Nate Silver Ponders Democrats' Chances of Taking Kay Bailey Hutchison's Senate Seat

Categories: Politics
dewhurst.jpg
David Dewhurst
There's no shortage of names being tossed out there as would-be replacements for Kay Bailey Hutchison, who yesterday announced she won't run for re-election to the U.S. Senate. Top o' the list, of course, is Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, who made his intentions clear Thursday afternoon on his blog: "I fully intend to explore running for the United States Senate, and should I run, I will run with the intention of winning and continuing to serve the people of Texas just as I have done throughout my career."

Problem is, writes noted psephologist Nate Silver on his New York Times blog, Dewhurst and the rest of the potential G.O.P. paraders don't "look like superstar talents." Silver writes that perhaps Dems might have "a better-than-average opportunity" to gain some traction in the race for Kay Bailey's seat. But which Dem? Silver offers one possibility:
The Democrats' best bet might be [Bill] White, who before switching into the gubernatorial race had been interested in running for Senate when it looked as though Ms. Hutchinson might retire prior to 2010. Polls showed that a plurality of voters were left with a favorable impression of Mr. White even as he was defeated, and although his race against [Rick] Perry had been expected to be closer, it was not an embarrassing result considering how poorly Democrats performed throughout the country last November.

A poll conducted in February 2009 found Mr. White trailing Mr. Dewhurst by 5 points in a hypothetical matchup, which would certainly suggest a wide-open race. But the political climate was relatively favorable to Democrats then, and that is probably what would determine whether they have more than a puncher's chance in 2012.
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9 comments
J. Erik Jonsson
J. Erik Jonsson

It's fun speculation, and I guess you have to say something about the Democrats, but the truth is that the GOP could run a ham sandwich and keep the seat. It would take a Clayton Williams-level buffoon to lose that election.

East Dallas Mark
East Dallas Mark

After another round of Republican-lead redistricting and a Voter ID bill, I could run my dog as a Republican and he would beat any Democratic challenger in any statewide election.

TimCov
TimCov

Once again proving why Democrats don't win statewide seats in Texas (unless they run as Republicans). I believe that a Democrat could win the Senate seat, but not someone like Bill White. You need to run a rural Texas Democrat to win a statewide seat. Bill White is to urban to win. He strikes rural texas voters as a "northeastern liberal."

Jay
Jay

Neither of the present Texas senators have "superstar" talent either, but they got elected anyway. I voted for White over Governor Bighair, but I doubt I would vote to put him in the senate.

I wouldn't put much stock in the political opinions of New Yorkers. They seem to send celebrity carpetbaggers (or anyone named Kennedy) to the Senate whenever possible.

Guest
Guest

Silver has a clear democratic bent, particularly when giving analysis that isn't backed up by statistics. His article about the Senate seat can be summarized as "I've never heard of these Republicans (because I don't follow Texas politics), but I've heard of Bill White (because Democratic blogs talk about him), and and Bill White was only a 5 point underdog last time we checked (two years ago, at the crest of Democratic popularity and at a time no one was paying any attention because there wasn't actually a Senate seat to run for)."

I'll vote for the Democrat, but the other party will win the election.

Jay Hawk
Jay Hawk

John Sharp has a better chance than Bill White. It's been a while since he's been in an election, and you can't tie "sanctuary cities" or Katrina refugees to him.

Amy S.
Amy S.

Dewie's running? I can sense the head of the TABC drafting those fundraising letters to the upper echelons of the Texas Restaurant Association as we speak. No pressure there, though.

RS1963
RS1963

Considering some of the other buffoons the Republicans have been running for Senate (Angle, O'Donnell, etc.) maybe the Dems will have a chance. I think it depends on whether the ultra-rightwing/Tea Party people are able to win in the Republican primary. Then you get a pro-business, moderate Democrat against a whacky, wingnut Republican... and in Texas, the Republican will still probably win!

Jay
Jay

As the president liked to say, two years ago, "elections have consequences." Not so much any more though.

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