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Primary Numbers

Never have so few ...

By Mike Clark-Madison, Fri., March 17, 2006

Well, they were saving themselves for something, be it Kinky, Carole, or spring break. There being only so many ways of saying "voter apathy" – even the dullest council elections can pull more than 6.9% of y'all to the polls – we can deal with last week's primary results with dispatch. Figures are divided into the six Texas House Districts:

• Turnout: With numbers this small, it's risky to draw any huge conclusions about who did decide to vote – more than one-quarter of the county's boxes pulled fewer than 100 total votes. What was actually on each district's ballot didn't seem to make much difference. Compare the turnout between District 47, with closely contested House races on both sides of the ballot, and District 48, which had little to do this time around (except for the half of D 48's Dems who got to weigh in on the Sonleitner/Eckhardt race).

D46D47D48D49D50D51Total
(E)(SW)(NW)(CEN)(N/NE)(S/SE)
D turnout3.9%3.4%4.7%5.3%2.7%2.9%3.8%
R turnout1.1%5.7%4.4%1.6%3.2%0.8%3.1%
Total turnout5.0%9.1%9.1%6.9%5.9%3.7%6.9%
Number of boxes254638364327215
Boxes >10% total turnout0151564141
Boxes < 100 total votes67710121557
Highest turnout in any box8.1%19.3%19.4%15.5%12.1%11.0% - - -


• The D:R ratio: Since Texas doesn't have party registration, comparing the turnout between the two primaries is an imperfect but still instructive measure of where each party's votes are. No surprises here (or on the map), except maybe for the tinhorns at the county GOP who keep blathering on (still! Really!) about Travis becoming more conservative. Just for the record, the reddest box last week was 346, in Lakeway, with a D:R ratio of 1:10. The bluest was 124, Central East Austin, with a D:R ratio of nearly 56:1. (Three hardy souls voted in the GOP primary in that box.)

D46D47D48D49D50D51Total
(E)(SW)(NW)(CEN)(N/NE)(S/SE)
D:R RATIO (R=1)3.560.601.073.380.853.521.24
Boxes with:24–119–2722–1635–122–2127–0149–66
Over two-thirds Republican015608029
Majority Republican11210113037
Majority Democratic91515417666
Over two-thirds Democratic15473152183


• Countywide races: In the gubernatorial race, Bob Gammage did a little better in Travis than he did statewide, but not by much, with Chris Bell handing him his hat in every corner of the county. Ditto for Buddy Meyer's surprisingly vigorous, but not enough so, campaign against bench veteran Charlie Baird, for the 299th District Court judgeship. The closest contest on the ballot – the County Court at Law No. 2 race between Eric Shepperd and Elena Diaz – featured some pretty extreme ethnic voting in districts 46 and 51, along with offsetting big wins for each candidate in districts 47 and 48. We can perhaps chalk up Shepperd's 154-vote victory to the habit of certain Northwest Austinites to vote all the time, every time, in every race, no matter what.

D46D47D48D49D50D51Total
GOVERNOR (D)(E)(SW)(NW)(CEN)(N/NE)(S/SE)
Chris Bell60.5%58.6%57.7%57.4%57.7%55.8%58.0%
Bob Gammage33.3%38.1%39.4%39.2%37.0%38.0%37.9%
299th DISTRICT COURT (D)
Charlie Baird57.1%57.2%54.1%63.0%58.1%53.2%57.7%
Buddy Meyer42.9%42.8%45.9%37.0%41.9%46.8%42.3%
CO. COURT-AT-LAW NO. 2 (D)
Eric Shepperd66.5%42.8%56.6%48.9%50.5%33.1%50.4%
Elena Diaz33.5%57.2%43.4%51.1%49.5%66.9%49.6%


• Congress and commissioners: Travis Co. accounted for more than two-thirds of the total vote in the CD 10 Dem primary, so the run-off between Ted Ankrum and Paul Foreman is going to be decided here, and the turnout patterns work to Ankrum's advantage. As for poor County Commissioner Karen Sonleitner, she just cratered everywhere; for a three-term incumbent to lose 50 out of 63 boxes, throughout a fairly diverse district, speaks to more than just voter pique over a single issue. Of course, the GOP is probably now kicking itself for not fielding a candidate in this race, seeing how handily Sonleitner got primaried by a challenge to both her left and, truth be told, the left of the district. Down in Precinct 4, Margaret Gómez had little trouble with her insurgent challenger Yolanda Montemayor, though (not for the first time) Gomez's solid support in the largely non-Latino 78704 boxes (those within District 49) helped substantially.

D46D47D48D49D50D51Total
U.S. CONGRESS CD 10 (D)(E)(SW)(NW)(CEN)(N/NE)(S/SE)
Ted Ankrum31.7%50.0%46.4%32.8%41.8%
Paul Foreman39.4%25.4%35.7%39.0%33.9%
# of boxes1119113475
% of total vote10.1% 31.4%27.1%31.4% 100%

COUNTY COMMISSIONERSD46D47D48D49D50D51Total
PRECINCT 2 (D)(E)(SW)(NW)(CEN)(N/NE)(S/SE)
Sarah Eckhardt60.4%54.7%60.4%55.8%57.2%
Karen Sonleitner39.6% 45.3%39.6%44.2% 42.8%
% of total vote2.5% 39.2%36.5%21.8% 100%
# of boxes320162463
Boxes for Eckhardt215151850
Boxes for Sonleitner051511
D46D47D48D49D50D51Total
PRECINCT 4 (D)
Margaret Gómez 54.7% 61.5% 55.4%57.3%
Yolanda Montemayor 45.3% 38.5% 44.6%42.7%
% of total vote 15.4% 33.2% 51.4%100%
# of boxes9112646
Boxes for Gómez581528
Boxes for Montemayor331117


• The House races: Again, the numbers are really too small to say much more than that Jason Earle and Valinda Bolton in District 47, and Jeff Fleece and Don Zimmerman in District 50, ended in a tie, though both Bolton and Fleece managed to inch ahead of their rivals on the basis of stronger support in fewer boxes. Bill Welch, on the other hand, might have wanted to, and was widely expected to, finish a little stronger than he actually did as he goes into a run-off with Alex Castano, considering how many poobahs dubbed him the "favorite" and the "consensus candidate" (we're looking at you, 701 Brazos) to succeed Terry Keel. For the curious, no, those box-to-box D:R ratios bore no relationship to which primary candidate (in either the House or county-commish races) got each box's nod.

TEXAS HOUSE%# BOXES WON # BOXES ≥50%
DISTRICT 47 (D)
Valinda Bolton43.1%1811
Jason Earle42.0%269
Eric Beverly9.2%00
Royce LeMoine5.8%00
DISTRICT 47 (R)
Bill Welch38.5%305
Alex Castano28.4%121
Rich Phillips16.7%10
Terry Dill12.4%10
Dick Reynolds3.9%00
DISTRICT 50 (R)
Jeff Fleece46.8%2014
Don Zimmerman43.7%2317
Mary Wheeler9.5%00
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