January 14, 2006

Chronicle poll on district 22

The Houston Chronicle has released a survey by Professors Murray and Stein. The full list of questions is here. While a few (but not exhaustive, by any means) crosstabs are here. Meanwhile, here is the graphic from the news article.

1/10-12. 560 REGISTERED voters, =/- 4.1% margin of error
party ID: 42% GOP, 27% D, 23% independent, 8% other

General election:
DeLay 22%
Lampson 30%
Stockman 11%

General election (including leaners):
DeLay 25%
Lampson 32%
Stockman 14%
The wording of this question very substantially overstates Stockman's support ("if the election were held today and the candidates were [rotate choices] Congressman Tom DeLay, former Democratic Congressman Nick Lampson and former Republican Congressman Steve Stockman, for whom would you vote?"). The way the question is worded makes it much more likely for Republicans to choose Stockman on this survey than on election day.

A campaign pollster would be unlikely to choose wording such as this, because the wording leads to the results being less predictive than they might otherwise be.

On to the primary numbers...
DeLay 39%
Tom Campbell 6%
Mike Fjetland 2%
Pat Baig 1%
Where is the support for the numbers immediately above? This is from the graphic that accompanied the news article (the 39% is also mentioned in the news article), yet I can't find these numbers anywhere in the poll results or crosstabs.

What I can find is this:
Four candidates are running for Congress in the Republican primary being held in the 22nd Congressional District. If the election were held today, which of these candidates would you most likely vote for?
Tom DeLay (120) 21%
Pat Baig (13) 2%
Tom Campbell (34) 6%
Mike Fjetland (12) 2%
No Answer/Refused (381) 68%
Did this poll really ask EVERY person surveyed (including Democrats) who they were voting for the in Republican primary? That's what the results seem to indicate. If they asked every Democrat surveyed who they were voting for in the GOP primary, then that's sloppy surveying and makes the results of the primary question worthless.

It's totally bizarre. It's almost unfathomable for them to have asked every person surveyed who they were voting for in the Republican primary.

Things I've heard (mis)reported, based on this poll:
Channel 11's news report said that 91% now had a lower opinion of DeLay. Channel 11 also said that 47% think DeLay should resign. This is sloppy reporting by Channel 11. From the poll:
Has your opinion of Tom DeLay changed over the past year?
Yes (213) 38%
No (332) 59%
Don't Know/Refused (15) 3%

Do you now have a higher or lower opinion of Tom DeLay than you did last year?
Higher (7) 3%
Lower (194) 91%
Don't Know/Refused (13) 6%

Should Congressman Tom DeLay withdraw as a candidate for the 22nd Congressional seat?
Yes (263) 47%
No (226) 40%
Don't Know/Refused (71) 13%
So, based solely on the survey, only 35% (91% of 38) have a lower opinion of DeLay. Also, "withdrawing as a candidate" is much different from "resigning." It may seem like pedantry, but the two are definitely not equivalent in a poll.

Undersampled Republicans?
This survey appears to have undersampled Republicans. The district is about 62-63% GOP. According to the party breakdown in the survey, 42% is GOP, 27% D, 23%. When the independents (according to a question in the survey) are asked which way they leaned, then you end up with 36% D, 50% GOP, 10% "strict independent," with the remaining 4% being other. Given that the district has voted around 62-63% Republican in the past, this seems like a rather low number of Republicans.

There are a few ways to take this: 1) the survey undersampled Republicans, 2) the district is trending Democratic demographically (there is some very mild support for this), 3) district 22 voters are upset with Republicans and thus are identifying more with Democrats right now.

My guess is that the discrepancy is best explained by some combination of the above 3 possibilities, with option 1 being the most prevalent, and option 3 being also part of the reason.

Big picture points:
1. This isn't good for DeLay, although it's not really unexpected. The survey puts DeLay's favorable/unfavorable at 29%/60%, and it shows that many voters who have voted for him are considering other candidates because of his legal situation.

2. Unless DeLay's legal situation deteriorates, this is very likely the nadir of his poll numbers. There's no doubt that after the last few weeks, DeLay's poll numbers would be bad. But is this really the best time to take a poll, if you're attempting to predict the outcome of upcoming elections? No.

3. As far as I can tell, unless the Chronicle or Stein/Murray choose to clarify the primary results, it's very hard to take the primary results seriously.

4. If DeLay wins legally, he'll win re-election. If he loses legally, he won't win re-election. This guy, in the Chronicle's article, put it well:
"I go a lot on the way somebody talks and he doesn't give me warm and fuzzy feelings," said Robert Jones of Pearland, who has supported DeLay but rated him unfavorably in the Chronicle survey last week. Jones, who voted in the 2004 Republican primary and considers himself an independent, said he hasn't decided whom he will support this year.

"A lot depends on what happens with Tom DeLay," he said.
Yup. What happens in court will decide this election.

January 12, 2006

NYTimes on DeLay v. Lampson


Representative Tom DeLay is in the toughest re-election campaign of his 11-term House career, a battle that might be decided not only by his legal problems, but also by the Congressional redistricting plan he spearheaded in 2003.

The redistricting led to the loss of six Democratic seats in Texas in 2004, but it also shifted thousands of Democratic voters to strong Republican districts. Among those, Mr. DeLay's 22nd District added several Democratic-leaning parts of Galveston County; several political analysts estimate they may have raised the district's Democratic vote around 5 percent.


"I think there is a 50-50 chance DeLay won't even be in the race in November," said Calvin C. Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

If he does stay in the race - and Mr. DeLay insists he will - he has the demographics of the 22nd District to bolster him.

"Despite everything, it's extremely difficult to dislodge Tom DeLay in a district with such a strong Republican base and a strong, straight-ticket Republican voting trend," said Ted Delisi, a Republican strategist in Austin.
As DavidNYC at Swing State Project noted, I already pointed out that Texas district 22 only got about 2-3% less Republican.

It's a pretty uphill district for a Democrat. As I see it, Democrats have two main hopes: 1) DeLay loses in court, or 2) DeLay is still in legal jeopardy (under indictment in Austin or by new indictment in DOJ).

Barring either of those, it's going to be a very difficult race for Lampson. DeLay is fully engaged in the campaign, he'll raise plenty of money, and he has the powers of incumbency.

Also, I think Cal Jillson is wrong. If DeLay were to drop out, he would have dropped out already.

It's worth pointing out: Lampson lost two years ago in a LESS Republican district as the incumbent, gaining only 43% to now-Congressman Ted Poe's 55%. Further, that district contained Jefferson County, which Lampson had represented for years as Congressman and county tax assessor.

January 11, 2006

Anti-DeLay ad not airing in Houston

The anti-DeLay ad produced by several liberal groups is not airing in Houston. All four of the local network affiliates and Time Warner cable have decided either: 1) to not run the ad, or 2) to review the ad further.

I'm not particularly surprised. The line in the ad about Russian tycoons wasn't true or even close enough for attack ads.

It'll be interesting to see whether the left-wing groups choose to edit the ad, or whether they'll be happy with the free media publicity that they gained from announcing the ad.

EDIT: The ad, in WMV format.

UPDATE: Three of the four have chosen not to run the ad. One is still reviewing the ad.

The AP profiles Tom Campbell, expected to be DeLay's most serious primary challenger:

While two of DeLay's challengers aren't considered to have much credibility — one is making his fourth attempt to unseat DeLay and the other has lived overseas much of her adult life — lawyer Tom Campbell of Sugar Land holds an impressive Republican resume.

Campbell worked on the presidential campaigns of Bob Dole and the elder George Bush, whose administration appointed him general counsel to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. A former Harris County Republican Party official runs Campbell's campaign.


Campbell, 50, said after "having a hard time voting for Tom DeLay" in the 2004 election, he looked for someone to challenge DeLay in 2006, but found no GOP career politician willing to take him on. So Campbell, who's never held a political office, decided to run himself, figuring it was an act of Republican loyalty to challenge the party's troubled standard-bearer.

"If we don't clean house in March, we'll lose the House in November," said Campbell, an environmental lawyer who drives a hybrid gas-electric car, not the standard wheels for Texas GOP candidates. "Sugar Land, Texas, is the epicenter of the national debate on how we conduct politics."


"Tom Campbell at least has Republican credentials," Fort Bend County GOP chairman Eric Thode said. "Having said that, it doesn't translate into one iota of support or money. He is 100 percent absolutely unknown in this county."

Campbell, a 12-year Sugar Land resident who has put his own money into the race, has less than $100,000 so far after announcing his candidacy in December, said campaign manager Mike Stanley, former general counsel to the Harris County GOP. DeLay had raised more than $1 million by the last reporting deadline in September.

DeLay also faces lawyer Mike Fjetland and retired teacher Pat Baig. The primary winner will face former U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, a Beaumont Democrat who represented a district next to DeLay's for eight years until DeLay's redistricting plan put him in a new, less Democratic district. Lampson lost in 2004 to longtime Houston judge Ted Poe, a Republican.

While DeLay's campaign spokeswoman, Shannon Flaherty, has dismissed Fjetland and Baig with disparaging quips, she said DeLay welcomes Campbell to the race and to hearing his ideas.

"But he's going to have a tough time with local GOP support," Flaherty said. "He's got more than 30 years of catching up to do."
If there's a candidate who appears to possibly be able to raise the money necessary for the race, it's Campbell.

As I've said before, I think the indicator of whether DeLay is in trouble will be endorsements. However, Campbell, Fjetland, and Baig would need to raise enough money to capitalize if that were to happen.

DeLay joins Perry at Perry's Houston re-election announcement


Wednesday, a surprise guest accompanied Texas Governor Rick Perry as he came to Houston to launch his re-election campaign.

Controversial Congressman Tom DeLay offered his support to Perry in what is turning into a ruthless race for governor.

Rick Perry brought his re-election waltz across Texas to Houston.

"Our jobs are at an all time high. Frivolous lawsuits are on the decline," said Governor Perry told the crowd.

Outside he attracted four young cheerleaders and five detractors who were old enough to vote.

"He's done nothing in education," a protester said.

In theory a republican running for re-election in a republican state should feel pretty comfortable.

"Our work isn't done, not by a long shot. Which is why I'm a candidate for governor in 2006," Governor Perry said.

But here's where it gets interesting.

Comptroller Carol Keeton Strayhorn is a Republican, though she's running against Perry as an Independent.

Only even as she says it on a television commercial, a close look reveals it says Republican under her name.

Perry didn't want to talk with 11 News.

But Congressman Tom Delay weighed in on independents.

"I think they're a novelty that Texans kind of enjoy and they make the race kinda funny," said Tom Delay, R-Sugar Land.
It's Carole Strayhorn, but plenty of people search for Carol, so I won't correct it for them.

January 10, 2006

Liberal groups plan anti-DeLay ad

Two liberal groups are airing an anti-DeLay ad. No word on how large the buy is or what kind of buy.

The TV spot will point out connections between the Sugar Land Republican and former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty to corruption charges last week in a Justice Department investigation of his dealings on Capitol Hill.


The DeLay ad, along with one to be aired in the Ohio district of GOP Rep. Bob Ney, who has been implicated in Abramoff's schemes, is part of an effort to build support for cleaning up Congress, said Toby Chaudhuri, spokesman for the Campaign for America's Future.

His group, which receives significant funding from labor unions, and a watchdog group, the Public Campaign Action Fund, are sponsoring the ads and have run others attacking DeLay. They are expected to announce today an effort to pressure Congress to pass lobbying and campaign finance reforms this year.


The Campaign for America's Future "consistently attack(s) conservative leaders like President Bush and now they're getting involved in a district they probably couldn't point to on a map," DeLay spokeswoman Shannon Flaherty said. "While I don't know what the ad looks like, I can guess it will in no way depict the labor unions they're affiliated with or what they really support -- higher taxes, more government control, and the laughable leadership of Nancy Pelosi and Nick Lampson."
Both organizations are running the same ad. The thirty second spot features black text on a tv-static gray background, while recounting that DeLay was indicted for money laundering, and that Abramoff gave him money, before fading to corruption printed on the screen in capital black letters, with a call for DeLay to resign.

DeLay to chair NASA subcmte if he wins re-election?

National Journal (subscription required):

DeLay has served on [Appropriations] for nearly two decades, beginning in his second term in Congress in 1987, although he took a leave of absence once he became majority leader at the start of the 108th Congress. He has retained his seniority despite the leave of absence, and he will rank sixth among Republicans when he rejoins the panel. Committee tradition is to determine subcommittee assignments based on full committee seniority, so he could conceivably oust one of the 11 subcommittee "cardinals." DeLay has said he would not do so, at least in the short term, although he would be primed to take over a subcommittee beginning in the 110th Congress if he wins re-election in November.

In 2007, DeLay would have a clear path to cardinal status, as Science, State, Justice, Commerce Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Frank Wolf, R-Va., is term-limited. That subcommittee funds NASA's roughly $16 billion annual budget, a high priority for DeLay, who represents about 15,000 workers at the Houston-area Johnson Space Center. Before leaving the committee after the 107th Congress, DeLay served on the old VA-HUD panel, which funded NASA, as well as the Transportation Subcommittee, which has since been merged with housing programs. DeLay's spokesman said beyond rejoining the panel, DeLay has not discussed future subcommittee chairmanships.
An Appropriations cardinal can wield quite a bit of influence.

January 09, 2006

Out and about in Sugar Land

Jason Embry's take on DeLay in the Statesman:

Mention U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay to Rich and Jill Maynard, and you won't initially hear about money laundering or scandal-plagued lobbyists.

Instead, their first reaction is to credit the local congressman with helping expand U.S. 59, the key artery connecting this ever-growing suburb to Houston.

"That's what affects the citizens more," said Rich Maynard, who works in construction management for a homebuilder.

Now that DeLay, R-Sugar Land, has surrendered hopes of regaining his post as leader of the Republican majority in the U.S. House, his next major political test will be to persuade voters here in Fort Bend and three other counties to send him back to Congress for a 12th term.

Residents in DeLay's hometown expressed everything from steadfast support to downright disappointment to a wait-and-see indifference Sunday, largely depending on their own party preferences.

Several people said they had no opinions to share because they were unfamiliar with his case, and even some who have followed it said it isn't clear to them why he's in trouble.
The rest of the article is simply quotes that Embry collected around town.

This article amuses me. As I've mentioned, Harris County now makes up more of district 22 than Fort Bend County. Why are there no quotes from people in Clear Lake?

Chronicle editorial

The Houston Chronicle editorial board today turned their attention to DeLay's decision to step down as majority leader.

Court denies DeLay request

Liz Austin -- AP:

The state's highest criminal court on Monday denied Rep. Tom DeLay's request that the money laundering charges against him be dismissed or sent back to a lower court for an immediate trial.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied the requests with no written order two days after the Sugar Land Republican announced he was stepping down as House majority leader. DeLay was forced to temporarily relinquish the post after he was indicted on money laundering and conspiracy charges in September.

DeLay, who denies wrongdoing, had been trying to rush to trial in Texas in hopes of clearing his name and regaining the position. His attorney, Dick DeGuerin, said they will continue to push for a quick trial because DeLay faces opposition in the March Republican primary.

"We'd like to get it over with before then, but it's not as crucial as it would have been if he were still in the running for his leadership post," DeGuerin said.

But DeLay's decision to abandon the powerful position in no way lessens his desire to clear his name, DeGuerin said.

"Tom DeLay's not going to plead guilty to anything, even spitting on the sidewalk," he said.

January 08, 2006

Mack on DeLay

Chronicle politics writer Kristen Mack on DeLay:

U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay's departure from the House leadership shrinks his national stature, but he is still likely to win his party's nomination in the 22nd District and will be a formidable candidate for re-election, supporters and a key opponent said Saturday.

"He had to [resign his leadership post] for the betterment of the Republican Party and to the detriment of the Houston area," said Fort Bend County Republican Party Chairman Eric Thode. "There's never been a question about his re-election. It's only been fomented by those that are delusional."


In November, he also may face former Republican Rep. Steve Stockman, who has filed as an independent. Stockman will need to petition for a place on the ballot — which also will include the Libertarian Party nominee and possibly one other independent who has already filed. It is too late for anyone else to file as an independent.

But DeLay's biggest challenge comes from former U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Lampson and GOP leaders expect that DeLay easily will win his party's nomination over challengers Pat Baig, Tom Campbell and Michael Fjetland.

"Not one has any money, following or name ID," Thode said. "We are 100 percent behind DeLay and will continue to stand behind him."

In an unusual move last summer, the Fort Bend and Harris County Republican parties passed resolutions supporting DeLay. Traditionally party leaders remain publicly neutral about contests in their party primaries.


Primary opponent Campbell, a lawyer, said DeLay did the right thing by ending his bid for the House majority-leader position.

"Tom has become preoccupied with a whole series of issues that make it difficult for him to continue to serve in leadership positions," Campbell said. "If he hadn't made the decision, he would not have enough votes to become the majority leader. Tom's days as a Washington power broker are coming to a close."

DeLay should withdraw from the race and focus on his own issues while the Republican Party focuses on returning to its roots, Campbell said.

"We need to clean our house in March, and if we don't, we run the risk of losing the House in November," Campbell said.

Lampson, who expects DeLay to be his Republican opponent, said he anticipates a tough race but thinks the residents of the district are ready for new leadership.


The question now, [Rice professor Bob Stein] said, is whether residents of the district view DeLay's departure from the leadership as a significant political liability.

"The only thing that's ironic about it, is it leaves the state without a single member of the delegation, on either side, as part of the leadership," Stein said. "The very thing DeLay sought to provide, a place at the table for Texas, is all lost now. Texas is just as hurt by this as the Republican Party."
Here are my previous comments on the Republican primary.

The best indicator of DeLay's strength: if Republican clubs and officeholders endorse his opponents. Right now, none have endorsed any of DeLay's opponents that I know of. If that changes, it will be a sign of weakness.

In other words, money won't be the best indicator of DeLay's opponents' strength. I expect one of his opponents, probably Campbell, to be able to raise a reasonable amount of money, but I don't believe that to be as reliable an indicator.