Monday, July 31, 2006

Questionable Political Math In Texas Gov. Race

I'm afraid that I just don't understand some of the political math being quoted by some in the governor's race, especially for Chris Bell. I understand that many left-wing bloggers support Chris Bell for governor. They have every right to do so, and there's no doubt that Bell would be a much better governor than the current one. But some of the figures being thrown out just don't make any sense.

Several bloggers have claimed that all Chris Bell needs to do is hold his Democratic base, and he will win. The percentage of voters that call themselves Democrats is 30-35%. If Bell got at least 30% of the vote, he might well win. The fly-in-the-ointment is the fact that, so far, Bell has shown no ability to do this. The best he has been able to do is about 20%, and that is not a winning number.

One blogger today said Bell has 25% locked up. How can he have 25% locked up when the best he has polled so far is 20%? Where are these numbers coming from - thin air?

None of us know what will happen in November. It is certainly possible that Bell could mount a charge between now and then, and win the race. It is also possible that Grandma or Kinky could do so. But it is silly to give any of the three numbers they have not yet earned.

Maybe these people think if they say it enough, it will come true. However, politics doesn't work that way. Bell, Grandma, and Kinky [my candidate] have yet to show they can push their figures up to a winnable number. If they don't stop sniping at each other, and concentrate on bringing Perry's numbers down, they will all three be losers, and so would the state of Texas.


  1. The two recent Texas Monthly articles (one by S. C. Gwynne and one by Paul Burka) summed up the conventional wisdom pretty succinctly.

    If Strayhorn wasn't on the ballot, this would be a tight three-way race but there's not much drama as things stand.

    The polls fail to count the "straight party" vote, which is substantial for both parties in Texas but is always undercounted in pre-election polls.

    There are true independents who will split between Kinky and Strayhorn (especially given all of Strayhorn's money), but Perry will get an overwhelming majority of true hard core Republicans and Bell will get a overwhelming majority of true hard core Democrats.

    You cannot hardly do the math where anyone but Perry wins unless one of the other candidates drops out. Strayhorn has too much money to drop out. Bell cannot drop out because it would kill the down ballot Democrats. And Kinky has no incentive to do anything other than to ride the election out all the way to Perry's re-election.

    I think when people give Bell numbers that exceeds his current polling, it is because no Democrat (not even Gene Kelly running against Kay Hutchison) ever does any worse than 30% and, frankly, I only know a tiny minority of Democrats who consider Strayhorn anything other than a Republican or Kinky anything other than a Republican-lite Texas version of Ralph Nader.

    Looks like we're in for more Rick Perry.

  2. Why would the polls not count straight party vote?

    The Democrats in the past who pulled a minimum of 30% were in two person races weren't they? This year is a whole different animal.

    Blaming Kinky for Bell's inability to win is just making excuses. There is no reason to believe if Kinky dropped out that Bell would get all his votes. He wouldn't. He'd be lucky to get a third of them, and that's not enough to win.

  3. It is always easy to blame another person instead of looking at the mirror to see our own flaws.

    We said the same thing in the 2000 Presidential election, by blaming Nader. In the end Gore still won. We are already near November and it doesn't even feel like an election season.

  4. I'm not blaming Kinky, I said "I only know a tiny minority of Democrats who consider Kinky anything other than a Republican-lite Texas version of Ralph Nader."

    I don't think of Kinkly that way at all. I think Kinky is running for the hell of it, but I also think he is literally making a good political point by making a joke of the Texas governor's race.

    Besides, since announcing his candidacy, Kinky got a reality TV show, a new book deal, and his record sales are are flaming hot. Kinky is living the American dream, and that is 100% his right, and if he makes a good political point about the fact that the Democratic party in Texas is a joke from the top to the bottom, maybe that's what the Democrats need to hear. If Kinky does well financially by doing good politically by demonstrating that Texas voters are so dumb that they'll re-elect Perry to another term even though just barely a third of Texas voters can stand him, I say more power to Kinky.

    I'm depressed that we're going to get another four years of Perry, but I don't blame Kinky; that would be like blaming the messenger.

  5. One of the problems I see with Bell is that he is viewed as an old Democrat. When I get into discussions about the race with co-workers they all dismiss Bell as more of the same from the Democratic party. Most here support Kinky, but say they will vote for whoever appears to have the best chance for beating Perry.

  6. jakintt:

    It's a shame that Bell, Strayhorn, and Kinky cannot make a binding agreement that, if -- based on a pre-agreed Texas-wide poll taken 10 days before the election -- Perry is in first place, and the gap between second place and fourth place is ten points or more, the fourth place candidate will drop out and endorse the second place candidate.

    This would give all three anti-Perry candidates an opportunity to sign the agreement without worry that they are betraying their supporters because each candidate can say to his or her supporters, "I'm more likely to benefit from this agreement than to suffer from it because I'm going to be in second place and not fourth place so this agreement gives us a better chance of actually winning in November."

  7. LiL:

    That would be a great idea, but none of the candidates will put the voters' interests above their own ambition.

    If they could agree to the withdrawl and endorsement plan, they ought to simultaneously sign a joint statement where all three candidates agree to certain issues (like stopping the TTC) where Perry is the only candidate that takes the opposite position.

  8. LIL -

    That's an innovative and interesting idea that I would be in favor of - too bad it won't happen.

  9. You know, I still haven't really decided if I'll be voting for Bell or Kinky yet. I certainly agree with Bell on many more issues than Kinky, but I don't think he has a chance in hell of winning - even in a 2 person race. I find myself in agreement with jakintt's co-workers, that Bell is simply more of the same from a party that just can't seem to get the balls to call the Repubs on the shit that they are pulling on the American people. It is far past time that the Dems look for strong candidates (such as Van Os) to run for higher office. I want a candidate with a strong voice - one that will call wrong by it's name, and loudly.

    I very much agree with LiL on Texas politics being a joke. That is what attracts me to Kinky. He is almost an affront to politics, which has, for the first time since the days of Ann Richards being governor, made politics in Texas fun for me again. For that alone, I will consider giving him my vote.

  10. McGoon:


    Look at Bell's record.

    Starting in Houston, Bell's only two big issues were (1) political corruption and (2) ethics. Well, goshdarn it who is in favor of corruption and bad ethics? No one. Bell might have just as well begun his career by being in favor of puppies and ice cream. So what if Bell is against lobbyists -- isn't everyone?

    You should see Bell's record in Congress: click here. Bell was not some mainstream Democrat. Bell was a liberal extremist. Bell

    Voted NO on banning partial-birth abortion except to save mother’s life

    Voted NO on forbidding human cloning for reproduction & medical research

    Voted NO on Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage

    Voted NO on protecting the Pledge of Allegiance

    Voted NO on speeding up approval of forest thinning projects

    Voted NO on limiting medical malpractice lawsuits to $250,000 damages

    Voted NO on capping damages & setting time limits in medical lawsuits

    Voted NO on limited prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients

    Voted NO on reporting illegal aliens who receive hospital treatment

    Voted YES on allowing reimportation of prescription drugs

    Voted YES on end offshore tax havens and promote small business

    Rated 100% by SANE, indicating a pro-peace voting record

    Rated 100% by the NEA, indicating pro-public education votes

    Rated 100% by NARAL, indicating a pro-choice voting record

    Rated 93% by the AFL-CIO, indicating a pro-union voting record

    Rated 8% by the Christian Coalition: an anti-family voting record

    Rated 0% by FAIR, indicating a voting record loosening immigration

    THAT is the record of a liberal extremist and NOT a moderate.

    Most importantly, Bell biggest claim to fame is being the whistleblower on Tom DeLay. Can you believe a grown man claiming that being a "tattle tale" is one of his biggest career accomplishments? Look at all the litigation that has resulted from the Bell-DeLay dispute. Is litigation good? Plus, I know some people don't think too highly of Tom DeLay, but no one can deny that he was a very strong leader for Texas and a leader in Congress who brought many valuable federal projects and JOBS to Texas, and -- thanks to Bell -- we can kiss that goodbye.

    Finally, look at Bell's campaign. He's for making small businesses pay higher wages and making businesses suffer more regulations. I wish Bell would tell us how that is going to bring jobs to Texas!

    Bell is an extremist. Kinky is a moderate except where it comes to immigration and separation of church and state, and Kinky's activism on those two topics is completely appropriate.

  11. Um, you assume that I am a moderate, which is untrue. I'm sure you would consider me to be a "liberal extremist", which I probably am.

    When I said that I agree with Bell on many more issues than Kinky, I wasn't lying. In fact, I agree with Bell on most of the things you listed above. You have managed to make a good case as to why I should vote for Bell instead of Kinky.

    And I'm not even going to address your compliments of DeLay. I'm afraid that if I do, I'll puke all over myself. That's a mess that I don't need.

    My major complaint with Bell is that he hasn't made himself known among the Texan people. I'm ready for the Dems to give me a candidate that I can't avoid. One who speaks loudly. One who will call the Repubs on their bullshit. One who is there every time I look in the paper, on the TV, or in my mailbox. Someone who actually believes that they have a chance at winning an election in Texas.

    The LAST thing I want is a moderate. We have enough of those as it is.

    The only thing I really find attractive about Kinky is what I said in my last comment, that he is laughing with me at the sad state of politics in Texas. But, I'm not ready to say that is enough to get my vote. I love to laugh, but I am a woman after all, and as someone who's rights over her body is at stake, I may have to worry more about my conscience than my laughter.

    I'm still undecided, and I probably will be until I have that ballot in my hand. Either way it goes, though, all of the other Dems on the ballot will definitely have my vote.

  12. One of the issues I am trying to follow is the Trans-Texas Corridor. Bell is opposed to it, or hes opposed to it in this fashion. My problem is the only way I know that is by going to his website. Strayhorn on the other hand has been showing up at TTC hearings getting her face in front of everyone telling them she is against it. It will not matter that 5 years ago she was saying something else. Bell, needs to be attending the hearings and other open forums, he needs to get out from behind his advisors and staged photo ops and meet and speak to real people. I still plan on voting a straight dem ticket, but I starting to wonder........

  13. Oh, and I guess I would be a "liberal extremist" also. Not that theres anything wrong with that. :-)

  14. mcgoon:

    I agree with you when you say "Bell hasn't made himself known among the Texan people." Did Bell go get himself a TV show? No Kinky did! Does Bell have a bunch of media ready quips? No Kinky does!

    When you say your ready for "a candidate that I can't avoid. One who speaks loudly." you are talking about Kinky! Kinky's one liners will always get more TV and newspaper coverage than Bell's boring policy speeches (and the unspoken truth is no one votes on policy speeches anyway).

    When you say you want a candiate "who is there every time I look in the paper, on the TV," you are talking about Kinky. Kinky has a well known public image crafted by a team of public relations people as a result of his music and book careers. Bell will never have that, and even if he had time to craft that type of image, he doesn't have the money to hire a PR team to make him a readily identifiable image.


  15. Here is my problem with Bell, he has become a political whore. So in a way, he is an old Democrat. I really liked him ever since he ran for city council. He provided to be a political outsider, not wanting to be with the status quo. I always thought he was going to run for mayor, because we knew that his first run for mayor was to get feet wet. Lee Brown was going to win that was an automatic. But Bill White said he would and Bell being a good Dem, he didn't.

    I live in the old Texas District 25 and he ran for state Rep, I was on the street. The fight between him and Carroll Robinson was very dirty and Bell handled it well. But when the district changed (and thanks to those wankers) I ended up being his border. With Bell's record, he could have won even in his new divide and conquer District, 1/3 African American, 1/3 Hispanic and 1/3 Asian American. He barely ran a campaign. I can tell how it felt. It felt like he only became a Rep, so he could get his name out there so we isn't viewed as a local politician. There was even rumors he was interested in running for Gov when he ran for Congress the first time around. If that is a mean assessment of Bell. Will I vote for him, yes, it doesn't mean I have to like it.

  16. You talk about Bell being a liberal extermist, which is fine, what about Kinky.

    Lets see - I should vote for a guy who is:

    - full of sound bites man. For that, I might as will vote for Perry or Grandma. Only reason somebody is full of sound bites is because they have not substance on the issue. All they know is the magic words to say. Let's see who did some thing like that .... oh yeah .... the Great (Un)Communicator.

    - Vote for a guy who has is one Action figure line. Kinky Friedman Talking Action Figure that uses Kinky's recorded voice to deliver wisdom and wisecracks from a repertoire of 25 Kinky's famous sayings.

    I think the last politician who did that was Jesse "The Body" Ventura and Arnold "The Governator" Schwarzenegger.

    Bell may sound like a Gore, but at least I know who and what he stance, instead of some washed up singer looking to regain his fame. Kinky will lose the election, but we all know what he gained from this campaign.

  17. xicanopwr-

    We never said Bell was a liberal extremist. We said WE are liberal extremists. I wish Bell was a liberal extremist, because then I might be able to support him. As it stands, I'll stick with Kinky, warts and all.

    By the way, you have a great blog. Hope you don't mind that we've put you on our blogroll.

  18. jobsanger

    I wasn't really addressing it to you, I kind of figured you didn't it see that way, it was more of a reply to kinky is awesome, my bad, I should have made it clear. As for who you are supporting, I can see why, Bell is a DINO. Hopefully, maybe this election will put the nail in the Democratic Party coffin and maybe we can start brand new.

    I don't mind the blogg roll, it is nice to know there are true progressives out here in Texas.

    I like your blog, too which I did the same thing too.


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