Thanks to Dr. Robert Bezdek, professor of political science at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, for e-mailing me his analysis of the early vote in Nueces County. Bezdek divided the turnout into quintiles, based on the percentage of voters with Spanish surnames (SS). The numbers in parenthesis represent the overall turnout in these districts in 2004. 0-20% SS (heavily Anglo) – 43% turnout (58%) 21-40% SS (predominantly Anglo) – 40% turnout (57%) 41-60% SS (mixed Anglo & Latino) – 33% turnout (50%) 61-80% SS (predominantly Latino) – 23% turnout (44%) 81-100% SS (heavily Latino) – 21% turnout (40%) You can see that the Latino turnout was much better in 2004. The overall turnout for early voting in Nueces County was 33.85%. Anglo precincts cumulatively outperformed Latino precincts by a 2 to 1 margin. Latinos just aren’t voting. These numbers should raise a red flag for Democrats who continue to express confidence that Juan Garcia and Abel Herrero will win their races. The Nueces County turnout isn’t of great importance to Garcia, since only around a dozen precincts from the county are in the district. The key to his race is San Patricio County, but Bezdek says that early-vote turnout is light there as well. It is very heavy in Aranasas County, which is mostly Anglo. Bezdek cited a Republican consultant as telling him that Todd Hunter would win by 2,700 to 3,000 votes. A few caveats: First, Latinos tend to turn out on election day rather than for early voting. Garcia could still get a boost from a solid turnout in San Pat tomorrow. Second, Garcia is widely viewed as having outcampaigned Hunter, and it is possible that there are a fair number of Garcia votes in the Republican boxes in Nueces County. Still, Bezdek says that the numbers suggest an “uphill road” for Garcia. Democrats have been immensely confident about this race for a long time, and I have never understood why. The numbers just favor the Republicans so much. Garcia is going to have to get a significant ticket-splitting vote to win, or a big increase in turnout from San Patricio County. The Herrero race is another one that both R’s and D’s in Austin think they are going to win. Herrero will benefit from the turnout efforts of congressman Solomon Ortiz in Robstown, the base of the Ortiz clan. But he did not run a very impressive race and was slow to respond to hard-hitting attacks by Connie Scott. If Herrero wins, it won’t be by much. Readers should not think of Nueces as a typical South Texas county. It has a large Anglo population that shows up at the polls. The R’s elected a county judge and a sheriff here in 2006. I regard it as a pink county, red if Latinos are not going to show up. Harris and Dallas counties are the vanguard of the Democratic effort to turn the state blue, but Nueces is pulling in the other direction.
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