Election 2008 – Democrats struggle in statewide races but nearly win the House

With the votes nearly counted (but not recounted) it appears that the Democrats came within a very few votes of producing a 75-75 tie in the Texas Legislature. It appears that Bob Romano fell about 20 votes shy of unseating Republican incumbent State Representative Linda Harper-Brownin. Romano has asked for a recount so we will not know for sure who represents Irvin until next week.

The close battle to control the Texas House is especially interesting since the Democrats showed little sign of winning state-wide office. The state’s top Democratic vote-getter was Sam Houston. He polled about 45.9% in his challenge to incumbent Justice Dale Wainwright for a seat on the Texas Supreme Court. With Obama polling at 43.7% and Rick Norriega getting 42.8% (the lowest percentage for a Democrat and slightly lower than the 43.3% Ron Kirk got in that race in 2002) it looks like there wasn’t much variation in the state-wide Democratic vote. Overall, the Democrats numbers looked better than in 2006. However, their leading candidate in 2006 (Bill Moody challenging for place 2 on the Texas Supreme Court) managed 44.9% that year. It’s somewhat comforting that Sam Houston didn’t finish that far ahead of the rest of the field. It looks like very few voters confused him with his more famous namesake.

With Bush off the ballot (even though his approval is only about 34% here in Texas) and Obama exciting Democratic voters the Democrats were hoping to pick off a few seats on the Texas Supreme Court. However, they failed to do significantly better state-wide than in ’06. This is despite what appeared to me to be a pretty effective campaign ad campaign that attempted to raise doubts about having every seat on the Court in the hands of one party.

The House races were another matter. Even if they failed to win a majority the Democrats managed to shake the Republican majority enough to rattle the Speakers race.


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