As D’s and R’s prepare for an all-out battle for supremacy in Harris County, the numbers for party identification in Harris County today track what was happening in Dallas over the previous two election cycles. These are from a Republican campaign shop:
Dallas County 2004:
Dallas County 2006:
This was the situation when Democrats swept every contested courthouse race in the county two years ago.
Harris County 2006:
R’s + 6
Harris County 2008:
R’s + 2
In short, Harris County today is where Dallas County was two years ago. However, Dallas County R’s were caught totally by surprise. That will not be the case in Harris County. When I was in Houston for the state Republican convention in June, a local consultant told me that R’s had already bought four weeks of TV time for judicial races in the fall. Furthermore, Harris County is a much more complex battleground than Dallas. It has a bigger population than 24 states. It is the 14th largest county in area (1,734 square miles); of those that are larger, many are sparsely populated West Texas counties. It is a stew of demographic change. All of this makes it difficult for parties to identify their voters and get them to the polls.