Good or bad news for Dan Patrick?

According to the Quorum Report, Senator Dan Patrick it touting a new poll that shows David Dewhurst with 40% of the vote for Lt. Governor among likely Republican voters while 18% support Patrick. Patrick seems to feel that he is gaining on Dewhurst who had 43% in the previous poll. The Wickers Group, source of the poll, concludes that David Dewhurst’s  support  eroded over past summer and Dan Patrick “remains well-positioned to win this race.”

I guess you could say that.

On the other hand, most pollsters would immediately note that the shift is smaller than the margin of error of the poll (+/- 4.5%). In fact, I suspect that most pollsters would lead with that.

Further, it’s hard to believe that Dewhurst’s summer could have been much worse. First, he was portrayed as weak in his failure to shut down the filibuster and demonstrations that stalled the abortion bill during the special session. Then, he came across as weak as he tried to get a relative out of jail by trying to convince law enforcement that he was actually someone. It was too reminiscent of Will Farrell’s character trying to convince a woman he’s trying to impress that he was “kind of a big deal.”

My takeaway from the poll is that Dewhurst still has better than double the support of his nearest competitor and his rivals have a lot of work to do. The wind has been at Patrick’s back all summer and his gains have been statistically insignificant. Patrick has always had a strong base of support among conservative Republicans and it’s surprising that he hasn’t expanded beyond 18%.

The poor showing of Ag Commissioner Todd Staples  (4%) and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson (4%) may be the biggest news out of the poll. They’ll be battling to escape last place. They could surge if the fight between Dewhurst and Patrick turns nasty enough  to chase voters away from the frontrunners in large numbers. Short of that, it’s hard to see how they get into the race.

The Lt. Governor’s race is just starting and there is a lot of campaigning ahead. However, any suggestion that Patrick is doing better than expected is little more than wishful thinking.


Salute to Homeowners Associations

No article to post. Just a great cartoon from Cul de Sac (by the great Richard Thompson) about the rules that homeowner associations create.



Another perspective on Voter ID

There has been a lot of debate over the “voter ID” laws passed in Texas and other states. These laws mandate that anyone wanting to vote must show a government-issued photo identification card.  I wanted to highlight the view we usually hear the least of: the people in the middle.  It’s reflected pretty well in Matthew Cooper’s article in National Journal (Everyone’s a Hypocrite on Voter IDs“).

Advocates of voter ID laws worry about people voting illegally. That’s a worthwhile concern. We expect our elections to be as honest as possible. However, there’s been very little evidence of significant voter fraud based on identification. People talk about the possibility of lining up illegal immigrants or others to vote on election day. That overlooks one fundamental fact of American politics: most people don’t vote. Non-voters are one of the nation’s most abundant resources. If you want to pay people to vote, there’s no need to rely on ineligible voters. There are plenty of eligible citizens sitting at home on election day (and remember that Texas has one of the lowest turnout rates in the country).

I have to suspect  these laws are advocated by people who never went to college because it ignores one of the first things freshmen learn: Anyone can get a fake drivers license. If you can get a fake ID that will get you past the bouncer at your favorite bar you can get an ID that will get you past the 90-year-old volunteer manning the polling station. If there’s anything more abundant than non-voters it’s underage drinkers.

McLovin's drivers license

Opponents of voter ID laws fret about citizens not being able to vote. That’s  also a valid concern. However, these laws will impact only a few people who are likely to vote .  Many of those people need a valid ID for other reasons. It would help if we made ID cards easier to were more flexible about the form of ID accepted. Some of these laws do not recognize ID cards issued by colleges. That’s a very interesting choice.

Watching elected officials who were carried into office by large campaign contributions debating these laws while lobbyists scurry about the capitol distributing large quantities of free food and drink  leaves me doubting that the purity of representative democracy is so close to their heart.

I don’t like voter ID laws because we will create new, bigger problems in our rush to solve what is a very small problem. My prediction is that in about ten years we’ll see these laws repealed or diluted because some senior citizens had trouble voting. In the meantime, voters’ wishes will continue to be undermined by organized interests and other distortions of representation that our elected officials have become far too comfortable with.