Wednesday, October 19, 2016

From the Austin American Statesman: Why only 1 Texas congressional race is competitive

Texas does gerrymandering right.

And despite all this talk of kicking the bums out, it seems we are completely happy with the bum we have.

- Click here for the article.

Texas has 36 congressional districts, second only to California, but only one seat appears to be competitive heading into early voting next week — District 23, a vast West Texas seat that has switched between Republican and Democratic hands in each of the last three elections.
Elsewhere, 23 Republicans and 10 Democrats are likely to win re-election, by dint of gerrymandering and the power of incumbency. Only two Texas districts are open seats — District 15, a predominantly Hispanic and Democratic-leaning district in South Texas, and District 19, a largely rural and heavily Republican district in parts of West Texas and the Panhandle where no Democrat is on the ballot.
In Central Texas, all six members of Congress who represent a slice of Austin are sitting on large war chests but running light campaigns. Each Austin incumbent had more than $200,000 on hand as of Sept. 30, with Democrat Lloyd Doggett topping the list with more than $3 million on hand. No challenger in those races has more than $30,000, and many have no money on hand.
“We know for a fact incumbency is powerful,” said Chad Long, an associate professor of political science at St. Edward’s University. “It’s the single most powerful predictor of congressional elections, even more than the money. If you have an incumbent in the election, you pretty much know who’s going to win.”
According to Long, a district is considered competitive when the winning candidate garners no more than 55 percent of the vote. Under this definition, only two of the six U.S. House members representing the Austin area have ever experienced a competitive race — Doggett and Republican Michael McCaul.

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