Texas Political Junkie

"And the lord came to me and he said, 'Danny,' he calls me Danny."

God apparently wants creationism taught in Texas public schools. Or at least the Texas Tea Party does. Conservative and semi-crazy State Senator Dan Patrick won a big victory over Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the state’s Republican primary, and appears likely to defeat the eleven-year incumbent in the May runoff. Patrick’s conservatism is the type that will make Democrats long for the heady logic of Rick Perry.

Patrick, a former sportscaster at a Houston TV station where I spent a decade as a reporter, said last night after his victory that he is “never surprised by the power of God.” It wasn’t quite God who went to the polls, though; it was the Tea Party voters who had been analyzed out of relevance by the national media. Those voters like someone sitting in the state’s most powerful political office that wants creationism taught in textbooks and thinks the idea of exceptions in abortion laws for rape and incest are absurd. When Patrick takes up the gavel in the state senate, his priorities will have little to do with economics and will be much about social issues.

"And the lord came to me and he said, 'Danny,' he calls me Danny."
“And the lord came to me and he said, ‘Danny,’ he calls me Danny.”

There will legislation trying to undo everything ever accomplished by President Obama, the Ten Commandments will be on the backs of school textbooks, there will be entire chapters on our 6000 year-old planet and how dinosaurs and humans roamed the earth together, women will have to go to Mississippi to find modern parenting and birth control services, and the Texas-Mexico border will look about as inviting as the Korean demilitarized zone by the time Patrick finishes pushing his agenda through the Texas senate.

And Patrick almost certainly be handed the gavel, if historic voting trends are not upturned.

The Tea Party is doing to the Dew in his re-election effort exactly as they did to him when he tried to win the U.S. Senate seat over Ted Cruz. Their numbers and enthusiasm in the Cruz runoff in the dead of July heat overwhelmed the more moderate voters of the GOP, and gave Cruz the victory. Historically, primaries are the provenance of the more activist and animated electorate; party types making choices for the general election ballot, and Dewhurst will have a difficult time defeating their numbers in May. His political career will become a trophy on the Texas Tea Party’s wall that East of the Potomac analysts can look at every time they start thinking moderate Republicans are regaining control over their party in this state.

In fact, the primary vote may have been an exhibition of Tea Party determination. Weather across Texas was not helpful toward turnout. Many polling places in the state did not open until 11 a.m. and polls in some places did not close until 9 p.m. Roads were icy in much of Texas, travel was hazardous and temperatures unseasonably cold, and many state businesses and schools delayed beginning their business days. The conditions might have deterred voters of average interest but they do not appear to have created downward pressure on the Tea Party brigades. TP turnout also sent Ken Paxton into a runoff for attorney general, which is an expansion of the conservative movement’s influence into other offices, including a few house races.

Tea Party power in the general election is diminished by percentages of overall turnout but Greg Abbott’s conservatism, which is only marginally different than Patrick’s, means there may be some top of the ballot enthusiasm that increases Republican turnout and could provide a margin in a close race with Democrat Wendy Davis. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio will be the Democrat running against Patrick for Lt. Gov, if he wins, and her success will be closely tied to the electoral response to Davis in November. Two capable and qualified women winning the top state officeholder jobs in Texas would turn the state’s current politically Neanderthal image on its head and suggest our demographics are leading us toward the light.

As for the Texas Tribune’s poll conducted with the University of Texas, its numbers proved to be as flawed as its methodology in many races. The controversial Internet opt-in sampling predicted a 37-31 victory by David Dewhurst over Dan Patrick. The actual results were 41-28 percent, an easy victory by Patrick. For the Democrats, the Trib’s faulty poll had Kesha Rogers, an impeach Obama radical, leading David Alameel with a 35-27 percent vote margin. The results were as different from the poll’s predictions as were those in the Lt. Gov’s race forecast by the Tribune. Alameel won with a 47-21 percent difference, so wildly opposite the Tribune’s insights as to render their polling not just inaccurate, but fairly embarrassing.

According to the Tribune, Debra Medina was handily winning the GOP race for comptroller with a 39 to 26 and 24 margins over Harvey Hildebrand and Glen Hegar. Instead, third place Hegar appears to have won the race without a runoff by picking up 50 percent plus of the turnout and, Medina, the Trib’s pick to win was a distant third with just over 19 percent.

The deconstructing of the Tribune’s catastrophic poll results could take more time than it is worth but those are valuable examples of their unreliable protocols for taking a survey. Their polls should not be trusted any more than their journalism, which is a product of people with money exercising undue influence on what is reported.


  1. The Trib’s poll accuracy is on the same level of horrible as the Comptroller’s 2011 revenue estimate (that all of their reporters have been bashing for 2 years now)

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