Our ongoing look at straight-ticket voting trends in competitive or potentially competitive districts shifts to HD113 on the eastern edge of Dallas Co. Comprised of portions of Balch Springs, Dallas, Garland, Mesquite and Rowlett and all of Seagoville and Sunnyvale, the Republican-friendly district exhibits high rates of straight-ticket voting. More than seven out of every 10 ballots cast here in 2012 were straight-ticket votes. Five other Dallas Co. districts saw a higher rate of straight-ticket voting that year, and they are all represented by Democrats.
Rep. Cindy Burkett (R-Sunnyvale) is seeking her fourth term overall and third representing HD113 (She originally represented HD101.). No Democrat ran against her in 2012, and she defeated her 2014 Democratic opponent by nearly 5,600 votes. This year she faces a spirited, but as yet lightly financed, challenge from Rowlett community organizer Rhetta Andrews Bowers. There are no minor party candidates in the race.
Burkett reported raising $130K since her primary victory over Garland attorney Johnathan Boos. She has $72K on hand. Bowers reported raising less than $13K since January 1 and has $11K on hand. Almost all of Bowers’s contributions came in the form of small donations from individuals, but many are outside of the district. Bowers has less on hand and has raised less money than Burkett’s 2014 opponent.
As they have in several other Dallas Co. districts, Democrats have made headway in HD113. The number of Democratic straight-ticket votes doubled from 2000 to 2012. The number of Republican straight-ticket voters rebounded from a drop-off in 2008 but was still under 1K votes short of the 2004 peak. In that year, Republicans had an 8,500-vote advantage in straight-ticket voting in the precincts currently comprising HD113.
A surge of voters supporting Barack Obama combined with a drop in Republican straight-ticket voters to cut that advantage to just 1,200 votes in 2008. Republicans gained a little ground back in 2012 as the advantage extended to just over 2,200 votes.
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 – 14,800 73% 73%
- Straight Democratic – 8,600 43% 43%
- Full Ballot – 16,600 82% 82%
Republican Advantage: ~6,200 votes
- Straight Republican – 20,200 100% 100%
- Straight Democratic – 11,700 58% 58%
- Full Ballot – 17,000 82% 82%
Republican Advantage: ~8,500 votes
- Straight Republican – 18,000 89% 89%
- Straight Democratic – 16,800 83% 83%
- Full Ballot – 18,600 92% 92%
Republican Advantage: ~1,200 votes
- Straight Republican – 19,366 96% 96%
- Straight Democratic – 17,124 85% 85%
- Full Ballot – 14,496 72% 72%
Republican Advantage: 2,242 votes
Democrats have made up ground not only on Republicans’ straight-ticket voting advantage but also on their advantage with full-ballot voters. In each presidential election since 2000, the Democratic candidate for president has gotten increasingly closer to the Republican among full-ballot voters:
- In 2000, Al Gore received 31% of the vote among full-ballot voters
- In 2004, John Kerry received 35% of their vote
- In 2008, Barack Obama received 43% of their vote; and
- In 2012, Obama received 47% of their vote.
Republican candidates for the House have tended to perform better than the presidential or gubernatorial candidate in HD113. For example, Burkett received 63% of the full-ballot vote over her Democratic opponent, but Greg Abbott received just 51% from the same voters.
The Bowers campaign’s Facebook page indicates significant volunteer, block-walking and meet-and-greeting activity so far this summer. She will need to raise significantly more funds to be competitive. At this point, she has not been endorsed by Annie’s List, which supports the candidacy of HD107 challenger Victoria Neave, or other groups that could provide fundraising heft.
Even if the Democrats draw even, or slightly surpass, Republican straight-ticket voting numbers, Bowers must also win, or at least split, the full-ballot vote to prevail. Burkett has previously demonstrated that she fares better among full-ballot voters than the Republican men who top the ballot (Rick Perry in 2010, Mitt Romney in 2012, Abbott in 2014).
We will take another look at this race in the fall.