We continue our exploration of straight-ticket voting trends in competitive or potentially competitive districts by looking at the precincts currently comprising HD92 in Northeast Tarrant County. The district includes all of Hurst, Euless and Bedford, which represent 88% of votes cast in the district. HD92 also includes a portion of northern Arlington, the Tarrant Co. portion of Grand Prairie and a finger of Fort Worth reaching toward the airport.
Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) is seeking a third term. He is opposed by Tarrant Co. Democratic Party activist and animal activist Kim Leach. A pair of minor party candidates, Libertarian Leah Sees and Green Travis Christal, are also on the ballot.
A recent memo from Leland Beatty optimistically projected that around 20 Republican-held seats could be “in play” in November. We are not advised as to whether HD92 is on that list, but, even if it were, we are certain it will not be “in play.”
Republicans have served this area in the House since 1985, when former Rep. Charles Evans (R-Hurst) switched parties on October 31 of that year. He resigned two years later after winning re-election as a Republican. He was succeeded by Republican Monte Stewart, who served during the interim, before Republicans Carolyn Park (R-Euless) and Todd Smith (R-Euless) held the seat for four and eight terms, respectively. Stickland succeeded Smith after Smith unsuccessfully sought a Senate seat.
Suffice it to say, the district is friendly to Republicans generally and Tea Party Republicans in particular. Stickland has easily turned away a pair of moderate primary challengers, and he easily defeated a Democrat in 2014. Barring a gigantic change in voters’ partisan views, he will easily win re-election. Republican straight-ticket voters have comprised the district’s largest voting bloc since 2010.
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 – 21,500 81% 81%
- Straight Democratic – 8,700 33% 33%
- Full Ballot – 22,600 85% 85%
Republican Advantage: ~12,800 votes
- Straight Republican – 26,500 100% 100%
- Straight Democratic – 11,600 44% 44%
- Full Ballot – 22,800 86% 86%
Republican Advantage: ~14,900 votes
- Straight Republican – 23,900 90% 90%
- Straight Democratic – 15,200 57% 57%
- Full Ballot – 24,200 91% 91%
Republican Advantage: ~8,700 votes
- Straight Republican – 24,991 94% 94%
- Straight Democratic – 13,743 52% 52%
- Full Ballot – 20,020 76% 76%
Republican Advantage: 11,248 votes
In the four presidential elections since 2000, Democratic candidates have faced a greater than 10,000-vote deficit in straight-ticket voting three times. Democratic straight-ticket voters have not represented even a quarter of all ballots cast since at least 2000.
Based on 2012 voting patterns, Leach would need the support of 79% of the district’s full-ballot voters to defeat Stickland. The district’s full-ballot voters simply do not lean that direction. Stickland received 54% of the full-ballot vote in 2014. In fact, Stickland received more votes in 2012 than presidential candidate Mitt Romney and more votes in 2014 than gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott in the district.
Because of the disparity between Republican and Democratic straight-ticket voters, there is no opportunity for the two minor party candidates to affect the outcome.
Leach reported raising just over $3K during the first six months of 2016, and she has less than $300 on hand. Neither is enough to change the hearts and minds of HD92 voters.
We do not anticipate needing to take another look at this race during this election cycle.