Tuesday, January 18, 2011

GOP in good shape to hold KBH seat

A look at 12 different possible head to head match ups for next year's Texas Senate race shows the same outcome in every single one: a double digit lead for the Republican. This is going to be an extremely difficult seat for Democrats to pick up.

The field for the Senate race is still developing and with handfuls of people considering the race we couldn't test every match up imaginable but we picked four Republicans (David Dewhurst, Elizabeth Ames Jones, Tom Leppert, and Michael Williams) and three Democrats (John Sharp, Chet Edwards, and Julian Castro) to look at in this initial poll.

Dewhurst polls the strongest of everyone we looked at with an average lead of 22 points over the three Democrats- 18 over Sharp, 19 over Edwards, and 28 over Castro. Leppert does next best with an average lead of 17 points- 12 over Sharp, 16 over Edwards, and 23 over Castro. Jones has a 16 point average lead- 13 over Edwards, 14 over Sharp, and 21 over Castro. And Williams has a 14 point average lead- 11 over Edwards, 12 over Sharp, and 19 over Castro. Edwards and Sharp's electability is basically impossible to differentiate, but they do both begin in a stronger position than Castro.

Texas is obviously a strongly Republican state- for a Democrat to win would take a strong advantage with independents and the ability to win over a healthy number of GOP voters while losing very few Democrats. None of those conditions are present at this very early stage- the Republican candidate leads with independents in all 12 match ups we tested and the Republicans are all winning a larger share of their party vote than the Democrats are of theirs.

One important thing to note is that almost all of these potential contenders are pretty much unknowns to the statewide electorate at this point. Only Dewhurst, who 62% of voters have an opinion about, surpasses 50% in name recognition. 54% of voters don't know enough about Edwards to have formed an opinion about him and that rises steadily to 58% for Sharp, 63% for Leppert, 65% for Castro, and 72% for Williams and Jones. If there's a ray of hope for Democrats it's that they'll get a candidate into the race who's currently not very well known but who really catches fire and somehow proves to be more appealing to voters than the eventual Republican nominee.

Democrats' best chance might be if a large and fractured Republican primary field results in a very weak GOP nominee- the Sharron Angle plan so to speak. That's less likely to happen in a runoff state than in others but the relatively low name recognition for most of the GOP contenders means there's not really an overwhelming front runner- that makes the field pretty wide open and those are the sorts of conditions that can result in a less electable person emerging from the nomination process.

All that said at this point Republicans look like they'll be overwhelmingly favored to hold onto this seat and the real action in this race might be in the late winter/early spring of 2012 instead of the fall.

Full results here

16 comments:

JCordes said...

The only problem I see with Democrats trying to exploit a Sharron Angle-type candidate is that Obama won Nevada by over 11 points but lost Texas by over 11 points.

DBL said...

This is a far more valuable poll than the ones featuring incumbents. When you have an incumbent running against someone with 28% name recognition, the incumbent should be up 8-15%. Herb Kohl, Bill Nelson, Debbie Stabenow, et al may or may not be vulnerable. It's too early to tell.

Your challenger primary and open seat polls tell a lot more as they don't have someone with an automatic leg up.

Anonymous said...

How about Kinky Friedman? Lol

AG said...

The problem with your un-electably conservative scenario in Texas is that the most un-electable ultraconservative already won and holds statewide office: Rick Perry.

NRH said...

Aww, no W?

Jonny V said...

As a Democrat I don't really think it's worth even trying to win the Texas seat in 2012 ... I think the focus should be on more winable seats.

Texas is too far gone... maybe as the demographics change... maybe 2016... maybe 2018... 2020... but I really don't see it happening in 2012...

UNLESS Sarah Palin somehow manages to win the GOP nomination and is able to drag down all GOP down ballots... but hell Texas is so crazy it might even vote for Palin over Obama!

Anonymous said...

It is NOT impossible for Democrats to win a red state senate seat.
But it will take someone like Joseph Cao who is able to attract those disfranchised Republicans to jump on board.

Lousiana and Florida are also deep deep red states but they still have those red state Democrats winning the Senate seats.

scrapper said...

Way too early to tell. 2012 is already shaping up as a democratic year, and the republican free ride is over. Changing demographics will turn Texas purple then blue in the next two decades and a big dem year in this cycle could give us an early indicator of whats coming.

Anonymous said...

Joseph Cao was a Republican to anonymous @ 1/18/11 at 6:09pm

Anonymous said...

No chance in 2012 but don't worry... By 2024-2028 Texas will be a purple state. In 8 years Arizona-Georgia will be Dem before Texas. Just wait 2 decades and the map will be nearly impossible for a GOP candidate to win a Pres. election.

NRH said...

If and when Texas Hispanics begin to vote in proportion to their population, Texas will become at least a purple state. Right now, though, eligible Hispanic voters are highly likely to be unregistered or to not participate. As long as Hispanic Texans don't engage in the political process, they won't improve their representation.

Anonymous said...

Is the fact that Michael Williams is Black matter. Are there Texas voters who will vote for a moderate White Democrat over a conservative Black Republican?

Anonymous said...

"Is the fact that Michael Williams is Black matter. Are there Texas voters who will vote for a moderate White Democrat over a conservative Black Republican?"

The answer is either "no" or "so few Texans (about 28%) know who Williams is that not enough potential racists know he's black."

NRH said...

6:09 anon - Florida is not a 'deep deep red state.' The panhandle is, yes, but the rest of the state is far from it. Obama won Florida in 2008, Bush won in 2004, and it depends whose vote count you favor in 2000. Despite the historically aberrational Republican wave in 2010, the Florida governor's race was very tight. The state legislature and congressional representation are very red, yes, but that's thanks to some very creative gerrymandering rather than accurate statewide representation. For statewide races like governor, senator, and president, Florida is very much a swing state.

Jonny V said...

how in the hell is Florida a "deep deep red state" when Obama won it in 2008 (and Gore famously almost won it in 2000) ???

Florida is a Republican leaning swing state (Obama won nationally by 7% but by just 2.5% in Florida.)

Anonymous said...

What would happen if Democrat and Houston Mayor Annise Parker entered the race in 2012?

She made national headlines for being the first lesbian to win a major city mayoralty.

I'm sure the first openly-lesbian US Senate candidate would get TONS of media publicity, and Houston has the largest media aggregation in the state, too.

 
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