We previously took a high-level look at how local runoffs could impact the Republican runoff for SD1 and a closer look at SD24. Today we explore whether local runoffs could impact the Republican runoff for CD19 between Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson and Lubbock university administrator Jodey Arrington. Robertson (27%) received 855 more votes than Arrington (26%) in the primary.
We estimate the impact to be negligible at best. If there is to be any advantage, it appears that Robertson would receive it, but we expect it to be largely unnoticeable.
Both candidates are from the district’s largest county, and the two largest counties – Lubbock (39%) and Taylor (20%) – represent three-fifths of all votes cast in the primary. The next largest county, Hale Co., represented just 4%. This translates into very few opportunities for local runoffs to have any significant impact on the larger race.
In Lubbock Co., a runoff for constable affects 36 precincts comprising 23% of the primary vote there. In those precincts, Robertson edged out Arrington by 38 votes. Overall, the county vote was split almost as evenly between the two as they both received 30%.
In Taylor Co., a runoff for county commissioner is not expected to add much on top of the SD24 runoff involving Taylor Co.’ state representative. That would make a huge impact in the CD19 race if Michael Bob Starr had made the runoff, but he finished third. Taylor Co. may well be the key to the CD19 runoff, but there is no geographical advantage for either runoff participant. That being said, Robertson finished second in Taylor Co. with 17% of the vote. Arrington was third at 14%.
Arrington finished ahead of Robertson in 11 of the district’s 29 counties. There are no local runoffs in seven of those counties, including the three counties where Arrington received at least 40% of the vote. Robertson fares better. Excluding Lubbock and Taylor Cos., there are local runoffs in nine of the 16 counties where he finished ahead of Arrington, but only one of those counties saw more than 3K voters go to the polls.
While we expect turnout in counties with local runoffs to be relatively higher to other counties, we do not see much of an overall impact on the CD19 race. Much more will depend on how voters in Lubbock Co. and, in particular, Taylor Co. will break.
While we’re on the subject of CD19, another recent race may provide some insight into this runoff.
Robertson has never run for office outside Lubbock Co. before, but Arrington has. He lost a similarly crowded 2014 special election for SD28, and 21 of those counties are part of CD19. Arrington received 30% of the vote in that special election, losing to then-Rep. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), who won without a runoff.
Measuring it purely as his percent of the total votes cast, Arrington lost ground in those counties, moving from 30% in the 2014 special election to 26% in the 2016 primary. Coincidentally, these are the same percentages he received overall in the two races.
Arrington received 30% in Lubbock Co. in both races. He received a smaller share of the vote in the next three largest counties – Taylor (-7%), Hale (-16%) and Hockley (-3%) – in 2016 than he did in 2014. In Hale Co., he went from winning outright with 64% in the special election to receiving a 48% plurality in the primary. Arrington improved over his 2014 performance in 10 of the smaller counties.
The CD19 runoff will be Arrington’s first head-to-head contest in any of these counties. He finished 316 votes behind Robertson in Lubbock Co. and 539 votes behind Robertson everywhere else in the primary. Whether the runoff remains as close depends on how the other candidates’ voters participate, the extent to which either candidate can draw new voters to the runoff, and, very importantly, the candidates’ abilities to retain their existing support. Local runoffs should not have much of an impact, but they could if the election is a close one.