While the Democrats' runoff for the gubernatorial nomination split 3% of the registered voters statewide, about 4.26% of registered voters in District 7 turned out to choose between Fletcher and Moser. In March the figure was about twice that. So congratulations to Ms. Fletcher for amassing 11,000-plus votes Tuesday. She'll need a lot more than that to knock off nine-term incumbent John Culberson.
I had no dog in the TX-7 primary fight, having neither lived nor worked in TX-7 since the early '00s, Culberson's first term. However, I have many friends and acquaintances who do live and vote there, and, Congressional districts being drawn as they are in Harris County, I travel through portions of it frequently. This race illustrated and exemplified for me what I call the Phenomenon of False Extrapolation: the notion that you can construct the bigger picture on an issue from experiences in your own little slice of the world.
In the Greater West University area, where I might occasionally travel on two wheels or four, yard signs for Moser seemed to far outnumber those for Fletcher during the past two months. Various media outlets, including some truly progressive websites, churned out profiles of the race that made it seem much closer. The progressive articles cast Moser as the aggrieved party in the conflict, playing up the angle of how the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee published opposition research to thwart Moser just before the March primary.
The nationwide attention Moser received after the DCCC story broke did not translate into sufficient vote support in May any more than all the yard signs in West U, Southside Place, Southampton, and Upper Kirby. There is so much more to TX-7 than the parts that Rice University professors and aging bohemians call home. There's also a whole lot of Far West Houston and Spring Branch and Cypress-Fairbanks, where I don't travel much.
But while we're talking about false extrapolations, some habitual Democrats got all enthused about how the primary turnout in Texas was about as even for the two corporate parties as it's been since Republicans ran the table in 1994. In TX-7, about 34,000 turned out to vote in the March Democratic Primary, compared to about 40,000 on the Republican side. Compare that to the equivalent figures in 2014: about 7,000 (to choose between three-time nominee James Cargas and relative unknown Lissa Squiers—and oh yeah, for Governor etc.) and 38,000, respectively.
So obvs, there's a Democratic renaissance brewing in TX-7, right? You know, the district that has sent Republicans to Washington since the 1960s? And Fletcher may ride the Blue Wave right to the US Capitol?
Cool your jets, Democratic friends. Remember that Texas has open primaries. We don't know how many Republicans crossed party lines to vote in the Democratic Primary, regardless of which candidate they most wanted to see Culberson beat. By the same token, we don't know how many nominal Democrats voted in the Republican primary in an attempt to thwart Culberson.
Even in these extraordinary times, you cannot look at 34,000 versus 40,000 and conclude that Fletcher will draw 46% of the vote in November, let alone defeat the Republican incumbent. Unlike yesterday's prediction about the gubernatorial contest, I'm not ready to declare the TX-7 race over, because I'm actually hoping that Fletcher will make a lot of noise in the next five months and show the world what a weenie Culberson is. But Culberson has not hitched his wagon to the Trump Train, so he does not engender the kind of revulsion that Trump does. The Republican establishment will circle the wagons around the weenie and carry him comfortably to a tenth term.