Surprised Parties

Here’s what Republicans and Democrats were talking about after the November 3 election.

George W. Bush’s coattails. They were frayed at best, even though the GOP swept every statewide race. The governor got 68 percent of the vote, but the victorious Republican candidates for lieutenant governor and comptroller, Rick Perry and Carol Keeton Rylander, each ran about 700,000 votes behind him.

The Democrats’ last stand. The GOP lost one state Senate seat and gained only three of the eight seats necessary to give it a majority in the House. Republicans usually win races for open seats outside major cities after a Democratic incumbent has retired, but this year Democrats won five of seven.

The highly touted GOP get-out-the-vote drive. It fizzled: Turnout fell 650,000 votes short of the 4.4 million votes cast in 1994, when Bush beat Ann Richards. Even in suburban strongholds like Collin County and Fort Bend County, the proportion of registered voters who went to the polls mirrored the statewide average of just under one third.

The Hispanic vote. Turnout in the big border counties (Cameron, Hidalgo, Webb) ranged from 20 to 24 percent. In Webb (Laredo), fewer than 16,000 votes were cast in a county of 185,000 people. Make that the Hispanic non-vote.

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