Friday, November 9, 2018

About Tuesday Night....

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;"
Proverbs 3:5

Well it's done.

By now, you know the damage: 2 congressional seats, 2 Texas Senate seats, 11/12 Texas house seats.  Dozens of Judicial Races.

We've been analyzing and reflecting for several days, and we're starting to reach some conclusions.

It's impossible to know how much of a role each of these factors played, but together they combined to produce the results described above.


Before we begin, let's clear up one myth (with two flipsides) that we've seen pop up in the media and in other discussions.

Tuesday's results had nothing to do with whether the GOP was either a) "Too Conservative" or b) "Not conservative enough."

Republicans from all over the ideological spectrum lost.  When Matt Rinaldi and Tony Dale both lose, it ain't ideological.  It might, however, have something to do with the similarities between their districts.

Anyone using Tuesday's results as an excuse to settle scores from the primary should be ignored.


ANY Republican President:

On Tuesday night, we called Trump "toxic."  Having had several days to research history and talk with sources, we think that statement was a shortsighted exaggeration.  Trump definitely made it worse, but a lot of this would have happened under any Republican president.

Over the past three decades, down ballot races in Texas have tended to go against the party of the president.  This is especially true in the second half of the decade.  This was true in the 90's under Clinton (to the R's benefit).  It was true in the 2000's under both Bush and Obama (first for D's then for R's).  It's been true this decade under Obama and Trump (first for R's then for D's).  The only exception was during Dubya's post 9/11 honeymoon.

A lot of those districts had been blue in the not too distant past.  They only flipped in 2010.  If anything, our biggest mistake was to assume Obama-era partisan splits would continue indefinitely.

On Wednesday morning, Republican data guru Derek Ryan tweeted:

While Ryan was making a separate point about gerrymandering, his data is still consistent with our observation that these races tend to go against the party of the president.



While a lot of this would have happened under any Republican president, it's hard to escape the conclusion that the current Republican president made it worse.

Donald Trump causes a lot more people to vote.  2016 was the all time record for any Texas election.  2018 was the midterm record.  Across the political spectrum, turnout is up.

Here's the problem: While both sides are drawing more voters, this proportionally helps Democrats because they're starting from a lower base.

Consider the case of Glenn Hegar.  Glenn Hegar is probably the closest thing you've got to "generic Republican" on a statewide ballot.  The relationship between the raw vote totals and the percentages in Hegar's two elections is instructive.



In 2018, Glenn Hegar got approximately 1.7 million additional votes over his 2014 total.  His 2018 Democrat opponent got approximately 1.8 million additional votes over his 2014 opponent. While those raw vote totals are comparable, because the Democrats are starting from a lower base, that means it benefits them proportionally.

More people are voting on both sides.  But they're voting in a way that proportionally benefits Democrats.  It's worth a five point shift in the generic ballot.

Then there's the unprecedented DEBACLE in the judiciary.



While any Republican President would have dug a hole, and this one dug it deeper, Ted Cruz kept digging.  What kind of campaign gets into a two week argument with its top supporters over yard signs?!?

Cruz's biggest problem is baggage from the presidential campaign.  While each move made sense at the time, Cruz has been all over the map as it relates to Trump.  It's hurt him.  Badly.

Cruz's failures deserve their own blog post, but where national/Presidential factors cost the GOP 5 points, Cruz's personal failures cost him an additional 2.5 points in his own race.

It was the type of campaign David Dewhurst might have run.


Godawful messaging:

Off the top of your head, what was the Texas GOP's message this year?!?

We can come up with two things: Abbott's MS-13 ad and the U.S. Senate's race's detour into the NFL protests; Chris Hooks has a longer list of some of the dumber aspects of this campaign here.

In recent years, the Texas GOP has run intellectually lazy general election campaigns against the boogeyman du jour.  They've stopped making a proactive case for liberty.  It's the old adage: Tell me what your for, not what you're against.

Not very long ago, it wasn't this way.  In 2010, Rick Perry campaigned on the tenth amendment.  In 2012, Cruz campaigned on restoring the federal government to its constitutional role.  In 2014, Abbott campaigned on the sanctity of life and fixing traffic.

In 2018, we got a lot less of that.

Imagine, instead, a world where Abbott spent the final months of the campaign talking about property taxes while Cruz spent the final month talking about health care freedom.

We suspect a lot of down-ballot Republicans wish they had.


Voter Fraud:

We have no specific knowledge of specific cases.  But only a fool would discount the possibility.  Especially in the close races (look at Florida and Arizona).

As Hugh Hewitt famously wrote: "If it's not close, they can't cheat."

Unfortunately, for the reasons listed above, Republicans let it get close.

Who knows?!?


Corrupt/Atrophied GOP leadership/infrastructure in Williamson and Hays Counties:

For many years, Republicans in Williamson and Hays counties have been more interested in crony capitalism than conservative governance.

For many years, activists warned the GOP leadership in those respective counties that such a course of action would wipe them out if a Democrat wave emerged.

That happened on Tuesday; especially in Hays.

Both county parties have needed a housecleaning for years.  Now they might get one.
They should both follow Montgomery County's lead.



Given the myriad GOP failures, it's tough to know how much he created for himself.

At a minimum, he recognized the opportunity early and went for it.

There's no denying his fundraising haul was impressive.


Bottom Line: There are any number of reasons why things went down the way that they did.  We need to address what we can.  But the scary part is how much was beyond our control.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.