I introduced myself to a friend and fellow traveler of my opponent’s last night. We were talking about my chances, and he said something about how conservative House District 92 is. I responded:
“Your friend Jonathan keeps saying that, ‘This district is one of the most conservative districts in the State of Texas,’ but he’s got to know it’s not true, right? Last election was 55% Republican, there are some districts that get up to over 85%. If you order them in terms of percent Republican votes in the 2016 election, you know where 92 comes out? 68th out of 150! That’s just barely more conservative than the average district. It’s moderate.”
Mr. Stickland’s friend replied, “He’s not ordering them in terms of percentage, he’s ordering them by total number of Republican voters. If you do that, 98 – that’s Capriglione – comes in first and then number two is 92.”
“Really? Okay I gotcha.” He sounded very certain! So of course I went home and checked the data.
Let’s first address the inherent silliness of measuring binary comparative degrees by count and not percentage: hypothesize two districts, District One has 24,000 Republicans and one Democrat. District Two has 24,002 Republicans and 50,000 Democrats. District Two has more Republican voters, is it more conservative? Pssh. No. That’s foolish – Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than two to one.
Let’s then address the claim that there are more Republican voters in 92 than any other district except one. Averaging the turnout for Republicans in the past two presidential elections, 2012 and 2016, number one average turnout of Republicans in an HD, 66,850 voters, is HD 73, in Comal and Gillespie County. Number two is HD 61 in Parker and Wise. HD 98 is indeed in the top three, not at number one, but at number three – 57,565 R voters on average. But wait, where’s one of the most conservative districts in the State of Texas? Well, right here at the bottom (sorry for the tiny print, it was hard to fit on one screen!):
How did Mr. Stickland and his confidant become so befuddled? There are two possibilities:
The Echo Chamber – Because it confuses and distresses them to listen to perspectives other than their own, they’ve edited their surroundings to the degree that they only listen to the people with whom they agree. Confirmation bias reigns! They only pay attention to the information that supports their theories and ignore any information that contradicts them. Unfortunately, when one lives in the echo chamber, it can be very comforting – recent studies have shown that being told you’re wrong about something fires the same parts of the brain as does physical pain – but it’s also dangerous. If my opponent and his inner circle truly believe this is one of the most conservative districts in Texas, despite copious evidence that it’s a moderate district (and getting much more moderate every election cycle), they’ll relax, and they’ll lose.
The Forked Tongue – They know these numbers. Honestly, how could they not? They know these numbers, but they’re desperate to convince everyone they can that the sky is green by repeatedly saying, “Gosh, the sky is really green. So green!” and hoping no one looks up.
There you have it: they’re either ignorant, or they’re actively trying to mislead people. You pick.
I know what I’m up against. I’m a long shot! I’m a scrappy upstart underdog! The wonks have termed this district, this year, as “tough but winnable.” The only way I win this race is by connecting to people and by working my keister off for the next five weeks, and that’s precisely what I’ll do - because I believe a representative should reflect their district. I’m aiming to be as moderate as we are, and to emphasize the things you’ve told me you care about: a thriving economy, good public schools, and a spirit of cooperation from your elected officials.
Thanks to all of you for your continued support!