scare voters with hate talk? The Texas GOP unleashes its Hate Genie.

Almost as rare as Haley's Comet, both houses of Congress actually did some WORK this week, overwhelmingly passing legislation to help our veterans get better healthcare. But as Texas Leftist shares, helping our nation's heroes is simply a bridge too far for some over at Fox News.

The latest poll taken of the Texas electorate for the 2014 elections is what it is, just as Texas voters are what they have been for at least twenty years. All it demonstrates is that everybody's work is still cut out for them. But PDiddie at Brains and Eggs cautions everyone not to buy into the "It is inexorable" conservative spin of those numbers.

In the series "What Idiot Would...." Bay Area Houston adds another truth about Greg Abbott in "What Idiot would hide explosive chemicals from the public?"

WCNews at Eye on Williamson tells us we need candidates that can make undecided voters and non-voting Texas see the Texas GOP as extreme and frightening: In Order To Be A Hero, There Has To Be A Villian.

Neil at All People Have Value posted an updated list of ideas and thoughts for everyday resistance to our violent and money-grubbing culture. All People Have Value is part of


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Fascist Dyke Motors continues her story of observing the opposition to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance as it was being passed by City Council.

Scott Braddock reports on negative reactions to the Republican Party platform from Latino GOPers.

LGBTQ Insider laments the harsh homophobia of that same platform, while Lone Star Q identifies the "ex-gay" man behind the reparative therapy plank, and Susan Duty provides some helpful tips to straight people on how to avoid being converted to homosexuality.

Socratic Gadfly noted that Rick Perry hit new depths of cluelessness with regard to homosexuality and alcoholism.

Behind Frenemy Lines reminds Sid Miller that God actually can't make it rain.

jobsanger had a take on the Texas Tribune polls that show Democrats trailing all statewide races by significant margins.

In the Loop reads deeper into the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner exchange.

Grits for Breakfast wonders why we restrict the use of asset forfeiture funds to drug treatment only.

Tar Sands Blockade featured t.e.j.a.s. co-founder Bryan Parras' story about living in the shadow of the refineries where it is processed, and the details of The Healing Walk.

Bluedaze exposes the Mansfield, TX mayor's conflict of interest over fracking in his community.

And finally, the TPA bids a fond and hopefully temporary farewell to In The Pink Texas, whose use of Sleepless in Seattle as a political metaphor remains a classic of the genre.

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.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Abbott 44%, Davis 32%

In third place was "no opinion", with 17%.

“Abbott remains strong and this, in a lot of ways, confirms the strategy that we’ve seen from his camp: Leave well enough alone,” said Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin and co-director of the UT/TT Poll. “The Davis campaign seems to be not able to reverse the trend.”

That's about right.  I don't think this is the reason that Chris Murphy was brought in to replace Karin Johanson, by the way.  But certainly he takes over a campaign that appears to be treading water, for any variety of reasons inside and outside its control.

Dan Patrick is still riding the wave.

In the the race for lieutenant governor, Republican Dan Patrick has the biggest margin in the pack of statewide races, leading Democrat Leticia Van de Putte 41 percent to 26 percent, with 23 percent undecided and the remainder going to third-party candidates and unnamed candidates.

Historical trends holding.

Republican candidates lead in all of the other statewide nonjudicial races, with the number of undecided voters climbing as you go down the ballot:

• U.S. Sen. John Cornyn leads Democrat David Alameel 36 percent to 25 percent in a race where 26 percent of the voters said they have not made up their minds. Rebecca Paddock, a Libertarian, got 5 percent, the Green Party’s Emily Sanchez got 3 percent and 5 percent said they would vote for “someone else.”

• In the race for attorney general, Republican Ken Paxton leads Democrat Sam Houston 40 percent to 27 percent, with 27 percent undecided. Libertarian Jamie Balagia and Green Jamar Osborne each have 3 percent.

• Republican Glenn Hegar leads Democrat Mike Collier 32 percent to 25 percent in the contest for comptroller of public accounts, followed by Libertarian Ben Sanders at 5 percent and Green Deb Shafto at 2 percent. In that race, 37 percent said they had not formed an opinion about their vote.

• In the race for land commissioner, Republican George P. Bush leads Democrat John Cook 36 percent to 25 percent, followed by Justin Knight, a Libertarian, at 6 percent, and Valerie Alessi from the Green Party at 3 percent. Thirty percent of the voters were undecided.

• Republican Sid Miller leads Democrat Jim Hogan by 8 percentage points in the agriculture commission race, with 32 percent to Hogan’s 24 percent. The Green Party’s Kenneth Kendrick got 5 percent and Libertarian Rocky Palmquist got 4 percent in that race. The remaining 34 percent were undecided.

• The numbers in the race for railroad commissioner were similar: Republican Ryan Sitton, 32 percent; Democrat Steve Brown, 24 percent; Libertarian Mark Miller, 6 percent; and Green Martina Salinas, 4 percent. The other 33 percent have not picked a favorite.

I would not expect to see any great shakeups in the numbers before Labor Day.  All the bad news for Republicans, with the possible exception of the fallout from their various party platform disasters, is baked in here.  Update: Notice in the next post that I reconsidered and abandoned this premise after some time to analyze the results... and not just because the TexTrib pollsters decided they agreed with it.

It's going to be a long hot summer for Battleground Texas volunteers, sweating it out to have something to show for their hard work in November.