Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Ralph Hall Faces Uneasy Odds in Texas Runoff

Bookmark and Share

Second-place primary finishers have won 16 of 35 Texas Republican U.S. House runoffs since 1992; Hall might become just the second Texas GOP U.S. Representative to lose his party's nomination in history

ralphhall10.jpgElection Day is here again in Texas where several primary runoff elections are being held Tuesday, including a high-profile race in the state's 4th Congressional District.

Seventeen-term Democrat-turned-Republican Ralph Hall faces former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe and is trying to avoid becoming the second Republican U.S. Representative in Texas history to lose his or her party's nomination.

Hall, the oldest member of the U.S. House at 91 and one of its two remaining World War II veterans, won 45.4 percent in last March's primary in a six-candidate field with Ratcliffe garnering 28.8 percent.

And what are Hall's chances Tuesday as he hopes to continue his run for an 18th and final term?

Since 1992, there have been 382 primary elections for U.S. House seats in Texas, of which the GOP has competed in all but 35, or 90.8 percent.

In more than half of these 347 contests (176, or 50.7 percent), only one candidate was on the ballot and ran unchallenged for the Republican nomination.

Of the remaining 171 contested races with at least two Republicans on the primary ballot, 38 resulted in a runoff, or 22.2 percent.

Three of those will be resolved Tuesday - in the 4th (Hall vs. Ratcliffe), 23rd (Will Hurd vs. Quico Canseco), and 36th Congressional Districts (Brian Babin vs. Ben Streusand).

Of the previous 35 runoffs, the second-place finisher in the primary won the runoff and nomination 16 times, or 45.7 percent.

That bodes well for Ratcliffe as he seeks what would be one of the rare political upsets so far this primary season.

Hall has struggled to run away from his competition for each of the last three cycles, although Ratcliffe was the only one to push the Texas Congressman into a runoff.

Since 1992, Texas Republican U.S. House members have run for reelection 184 times and averaged 92.1 percent of the primary vote.

In only four instances have such incumbents received less than 60 percent of the primary vote - and Hall owns three of those.

Hall won 59.4 percent in a six-candidate field in 2010, then 58.3 percent in a three-candidate field in 2012, and 45.4 percent in this year's six-candidate GOP primary.

There is one thing going in Hall's favor, however.

Of the 16 second place finishers who went on to win a GOP U.S. House runoff over the last 12 cycles, only one came back from a primary deficit as large as Ratcliffe faces Tuesday.

Ratcliffe trailed Hall by 16.6 points in the March primary.

Of the 16 who came back to win the runoff, the average primary day deficit was just 6.1 points with 10 of these less than five points behind the leader.

Meanwhile, the 19 second place primary candidates who failed to win the runoff had a much larger hurdle to overcome - trailing by an average of 12.3 points in the primary.

The only Republican who has come back from a bigger primary day deficit than Ratcliffe since 1992 was future Congressman Michael Burgess.

In 2002, Burgess won just 22.5 percent of the vote in the six-candidate field for the 26th CD GOP primary - some 22.9 points behind Scott Armey's 45.4 percent.

Burgess won the head-to-head runoff that April with 54.6 percent of the vote.

And as for the very, very short list Hall is attempting to avoid Tuesday: the only Texas Republican U.S. Representative in history who failed to win his party's nomination is Greg Laughlin in 1996, although it comes with an asterisk.

Laughlin was elected as a Democrat to the state's 14th Congressional District four times but switched parties in June 1995 - about a half-year after Republicans swept into office in the 1994 midterms.

Laughlin then ran as a Republican in the 1996 primary and won 42.5 percent in a four-candidate race that included former U.S. Representative Ron Paul.

In the runoff, Paul defeated Laughlin by 8.1 points.

Hall, like Laughlin, was first elected to the House as a Democrat.

Hall served as a Democrat in the chamber from 1981 until January 2004 when he switched his allegiances to the GOP.

Overall, Texas Republican U.S. Representatives who sought reelection have won the GOP nomination at a 99.6 percent rate since statehood - doing so successfully in 256 of 257 instances heading into Hall's runoff Tuesday.

Technically, Hall would be the first to lose his party's renomination bid, as the aforementioned Laughlin was never nominated as a Republican.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Is a Rough Road Ahead for David Perdue?
Next post: Hall Makes History: 1st Texas GOP US Rep to Lose Renomination Bid

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

Is There a Presidential Drag On Gubernatorial Elections?

Only five of the 20 presidents to serve since 1900 have seen their party win a majority of gubernatorial elections during their administrations, and only one since JFK.

Political Crumbs

Strike Three for Miller-Meeks

Iowa Republicans had a banner day on November 4th, picking up both a U.S. Senate seat and one U.S. House seat, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks' defeat in her third attempt to oust Democrat Dave Loebsack in the 2nd CD means the GOP will not have a monopoly on the state's congressional delegation in the 114th Congress. The loss by Miller-Meeks (following up her defeats in 2008 and 2010) means major party nominees who lost their first two Iowa U.S. House races are now 0 for 10 the third time around in Iowa history. Miller-Meeks joins Democrat William Leffingwell (1858, 1868, 1870), Democrat Anthony Van Wagenen (1894, 1912 (special), 1912), Democrat James Murtagh (1906, 1914, 1916), Democrat Clair Williams (1944, 1946, 1952), Democrat Steven Carter (1948, 1950, 1956), Republican Don Mahon (1966, 1968, 1970), Republican Tom Riley (1968, 1974, 1976), Democrat Eric Tabor (1986, 1988, 1990), and Democrat Bill Gluba (1982, 1988, 2004) on the Hawkeye State's Three Strikes list.


Larry Pressler Wins the Silver

Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


more POLITICAL CRUMBS

Humphrey School Sites
CSPG
Humphrey New Media Hub

Issues />

<div id=
Abortion
Afghanistan
Budget and taxes
Campaign finances
Crime and punishment
Economy and jobs
Education
Energy
Environment
Foreign affairs
Gender
Health
Housing
Ideology
Immigration
Iraq
Media
Military
Partisanship
Race and ethnicity
Reapportionment
Redistricting
Religion
Sexuality
Sports
Terrorism
Third parties
Transportation
Voting