We continue our look into how straight-ticket voting has played out historically in today’s more competitive districts by turning our attention to HD118 in southern and eastern Bexar Co.
Republican John Lujan scored an upset victory in a January special runoff election over Democrat Tomas Uresti, 52%-48%, to claim the remaining term of former Rep. Joe Farias (D-San Antonio), who resigned. Just 4% of registered voters cast ballots in the special runoff election. Lujan faces a rematch against Uresti in November. There are no minor party candidates in the race.
HD118 has never previously been held by a Republican, either in Bexar Co. (1977-2015) or when it was located in West Texas (1913-1953). The reason is fairly straightforward: HD118 in Bexar Co. is, at least in general elections, very friendly to Democrats.
Barack Obama received 56% of the vote in what is now HD118 in 2008 and in current HD118 in 2012. Bill White defeated Rick Perry, 56%-44%, in what is now HD118 in 2010, and Wendy Davis carried the currently drawn district in 2014, 53%-47%. Democratic candidates run stronger in HD118’s precincts in presidential election years, buoyed by a strong straight-ticket voting advantage. In three of the last four presidential elections, the number of Democratic straight-ticket votes has exceeded the number of Republican straight-ticket votes by at least 5,000 in the precincts currently comprising HD118.
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 – 6,500 32% 32%
- Straight Democratic – 11,900 59% 59%
- Full Ballot – 15,700 78% 78%
Democratic Advantage: ~5,400 votes
- Straight Republican – 10,400 52% 52%
- Straight Democratic – 12,500 62% 62%
- Full Ballot – 17,500 87% 87%
Democratic Advantage: ~2,100 votes
- Straight Republican – 8,600 43% 43%
- Straight Democratic – 14,700 73% 73%
- Full Ballot – 20,100 100% 100%
Democratic Advantage: ~6,100 votes
- Straight Republican – 10,948 54% 54%
- Straight Democratic – 16,206 81% 81%
- Full Ballot – 13,389 67% 67%
Democratic Advantage: 5,258 votes
Full-ballot voters have carried some Republicans to victory in what is now HD118 despite Democratic advantages in straight-ticket voting. In 2004, President George W. Bush carried the district’s current precincts over John Kerry, 53%-47%, overcoming an approximate 2,100-vote deficit in straight-ticket voting. Bush received 62% of the vote from people voting a full ballot. In 2006, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison received 64% of the full-ballot vote to overcome an approximate 3,100-vote deficit and carry what is now HD118 by just over 500 votes against Democratic nominee Barbara Radnofsky. However, these are exceptions to the general rule.
Two out of every three votes cast by HD118 voters in 2012 was a straight-ticket vote, the highest percentage for any election since at least 2000 in precincts currently comprising the district.
In 2012, Farias won re-election over Republican Robert Casias, 60%-40%. Farias had a 5,258-vote advantage in straight-ticket voting. Casias needed 70% of the full-ballot vote to overcome that deficit. He received 40%. Lujan likely faces similar numbers as he runs for a full term. His odds get longer if presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump continues to lose ground with Hispanic/Latino voters and/or if presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton names former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro or another Hispanic/Latino(a) as her vice-presidential nominee.
Because of the historically reliable Democratic straight-ticket voting advantage, we deem this district the likeliest to flip from Republican to Democrat.