We continue our look into how straight-ticket voting has played out historically in today’s more competitive districts. We started with HD107 and HD105 in Dallas Co. last week and today we look at nearby HD102.
The district is comprised of North Dallas, much of Addison, southern and western Richardson and a little corner of Garland. It has been reliably Republican, and likely will remain so in 2016, but Democrats are getting traction. The Republican advantage in straight-ticket voting has shrunk from more than 11K in 2000 to fewer than 4K in 2012. The number of Republican straight-ticket voters has remained mostly flat while the number of Democratic straight-ticket voters has nearly doubled in the precincts in the district’s current configuration.
HD102 is today held by freshman Rep. Linda Koop (R-Dallas), who wrested it from former Rep. Stefani Garter (R-Dallas) in the 2014 Republican primary runoff. Koop easily defeated former State Board of Education member George Clayton, 62%-38%, in the general election. In 2016, Koop faces Democratic activist Laura Irvin. There are no minor party candidates in the race.
The seat was won by a Democrat as recently as 2008, when Carol Kent defeated longtime incumbent Rep. Tony Goolsby, 53%-47%. Kent lost the seat to Carter two years later, and it has since been redrawn to replace Democrat-friendly Dallas precincts with Republican-friendly precincts from Richardson. As it is drawn today, HD102 would have been won, easily, by a Republican in 2008.
Democrats are making gains here, but Republicans maintain a significant advantage. Estimates of the number of straight-ticket and full-ballot votes cast in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 presidential elections and the actual number of those votes in the 2012 presidential election are shown below.
- Straight Republican – 19,700 86% 86%
- Straight Democratic – 8,600 37% 37%
- Full Ballot – 21,900 95% 95%
Republican Advantage: ~11,100 votes
- Straight Republican – 21,000 91% 91%
- Straight Democratic – 12,200 53% 53%
- Full Ballot – 21,700 94% 94%
Republican Advantage: ~8,800 votes
- Straight Republican – 18,000 78% 78%
- Straight Democratic – 15,300 67% 67%
- Full Ballot – 23,000 100% 100%
Republican Advantage: ~2,700 votes
- Straight Republican – 19,120 83% 83%
- Straight Democratic – 15,381 67% 67%
- Full Ballot – 19,655 85% 85%
Republican Advantage: 3,739 votes
Despite recent gains, Democratic straight-ticket voters (15,381) remained the smallest bloc of voters in 2012, behind full-ballot voters (19,655) and Republican straight-ticket voters (19,120).
In 2012, a Democratic candidate would have needed 60% of the full-ballot vote to overcome the Republicans’ straight-ticket advantage in HD102.
Assuming continued growth in Democratic straight-ticket voters, a smaller percentage of the full-ballot vote could tip the seat, but it would appear to be a significantly high hurdle to overcome, particularly if the number of full-ballot voters continues shrinks. In 2012, nearly 3,400 fewer HD102 residents voted a full ballot than in 2008, and, as the share of all votes cast, full-ballot voters fell to 36% from 41%.