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October 11, 2004

Sessions leads Frost within Margin of Error

By Byron LaMasters

The Dallas Morning News poll gives Sessions a 50-44% lead in TX-32:

The four-term Republican congressman leads his Democratic rival, U.S. Rep. Martin Frost, 50 percent to 44 percent in their quest to represent Texas' 32nd Congressional District, according to a Dallas Morning News poll.


In this district designed by Republicans in the Texas Legislature to end Mr. Frost's 26-year congressional career, Mr. Frost is appealing more to women, minorities and independents than Mr. Sessions does, according to the survey of about 800 likely voters in the district.

Mr. Frost's strength among independent poll respondents – 56 percent favored him, compared with 37 percent for Mr. Sessions – and an unusually high Hispanic voter turnout are Mr. Frost's best hopes for victory, Dr. Selzer said.


And since only 4 percent of the poll's respondents are Hispanics – they represent 36 percent of the district's total population, including nonvoters – Mr. Frost said he believes a higher Hispanic turnout will close the poll's 6-percentage-point margin.

Eighty-two percent of respondents identified themselves as white, while 7 percent said they are black.

I think it's very telling that the poll only includes four percent Hispanics when Hispanics make up 36% of the district's population. I think that about ten percent of the vote in the district will come from Hispanic voters, and if they favor Frost by the margin that Hispanics typically favor Democrats (and Rep. Frost in the past), then this race is a dead heat.

As for the presidential race in the district, Sessions is running five points behind Bush:

For example, 55 percent of respondents said they would vote for President Bush on Election Day, while 42 percent said they would vote for Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic nominee. In 2000, 57 percent of respondents said they voted for Mr. Bush, compared with 31 percent for Al Gore.

This poll should give Democrats confidence. I believe that it severely undersamples Hispanics, and that this race could easily go either way.

What can you do? Donate to Martin Frost or the DCCC.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at October 11, 2004 10:41 PM | TrackBack


The undersample on hispanics is porbably about right on . . . while 36% of residents are hispanics, far fewer are in fact citizens, and far fewer stilla re registered to vote. The share of turnout that is Hispanic may be greater than 4%, but don't be fooled by those aggregates . . . I analysed this district several times and there is no way you'll get signficant, decisive Hispanic turnout. It is impossible to craft a hispanic district in Dallas County with more than about 22% Spanish surname registration (I think SSVR is 12% in CD32?).

Posted by: Keith G at October 11, 2004 11:38 PM

Byron is not pretending that D-32 is a Hispanic distric. The point is simply that in a race so close, the Hispanic vote is important, and while the Hispanic vote will not be anywhere near its 36% of the population (and that may be an undercount of total population - census undercounts Hispanics), it will be more than 4%.

Posted by: WhoMe? at October 12, 2004 08:04 AM

TX-32 isn't a Hispanic district, but a conservative estimate of Hispanics making up 10% of the total district vote makes this a two or three point race (assuming that Hispanics vote for Frost with typical margins).

Posted by: Byron L at October 12, 2004 09:12 AM

I understand guys, but you grossly overstated the potential Hispanic impact when you claiomed the district at 36% Hispanic . . .

I'm looking at the summary report on plan 1374C (HB-3) and this district has a 13.3% Spanish Surname registration, based on 36% HVAP. Frost's old seat was 18% SSVR with a 33% HVAP . . . this district has a much lower citizen VAP Hispanic population, and urban Hispanics in Texas vote at a much lower rate than suburban Anglos or African-Americans (about half the rate of blacks among registrants). I suspect you can bank on, tops, 6-7% of turnout being Hispanic, which, in this district, typically trnaslates into a circumstance where the Republican gets about 57-60% of the vote.

If Frost wins it is poetic justice and I wish him luck, but don't be counting on Hispanic turnout in Dallas county to make it happen. During the trial phase of redisrtricting, I assessed the partisan dynamic of this district, as well as the racial performance indicator, and it is, by design, a safe district. If Frost wins, it is because of the millions he spends and the incompetent nature of his opposition, and not because of critical Hispanic mobilization. The elctorate in that district is 80% anglo white, which means a Democrat needs 40% of that vote to prevail, assuming exceptional minority cohesion for Democrats at 90%.

Can Martin Frost pull 40% of the white, anglo vote?

Posted by: Keith G at October 12, 2004 09:36 AM

When quoting Census statistics about the Hispanic population in Dallas County, please be aware that the numbers are from 2000. Since that time, the Hispanic share of the County's population has been growing by over 1% per year. That means that, assuming even distribution of population, this district could now be 40% Hispanic, actually putting it at majority-minority (black+hispanic+asian).

In 2002, the voter registration was 13.3% hispanic surname, compared to 11.8% in 2000. Simple extension of the trend would put it at nearly 15% hispanic registration now. Even in 2002's low-turnout election (52% vs 68% in 2000), Democratic statewides improved by 1.2 points, indicating that the Democratic share may closely track Hispanic registration growth.

Granted, Martin's task is still tougher than a "Golden Corral" t-bone, but this poll substantially understates his support by undersampling Hispanics. It would appear to assume a turnout rate among those voters of about 25%, which is ridiculous, since even the most-Hispanic districts in the state run at about 50% during Presidential years.

Posted by: precinct1233 at October 12, 2004 02:06 PM

I fully appreciate the trend numbers . . . but even with those "trends" the general character of turnout will not reflect anything resembling the 36% figure cited by the article above . . . OK, I'll throw you a sop: 6-8% turnout that is Hispanic, instead of 5-7% . . . I'd enjoy seeing Frost win, but I think your kidding yourselves with regard to these Hispanic numbers. If you win, it is because Frost breaks off white suburbanites . . .

Posted by: keith g at October 12, 2004 03:08 PM

I'm afraid I have to agree with kieth. I think we all, deep down, realize he's right. This battle isn't going to be won or lost in Oak Cliff. It's going to be desided in the "M"-streets, East Dallas, and Preston Hollow.

Posted by: Anonymous at October 13, 2004 12:57 AM
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