Thursday, August 18, 2011

An interesting observation about the electoral math of Texas

And kudos to the New Republic for giving its interns a chance to do good, high-profile work. From Gabriel Debenedetti:
And Texas, Tucker notes, “is an unusual electoral landscape”—which is to say it’s nearly empty. The Democratic Party in Texas is nearly nonexistent, and puts up only the most pro forma candidates. (“The Democrats are weak in ways that are not even indicated in the low numbers or poor electoral results,” says Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project and a professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin. “As an organization, the Democrats are just—I can’t even come up with a negative enough word.”) And judging from the low turnouts in the Republican primary elections—the only votes in Texas that really count for anything—even the ruling party in Texas is extremely dispirited. In the 2002, 2006, and 2010 votes in which Perry was elected governor, only around 4 percent of the voting-age population turned out for the Republican primary.

As a result, Perry only needed to convince roughly 2 percent of the voting-age population of the Republican-heavy state that he would be a suitable governor before cruising through the general elections against a pro forma Democratic candidate, or, in 2006, a slate of nominal candidates. In Texas, the “people who vote in primary elections are unusual people,” Tucker stressed to me. “They are more extreme, further to the right.” In other words, Perry was able to repeatedly vault himself to the governorship largely not because he was a persuasive campaigner, but because he catered to the extreme views of a minority of die-hard conservatives.

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