I want readers to keep thinking about the “whys” of the disaster last week for the Harris County Republican Party. So today we have a couple of things to review.
First, this from HCRP Chair Paul Simpson:
The obvious question: if Donald Trump won the presidency, how did he/we do so poorly in Harris County? Consider:
- The beginnings of an answer are in this Washington Post article and accompanying graphics: Hillary Clinton won virtually every urban area (even Orange County, California, which hasn’t gone for a Democrat since Franklin Roosevelt), while Trump won rural areas and the Midwest.
- Hillary Clinton won Congressional District 7.
- Donald Trump lost Harris County by 162K, while John McCain lost it by only 19K in 2008
- Harris County 2016 GOP straight-ticket votes declined 3K (1%) below 2012, while Democrat straight-ticket voting increased 64K (14%), giving Democrats a 70K starting advantage in Harris County this year (up from a 47K Dem advantage in 2008, and a 3K Dem advantage in 2012).
On a positive note: after record-setting Republican results in Harris County in 2014 and 2015, this one election did not reverse our prior gains overnight. The downdraft from the top of the ticket overwhelmed us down ballot this year. But I expect that won’t be repeated, after the performance of our new Republican President and Congress counteract the widespread hysteria and demonization of this election.
The map in the Washington Post he links to isn’t all that helpful to me but apparently it works for him and his team. Note that he mentions that Clinton won CD7, a long-time Republican stronghold currently represented by Rep. John Culberson, who won easily. Which begs the question, if CD7 voters were able to cross over, vote for the Democrat for President and then cross back to elect Republicans, why is Simpson hinging his argument on an anti-Trump wave? Or “headwind” as he calls it. And there he goes with that 2014/15 “record-setting” stuff again. We’ll look carefully at that soon.
But hope is not a strategy. We need to know what works and what doesn’t, without guessing or self-delusion. (Monday-morning quarterbacking ungrounded in facts contributes nothing to that process.) I am committed to questioning and analyzing everything we do, and constantly trying new things, to optimize what the Harris County Republican Party can and will do to win.
I’d like to point out that we aren’t Monday morning quarterbacking, we are simply posing questions and posting data. And it isn’t Monday morning quarterbacking to point out that the “Harris County Works” message didn’t work at all – many of us, including candidates on the ballot, were saying that the message was wrong long before the election.
I’d like to see the number of seats won in 2008 and 2012. My memory is that we only won a very few seats – especially judicial ones. And I saw many more volunteers out working this year. I wouldn’t dishonor all of the hard work done by numerous volunteers by claiming that Paul Simpson didn’t energize the party. I was getting bombarded with requests for help.
Could the slogan have been better? As a “Monday morning quarterback,” maybe so. But I don’t think a different slogan would have gotten that many more voters to the polls. We can’t deny that the top of the ticket had an impact.
Hmm, there’s that Monday morning quarterback line again. To be clear, I’m not dishonoring anything about Paul or the volunteers, I’m just laying out things so that we can maybe prevent this from happening in the future. So here is the answer to Mary’s question:
|Results in contested races||40||7||21||22||43||0|
Clearly, by any measure you want to take, 2016 was a disaster. Zero wins countywide is significant whether you want to call it Monday morning quarterbacking or not.