Monday, March 4, 2019

#TX2020: The NRCC is RETARDED if they think they should run incumbents in Texas

"Because of the transgression of a land, many are its princes;
But by a man of understanding and knowledge
Right will be prolonged."
Proverbs 28:2

The Cook Political Report, in discussing national congressional races, drops this nugget:
A key 2020 House battleground will be Texas. Democrats picked up two seats in the suburbs of Dallas and Houston last fall, but came within single digits in six more districts. The NRCC has already met with the six incumbents who survived close calls to secure commitments to run again and raise more money in 2020.

[Note: Emphasis added.]
No.  No.  No.  No.  No.  No.  No.  No.

This type of stale, conventional, thinking is the quickest route to a second debacle in 2020.

We can explain in two numbers from last cycle: Six and Two.
  • Six -- The number of open seat races Republicans held in Congressional races.
    • Note: Seats now held by Dan Crenshaw, Van Taylor, Lance Gooden, Ron Wright, Chip Roy, and Michael Cloud.
  • Two -- The number of incumbent Republican congressman who lost.
    • Note: Seats now held by Lizzie Pannill Fletcher and Colin Allred, which were formerly held by John Culberson and Pete Sessions.
That should be the end of this cliched discussion, but since it won't be, we'll go further.


Chip Roy vs. John Carter:

Nowhere is this phenomenon clearer than in two suburban Congressional districts near Austin.  In the first district, a new candidate with a dedicated grassroots following held his open seat.  In the second district, a mediocre incumbent had a closer call than anyone expected.

On the surface, the results in CD-21 (Hill Country) and CD-31 (WillCo) look similar:

It's only when one compares them to Trump's performance in 2016 that the pattern emerges:

Trump's 2016 margin minus the 2018 GOP candidate's margin follows:
  • CD-21: 10% - 2.8% = 7.2% GOP dropoff between '16 and '18.
  • CD-31: 13% - 3% = 10% GOP dropoff between '16 and '18.
That 2.8% is the difference between good candidates in open seats vs. lousy incumbents.

This is exactly what we predicted would happen in those two districts, and the data backs us up.

Of course, we also predicted that John Carter was in a lot of trouble in a presidential cycle...but, by all means, let's run John Friggin' Carter in a presidential cycle.

And yes, Chip Roy saved the GOP's bacon in CD-21.


Dan Crenshaw and Van Taylor:

It wasn't as pronounced as the Chip Roy race, but a similar phenomenon emerged in Dan Crenshaw and Van Taylor's races.

2016 results here.

2018 results here.


Learning from Pete Sessions:

Last cycle, we wrote the following about now-former congressman Pete Sessions:

Pete Sessions is a liability that should have been dealt with YEARS ago

That specific blog post was written in reference to a scandal surrounding Sessions' abuse of campaign contributions, but the headline doubles as a general metaphor for Pete Sessions.

We warned people about Sessions for YEARS.  Eventually, in a strong enough Democrat wave, he lost.  We should learn that lesson and preemptively address our other liabilities.


Learning from John Culberson:

One of the open secrets among Republican campaign types last cycle was John Culberson's laziness.    Culberson might have held his seat if he'd simply worked harder.  Culberson approached the race with a sense of entitlement and the results speak for themselves.

Of course, incumbent politicians becoming entitled and lazy shouldn't surprise anyone.

Perhaps we shouldn't run entitled, lazy, incumbents.


Reminder from 2018:

  • Open Congressional seats Texas Republicans held: 6.
  • Incumbent Congressional seats Texas Republicans lost: 2.

Bottom Line: In a competitive general election environment, it's much better to have a good candidate running in an open seat than it is to try and drag some lousy incumbent across the finish line.

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