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Willisms

« The Lone Star State Bucks National Trend: Texas' Labor Force Actually Growing. | WILLisms.com | Addressing Questions About Wendy Davis' Disastrous Primary Election Results. »

Wendy Davis' Primary Disaster.

Of non-Texas Democrats in places like New York City and San Francisco, Wendy Davis is perhaps among the dozen or so most popular figures in political life today. Her fundraising from liberals in liberal bastions bears that out. Ronan Farrow and the rest of the MSNBC crowd love her.

In Texas, though, not so much.

The Texas Democrats' primary performance Tuesday was an unmitigated disaster, and the performance of Wendy Davis was particularly abysmal.

The Austin American-Statesman set up a few benchmarks the day before the primary:

"So is all the hoopla around Wendy Davis and Battleground Texas just so much hype, or are Democratic prospects truly better than four years ago?

"A first test will be whether the party primary draws more than the 680,000 voters who participated four years ago, and if Davis exceeds White’s 517,487 votes in a seven-person field. One would assume that a healthy number of new voters registered by Battleground Texas’ 5,700 volunteer deputy registrars would want to take advantage of their first opportunity to exercise their franchise."

At last count, with 8,742 of 8,745 (99.97%) reporting, Wendy Davis had just 432,025 votes, or 79.05% of the primary vote in a two-person race. All told, 546,480 Democrats voted in the 2014 primary.

Failure, in other words.

If you're someone who has given millions of dollars to this effort, you're fuming and/or depressed today. Send in the auditors. Send in the adults. Double down. Or retreat entirely.

Compare the Democrats' figures to the Republican nominee Greg Abbott's numbers. Abbott received 1,219,831 votes, or 91.50% in a four-way primary race. 1,333,010 Republicans voted in the 2014 primary. Those figures may change ever-so-slightly, as 8,825 of 8,829 (99.95%) of precincts are now reporting.

But what is really astonishing is that Wendy Davis lost 26 mostly-South Texas counties and tied in two more (click for larger version):

wendydavisprimarydisaster.gif

Additionally, in 22 other counties, no Democrat votes were reported. As in none. Zero. Which happens on both sides. It's a big state with some very rural and remote areas. But still.

Davis versus Abbott (click all of these for larger versions):
abbottvsdavis2014primaries.gif

Abbott versus his competitors:

rprimary2014.gif

Davis versus her competitor:

dprimary2014.gif

And 2014 versus 2010:

2014vs2010primaries.gif

In 2010, Bill White received 76% in a field of seven opponents, including an extremely well funded one. How could we ever forget the hair product magnate Farouk Shami:



Now, Governor Rick Perry faced a sitting U.S. Senator and "TEA Party" candidate Debra Medina in a "throw the incumbent bums out" year, so you'd expect his numbers to be a bit lower. As a side note, Governor Perry avoiding a runoff in a multi-candidate race with tens of millions of dollars spent shocked most political observers (full disclosure: I worked on that race for Governor Perry).

White and Perry are really included here just for reference. If Wendy Davis and Battleground Texas were on track to turn Texas blue in 2014, wouldn't we have seen a bit of evidence of that in the Democrats' primary turnout?

Moreover, keep in mind Ray Madrigal didn't really run a campaign. He was initially fined $500 for failing to turn in a campaign finance report, but the Texas Ethics Commission waived the fine when Madrigal revealed he didn't have anything to report. He hadn't raised any money. He wasn't running a real campaign. Wendy Davis, though, certainly was running one. Just a bungled campaign, apparently.

The abysmal, embarrassing primary performance by Wendy Davis was shared by her party at large, though, as Democrats advanced a Lyndon LaRouche acolyte, who is demanding the impeachment of Barack Obama, to a multi-month runoff for U.S. Senate. And Kinky Friedman is going to the Democrats' Agriculture Commissioner runoff.

There is no papering over just how bad Tuesday night was for Texas Democrats. Their "rockstar" nominee losing more than two dozen counties, mostly in heavily Hispanic areas, demonstrates just how misguided their "nominate a single issue candidate" plan was. Democrats failing to receive a single vote in nearly two dozen more demonstrates that their vaunted field and data work isn't yielding results in critical political regions of the state.

In short, there is a partisan enthusiasm gap in Texas, and Republicans are winning it. Democrats have years of soul searching and retooling to do before they'll even sniff winning their first statewide race since the early 90s. Anointing someone known almost exclusively for filibustering on behalf of elective late-term abortion post 5 months of pregnancy may have set the Democrats' plan back at least one full election cycle, if not more.

Posted by Will Franklin · 5 March 2014 12:53 PM

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