We continue our look into how straight-ticket voting has played out historically in today’s more competitive districts. We started with HD107 in Dallas Co. earlier this week and today we look at nearby HD105. The district has produced some famously close elections in recent cycles, most notably a 19-vote win by then-incumbent Rep. Linda Harper-Brown (R-Irving) in 2008. If 20 more people had voted for Democrat Bob Romano, then an equal number of Democrats and Republicans would have been sworn into the Texas House of Representatives two months later.
The district was redrawn in 2011. On balance, it is friendlier to Republicans than the old configuration would have been, but the addition of numerous Grand Prairie precincts ultimately cost Harper-Brown a close primary in 2014.
HD105 is today held by Rep. Rodney Anderson (R-Grand Prairie), who is seeking his second consecutive term and third overall. He is opposed by Irving attorney Terry Meza, who is making her second run for the seat (She lost the 2014 Democratic runoff.). Minor-party candidates have captured 2-3% of the vote in recent elections, adding to the district’s volatility, but none ran this year.
As it is configured today, HD107 leans Republican, but it tends to be more competitive in presidential election years. In fact, as it is currently configured, Democrats would have had a slight edge in straight-ticket voting in 2008. In 2012, Harper-Brown won re-election by fewer than 1K votes. Two years ago, Anderson prevailed in the general election, 55%-43%.
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 – 14,000 76% 76%
- Straight Democratic – 8,900 48% 48%
- Full Ballot – 18,500 100% 100%
Republican Advantage: ~5,100 votes
- Straight Republican – 17,400 94% 94%
- Straight Democratic – 11,200 61% 61%
- Full Ballot – 16,800 91% 91%
Republican Advantage: ~6,200 votes
- Straight Republican – 14,200 77% 77%
- Straight Democratic – 14,300 77% 77%
- Full Ballot – 21,900 99% 99%
Democratic Advantage: ~100 votes
- Straight Republican – 15,386 83% 83%
- Straight Democratic – 14,445 78% 78%
- Full Ballot – 14,107 76% 76%
Republican Advantage: 941 votes
We estimate that full-ballot voters were a plurality in 2000 (45%) and 2008 (39%), but more voters cast Republican straight-ticket ballots (35%) and Democratic straight-ticket ballots (33%) than voted a full ballot (32%) in 2012. In other words, more than two out of every three ballots cast in HD105 are straight-ticket votes.
Measured as the percentage of all votes cast, Democratic straight-ticket voting has increased in each presidential election year over the previous presidential election year in the precincts currently comprising HD105. Even the total number of Democratic straight-ticket votes increased in 2012 over 2008. The number of Republican straight-ticket votes peaked in 2004, but the 2012 total was about 8% higher than in 2008.
In 2012, every Republican candidate running within HD105 had a 941-vote advantage. Harper-Brown won re-election by 782 votes. Her Democratic opponent captured slightly more of the full-ballot vote (50.7%) than Harper-Brown (49.3%). A repeat of that Democratic performance, coupled with a straight-ticket turnout similar to 2008 would be enough to flip this seat.