Texas: Down Ballot

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Texas is not accustomed to playing such a crucial role in picking a Democratic presidential nominee. But Texas Democrats are looking at the race from another perspective as well: Which Democratic presidential candidate is mostly likely to help local candidates in a state that has been hostile territory for Democrats?

It is a crucial question to be asking this year. Today’s Houston Chronicle tells us something interesting about Harris County, where no Democrat has won a countywide election in a decade:

Perhaps more clear in the poll results is the loss of a Republican advantage over Democrats in local contests that will be decided in November.
Of the 604 voters surveyed Wednesday and Thursday, 42 percent said they will vote for a Democrat for county leadership positions, and 40 percent said they will vote for a Republican.

Similarly, 41 percent said they will vote Democratic in local judicial races in November and 37 percent said they will vote Republican.

The results essentially are a tie on both questions because the poll has a margin of error of 4.1 percentage points.

With the Texas Democratic presidential primary producing enthusiasm within the local party, 46 percent of those surveyed identified themselves as Democrats, 38 percent as Republicans and 16 percent as independents.

This gives Democrats a statistical advantage of at least 4 percentage points, considering the margin of error.

Can Houston and Harris County pull off a shocker like Dallas did in 2006? That will surely be part of the calculation as Democrats there go to the polls on Tuesday.