After the dust settled, we saw now State Rep-Elect Jason Villalba, alarmingly, only get to 54% in HD-114, the same district that outgoing Rep. Will Hartnett always won handily, and never fell below 55% in, even in 2006. We further saw freshman Rep. Stefani Carter get 57% in her district, which she won back for us in 2010, after then Rep. Tony Goolsby lost in 2008, as that iteration of the district voted for Obama. Finally, we saw Rep. Dan Branch win 80-20 in a Republican versus Libertarian race. So, out of these three districts, which was the most Republican this year, and which did Romney improve the most over McCain in? The answer, as it turns out, will surprise some of you.
A somewhat necessary note before we begin our analysis: Dallas County both redrew and renumbered its precincts due to redistricting, combined with the fact that the district lines actually split some of the old precincts, while other precincts that were previously wholly within a district were either split or combined, I sometimes had to total up a few of the new precincts in order to make a representation of how they voted. While there is one precinct that got split that you will see in screenshots of two different districts, I feel that my heat maps are perfectly adequate for this exercise. Finally, I will cover Romney/Obama results for the three house seats at the end of this analysis.
The 102nd district has been represented by Republican Stefani Carter since 2011. In her initial bid, she won this district which in its 2000s iteration gave Obama 50.2% of the vote in 2008. The 2010s version of this district gave McCain roughly 52% in 2008, and stretches from restaurant hotspot Addison, on through 1950s-1980s middle/upper-middle class homes in Far North Dallas, onto middle/lower-middle class dwellings in West Richardson that were built from approximately the 1950s to 1970s. The Far North Dallas portion is far and away the most desirable area in this district with many of the homes sitting on large 1950s/1960s lots of half an acre or more, which are so sought after that some people will buy a house on one of these large lots, demolish the existing house, then build a new one. I mention this only because this is the most Republican area of the district, and an area which is seeing an influx of younger buyers as the older residents, some the original owners of these houses, some of which are the Mid-Century moderns popular with hipsters, either move out or pass away.
Now, knowing that Carter got 57% this year and this district, had it existed in 2008, would have given McCain 52% of the vote, how does Romney's performance compare?
Analyzing the HD-102 Election Results
So, as you can see from this picture, Romney largely got the same margins McCain got, with perhaps modest improvements, even among the most Republican areas in the center of this district. This is alarming for a few reasons:
1) Romney should have rebounded in the center of this district a lot more than he did.
2) Even though the center of the district is the most Republican part of the district, Romney still did not hit the margins that DRA 2002-2010 averages indicate that Republicans were getting there in the early 2000s.
These results all point to this: we simply are not doing as well with the younger voters moving into that part of the district as we did with the people they are replacing.
HD-114: Preston Hollow and Lake Highlands
Stretching from the stately mansions in Preston Hollow, three of which are owned by Former President George W. Bush, Ross Perot, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, to the middle class homes in Lake Highlands, the 114th district was represented for 22 years by the popular, and very conservative, Will Hartnett. Even in 2006, despite facing a Democratic opponent and being known as the most conservative member of the State House, Hartnett was re-elected to a ninth term with 56% of the vote in a district that two years later would give John McCain just 54% of the vote. In redistricting, the seat was weakened slightly to 52% McCain. When Hartnett announced his retirement in September 2011, some initially feared that the wealthy North Dallas based seat would fall given McCain's awful showing in 2008, but Jason Villalba, whose rhetoric is very similar to Hartnett's, won the seat with 54% in 2012, which while better than McCain's showing, is still concerning. Now, how did Villalba do in comparison to Romney? Was Romney able to perform better here than McCain in 2008?
Analyzing the HD-114 Election Results
Romney killed it in the wealthy western and central portions of this district. In some precincts in that portion of the district, he ran as many as nine points ahead of McCain. Romney also ran decently, but not decently enough, in middle class Lake Highlands. Lake Highlands is what hurt McCain in this district in '08, and to a lesser extent, it hurt Romney in the district this year.
HD-108: Downtown, Uptown, Deep Ellum, Park Cities
Stretching from the Dallas skyline in downtown, to hipsters and bohemians in Deep Ellum, and yuppies in Uptown to the stately mansions of many of Dallas' business leaders, like Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, in the Park Cities, this seat, the wealthiest of the three covered here, truly is "the Heart of Dallas." Dan Branch is so popular that the Democrats follow a bizarre tradition of only even attempting to challenge him in a midterm. They always get crushed. Now, to look at how Romney did here compared to McCain.
Analyzing the HD-108 Election Results
The first, and most striking thing one notices is that Romney broke 60% in all the high-rise filled precincts in Uptown where McCain hit just 52-54. The next thing one notices is that every precinct in the Park Cities, save the two in University Park near SMU, all voted over 75% for Mitt Romney. It also quickly becomes clear that among these three, Romney showed the most visible improvement here.
2012 vs 2008 vs 2004
Alarmingly, HD-102 went from the most Republican of these three districts in 2004 to the least in 2012. We can also see that Carter ran ahead of Romney, due in no small part to the fact that Tea Party types in Texas see her as a moderate, while Villalba ran behind Romney. The final thing we see is this: despite the notion commonly found around the internet that wealthy areas and high-rise condos are bad news for the GOP, those exact areas helped Romney rebound to basically Bush numbers in the 108th district.