Back in July, as part of our series of analyses identifying districts potentially in play, we found that a challenging party’s candidate raised at least half as much as the incumbent party’s candidate in 90% of the Texas legislative and congressional seats that were flipped by a competitive general election since 2004. Half of those flips were accomplished by challengers who out-raised the incumbent or incumbent party’s nominee.
At the time, we promised to take another look at the numbers once the 30-day-out (state) and October quarterly (federal) campaign finance reports were filed. This analysis looks at total contributions for the two-year election cycle, not the results of any single fundraising period. For purposes of this analysis, we consider any candidate of the challenging party to be a “challenger” regardless of whether there is an incumbent in the race.
So far this election cycle, five Democratic general election challengers have out-raised their Republican opponents:
- J. Hegar, 215% more raised than U.S. Rep. John Carter (R-Round Rock) in CD31
- Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, 183% more than U.S. Rep. John Culberson (R-Houston) in CD7
- Julie Johnson, 148% more than Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R-Irving) in HD115
- Joseph Kopser, 143% more than Chip Roy (R) in CD21 open; and
- Gina Ortiz Jones, 128% more than U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) in CD23.
Otherwise, all other Republican incumbents and nominees for seats the party currently holds have out-raised their Democratic challengers for the election cycle. No Republican challenger has out-raised a Democratic incumbent or nominee for a seat currently in the blue column. Every challenger that has out-raised an incumbent for a legislative or congressional seat in Texas during the last two election cycles has won.
Challenging candidates who raised between 65% and 99% of the amounts raised by the incumbent party’s candidate accounted for 35% of the flipped seats in this analysis. Ten Democratic and one Republican challenger have raised at least 65%, but not more than 100%, of the amount raised by their opponents:
- Colin Allred, 94% of the amount raised by U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Dallas) in CD32
- Alex Karjeker, 90% of Rep. Dennis Paul’s (R-Webster) total in HD129
- Todd Litton, 88% of Dan Crenshaw’s (R) total in open CD2
- John Turner, 88% of Lisa Luby Ryan’s (R) total in open HD114
- Jeromey Sims, 76% of Rep. Stephanie Klick’s (R) total in HD91
- James Talarico, 76% of Cynthia Flores’s (R) total in HD52
- Dayna Steele, 74% of U.S. Rep. Brian Babin’s (R-Woodville) total in CD36
- Sri Preston Kulkarni, 71% of U.S. Rep. Pete Olson’s (R-Sugar Land) total in CD22
- Julie Oliver, 69% of U.S. Rep. Roger Williams’s (R-Austin) total in CD25
- John Bucy, 66% of Rep. Tony Dale’s (R-Cedar Park) total in HD136; and
- Deanna Metzger, 65% of Rep. Victoria Neave’s (D-Dallas) total in HD107.
Challenging candidates who raised at least half as much but less than 65% as much as the incumbent party’s candidates were responsible for 10% of flips. One independent and seven Democratic challengers are in this band:
- Lorena McGill, 64% of the amount raised by former Rep. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands) in open HD15
- Jana Lynne Sanchez, 62% of Ron Wright’s (R) total in open CD6
- Nathan Johnson, 62% of Sen. Don Huffines’s (R-Dallas) total in SD16
- Brandy Chambers, 57% of Rep. Angie Chen Button’s (R-Garland) total in HD112
- Julie Luton, 57% of Rep. Scott Sanford’s (R-McKinney) total in HD70
- Neal Katz, 56% of Rep. Matt Schaefer’s (R-Tyler) total in HD6
- Beverly Powell, 55% of Sen. Konni Burton’s (R-Colleyville) total in SD10; and
- Stephanie Lochte Ertel, 50% of Rep. Andrew Murr’s (R-Junction) total in HD73.
In the last two election cycles, four out of the nine challengers who raised at least half as much, not not as much, as the incumbent party’s candidates prevailed.
Since 2004, just six challengers raising less than half of their opponent’s total contributions flipped the seat. One was self-funded. Two others – John Otto in 2004 and Jason Isaac in 2010 – were close to raising 50%. Just one current challenger, Joanna Cattanach in HD108, has raised at least 44% but less than half than her opponent, Rep. Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas). The other three were true upsets, at least based on financial advantage. They occurred in 2004, 2010 and 2014.
Recent history suggests that almost all, if not all, seats flipped in 2018 will come from this list.
Prior analyses have looked at districts that are bluer than the state as a whole, districts won by Hillary Clinton in 2016, districts where straight-party voting has shifted toward Democrats, districts where Republican straight-party voting declined and our exploration of fundraising totals as of June 30.
©2018 Texas Election Source LLC